Level Up Your PM Career: PMP and Agile Certifications Made Simple

Crystal J. Richards
It was a busy April over here at MindsparQ as we continue to train people to be better project managers!In April, I held two virtual events to help aspiring PMP’ers get the full scoop on achieving their PMP credential as well as Agile certifications. Both events were meant to go beyond the surface level information — and in true MindsparQ style, we made project management talk fun! Here’s what went down during each event.
Event #1: PMP’ing Isn’t Easy: Tips for Achieving the PMP Credential
In this training, we came together to discuss what it takes to go from dream to PMP-certified reality. In addition to covering the requirements for PMP certification, we also broke down different strategies to navigate the current exam, what you need to apply to sit for the exam, and proven strategies to pass the exam.

Here are some of the tips I shared: 
Tip #1: You need to demonstrate work experience as a project manager
Many of the participants were unsure if they had enough experience to qualify to sit for the PMP certification exam. I dove into the different requirements based on specific background criteria and showed the different paths to PMP certification. 

Tip #2: Qualifying project management education entails a certificate of completion and end-of-course assessment
There are a variety of course providers (including MindsparQ!), self-paced programs, and meetings you can attend to accrue the necessary 35-contact hours to qualify. If you’re searching for a hands-on, collaborative, and energetic learning experience, I recommend you check out the next cohort of MindsparQ PMP Bootcamp here. 

Tip #3: Questions are much more straightforward, but you need to study — a lot of content!
There are many different methodologies you’ll have to retain and recall as part of your exam. Gaining access to current, relevant PMP® resources will be critical — whether you invest in a self-paced course, a guided program, or some other combination of exam prep. 

Tip #4: Study Agile!
Over 50% of the PMP exam incorporates Agile principles and techniques. It’s important that you study and have a good foundational understanding of Agile project management.  

Tip #5: Set up a study schedule and take practice tests
You have to study if you want to not dread every moment of the PMP certification process. Creating a schedule that works for you is part of the solution, but so is establishing the right support system to get you where you want to go — PMP certified. 

As a group, we also talked about specific tips to get your application across the finish line, and how you can best leverage your shiny new PMP certification in your job search (because getting certified doesn’t automatically mean your LinkedIn account will overflow with job offers). 

Event #2: Let’s be Agile … but which Agile?
I hosted another interactive webinar where I talked about all things Agile … and the main takeaway? Not all Agile certifications are created equal! 

While it's pretty clear what the gold standard is for traditional project management certification, it seems to be the Wild West when it comes to "best" Agile certification for you and your organization. 

Here are some of the most popular Agile certifications that you may have heard of: 
  • ​​CSM
  • PSM I
  • DASM
  • SAFe Agilist

Which certification is best for you is a highly individual choice, however, there are some key benefits to each. 

If you’re searching to show mastery of the fundamentals, the following certifications might be a good fit: 
  • Certified Scrum Master (CSM) by Scrum Alliance: CSM is one of the most common certifications held by Agile practitioners. Its foundation is in Scrum, which is the most popular Agile methodology. 

  • Professional Scrum Master I (PSM I) by Scrum.org: PSM I shows a mastery of the fundamentals of Scrum, and how to apply Scrum in teams. 
  • Disciplined Agile Scrum Master (DASM) by Project Management Institute: With this certification, you’ll demonstrate mastery of agile and lean techniques including Scrum, Kanban, and SAFe® 
  • If you’re looking to showcase advanced mastery, the PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP) by Project Management Institute might be a fit. The PMI-ACP certification is best for PMs who want to prove a deep knowledge of Agile approaches. This certification demonstrates mastery of various Agile approaches including Scrum, Kanban, Lean, extreme programming (XP), and test-driven development (TDD). 

In the discussion, we uncovered additional Agile-driven certification routes and talked through which option might be best for individual participants.

If you’d like to go deeper into Agile concepts, consider my course Agile in 30 Minutes. 

And for companies seeking advanced Agile training for their teams, contact me for my next Agile PMI-ACP boot camp course groups. 
I host virtual events regularly and would love to have you at the next one. Join my mailing list to get an invite sent right to your inbox. Click here to sign up.  
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