Agile Certifications

Agile certifications, are they worthwhile? I believe there will be different opinions regarding this question but in mine, yes, they can be very useful to acquire knowledge and to leverage your career. People usually work better when they have a clear goal and certifications can act as these goals. They can help out to guide your studies too. Additionally, they will serve as proof that you have certain level of knowledge in that area and pursue self improvement, however, it will never prove competency. Also, on the other hand, if the only goal is “to pass” in the exam and the preparation is focused on passing solely, the real purpose becomes meaningless. The purpose is to learn and improve your knowledge in that certain area.

In a quick research on the Internet, I could find more than 50 agile certifications from many different organizations. I will comment bellow those which I have got so far or am in process to get it.

There we go …


Certified Scrum Master (CSM): CSM is provided by Scrum Alliance and it is focused on Scrum fundamentals. You have to attend CSM course, so you can do the exam. The exam itself is very easy, it almost verges a “joke” and anyone who has basic knowledge in Scrum has a big chance to succeed in this exam. Still I do believe it is worth for those who are starting off their careers in Agile Development because this course will cover the essence of Scrum. The main point I make here is that the course you will attend is the most valuable part of this certification, therefore, look for a renowned expert that provides CSM course and extract as much information as possible during those two days. Difficulty: Easy.

Requirements: CSM Course
Price: Course will cost between $1000 and $1300 and it includes the exam.
Test Location: Online
Format:

  • Passing score: +/- 70%
  • Time limit: no time limit
  • Number of Questions: 35

Professional Scrum Master I (PSM I):  PSM I is provided by Scrum.org and it is purely based on Scrum Guide. This does not require attending any course, self-study is enough. You will need to really know the Scrum Guide in details. It is good for those who are starting off with Scrum or for those who aim the PSM II and III. Difficulty: Easy.

Requirements: N/A
Price: $150
Test Location: Online
Format:

  • Passing score: 85%
  • Time limit: 60 minutes
  • Number of Questions: 80

Professional Scrum Master II (PSM II): PSM II is also provided by Scrum.org and no mandatory course is needed. This cert is for those who already have experience in Scrum because, besides what is included in PSM I, it will also bring questions regarding real world challenges when adopting Scrum.  Difficulty: Intermediate.

Requirements: PSM I is recommended but not mandatory.
Price: $500
Test Location: Online
Format:

  • Passing score: 85%
  • Time limit: 90 minutes
  • Number of Questions: 30

PMI – Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP): The Project Management Institute (PMI) was naturally forced to join the Agile world due to the huge increase of Agile devotees during the last decade. They provide a certification called PCI-ACP that does not cover a framework specifically but instead Agile by itself, bringing principles and techniques from different frameworks and methodologies like Scrum, XP, DSDM, Crystal, Lean, Kanban, etc. This cert will require you a good amount of self-study and it will give you a good overview of lean/agile (not only one framework). I do advise this certification for those who have experience in agile development and want to expand their knowledge on it. A lot of questions will bring real situations and ask what would be your approach on that case. Difficulty: Intermediate/Advanced.

Requirements:

  • 2,000 hours of general project experience working on teams. A current PMP® or PgMP® will satisfy this requirement but is not required to apply for the PMI-ACP.
  • 1,500 hours working on agile project teams or with agile methodologies. This requirement is in addition to the 2,000 hours of general project experience.
  • 21 contact hours of training in agile practices.

Price: $495
Test Location: Prometric Centre.
Format:

  • Passing score: Unknown. PMI scores based sound psychometric analysis. In other words, the score can vary based the difficulty the questions you get. When performing simulations, I would advise to aim over 80%.
  • Time limit: 180 minutes
  • Number of Questions: 120 (100 scored  items  and  20  unscored  (pre-test) items)

Scaled Professional Scrum (SPS): Ken Schwaber and Scrum.org created a scaled agile framework called Nexus. It is based on Scrum on top of Scrum (but it is not Scrum of Scrums, it looks like SoS’ evolution) for three to nine teams working on the same backlog. Nexus focus on how to manage dependencies efficiently. They developed the Nexus Guide which comprises the exoskeleton of scaled Scrum development. Beyond questions based on Nexus guide, you will also need to answer queries related to real situations when scaling up/out. Therefore, you will need to have some experience or to study real cases (there will be some real cases in Youtube). This certification suits those who have experience with Scrum and want to expand their knowledge on scaling Scrum. Difficulty: Intermediate.

Requirements: PSM I is recommended but not mandatory.
Price: $250
Test Location: Online
Format:

  • Passing score: 85%
  • Time limit: 60 minutes
  • Number of Questions: 40

I may write a post with my study approach for each certification. For time being, “googling” it you will find couple of blogs with hints and tips. If you have any doubt, do not hesitate to contact me or leave a comment below.

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