PMP vs PMI-ACP: Which is better?

By Simpliaxis


Project Managers are one of the most demanding jobs in the market as every organization needs an expert who knows everything about handling a complex project. Project Management Institute is one of the most reputed institutes that train new project managers and makes them into an expert. PMI offers two courses that hold almost the same credibility in the market namely PMP and PMI-ACP. Both of these certification courses add credibility to the resume of a project manager and help them boost their professional growth. The PMP and PMI-ACP certification helps the project manager to be present with the recent trends in the market and help them become updated with the current knowledge. However, both these courses demand a vast amount of time to complete and are tedious. Many project managers have the dilemma of choosing one of the courses which suit their specific technical domain. This article intends to bring out the differences between both the courses- PMP vs PMI-ACP and will help you decide which course is best for you. 


Project Management Professional (PMP) Certification

The Project Management Professional is a course that includes predictive, agile, and hybrid approaches and teaches the project leadership experience to candidates opting for this course. The certification course helps the candidates to gain experience in project leadership and become project leaders who are experts in their field. This course helps organizations recognize suitable candidates who are capable of working in an environment that requires focus and dedication in working in project management. It also enables individuals to work smarter and perform better in areas that are crucial for the success of project management. Also, in the current market, there are requirements of almost 2.2 million project-oriented roles each year, according to research. The PMP course is designed by project professionals and validates that the candidates are highly skilled in people, process, and business environments. 

  • People: This section emphasizes that the candidates acquire the soft skills that are required to lead a project team effectively in the present world’s changing environment. 
  • Process: Here the candidates learn the technical aspects of managing projects successfully.
  • Business environment: This section helps the candidates to understand the connection between organizational strategy and project management. 


Benefits of PMP certification

  • Adds value to the resume as it shows that the candidate has the dedication and skills to excel at a project management job and perform the best at their highest levels. 
  • Increased salary and incentives for candidates who have completed their certification than their non-certified peers. 
  • Proves that the individual is smarter and shows the world that they have skills to show business results.
  • Increases the respect and reputation given to the individual in the organization and around the world. 


Project Management Institute- Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP) certification

The PMI-ACP certification course formally recognizes the knowledge of Agile principles and explains its importance in project management. This course is designed by the Project professionals and focuses mostly on how Agile values and principles would be helpful in project management. It proves to the world the Agile knowledge of the candidate runs deep. It is a course that is created by Agilists for Agilists, and also the course has proven to be one of the most popular courses offered by the Project Management Institute. The organizations that are highly Agile and have to be responsive to the market dynamics require candidates who can handle complex projects and also have wide knowledge about how Agile works. The course introduces various frameworks of Agile such as Scrum, Kanban, Extreme Programming (XP), and test-driven development (TDD) and enables the candidate to become versatile with any kind of project management. 


Benefits of PMI-ACP certification

  • The PMI-ACP certification holders get an advantage of gaining knowledge of Agile practices and tools which is required for enhancing the performance of the organization.
  • The certification proves your professional ability to recruiters from top organizations. 
  • The course increases the adaptability in Agile technology which increases customer satisfaction and team productivity. 
  • The course also helps the candidates to learn about specific practical skills which helps them in project planning and estimating project cost in an Agile way.


PMP vs PMI-ACP: Prerequisites

For the PMP certification, the candidate who has a secondary degree needs to have 7,500 hours of leading and directing project time along with 35 hours of project management education. However, if the candidate has a graduate degree, they require only 4,500 hours of leading and directing project time along with 35 hours of project management education. 

For the PMI-ACP certification, the candidate needs to have at least 2,000 hours of general project experience. However, if the candidate already has a PMP or PgMP certification, this requirement does not apply. Also, the candidate needs to have 1,500 hours of working on Agile projects in addition to the 2,000 hours of general project experience. Apart from this, the individual requires 21 contact hours of training in Agile practices. 


PMP vs PMI-ACP: Study Time

The PMP certification demands at least 1-3 months of study time or even more depending on the daily commitment of the candidate. The individual needs to assimilate the knowledge which is present on the PMBOK and other related materials. The PMP exam is one of the most challenging exams and the individual needs to be well prepared to crack the exam. 

The PMI-ACP certification exam does not have a specific book such as PMBOK for the PMP course, however, the Project Management Institute advises the candidates to go through twelve different books which have a total of 4000 pages. Many preparation courses will help the candidate to enjoy the journey of preparing for the PMI-ACP certification. This course also takes candidates about 1-3 months to prepare for the exam and requires similar dedication and commitment given for the PMP course.


PMP vs PMI-ACP: Exam

Both the exams are conducted in an electronic mode where the candidate would be given MCQs. The candidate has to give the exam in a facility authorized by PMI. The individual does not have access to the internet and also the facility is that observed by CCTV cameras. The passing marks for every PMI-certified course are decided by conducting a psychometric analysis. This means that the passing marks of all individuals are not the same and depends on how tough the overall exam is. The PMP certification exam has 200 questions that have to be answered in four hours and the PMI-ACP exam has 120 questions that have to be answered in three hours. 

The two exams require individuals to prepare extensively and are thorough with the content related to project management. In comparison, the content for PMI-ACP is lesser and focuses mainly on Agile but the content for PMP focuses on the entire project management that uses predictive, hybrid, and Agile methods. Candidates studying for the PMP course may feel like they are studying to graduate with a degree based in project management.


PMP vs PMI-ACP: The Basic Difference

Any certification from the Project Management Institute is given high importance in the market as gaining a certificate from them is quite a hardship. The PMI-ACP course gives a formal credential of being an Agile Certified Practitioner to the individual. It also improves the understanding and knowledge about the latest project management methodologies which finds practical application in organizations that chiefly deal with project management. On the other hand, the PMP certification, even though it is based on traditional software engineering, has a high demand in top organizations, as it demonstrates the candidate has the experience, competency, and education on leading and directing projects. The main differences between the courses are listed below:

  • Role of PMP and Agile Practitioner

As a PMP manager, the candidate has to have sufficient knowledge about the methodology that is being implemented to complete a particular project. The individual has to control and regulate all the aspects of the project for its sustenance and has to lead and direct the project. The PMP professional also has to manage the constraints of the budget and schedule so the project is completed successfully.

On the other hand, the Agile practitioner should be aware of all the Agile tools that are required for the completion of the project. The professional has to know when to implement Agile tools and techniques quickly according to the preferences and needs of the project. The professional needs to understand the Agile methodology thoroughly so that they can bring about a degree of coordination needed to manage the Agile teams. Project planning, designing, development, testing and documentation, etc would be the responsibility of the Agile practitioner.

  • The difference in Answerability and transparency

PMP gives authority of the project to the project manager who is expected to take decisions as the project progresses. They have the power to alter the project details as the project work moves forward. The manager is the sole person who knows about the project progression and has the bigger picture for the project. The team members have to rely on the manager for further information about the project. 

Agile Methodology promotes the concept of transparency as it states that the information of the project progression should be shared with all the members. Team members use burndown charts to get a clear picture of how every member is working towards the project. Every step of the project cycle is focused on preventing defects and integrating continuous improvement of the project. 

  • Difference in Designation

The PMP certification would take the individual to the highest level of project management so that the candidate understands project management from the macro-view to the granular view. However, the PMI-ACP certification is a subset of project management where the candidate learns to be flexible in Agile and knows about ways to respond to unpredictability. 

  • The difference in Course content

The PMP course primarily focuses on project management completion using traditional methods where the individual understands the concepts of project management but not Agile methodology in specific. However, the PMI-ACP primarily consists of all the frameworks used in Agile for project management where the candidate learns about how to assess the direction throughout the Agile development. 


Any certification from the Project Management Institute is considered a milestone in top organizations as it shows the dedication and passion of the individual in project management. Both PMP and PMI-ACP are time-demanding courses that require the person to commit to months of hard work and dedication. Candidates who are looking for a wider acceptance in project management skills in methodologies other than Agile can opt for the PMP certification, on the other hand, individuals who want to build a career in Agile and want to learn about various Agile tools and techniques in project management should opt for the PMI-ACP certification. While choosing the certification, the candidate should consider whether all the differences between the courses and what would be more suitable as per their plans.



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