Agile Certifications: What to Know Before You Earn One

Many engineering teams lean into the Agile methodology for completing projects, with a big emphasis on “CI/CD” (continuous integration, continuous delivery). With Agile, teams focus on producing minimum viable products within a set timeframe, which hopefully translates into a faster pace of updates and tighter collaboration among team members.

Proficiency in managing Agile environments is critical for project managers and others in leadership positions. While a resume can showcase Agile training and knowledge, an Agile-related certification could prove even more valuable if you’re on the hunt for any kind of job that involves leading teams of technologists and engineers.

Or that’s the thinking, anyway. But are Agile certifications really in demand? How much do these certifications cost? What do you need to know before earning an Agile certification? We spoke to a few experts and got answers to all your burning questions.

What types of Agile certifications are available and in-demand?

Marcos Ortiz, a project manager at Claro RD who has also served as a consultant for telecom and tech companies, tells Dice: “Scrum Master Certifications and ACP are currently in high demand because they help companies deliver faster and more profitable projects. Having a resource that can help you be more efficient and provide more projects on time, scope and quality is a desired skill in the fast-paced environment we are living in today.”

Fortunately, many organizations have made a business out of crafting Agile-related certifications. “There are many reputable organizations like the Scrum Alliance, Scrum.org, SAFe, PMI, and ICAgile offering various choices in Agile certifications today,” says Hamid Aougab, an Agile and Scrum trainer. “This is great but challenging for those getting into the field and trying to decide which certification path to follow. Someone will have to consider many factors before embarking on the certification process, such as their role, their organization’s Agile adoption and their goals and intentions.” 

Do you need any skills or training before getting an Agile certification?

Stephen Gristock, Agile Delivery Leader at Eliassen Group, tells Dice there are some foundational skills anyone earning an Agile-related certification should have:

“Agile credentials are an important part of getting noticed and demonstrating your knowledge. However, as with any professional discipline, it is experience that is key. Having said that, speaking as someone who regularly screens candidates for Agile positions, there are some credentials that stand out above others.

Basic: Agile practitioners really can’t go wrong with a certified Scrum Master and/or Product Owner from either the Scrum Alliance or Scrum.org. Typically, this involves attending a 2-day certified class and a relatively simple exam administered online.

Scaling: When it comes to Agile Scaling, there are multiple options, but the many certifications tied to the most popular framework, SAFe, still edge out the competition. All these certs require training and a timed exam.”

The most important skill “is the ability to learn new things and abstract yourself from the concepts,” Ortiz adds. “Also, you need problem-solving and logical skills because the exams are based on real-case scenarios around the Agile concepts. It is easy to fail the exam certifications if you do not have great agile fundamentals and can apply them to actual cases.”

Do I Need an Agile certification?

“Frankly, certifications are not a requirement for a career in Agile,” Aougab notes, “because certifications in a vacuum do not provide the skills, experience, and mindset shift required to thrive as a member of or servant leader in an Agile team, department, or enterprise organization.”

That being said, recruiters and hiring managers often view a candidate’s certifications as a quick and easy way to validate a baseline level of experience and knowledge. Certifications might not be a requirement, but depending on the job you’re pursuing, they could help you stand out in a crowded field of applicants.

Are Agile certifications in demand?

“The Certified Scrum Master, Certified Product Owner, and Certified Scrum Developer certifications from Scrum Alliance are widely sought-after,” Aougab adds, “Scaled Agile’s certifications aligned to the SAFe Framework are popular for large, global enterprise organizations and federal agencies. ICAgile certification is in-demand for those who aren’t working in software engineering or are taking a hybrid approach to Agile adoption and team organization.”

How much do these certifications cost?

 “The certified Scrum Master certification is $450 for a two-day workshop and exam,” Ortiz says. A PMI Agile Certification Partner certification is $435 for members (and $495 for non-members) while the Agile PM Foundation certification is $333.

If you’re serious about a career as a project manager or lead in an Agile environment, a certification could matter when it comes to landing jobs and angling for promotions. It’s an investment in your future, one that will (hopefully) give you more skills and Agile mastery.