Which one is a better course, PMP or PMI-ACP?

PMP (Project Management Professional) & ACP (Agile Certified Practitioners) are two certifications offered by PMI in two different areas i.e. PMP is more towards traditional project management with a bigger horizon whereas ACP with an agile focus. Even though these are two different dimensions aspirants are confused which one to take between two.


Precisely when an aspirant is asking about which one to take, s/he is actually trying to prioritize that which one should be taken first. Reason I am saying this is very simple, both the certifications in combination works really well and completes the cycle of traditional as well as agile knowledge. Both should be done from a longer run prospective, so the question should be which one to do first.

In this article we shall discuss on the multiple dimensions of these two certifications which will help one take a call which one to go for.

PMI-ACP Online Course


There are multiple aspects one should look at while choosing from one certification on place of other. Let’s look at these aspects one by one to understand the dilemma in a better manner.

PMPvsACP Comparison Aspects

Future Aspirations

One driver for any certification is the future aspirations and career goals. E.g. a team leader aspires to become Project Manager after a while and want to equip himself for the same with certification. Similarly a developer wants to move towards scrum master role.

It’s very important to find out whether you want to be a Project Manager or Agile practitioner. Based on that first preference of the certification will make sense. It doesn’t mean that a Project Manager can’t go for agile and vice versa both are better but preference should be evaluated as per aspiration.

Current Organization Needs

Current organization is the first preference always to grow for anyone as you already have a good track record to show and you have known people around who have seen your work. The organizations also have needs. If you organization is having need for qualified Project Managers then the preference should be given to PMP as PMP gives full overview of all it takes to manage a project end to end but on the other hand if your organization is has agile environment and roles like managers are either not there or getting reduced, you should go for ACP so that you can grow in agile practitioners track

Knowledge Horizons

PMP definitely has bigger horizon from knowledge prospective as it covers all dimensions of Project Management where as ACP concentrates only on agile. To put it in nutshell, ACP is subset of PMP where details of agile is discussed. Interest of an individual towards these knowledge horizons will help in selecting one out of other. It’s important to keep in mind that if you work what you love to do, you will be most efficient in it.

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Mind-set changes

Traditional Project Management and agile way of working is a mind-set change from managing to leading/coaching. From controlling to self-organizing. Choosing a path between two will definitely depend on the mind-set of the organization you are in or target to go in, customer and your own self. Few people have mind-set that work can’t be executed without a central controlling body whereas another set says more you give responsibility and accountability to individuals they perform better. Before concluding a career path it’s important for one to check his thought process towards one of these and accordingly take a call.

Market Dynamics

The type of technological work you are into, if it calls for quick changes by your customers and ask you to be flexible, knowing agile will help you more than traditional way of working where change is not that easy to accommodate. If your project of a kind where market is more or less stable and customer requirements are more or less defined, traditional ways of working will suffice the needs. In that case selecting PMP will help you in getting yourself ready for your growth

Eligibility Fulfilment

As per PMI, both the certifications have different eligibility criteria i.e.

  1. The candidate must have a total 4500 hours of unique experience (in case of Bachelor’s/Equivalent University Degree) or the candidate must have a total 7500 hours (in case of High School Diploma/Equivalent Secondary School).
  2. The candidate must have 35 hours of education by any R.E.P (Registered Education Provider of PMI®)
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 21 contact hours of training in agile practices

If in case you haven’t worked on agile projects till now, ACP can’t be targeted at this moment and you may need to do PMP first. Similarly if you have little experience in project management and eligibility requirement for PMP is not fulfilled, you should target ACP


Multiple factors will decide which certification you should target out of PMP or ACP. Ideal practice is, you should target for both so that benefit can be extracted to its maximum however to prioritize between two above dimensions will help. ROI on the investment towards certification will come only if all the aspects are thought through. There is no point to do some certification which either is not of your interest or not relevant considering different factors. The focus should be to get conclusive thought on best for self certificate.

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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