Choosing Your Path: In-Depth Comparison of PRINCE2 Agile and PMI-ACP Certifications

Agile project management helps businesses adapt to change and complete projects faster and more efficiently. For that reason, Agile mastery is in higher demand than ever, and more project managers have turned to PMI-ACP and PRINCE2 certifications to prove their expertise to employers. The former is especially popular because it covers a range of Agile methodologies such as Scrum, Kanban, Lean, XP, and TDD.

PRINCE2 is slightly different, in that it takes Agile practices and integrates them with the PRINCE2 framework. By combining the flexibility and responsiveness of Agile with the governance of PRINCE2, you get a structured approach to project management but the adaptability of Agile.

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What is PRINCE2 Agile?

PRINCE2 (PRojects IN Controlled Environments) is a structured approach to project management that was developed in the United Kingdom in 1989. It was created by the Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency (CCTA) after it adopted PROMPT II as one of the government standards for information systems (IT) project management. ‘PRINCE’ originally stood for “PROMPT II IN the CCTA Environment,” and was renamed as an acronym for “PRojects IN Controlled Environments”

The PRINCE2 methodology is designed to break up projects into manageable and controllable stages. It provided a framework for effective project management with a focus on control, organization, and consistency. Today, the PRINCE2 framework is in use around the world, including in Australia and throughout Europe.

What is PMI-ACP?

The PMI-ACP (Agile Certified Practitioner) certification was created by the Project Management Institute PMI) to embrace Agile project management and acknowledge the shift towards more adaptive and iterative project management This certification is ideal for those with a baseline knowledge of Agile principles, general project management experience, and a desire to broaden their Agile knowledge.

Whether you are a project manager, business analyst, or Agile trainer, as long as you have 1-3 years of project management experience and want to enhance your skills in Agile project management, PMI-ACP can increase your marketability to employers.

Comparative Analysis: PRINCE2 Agile vs PMI-ACP

Demand for Agile project managers who can navigate changing requirements that align with evolving customer needs remains high. Obtaining the PRINCE2 Agile and PMI-ACP are great ways to increase your competence in Agile and demonstrate your ability to lead projects.

PMI-ACP Certification Requirements

The PMI-ACP validates real-world, hands-on experience and skill as part of an agile team, including a working comprehension of the many approaches to agile, such as Scrum, Kanban, Lean, extreme programming (XP), and test-driven development (TDD). Holding a PMI-ACP certification demonstrates a professional’s capability to lead Agile projects successfully, ensuring that teams deliver optimal value to their customers.

The PMCI-ACP certification is a great option if you work on agile teams or your organization is adopting these practices. To become eligible, you have to meet the following prerequisites:

  • Complete 21 contact hours in agile
  • Earn a secondary degree (high school diploma, Associate’s degree, or the global equivalent)
  • Spend 2,000 hours (or 12 months) working on project teams over the past five years
  • Spend 1,5000 hours (or eight months) working on project teams using agile methodologies in the last three years

Additionally, to earn and maintain your PMI-ACP, you have to complete the certification exam, which is three hours long and consists of 120 multiple-choice questions. If you pass, you will have to earn 30 professional development units (PDUs) in agile topics every three years. The PMI-ACP exam costs $495 if you are not a member of the Project Management Institute and $435 if you are a member.

PRINCE2 Agile Certification Requirements

Before you can get the PRINCE2 certification, you’ll have to attend a training course or self-study before taking the foundation or practitioner-level exams. You need real-world Agile experience or a training course to learn the principles, themes, and processes of the PRINCE2 framework and to apply them.

There are two levels to the PRINCE2certification:

  • PRINCE2 Agile Foundation is the introductory course that teaches how PRINCE2 and Agile can be applied together.
  • PRINCE2 Agile Practitioner is the more advanced course for those who have passed one of the following:
    • PRINCE2 Foundation
    • PRINCE2 Agile Foundation
    • Project Management Professional (PMP)
    • Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)
    • IPMA Levels A, B, C and D® (Certified Projects Director).

The foundation level exam is a multiple-choice exam consisting of 75 questions to be completed in 1 hour and has a passing score of 55%. The practitioner-level exam is also a multiple-choice exam consisting of 68 questions to be completed in 2.5 hours and has a passing score of 50%.

The PRINCE2 certification has to be renewed every 5 years by taking an online exam or attending a one-day refresher course. This ensures that PRINCE2-certified individuals are up-to-date with current best practices

Advantages and Disadvantages

Pros and Cons of PRINCE2 Agile

  • PRO: You don’t need to have any prior project management experience
  • PRO: Improved control over project scope and timeline while adapting to changes.
  • PRO: More efficient and effective project delivery
  • PRO: Fosters a culture of collaboration and continuous improvement.
  • CON: Highly complex with a steep learning curve.
  • CON: Extensive documentation can be overwhelming.
  • CON: Less helpful for smaller projects or ones that are expected to change.

Pros and Cons of PMI-ACP

  • PRO: Gain global recognition for your comprehension of Agile practices, principles, tools, and techniques.
  • PRO: Opens doors to new jobs, career advancement opportunities, and higher salaries.
  • PRO: PMI-ACP workers learn leadership and communication skills.
  • PRO: Teaches best practices through case studies and real-world examples to ensure you can effectively apply agile methodologies to your work.
  • CON: Cost of training, study materials, and the exam. The investment can be challenging for those with a tight budget
  • CON: Steep learning curve if you are new to Agile methodologies
  • CON: Strict prerequisites and renewal requirements.

Career Opportunities and Growth

The demand for Agile-certified professionals has risen dramatically in recent years, especially as Agile has become more popular among software teams. More than 90% of organizations now consider the adoption of Agile methodologies a strategic imperative, making it a great time to pursue this career path.

PMI-ACP is preferred in industries that need flexibility and adaptability, like IT, software development, and creative industries. PRINCE2 Agile, on the other hand, is often chosen in environments requiring structured project management combined with Agile responsiveness, such as government projects and large corporations.

Who Should Choose What?

If you’re trying to decide which of these certifications is right for you, ask yourself the following questions:

  • How much (if any) project management experience do I have?
  • Do I have the right degrees?
  • Which industry do I want to work in?
  • What type of organization do I want to work in?
  • How much time and money can I spend on a certification?

From there, consider what the future holds for PMI-ACP and PRINCE2 Agile. PMI-ACP will continue to adapt to emerging trends and diverse project needs because it’s flexible in covering various Agile methodologies. PRINCE2 Agile will remain relevant in environments where traditional structures are important but need Agile adaptability. It may evolve to offer more tailored Agile integration for different project types.


The demand for project managers proficient in Agile is not going to slow any time soon. The PMI-ACP and PRINCE2 Agile certifications show potential employers your professional versatility and competence. They both have strengths and weaknesses and may be more valuable in different industries, but depending on your career aspirations, they can be extremely useful.

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Erin Aldridge, PMP, PMI-ACP, & CSPO
Director of Product Development at
Erin Aldridge, PMP, PMI-ACP, & CSPO