Home Agile Certification The Circus of Agile Certifications…And a Challenge

The Circus of Agile Certifications…And a Challenge

Anthony Mersino

December 27, 2019

10:57 AM

Previously I wrote about the three most popular entry-level agile certifications and I referenced a great 2016 article from Bob Galen. I was surprised – shocked actually – to learn that Bob had catalogued 113 possible certifications for agile people. The list was overwhelming and I put it aside.

Recently, Tom Cagley and I created a hiring guide for Scrum Masters and Coaches. We thought it would be helpful to hiring managers if we included a reference table in our guide, listing all the possible agile certifications out there, sorted alphabetically. Little did we realize how challenging that would be. I’ll get back to that challenge but first an aside about my relationship with Agile Certifications.

My Love-Hate Relationship with Agile Certifications

You may recall my rant a year ago when I found out that my certifications from the Scrum Alliance would expire. I was already questioning the rigor and value of the certifications from Scrum Alliance. They only required me to sit through a 2-day class taught by one of their Certified Scrum Trainers and then answer 35 easy questions.

But then I learned that the certifications would expire and have to be renewed. The renewal is simply an opportunity to have you pay again; it has nothing to do with learning, experience or demonstrating technical competency. (Though as some have commented, SEUs are required.) This is the way other certifying bodies like the Project Management Institute operate.

I decided I wasn’t going to re-certify anymore because of that. If they expire, they expire. And I posted a great image of my certification badges melting down on my blog. And then I had to remove it cease and desist notice from the Scrum Alliance. So yes I guess I have a bit of a love-hate relationship when it comes to agile certifications.

A Proliferation of Agile Certifications

So back to the present, Tom and I spent some time going through the list that Bob Galen created in 2016. Not surprisingly, we found a few that had become defunct. We also found a slew of new agile certifications. Even the oldest certifying bodies had introduced more certifications. In total, the 113 certifications in 2016 have expanded to over 270 today. That’s right, over 270 possible agile certifications from a total of 40 different certification bodies. (And we probably have missed a few!)

A summary table of the 270 agile certifications is included below, listed by certifying authority. In addition, we have created a post that has details about all the certifications here.

summary of agile certifications

What is the Value of Those Agile Certifications?

Initially, I tried to assign some attributes for each certification. I considered cost, exam requirements, experience, relevance, difficulty to obtain, and popularity for each certification. Unfortunately, data about each of the certifications is inconsistent and in some cases not readily available.

What I really thought would be most helpful to others was value.  I thought it would be helpful to have some measure of the value of the certification to the holder or in the marketplace. Unfortunately, the value turns out to be quite subjective.

There are some certifications that I am familiar with and can provide my own perspective. I currently hold a paltry 8 of the 200 certifications from 4 different certification authorities:

  • 3 from Scrum Alliance (CSM, CSP-SM, and CAL)
  • 3 from Scrum.org (PSM, PSPO and PAL-E)
  • 1 from the Project Management Institute (PMI-ACP)
  • 1 from AgilityHealth (AHF)

The Agile Certifications Challenge

So here is the challenging part. I am going to use 2020 to explore as many of these certifications as possible to gain as much first-hand experience as I can. I’d like to get at least one certification from each of the 32 certifying authorities if that is possible. And I would like to try to achieve 52 new certifications next year – that is one per week.

In doing so, I will post about my experience including what I learn, the value it provides to me. I will also post my findings of the various certifying authorities and invite you to share your own perspectives.

Some that are at the top of my list because I want to learn more include LeSS, DAD, Kanban, and SAFe. Unfortunately, they are also going to be some of the more costly ones. They can easily be $1,500 or more for the training and that excludes travel. So if you have tips for doing this on a budget please let me know those.

I welcome your feedback on this challenge including your own first-hand experience.

PS: I am working on an approach to allow people to provide their own ratings of all these certifications, like a Rotten Tomatoes approach. Hey, if we can crowdsource it we can probably cut through the BS. If you are interested in helping me test drive this, please email me directly at: AMersino@VitalityChicago.com

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