PMI-ACP® vs. PMP®
I’ve spent countless hours (probably over 20 hours) comparing the PMI-ACP® vs. PMP®. In this blog, I will discuss what I’ve found in my research and why I personally chose to pursue the PMI-ACP® Certification.
The PMP® Certification
The PMP® Certification, otherwise known as the Project Management Professional certification, is arguably the most recognizable certification in the project management industry. This certification is held by almost 1 Million project managers worldwide.
According to a survey from the PMI, the median salary for PMP® holders in the United States is 25% higher than those without a PMP® certification.
Here is the description of the PMP® according to the Project Management Institute: “Wherever you are in your career, the globally-recognized Project Management Professional (PMP®) certification tells employers, peers, and the world you know what you’re doing in project management. Even if “project manager” isn’t part of your title, the PMP® applies to anyone who helps bring a project to completion. Just like a CPA validates expertise for accountants, the PMP® recognizes your ability to manage projects—and the hard work you’ve done so far.”
PMP® Certification Exam
The PMP® certification is administered by the Project Management Institute. To earn this certification, you must pass a 200 question multiple-choice exam. The exam can be taken from your home through an online proctor.
PMP® Exam Topics
This certification covers a wide range of project management topics. The exam is specifically broken up into five sections, each section covering a different stage in project management.
According to the handbook, the five sections of the exam are weighted as follows:
- Initiating – 13% of the exam will be based on this topic.
- Planning – 24% of the exam will be based on this topic.
- Executing – 31% of the exam will be based on this topic.
- Monitoring and Controlling – 25% of the exam will be based on this topic.
- Closing – 7% of the exam will be based on this topic.
The PMI-ACP® Certification
The PMI-ACP® Certification, otherwise known as The Agile Certified Practitioner, is one of the premier certifications in the agile industry.
This certification is for professionals leading teams using agile or professionals using agile in their day to day jobs. This exam will test you on real-world scenarios, requiring you to make “hands-on” agile decisions to pass this exam. This is the best certification to learn and apply agile in real life.
This certification is widely recognized by employers as the premier certification in the industry. This exam covers a variety of agile topics including Kanban, extreme programming (XP), Scrum, Lean, and more. To pass this exam, you must understand each of the core agile practices and how to apply these practices in a real-life scenario as a project manager.
PMI-ACP® Certification Exam
The PMI-ACP® Certification is administered by the Project Management Institute. To earn this certification, you must pass a 120 question multiple-choice exam. The exam can be taken from your home through an online proctor, you will have three hours to complete the exam.
These exam questions are difficult. If you have not previously taken an exam administered by the Project Management Institute, you will be in for quite a surprise. The questions on this exam will be much different than what you may be used to on a typical exam that you took in high school or college. These questions require you to fully understand every aspect of the agile process and require you to actually apply the knowledge in a real-life scenario (rather than just repeating a definition).
To review some sample exam questions, I recommend checking out our PMI-ACP® Practice Exam blog, where we breakdown a few sample questions to showcase how difficult the situational real-life scenario questions can be.
PMI-ACP® Exam Topics
This certification covers a wide range of agile topics. The exam is specifically broken up into seven sections, each section covering a different agile topic.
According to the handbook, the seven sections of the exam are weighted as follows:
- Agile Principles and Mindset – 16% of the exam will be based on this topic.
- Value-driven Delivery – 20% of the exam will be based on this topic.
- Stakeholder Engagement – 17% of the exam will be based on this topic.
- Team Performance – 16% of the exam will be based on this topic.
- Adaptive Planning – 12% of the exam will be based on this topic.
- Problem Detection and Resolution – 10% of the exam will be based on this topic.
- Continuous Improvement (Product, – 9% of the exam will be based on this topic.
PMI-ACP® vs. PMP® – My Choice
Personally, I chose to pursue the PMI-ACP®, otherwise known as the PMI Agile Certified Practitioner certification. I chose this certification for one reason: specialization.
The PMI-ACP® gave me a specialization that the PMP® certification did not. The Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP®) is described by the Project Management Institute as “formally recognizing your knowledge of agile principles and your skill with agile techniques. Show your peers, employers, and stakeholders that your agile knowledge runs deep. Created by agilists for agilists, the PMI-ACP® is our fastest growing certification, and it’s no wonder. Organizations that are highly agile and responsive to market dynamics complete more of their projects successfully than their slower-moving counterparts—75 percent versus 56 percent—as shown in our 2015 Pulse of the Profession® report.”
Don’t get me wrong, the PMP® is widely recognized as one of the premier certifications in the industry. Even if you are not a project manager, if you have the letters “PMP” on your resume, it’s going to stand out. Every company recognizes and values the PMP® certification.
BUT if you want specialization. If you want to stand out as an expert in applying project management in the real world, with most companies using Agile, I recommend the PMI-ACP®. Agile and the number of companies adopting agile methodologies, will only continue to grow. As the PMI stated, the PMI-ACP® is the fastest-growing certification, simply because more and more companies are applying Agile principles and looking for experts in the field of applying Agile in a real-world project management role.
PMI-ACP® vs. PMP® Requirements – Comparison
Comparatively, the process for applying, studying, and earning each certification is pretty similar. Though I find the PMI-ACP® is easier for most people to meet the pre-requisite requirements. Below I’ve detailed and compared the process for each.
- You must have a four-year degree (bachelor’s degree).
- You must have at least 12 months of general project experience within the last 5 years.
- You must have at least 8 months of agile project experience within the last 3 years.
- Alternatively, if you don’t have a four-year degree, you are eligible for the PMI-ACP® if you have earned a secondary degree, have 21 contact hours of training in agile practices, accumulated at least 16 months of general project experience within the last 5 years, and have accumulated at least 12 months of agile project experience within the last 3 years.
- You must have a four-year degree (bachelor’s degree).
- You must have at least three years of experience leading projects.
- You must have at least 35 hours of project management education, training, or have earned your CAPM® Certification.
- Alternatively, if you don’t have a four-year degree, you are eligible for the PMP® if you have a high school diploma, at least five years of experience leading projects, and at least 25 hours of project management education.
As you can see, both the PMP® and PMI-ACP® have pretty strict prerequisites. Both certifications require a lot of “pre-work” before you are even eligible to take the exam.
For me, the PMI-ACP® requirements were a little easier to meet. I just needed a couple of months of agile project experience whereas the PMP® I needed three years of experience leading projects. Sure, I have the three years of experience leading projects (as a Senior Product Analyst in the insurance industry) but it was more of a mishmash of various projects that I’ve led and been a part of. As compared to working in Agile, where I’ve been using the Agile principles in my job every day since I graduated from college in 2014.
PMI-ACP® vs. PMP® – Conclusion
In conclusion, you cannot make a wrong choice. Whether you choose to pursue the PMI-ACP® certification or the PMP® certification, you will learn new skills and receive an incredible education. Both certifications will help you advance your career, and stand out on your resume. Our job as project managers is to provide the best service possible to our customers and stakeholders, and this is not possible without pursuing extracurricular project management education. In the growing project management industry, it is our job to better ourselves with additional education in order to fully understand every aspect of project management so that we can confidently perform our job and advance our careers.
Improving your knowledge should be a daily goal. Not only does it help you personally build a better business and career, but it helps to build a better industry.
Ready to get started studying? We’re here to help (for free). Download one of our free PMI-ACP® practice exams to get a feel for the type of content you will be studying.