What is the best agile project management certification?

If you’ve been following developments within project management, you’ve likely heard of the growing popularity of agile methodologies.
What is the best agile project management certification?


Agile project management is a highly collaborative method that uses short, iterative development cycles. Agile’s popularity owes a lot to its ability to adapt to the fast-paced nature of business today.

That’s why Agile, originally developed for use in the software development industry has been adopted by a wide variety of industries today, from financial services to transportation.

If you want a competitive edge in the project manager job market, a good place to start is with an agile certification. With so many options available however, it can be difficult to find which is best for you.

We’ve created a list of agile qualifications, so you can easily pick the one most relevant to your industry, role and level of experience.

Why should you take an agile course?

There has been a marked increase in the use of agile methodologies in all sectors:

  • 3 of every 4 businesses report using agile approaches on a regular basis [1].
  • Forbes reports that of 500 senior executives interviewed, 92% believed agile practices to be critical to business success [2].
  • In a 2017 survey, KPMG reported that 76% of business owners in the EU believe agile projects will outnumber waterfall, or traditional, projects by 2021 [3].

Businesses make regular use of agile methodologies depending on the nature of projects:

  • 1 of every 4 manufacturing businesses rely solely on agile methodologies, while over half use a combination of traditional and agile practices [4].

Agile helps foster successful business practices:

  • QSM assessed the performance of agile development projects in three key areas: productivity, time-to-market and quality. Findings show agile projects were significantly faster and more productive than traditional projects [5].

How to choose the right certification

There is a wide variety of agile certifications available on the market. Given the complexity and scope of many of these, it may be difficult knowing where to start. Here’s a very basic breakdown of which courses are available and their specific niche in agile practice.

  • If you’d like to learn a general-purpose, widely applicable agile methodology, an agile project management certification (Agile PM) will teach you practical agile tools and methods you can apply to the management of projects right away!
  • If you’d like a general education in the various agile ‘flavours’ like Scrum, DSDM, XP and become an all-round agile expert, you should consider an Agile Certified Practitioner® PMI-ACP qualification.
  • If you’d like to become a certified Scrum Master Professional,’s Professional Scrum Master I (PSM® I) is developed and endorsed by Ken Schwaber, the founder of Scrum himself!
  • If you’re familiar with, or already make use of, the PRINCE2 method and would like to learn how to adapt this popular framework to better suit agile practices, a PRINCE2 Agile course is perfect for you!
  • If you would like to apply agile methods on an enterprise level, a SAFe® Agilist certification will be a better choice.

Entry-level certifications

The qualifications listed below have no formal prerequisites. Candidates do not require any previous experience in a project management role to qualify, some prior knowledge of project management may prove useful, however.

PRINCE2 Agile Foundation

PRINCE2 Agile is a refinement of the Project IN Controlled Environments (PRINCE2) project management methodology. While traditionally, PRINCE2 has a focus on top-down strategy and decision-making, PRINCE2 Agile modifies this framework with agile practices to improve responsiveness, autonomy and flexibility.

While these two styles of management seem incompatible at first, PRINCE2 has always emphasized flexibility and scalability, key features also present in agile frameworks.

PRINCE2 Agile seamlessly combines the PRINCE2 framework with compatible agile practices, allowing for both control and flexibility.

Important to note however, is that while PRINCE2 Agile Foundation certification has no prerequisites, a PRINCE2 Agile Foundation course does not provide as comprehensive an overview of either PRINCE2 or Agile practices as say, a PRINCE2 Foundation course or AgilePM Foundation course.

This course is better suited to those who already have a general understanding of PRINCE2 and Agile and want to learn how to improve the PRINCE2 method with the addition of contemporary agile practices.

AgilePM Foundation

The APMG Agile PM qualifications equip candidates with the tools and knowledge required to apply the AgilePM method to working projects. Unlike other, more general, qualifications such as the PMI-ACP®, the Agile PM course trains you in the use and application of practical project management tools and roles.

AgilePM is based on the Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM) and has guidance in the form of the AgilePM handbook from the Agile Business Consortium.

AgilePM training cover all vital aspects of DSDM product development including the project lifecycle, development roles, quality assurance, KPI’s and much more!

AgilePM is an iterative approach to product development that focuses on setting short-term goals interspersed with regular assessment points.

There are no prerequisites for an Agile PM Foundation course.


Professional Scrum Master I courses are the entry-level Scrum certification offered by Scrum is a process framework used to manage complex projects in the early 90’s. Developed by Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland, Schwaber left to create his own Scrum certification in 2001.

The Professional Scrum Master course benefits from its foundation in a universal body of knowledge. This makes it much easier to attain successive certifications such as PSM II and III.

While either Scrum certifications, such as those offered by Scrum Alliance, take a broader view, certifications focus almost exclusively on the application of Scrum in complex projects, particularly those in the IT industry.

PSM exams are not as easy to pass as other certifications (requiring a significant 85% to pass), it does have a reputation for producing knowledge and competent practitioners. Furthermore, certifications are valid for life and do not require maintenance, saving you money in the long run.

Intermediate qualifications

Intermediate qualifications are those that require candidates to first attain entry-level certifications or otherwise have stringent prerequisites.

PRINCE2 Agile Practitioner

To be eligible for a PRINCE2 Agile Practitioner examination, candidates must hold either PRINCE2 Foundation, PRINCE2 Agile Foundation, PMI® Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)® or an equivalent qualification.

PRINCE2 Agile Practitioner courses elaborate on those topics covered by the PRINCE Agile Foundation course.

This course explores the practical application of the PRINCE2 method to working projects.

Agile PM Practitioner

To be eligible for the Agile PM Practitioner examination, candidates require to have first passed the Agile PM Foundation exam or have an equivalent agile certification.

The AgilePM Practitioner qualification aims to build upon the concepts first taught in the AgilePM Foundation course with a greater emphasis placed on your ability to apply and tailor the method to any given scenario.

Earning this qualification allows you to demonstrate your competence in DSDM management and your ability to begin work as an agile project manager to potential employers.

Upon completion, candidates will be equipped with the confidence and in-depth knowledge necessary to implement the AgilePM framework and manage the daily tasks of a professional project manager.

PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)®

The PMI-ACP® is PMI’s answer to the growing need for experienced agile project managers. The ACP is PMI’s fastest growing certification with an increasing number of project managers electing to acquire this qualification each year.

PMI-ACP® qualifications recognize practitioners’ ability to work as an agile practitioner, rather than simply having knowledge of the subject. The PMI brand carries weight and credibility owing to the difficulty of its certification exam, guaranteeing that only those who have a good grasp of course material go on to earn their qualifications.

To be eligible for the PMI-ACP examination, candidates require 2000 hours of project management experience, and 30 contact-hours of training making it mandatory for candidates to first attend a PMI training course provided by select training service providers. It is possible however to earn this experience through other agile courses such as a PSM I or Agile PM training course.

Which qualification is best for me?

Below we’re going to give a quick rundown of which certification might be best from you based on current experience, industry or role:

Qualification Prerequisites Sectors/industries* Best suited for? Country
PRINCE2 Agile Foundation None Construction, manufacturing, engineering, banking, public sectors. Project managers, senior suppliers, team managers, change advisors, quality assurance supervisors, project analysts. PRINCE2 Agile is most popular in the UK and EU.
PRINCE2 Agile Practitioner PRINCE2 Agile Foundation or equivalent Construction, manufacturing, engineering, banking, public sectors. Project managers, senior suppliers, team managers, change advisors, quality assurance supervisors, project analysts. PRINCE2 Agile is most popular in the UK and EU.
AgilePM Practitioner AgilePM Foundation or equivalent IT, finance, event-planning, construction, marketing. Software engineers, ITSM roles, systems support analysts, IT portfolio managers, business analysts, solution developers, project managers. DSDM/AgilePM is recognized and used internationally.
PSM I None Automotive, manufacturing, IT, public sectors, consultancy, transportation. Scrum masters, agile project managers, systems engineer, user researcher. US and UK.
PMI-ACP® None** IT, construction, aerospace, pharmaceutical, manufacturing, education, public sectors, change management. Project managers, portfolio managers, technical supervisors, project analysts. US

*Agile certifications are universally applicable. This list simply illustrates the most notable industries to make use of each respective framework.

**Candidates require 21 hours of project management training to be eligible for the exam. This can be attained through a PMI-ACP® training course.







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