Have you been thinking of PMI ACP certification? Are you wondering how to become ACP? Do you know what steps are involved? Here we delineate 5 steps on how to become ACP. Read on to successfully become a PMI ACP credential holder.
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The 1st Step: Verify eligibility
What do you need to do first in the process of how to become ACP? Let us start by understanding the PMI ACP requirements. Since you have decided to earn the PMI ACP, you need to check if you meet the PMI ACP requirements given by PMI. PMI-Project Management Institute is at the top position in terms of organizations advocating project management. Did you know the PMI ACP is the most popular certification of PMI? Now, all the more reason for you to add this credential to your list?
Why PMI ACP?
Did you wonder why PMI ACP is so popular? For those of you who are not already aware, PMI ACP stands for the Project Management Institute’s Agile Certified Practitioner. Here are the 3 reasons why PMI ACP is preferred. Though, there are many more reasons for PMI ACP being the choice of individuals and industry as well.
- PMI ACP is the credential from PMI institute which as you know is institute known worldwide for project management best practices.
- Moreover, PMI ACP is the Agile certification that tests your knowledge of multiple methodologies in Agile. There are a few certifications that focus only on Scrum or Kanban but PMI ACP assesses your competency in all these. Therefore, you are better off doing PMI ACP compared to others
- Did you know that projects executed using agile practices are more successful compared to others? This is another reason why many industries irrespective of the domain are embracing agile methodology?
PMI ACP Requirements:
Now let’s move on to PMI ACP requirements or the eligibility criteria you need to satisfy. The first step is verifying your eligibility. PMI in general looks at what basic education you need to have to take a certification. What makes PMI certifications most sought after and credible, is because of the well-defined requirements it prescribes for each credential. A holistic approach is taken which includes concept and application.
If you are not aware, these certifications from PMI like PMP Certification, PMI ACP, PgMP or PMI PBA, etc. need you to have certain hours of experience working as a project manager, lead, business analyst, program manager, etc. depending on the credential you are aspiring for. It is not the designation but the responsibilities and role you have on the project that matters as the designation or title could vary from company to company. Added to that, training related to the credential is also needed. Let’s explore each of these.
Of the 4 components in the PMI ACP Requirements, let’s start with the education you need to have. If you have a high school diploma or a secondary degree or an associate’s degree, then, you meet the education criteria.
General Project Experience
Next, comes to your experience. Since the PMI ACP certification exam is not based on only theoretical concepts, PMI expects you to have gained some hands-on experience working on projects so that you are applying the concepts and you are accordingly certified.
Have you worked for about 2000 hours or about one year on projects? Did you lead, direct the project and team? PMI also gives another alternative if you already hold any other PMI certifications. If you are already a PMP or PgMP certified, you have already met this requirement.
Agile project experience
If you have worked on projects using the Agile methodology that amount to 1500 hours, you can check off this requirement.
|General project experience working on teams||2000|
|Working on agile project teams or used agile methodologies||1500|
Another requirement is the training on Agile practices. Though it is not mandatory that you should have completed this when you submit the application form, it is to be done by the time you appear for the exam.
The 2nd Step: Apply
Now we will discuss the second step which is the application process.
You need to fill an online application and submit on pmi.org. So, gear up for it by understanding what goes into the application and how to have it done.
The step ‘Apply’ and ‘Take training’ are not necessarily sequential. You can start your application process while you are taking the training too. Some of the PMI ACP online training providers have videos explaining the application process too, which could be quite helpful.
PMI ACP application consists of multiple sections allowing to fill each one, save and continue or come back and complete later.
- Contact Info: In this section, you need to give your name, contact information both work and home, etc.
- Education: We have already verified the education eligibility that you need to have. So, now you will be entering the degree or diploma that you have.
- General & Agile project experience: From the date of application, work backward and quote your experience hours giving the details of your role and activities involved in.
- 21- hour training on Agile practices: PMI does not mandate undergo exclusively a separate 21- hour training on Agile methodologies. If you have taken any Agile training, that includes agile philosophy, methodologies, principles, and practices, it will be considered as a fulfillment of agile practices training. You can take one-hour training or course that you underwent as equal to one contact hour. Preferred is a PMI ACP training that gives you 21-hours of classes and also prepares you for the exam.
- Submit and get approval from PMI: After you fill in all these details, you can submit online. PMI will respond within 10 business days and will allow you for payment of the PMI ACP Certification fee.
PMI ACP Certification Fee
How much do you need to pay? How much PMI ACP Certification cost in terms of the exam fee? While application and preparation are one part, funds arrangement for the exam and 21-hour agile training is the other part. Here is the fee you need to pay based on whether you are a member or not of PMI.
Here is the fee you need to pay based on whether you are a member or not of PMI.
How much is the membership fee? $139. But, if you are already a member you get to save on the exam fee.
Schedule Your Exam
Once you pay the fee, you will be given an eligibility ID. Using that, you can pick the exam date and time. You can decide your PMI ACP Certification exam date either based on the confidence in your exam or alternatively, pick a date and ramp up your preparation based on the date. Your 2nd step in how to become ACP process is done when you fix that date.
The 3rd Step: Take the training
As mentioned earlier, 21-hour ACP training is a prerequisite and also an enabler for cracking the PMI ACP certification exam. If the training is important, then you also need to make a judicious choice in picking the training. What options are available, what are the criteria that should be taken into account while choosing the training?
What are your priorities and preferences? On a high level, you can either take a regular classroom session or an online program. Now, how to decide which is the one for you? Here are a few pointers to decide the way forward:
- Would you want to pre-book the class on the dates scheduled by the PMI ACP Course provider? This may give you a preparedness to plan. If so, the classroom is for you. But, on the flip side, if you cannot be sure if you would have that particular date free for the class, then maybe online is a better option.
- Is the PMI ACP training going to be held in a location far from where you live? Do you dread spending on commute time and cost? Are you thinking of all the traffic perils to face even on a weekend? If yes, go for PMI ACP online training
- What if you miss a class because of some exigency? Can you attend the class again when the provider conducts? There are two ifs, one is you should have availability and the other they should allow you to attend. Too many uncertainties will make classroom session a tough proposition for you if your schedules are not predictable.
In addition to these, in your process of how to become ACP, the cost is the other factor to take care of. How do these compare in terms of cost? How much does the PMI ACP Certification cost?
- While a classroom training programs start above $1500 for the 3-day program, you may get the Online ACP Course annual access for under $200 and if you want to finish it in a month, it can be as low as under $40.
But, as a seasoned project manager, you have the benefits and outcomes as a factor in deciding. Therefore, what are the advantages in choosing Online ACP Training other than cost? In this case, it is not L1 or lowest cost getting the contract.
What to look for in the PMI ACP training?
- How much experience does the institution have in providing this training?
- Who is the instructor on agile methodology? What experience does the instructor have? Can he/she explain in simple terms with examples?
- Will the training provider give you testimonials on their course?
- What resources will you be provided? What support can they give for your PMI ACP exam preparation?
- Will you get a PMI ACP Study guide?
- What does the PMI ACP Study guide have? Does it explore all the 7 domains and the subdomains? Are the different methodologies of agile discussed?
- Any recording or online resources provided to refer to in your PMI ACP exam preparation?
- Is there a study plan given?
- What if there are questions on the Agile practices that may arise while you are preparing? Can you connect with the instructor after the training is complete?
- A group study or discussion forum is a great help when you start preparing. Do you have access to an online blog or a platform to share, discuss, clarify with co-participants on various PMI ACP requirements related to the exam?
- How about PMI ACP Sample tests? Will you be provided with PMI ACP sample exam questions to assess your readiness?
Look at all these factors, evaluate the different PMI ACP training providers before selecting the one that suits you. If studying at your pace in a flexible mode is your requirement, PMI ACP online training will be ideal for you.
The 4th Step: Prepare
The deciding step in how to become ACP is your preparation. If you have already fixed a date for the PMI ACP certification exam, then in the given time, see how best you can prepare. If not, assess yourself and schedule your exam. Either way, the key aspect in how to become ACP process, is your preparation. What should you prepare and how? What will you be tested on and how many questions are expected from each domain?
- Number of questions for the PMI ACP exam: 120
- Time allowed for the PMI ACP Exam: 3 hours
- Type of questions: Multiple Choice
Of the 120 questions in the exam, 20 questions are pretest questions. What this means is only 100 questions will be assessed for deciding your certification. But, the catch is you never know which are those 20 questions. PMI specified 7 domains that you need to have a grasp on, which are:
- Agile principles and mindset (9 Tasks)
- Value-driven delivery (14 Tasks)
- Stakeholder engagement (9 Tasks)
- Team Performance ( 9 Tasks)
- Adaptive planning (10 Tasks)
- Problem detection and resolution (5 Tasks)
- Continuous improvement ( 6 Tasks)
Here is the percentage of questions you may expect in each of the domains as per PMI:
Maximum percentage of questions are from value-driven delivery followed by stakeholder engagement and agile principles and mindset. Therefore, plan your study so that you are thorough on these concepts.
You also need to be comfortable with the toolkit for Agile Analysis and Design, Agile Estimation, Communication, Interpersonal Skills, Metrics, Planning, Monitoring & Adapting, Process Improvement, Product Quality, Risk Management and Value-based prioritization.
Few of the tools and techniques included are product backlog, collaboration games, story points, information radiator, osmotic communications, conflict resolution, lead time, Kanban board, burndown chart, Kaizen, retrospectives, the definition of done, risk-adjusted backlog, MoSCoW, Kano Analysis, etc. In addition to these, you should also be familiar with the PMI Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct.
Estimate the time you need for each domain, create a plan and decide what specific areas you want to focus on each domain. You can assess yourself after every domain and as per agile principles, make the necessary changes along with your study of the next domain. Work on the PMI ACP sample exam questions so that you know how you fare. This is needed both for time and content management.
Make a study plan for a week or whatever sprint cycle you choose. Create a definition of done so that you know what you are targeting for. Based on the feedback (self-assessment), make necessary corrections. Have a burndown chart if needed, gives you the motivation to follow through to reach your goal. Before you reach the final step in the process – how to become ACP, you need to do this step well.
How to become ACP? The Final Step: Take the exam
You are on the last leg of your journey – how to become ACP which is cracking the PMI ACP Certification exam. This is your d-day that determines whether you will be a PMI ACP. Hence, this is a crucial aspect in the how to become ACP.
On the day of the exam, carry requisite identification proof to the Pearson VUE center. Plan to reach a little ahead of time so that you finish the procedures without having to hurry.
If you have practiced well, you will be able to complete well within time with certain time still available to revisit questions marked for review. And, there you are- a PMI ACP certified professional!
Therefore, since you now know how to become ACP, kick-start the first step and move on to become a PMI ACP now!
Sunanda Gundavajhala, B.Tech, M.B.A, PMP has over 25 years of project management. She is a consultant, trainer on project management for different sectors and is the recipient of the “Recognition of Excellence” award from PMI, USA, and Woman Volunteer award from Hyderabad, India Chapter of PMI. She has contributed to the “Practice Standard on Scheduling, PMI” in addition to being the Liaison officer for PMIEF (Education Foundation) for the Hyderabad, India Chapter of PMI