I think there is a lot of confusion among project managers about how to prepare for PMI-ACP certification – some people may think that:
- Getting PMI-ACP certification is a matter of buying an “exam prep” book or taking an “exam prep” training course and then going out and taking the exam, and
- Once you’ve taken and passed the exam, that is your “ticket” to get a job working in an Agile environment as a project manager
Both of those assumptions are far from reality, in my opinion:
- You can’t just do some “exam prep” training and/or buy an “exam prep” book and go out and pass the exam for several reasons:
- PMI won’t allow that – PMI requires a minimum of 1,500 hours of working in an Agile environment before you can even apply to take the exam
- There’s such a broad range of topics on the exam, it would be very difficult or impossible to pass the exam for someone who just “crammed” to pass the exam with little or no real-world Agile experience
- Even if you could do that, simply “cramming” to pass the exam would have very limited value because it would have little credibility without some real-world experience to go along with it
- Just getting a PMI-ACP certification is not likely to be a “ticket” to getting a job as a project manager in an Agile environment for a couple of reasons:
- PMI-ACP is just a test of general Agile and Lean knowledge – it’s not designed to test your ability to perform a particular Agile role
- The role of an Agile Project Manager is not well-defined and there is also some controversy that there is a role for a project manager in an Agile environment at all
I think it’s a mistake for anyone to think that getting PMI-ACP certification is just a matter of going out and passing the exam and getting a job in an Agile environment and people have to develop more realistic expectations about it. I recommend:
- Understand the roles that an Agile Project Manager can potentially play in the real-world, develop a vision for yourself of what that target role is, and understand the overall “road map” for moving into that role.
- Understand how PMI-ACP relates to other Agile certifications and where it fits into that road map. For example, a project manager who is new to an Agile environment may have to start out in a Scrum Master role to get some experience and PMI-ACP isn’t the best approach to become a Scrum Master – CSM or PSM is much better-suited for getting into that kind of role as a first step
- Don’t limit your focus to simply passing the exam – focus on developing solid, credible, real-world experience and use the PMI-ACP certification exam to validate that you do have the knowledge and experience needed to perform that role
My online Agile Project Management curriculum includes a training course for project managers called “What Is the Future of Agile Project Management”. That course is designed to help project managers develop a strategy for themselves and helps them understand how to position my other Agile Project Management courses in this strategy.
You will find much more detail on this in my Online Agile Project Management Training.