What is PMI-ACP

Unlocking Agile Project Success: What is PMI ACP Certification?

In today’s fast-paced and ever-changing business landscape, organizations are increasingly seeking professionals skilled in Agile project management to drive innovation and deliver value. The Project Management Institute’s Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP) certification is a globally recognized credential that demonstrates a project manager’s expertise in Agile methodologies and project management. With a PMI-ACP certification in hand, project managers can confidently navigate the complexities of Agile projects and lead their teams to success.

Ultimate Guide to PMI-ACP Certification

Download the Ultimate Guide to learning about the PMI-ACP Certification.


The Project Management Institute (PMI) is an Agile Certified Practitioner accreditation, widely accepted by employers all around the world. It is designed to recognize an individual’s expertise in applying agile practices to their projects, as well as demonstrate their increased professional versatility through agile tools and techniques.

The demand for Agile certified professionals has surged substantially, reflecting Agile’s increasing popularity. Agile adoption among software teams escalated from 37% in 2020 to 86% in 2021. Moreover, 91% of organizations now consider the adoption of Agile methodologies a strategic priority, highlighting the widespread recognition and integration of Agile practices across various industries.

PMI-ACP certified professionals can pursue various job titles, including:

  • Technical Business Analyst
  • Agile Trainer
  • Project Manager
  • Digital Channel Planner

Origins of PMI-ACP

The PMI-ACP (Agile Certified Practitioner) certification, an initiative of the Project Management Institute (PMI), was created in response to the escalating need for professionals skilled in Agile project management. This certification highlights a comprehensive grasp of Agile principles, acknowledging the shift towards more adaptive and iterative project management approaches in response to dynamic project environments.

Agile project managers are adept at navigating changing requirements, aligning with the evolving needs of customers. The PMI-ACP certification not only represents a project manager’s understanding of these Agile methodologies but also their commitment to effectively applying them. Holding a PMI-ACP certification demonstrates a professional’s capability to lead Agile projects successfully, ensuring that teams deliver optimal value to their customers.

Understanding the PMI-ACP Certification

To obtain the PMI-ACP certification, candidates must meet specific educational and work experience criteria, possess Agile-specific project management knowledge, and complete a requisite number of contact hours of Agile-related training in addition to passing the PMI-ACP exam.

Who is an ideal candidate

An ideal candidate for PMI-ACP certification is someone who possesses a baseline knowledge of Agile principles, general project management experience, and a desire to broaden their Agile knowledge. This includes professionals from various backgrounds, such as project managers, business analysts, and Agile trainers, who want to enhance their skills in Agile project management and increase their marketability in the job market.

Prerequisites and Requirements

To secure PMI-ACP certification, you need to fulfil certain educational prerequisites:

  • a secondary degree or equivalent
  • complete 21 hours of training in Agile practices
  • 12 months of general project experience within the last 5 years. A current PMP® or PgMP® will satisfy this requirement but is not required to apply for the PMI-ACP.
  • have a minimum of 8 months of Agile project experience within the past three years.

Contact Hours of Training

Apart from fulfilling educational and work experience prerequisites, PMI-ACP candidates must also complete a set number of training hours in Agile to be eligible for the exam. A contact hour is classified as one hour of formal education, specifically in Agile practices. PMI-ACP certification necessitates 21 contact hours of Agile training.

These contact hours of training can be obtained through various sources, such as online platforms, training courses, and workshops. The goal of this training is to ensure that you have a comprehensive understanding of Agile principles, tools, and techniques and can effectively apply them in Agile project management.

Core Components of the PMI ACP Certification Exam

The PMI-ACP exam is divided into three main domains: Agile principles and mindset, tools and techniques, and knowledge and skills assessment. These domains cover a broad range of Agile topics and practices to gauge your proficiency in Agile project management and your ability to apply Agile principles in real-world situations.

Agile Principles and Mindset:

  • Understanding the Agile Manifesto and its 12 principles.
  • Recognizing the shift from traditional to agile mindsets, including concepts like self-organization, empowerment, and collaboration.
  • Applying agile principles to real-world scenarios, such as how to adapt to change, deliver incrementally, and focus on customer collaboration.
  1. Value-Driven Delivery:
    1. Prioritizing features and tasks based on customer value and business outcomes.
    1. Understanding and using different agile methodologies for timely delivery, like Scrum, Kanban, and Lean.
    1. Incorporating risk management in agile projects, including risk-adjusted backlog and risk burndown charts.
  2. Stakeholder Engagement:
    1. Techniques for effective communication and collaboration with stakeholders.
    1. Understanding the roles and responsibilities in an agile team, like Product Owner, Scrum Master, and team members.
    1. Engaging and getting feedback from stakeholders through techniques like user stories, personas, and agile modeling.
  3. Team Performance:
    1. Building high-performance teams with a focus on agile principles like empowerment, collaboration, and trust.
    1. Techniques for facilitating team decision-making and conflict resolution.
    1. Understanding team dynamics and how to foster a positive team environment.
  4. Adaptive Planning:
    1. Techniques for planning at different levels (e.g., release planning, iteration planning, and daily planning) in an agile project.
    1. Understanding and implementing empirical planning, which adapts based on the team’s performance and customer feedback.
    1. Estimation methods in agile, including story points, ideal days, and T-shirt sizing.
  5. Problem Detection and Resolution:
    1. Identifying and addressing issues rapidly to minimize impact on project progress.
    1. Techniques for problem-solving within an agile context, such as root cause analysis and retrospectives.
    1. Understanding how to maintain a sustainable pace of work and manage technical debt.
  6. Continuous Improvement (Product, Process, People):
    1. Approaches for continuous refinement and improvement of the product through iterative development.
    1. Techniques for process improvement, including retrospectives and process tailoring.
    1. Fostering a culture of continuous learning and development within the team, focusing on skills enhancement and knowledge sharing.

Benefits of Acquiring PMI-ACP

Obtaining the PMI-ACP certification offers numerous benefits, including industry recognition, improved job prospects, and enhanced understanding of Agile methodologies. Employers and stakeholders within and outside the Agile community value professionals with PMI-ACP certification, as it demonstrates your experience working on Agile projects and your knowledge of Agile practices, principles, tools, and techniques.

  1. Industry Recognition: The PMI-ACP certification is globally acknowledged, signaling a high level of expertise in Agile practices. This recognition by the Project Management Institute (PMI) elevates a professional’s standing in the project management community.
  2. Improved Job Prospects and Career Growth: Certified PMI-ACP professionals often experience enhanced job opportunities and career advancement. Statistics show that PMI-ACP certified professionals earn, on average, 20% more than their non-certified counterparts
  3. Enhanced Understanding and Application of Agile Methodologies: The PMI-ACP equips professionals with a deeper comprehension and effective application of Agile methodologies. This proficiency is crucial in today’s dynamic project environments, where adaptability and responsiveness are key to project success.

Maintaining Your PMI-ACP Status

Maintaining your PMI-ACP certification requires continuous improvement, active participation in Agile communities, and the application of Agile principles in diverse roles. By staying up-to-date with industry trends and best practices, you can ensure that your skills and knowledge remain relevant and valuable in the ever-evolving world of Agile project management.

Continuous Improvement and Education

PMI-ACP certified professionals must stay updated on Agile practices and earn Professional Development Units (PDUs) to maintain their certification. PDUs are credited for each hour spent engaging in activities within either the education or giving back to the profession divisions. To sustain your PMI-ACP certification, you must accumulate a minimum of 30 PD credits within a three-year period.

Participation in continuous improvement and education not only helps maintain your PMI-ACP certification but also enriches your skills and knowledge in Agile project management. This commitment to ongoing learning and development ensures that you remain a valuable asset to your organization and team, capable of delivering exceptional results in Agile projects.

Engaging in Agile Communities

Active participation in Agile communities helps PMI-ACP professionals stay current with industry trends and best practices. Active participation in Agile communities allows you to network with other Agile professionals, learn from their experiences, and share your insights and knowledge. Some recommended Agile communities for PMI-ACP professionals include Eduhubspot, ICAgile Certified Professional (ICP), AgilePM Foundation – APMG, and Certified ScrumMaster communities.

From Business Analyst to Agile Leader

PMI-ACP certification can help professionals transition from traditional roles, such as business analysts, to Agile leadership positions. In an Agile environment, a business analyst collaborates with the development team and product owner to:

  • Comprehend the business domain
  • Document processes
  • Prioritize features
  • Promote communication and collaboration within the team

Securing the PMI-ACP certification allows business analysts to expand their roles and collaborate as a team to deliver value in Agile projects.

Furthermore, this certification enables business analysts to take on Agile leadership roles, drive organizational change, and lead Agile transformation. By mastering Agile principles and practices, business analysts can effectively transition into Agile leadership positions and contribute to the success of their organizations in the ever-evolving world of Agile project management.

Creating Innovative Products with Agile

Professionals with PMI-ACP certification have the ability to:

  • Contribute to the development of innovative products using Agile methodologies
  • Facilitate innovation in product development through the promotion of collaboration, feedback, experimentation, and adaptation
  • Lead Agile projects and contribute to the development of cutting-edge products that meet customer needs and drive business success

With a PMI-ACP certification, also known as PMI Agile Certified Practitioner, you can demonstrate your ability to contribute to the development of innovative products using Agile methodologies.

Notable examples of innovative products developed using Agile methodologies, such as the agile methodology, include:

  • Sony
  • LEGO
  • Siemens
  • Google
  • Yahoo!
  • Mitsubishi

By mastering Agile principles and practices, PMI-ACP certified professionals can play a vital role in driving innovation and creating groundbreaking products in various industries.

How PMI-ACP Stands Out from Other Certifications

The PMI-ACP certification provides a broad understanding of Agile concepts, distinguishing it from role-specific Agile certifications such as Certified Scrum Master, Disciplined Agile Scrum Master, and product owner certifications. These role-specific certifications are tailored based on specific roles within an Agile project, while PMI-ACP highlights a more comprehensive grasp of Agile concepts.

The decision to choose between PMP and PMI-ACP certifications hinges on an individual’s work environment and career aspirations. Both certifications require some on-the-job experience and are not exams you can simply take right out of college without practical experience. However, if you are already working in an Agile setting or aspire to become a leader in Agile project management, the PMI-ACP certification can be an invaluable asset in your professional journey.


In conclusion, the PMI-ACP certification provides a comprehensive understanding of Agile methodologies and practices, making it an invaluable credential for professionals looking to advance their careers in Agile project management. By obtaining the PMI-ACP certification, you can showcase your expertise in Agile principles, tools, and techniques, and contribute to the success of Agile projects in various industries.

Whether you are a project manager, business analyst, or Agile trainer, pursuing the PMI-ACP certification can open doors to new career opportunities, industry recognition, and personal growth. So, take the next step in your Agile journey and explore the world of PMI-ACP certification today!

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