Blog Agile and Scrum Top 5 Agile Certifications in 2019 (Updated)
Top 5 Agile Certifications

Top 5 Agile Certifications in 2019 (Updated)

In this era where traditional methods of Project Development are no more enough, Agile is the need of the hour. Demand for agile professionals has increased in the IT industry and also picking up in other areas of engineering as well. This demand triggers the need for Agile certifications which recruiting organizations can bank with.

PMI-ACP Online Course

In this article, we shall discuss some of the top-ranked agile certifications among many available in the market.

Why Agile Certifications?

Agile has been matured now and similar to other domains like Project Management & Service Management, organizations look for agile experience and certification from the candidates. This is the reason why agile professionals aspire for certifications so that they can gain all the benefits when they plan to switch jobs or aspire to a career in the Agile domain. Overall Agile certifications provide the following benefits:

  • Better Visibility
  • Better Salary
  • Better Credibility
  • Keeping up to current market trend

Agile Certifications Benefits

Also Read: A comparison between Agile and Waterfall development model i.e. Agile vs Waterfall

Top 5 Agile Certifications

There is a big pool of certifications available in the market to choose for gaining credentials in the Agile domain. Sometimes when you have a huge pool you get confused about which agile certification to be taken at what point of time.

Here is the diagram that shows the various certifications available in the market. You have to choose one of the best agile certifications that is good for you.

List of Agile Certifications

No doubt, when it comes to investing money and time, an individual will do a lot of research on which certification is appropriate for one to invest so that s/he can get maximum ROI.

As per different researchers on the internet from different bodies, “Scrum” as the agile methodology is most popular.

Scrum is easy to understand methodology of Agile due to which it becomes the obvious choice. Also, as it is widely used methodology, there are many case studies available for it now. That’s the reason there are multiple certifications based on Scrum. In our discussion, we shall be concentrating on below agile certifications and shall discuss why it’s important to target for these certifications.

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Here are the top 5 Agile certifications which are the best for Agile professionals who want to build their career with Agile methodology.

  1. PMI-ACP (Agile Certified Professional)
  2. Scrum Alliance (Certified Scrum Master/Certified Scrum Product Owner/Certified Scrum Developer)
  3. Scrum Alliance (Certified Scrum Professional)
  4. (Professional Scrum Master/Professional Scrum Product Owner/Professional Scrum Developer -1)
  5. SAFe Scaled Agilists

Let’s have a comparison of all these five and then move on to discuss the criteria to choose and prioritize.

best agile certifications in 2018

How to Choose the Best Agile Certification?

Above comparison shows multiple faces of the 5 agile certifications we have taken. One important point to note is the majority of the certifications are Scrum based. Reason for that is very simple. Scrum is the most used form of agile.

Even after knowing all the particulars above certifications, the dilemma is which one to choose one. Let’s have a clear picture of the same.

How to choose agile certifications?

We feel it’s a three-step approach. Anyone looking to gain knowledge about agile should start from basics of Agile/Scrum. Once basics are developed, advance knowledge should be developed. Scaling is third step as this is about scaling agile competency at organization level which is definitely the final step.

Let’s relate this three-step approach to the certifications we compared in the last section:


Also Read: Do we need Project Managers in Agile?

Let’s discuss each step of this 3-step approach in detail –

Basic Knowledge

  • Scrum alliance cradle and cradle of three certifications for three different roles in scrum i.e. Scrum Master, Product Owner and developer are the basics which one can target to start with.
  • CSM/CSPO/CSD is definitely easier to crack than PSM/PSPO/PSD I certifications but the knowledge gained in CSM is also important. As Scrum alliance mandate training for CSM/CSPO/CSD, it gives good exposure to basics of Scrum. Though has the foundation and advanced courses for PSM/PSPO/PSD, it’s not mandated and from knowledge parse, professionals until mandated generally don’t go for it.
  • Both these certificates cover high-level basics of Agile and focus more on scrum. Out of these two CSM is more popular in the market. Definitely, the objective of certification is met if professional gets benefits out of it. Also, PSM being little harder than CSM makes CSM even more approachable

Preparing for Agile and Scrum Interview? Here’re Top 40 Agile Scrum Interview Questions and Answers to help you crack the interview!

Advanced Knowledge

  • After basics, its time to take little deep dive approach. Definitely, if you are CSM/CSPO/CSD, you will go for the next step in scrum alliance provided CSP. However, the spectrum of knowledge given by PMI-ACP is not comparable.
  • CSP doesn’t mandate any training, it just needs some Scrum Education units to apply for certification. Though the application tests the knowledge, it’s not tested. No test is there for CSP.
  • PMI-ACP is hard from entry to exit i.e. its prerequisites itself is little tough. It ensures and expects prior agile experience and project management experience along with training PDUs. Exam as well covers a wide spectrum of agile flavors and not only limited to Scrum. It covers Lean, Kanban, XP, TDD etc. which gives more in-depth of agile overall. The exam is conducted in a closed/secure environment like any other PMI certification. That’s the reason why PMI-ACP holds a lot of value and gained credibility in the market.
  • There are advanced certifications by as level II and III for PSM/PSPO as well which can be targeted for but again that is the only scrum based and becomes even harder as compared to the level I of it.

Scaled Agile

  • This is something different to normal agile knowledge. This we can refer to a special skill at which is required for executives, managers and Agile change agents responsible for leading a Lean/Agile change initiative in a large software enterprise. This is required for those executives who have already implemented agile at a small scale in the organization and now aspire for taking it to the next scaled framework level.
  • SAFe SA certification validates knowledge in applying the Scaled Agile Framework, lean, and product development flow principles in an enterprise context so they can lead to the adoption of the Scaled Agile Framework.


There are many more certifications available in the market in addition to the five that we discussed above. Professionals have to make a wise call based on what they are looking for. If the target is to get benefits in career or changing a job, CSM & PMI-ACP has more market value and popularity. If the target is to gain pure knowledge PSM-I is best to start with then going higher in its levels. So, choose an Agile certification as per your career path and requirement.


Have any questions about Agile? Just write it below in the comment box or submit here, we’ll be happy to answer!

Wish you a remarkable Agile career!

About Dharmalingam.N

Dharmalingam.N holds a master degree in Business Administration and writes on a wide range of topics ranging from technology to business analysis. He has a background in Relationship Management. Some of the topics he has written about and that have been published include; project management, business analysis and customer engagement.
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    • Thank you, you would think that would be case, but not always true. There are a lot of people in the IT industry that have not adapted to Agile framework or understand the methodologies or practices.

  1. Good article that clarifies in detail about the commonly asked question on Scrum Master Certificaiton.
    In my experience, PSM wins hands down for following reasons:
    – No renewal fees every year
    – The certification requires a true understanding of Scrum
    – No mandatory class room training
    – There are excellent preparatory material such as Scrum Narrative and PSM Exam Guide –


  2. In the basic level, SAFe also offers SSM. CSM training is not a great learning. Following are best in my view:
    – PSM for teams
    – CSP for team leaders
    – SPC for consultants

  3. Iam working as a scrum lead for 2 years.I would like to take a certificate to build a career in agile.which one I need to take.pls advice

  4. Hi,

    I am a BA with 5 years of experience and planing to go for Agile certification.Please advice which one will be best suites my profession to build a better career in this agile world.

  5. Hi Deepika

    There are many certifications available in Agile. The ACP (Agile Certified Professional) by PMI is the recommended and popular certification. This is one of the toughest too.

    If you are more focusing only on Scrum, you can go for Certified Scrum Master (CSM) by Scrum Alliance. This can be obtained in short period of time.

    There are more certifications available in the market such as PSM, SAFe and ASM.

  6. Thank you so much for writing up this informative post about Agile certifications, it is very helpful and interesting for me. Keep up the great job.

  7. Very nice blog. Informative one. Thank you.
    I am looking for “Product Owner” certification.
    Please suggest me a good one with reason for the same.

  8. Nice article..

    I have 8 yrs exp as QA in cards domain vision plus.
    Now I am looking for agile certification and from your article I think I should go for CSM. I have never worked in Agile, just worked in manual testing.

    Please help whether I am taking right decision or not..

    • Hi Ashish

      If you haven’t worked on Agile projects, then you can only go for CSM or PSM. It depends on what framework you organization is using. If you think your company will use Scrum then you can go for this.

      Most of the companies now moving towards Agile, be ready before it becomes a mandatory skill.

  9. Great overview of options available in the Agile certification world written in clear and concise format.
    This article has helped me define my next steps. Thank you!

  10. How about Prince2 Agile? I was thinking of using it as a combination certification for both Project Management and Agile. Please advice.

  11. Hi,

    I have 5 years of experience in content management field as a process lead. Please suggest which one should I opt for a better career prospective.

  12. Highly informative blog ! Thanks for this.. I have a question. I am into Finance (shared services operations – 100% non IT) for over 13 years now. Have been hearing a lot about Scrum in the recent past. How good or useful it would be, if i take up either CSM or PSM to start with. Reasons for looking into scrum : 1) Career progression into senior management level without changing domain 2) Upskill myself with the latest on project management.

    Please let me know your thoughts.

  13. Hi Dharma,

    I have 7months experience in working in a SAFe Agile project as a QA. In total I have 6.5years of IT experience.Please suggest an appropriate certification for me. I am confused between PMI ACP and CSM.

  14. Hi Pratyusha

    You can say Certified Scrum Master (CSM) as a basic level certification and also it focuses only on Scrum practices. You can consider this certificate if you’re following Scrum on your projects.

    PMI ACP covers everything on Agile including Scrum. You can work on any frameworks like Kanban, XP, Scrum if you are a PMI ACP certified.

    SAFe also becoming popular nowadays. If you have enough Agile project experience, I would recommend PMI ACP.

  15. Hi
    Im Avinash, I am a mechanical engineer , I have more than 6 years of experience as a QC incharge(non IT) (checking instruments) in same company, now i want to change the organization, how and what scrum is useful for me, i want to continue as a QC engineer in hyderabad only, kindly suggest
    Reasons for scrum is
    1. Career growth and salary growth as QC engineer
    Kindly tell me is this a good option for me or not


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