The Circus of Agile Certifications

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

A year ago, 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 any more 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 has expanded to over 256 today. That’s right, over 256 possible agile certifications from a total of 40 different certification bodies. (And we probably have missed a few!)

A summary table of the 256 agile certifications is included below, listed by certifying authority. In addition, we have created a website that has details about all the certifications here: AgileCertificationReviews.com.

The Circus 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, 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)

This article originally appeared on Vitality Chicago’s blog and has been republished with permission.

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Author: Anthony Mersino

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