Hello there, welcome to the most comprehensive comparison on PMP vs PMI ACP certifications.

By sticking through this article to the end, we guarantee that you will be able to understand the difference between the PMP and the PMI-ACP certifications.

You will also have ample knowledge on the skills they highlight, and which one you should go for to boost your project management career.

In particular, we will cover the following topics:

What is the Project Management Institute?
What is a Project Management Professional (PMP)?
What is a PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)?
What are the similarities between PMP and PMI-ACP?
What are the differences between PMP and PMI-ACP?

Let’s have a deep dive into the institute and its certifications.

What is The Project Management Institute (PMI)?

The certifications we will discuss are developed by the same organization, so it’s essential to know about the institution behind them.

The Project Management Institute, Inc (PMI) is a professional organization dedicated to project management. The institution is based in the United States.

It now has 300 chapters and over 600,000 members worldwide and has become a truly international organization.

The PMI’s flagship resource is The Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide).

All their training and certifications have their basis in the lessons outlined in the publication.

It is currently in its Seventh Edition and is translated into many languages.

What is PMI Certification?

The PMI hosts a variety of training and certifications in their locations.

They have ten (10) different certifications, all focusing on specific project management skills.

Their certifications are popular and widely accepted by a variety of companies and industries around the world.

While the PMI has been around and considered an authority on traditional project management, they regularly update the PMBOK Guide and their certifications to remain relevant to changes in business and industry.

PMI Certification Requirements

If you want to have a certification from the PMI, most of their programs require:

  • Education and professional credentials that highlight your project management experience – equivalent to hours of general project experience,
  • Examination score on the official tests to determine your level of proficiency of project, program, or portfolio management knowledge, and
  • Interest in continuous development and training of your project management skills.

Some certifications require an independent panel review; however, both the PMP and the PMI-ACP do not.

The value of PMI certification has been growing in the past decade, especially with projects becoming such an essential part of operations.

Companies recognize PMI-certified individuals as project management experts. From PMI’s ten certifications, we will focus on two: PMP and PMI-ACP.

What is a Project Management Professional (PMP)?

The Project Management Professional is a professional designation for PMI members that want to be recognized for their expertise in the field.

PMP-certified project managers in the United States are reported to have salaries that are 25% higher than the industry average.

PMP Certified Project Manager Skills and Tasks

As stated in the PMP Examination Syllabus, the knowledge that PMP certified project managers are expected to exhibit is separated into three domains:

People (42% of the Exam)

This domain covers the soft skills and people leadership skills of a project manager.

These are the responsibilities of the project manager in this domain:

  • Managing conflict
  • Leading a team
  • Supporting team performance
  • Empowering team members and stakeholders
  • Ensuring the team and stakeholders are adequately trained
  • Building a team
  • Addressing and removing the team’s obstacles
  • Negotiating project agreements
  • Collaborating with project stakeholders
  • Building a shared understanding in the team
  • Engaging and supporting virtual teams
  • Defining team ground rules
  • Mentoring the relevant project stakeholders
  • Promoting team performance using emotional intelligence principles

Process (50% of the Exam)

This domain covers knowledge of the technical project management processes and frameworks.

These are the responsibilities of the project manager in this domain:

  • Executing project with the urgency required to deliver business value
  • Managing project communications
  • Assessing and managing project risks
  • Engaging project stakeholders
  • Planning and managing the project’s budget and resources
  • Planning and managing schedules
  • Planning and controlling quality of products/deliverables
  • Panning and managing scope
  • Integrating project planning activities
  • Managing project changes
  • Planning and managing procurement
  • Managing project artifacts
  • Determining appropriate project methods and practices
  • Establishing a project governance structure
  • Managing project issues
  • Ensuring knowledge transfer for project continuity
  • Planning and managing project/phase closure or transition

Business Environment (8% of the Exam)

This domain covers championing the connection between the project and the organization’s strategy.

These are the responsibilities of the project manager in this domain:

  • Planning and managing project compliance
  • Evaluating and delivering project benefits and value
  • Assessing and addressing external business environment changes for impact on the scope
  • Supporting organizational changes

Aside from leadership skills, PMPs are well-versed in three critical methodologies, namely: (1) the predictive or waterfall approach, (2) the agile approach, and (3) the hybrid approach.

PMP Prerequisites and Requirements

To qualify for the PMP certification, here are some of the requirements you need to fulfill.

There are two sets of requirements depending on your educational background and current working experience.

To qualify, you must be:

  • A graduate of a four-year degree,
  • A professional with 36 months (3 years) of experience leading projects, and
  • A graduate of at least 35 hours worth of project management training or
  • A Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) Certification holder

Alternatively, you could also fulfill the following requirements:

  • Have a high school diploma or an associate’s degree,
  • A professional with 60 months (5 years) of experience leading projects, and
  • A graduate of at least 35 hours worth of project management training by Registered Education Providers (REPs) or
  • A holder of the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) Certification

If you cannot comply with all the requirements, you will not be allowed to pursue the official PMP certification.

PMP exam

The PMP certification exam will take 230 minutes.

It consists of 180 questions in total, with some of them being multiple-choice questions.

Upon approval of your application, you are required to pay the exam fee:

For PMI members, the current exam fee is $405.

For non-members, the current exam fee is $555.

After payment, you can set up your exam schedule at an approved testing site. Today there are also online proctored exams.

You should earn 60 professional development units (PDUs) within every three-year cycle to maintain your certification.

Now that we’ve gone through the PMP certification let’s tackle what is considered its little brother – the PMI-ACP.

What is PMI ACP?

The PMI Agile Certified Practitioner is a project management professional who is experienced in agile methods.

It is sometimes seen as equivalent to Certified Scrum Master (CSM) certification.

PMI-ACP Certified Project Manager skills and tasks

As stated in the PMI-ACP Examination Syllabus, the knowledge that PMI-ACP project managers are expected to exhibit is separated into seven domains:

Domain 1: Agile Principles and Mindset (16% of the Exam)

The project manager explores and advocates for agile principles within their teams.

Domain 2: Value-Driven Delivery (20% of the Exam)

The project manager strives for high-value incremental results for clients.

These deliverables are finished early and often, guided by the needs of the stakeholders.

The sub-domains are:

  • Defining positive value
  • Avoiding potential downsides
  • Prioritization
  • Incremental development

Domain 3: Stakeholder Engagement (17% of the Exam)

The project manager builds an environment of trust and understanding between the stakeholder and the team members.

The sub-domains are:

  • Understanding stakeholder needs
  • Ensuring stakeholder involvement
  • Managing stakeholder expectations

Domain 4: Team Performance (16% of the Exam)

The project manager creates a high-performance culture of collaboration and engages in conflict resolution between team members when the need arises.

The sub-domains are:

  • Team formation
  • Team empowerment
  • Team collaboration and commitment

Domain 5: Adaptive Planning (12% of the Exam)

The project manager stays on top of an evolving plan from start to finish.

The sub-domains are:

  • Levels of planning
  • Adaptation
  • Agile sizing and estimation

Domain 6: Problem Detection and Resolution (10% of the Exam)

The project manager anticipates and identifies potential problems in the project process and schedule and handles risk management.

Domain 7: Continuous Improvement (Product, Process, People) (9% of the Exam)

The project manager strives to improve the project’s quality and effectiveness.

Aside from the agile certifications, PMI-ACPs are well-versed in important methods and frameworks, namely:

  • Scrum
  • Kanban
  • Lean
  • Extreme programming (XP)
  • Test-driven development (TDD).

PMI-ACP prerequisites and requirements

To qualify for the PMP certification, here are some of the requirements you need to fulfill.

Check your eligibility here:

  • A secondary degree: high school diploma or bachelor’s degree,
  • 21 contact hours of certified agile principles training,
  • At least eight months worth of agile project experience in the last three years, and
  • At least 12 months’ worth of project management experience in the last five years, or a holder of the PMP or Program Management Professional (PgMP) certification

PMI-ACP exam

The PMI-ACP exam is 3 hours long. It is made up of a total of 120 questions which are all in multiple-choice format.

Upon approval of your application, you will need to pay the exam fee:

For PMI members, the current exam fee is $435.

For non-members, the current exam fee is $495.

To maintain your certification, you are expected to earn 30 professional development units (PDUs) within every three-year cycle.

Having seen both certifications up close, what do you notice about their similarities and differences?

What Are The Similarities Between PMP and PMI-ACP?

The two certifications are similar in that they have a focus on PMI’s popular project management guide.

Focus on Project Management

As expected from the PMI, both certifications are ideal for project managers who want to skill up and develop expertise in project management frameworks.

These PMI certifications are considered to be the gold standard in the industry.

The PMP certification is a prevalent one.

The PMI-ACP is the institution’s fastest-growing certificate.

With project management skills becoming more demanded across industries, your expertise can be an attractive selling point for employers.

What Are The Differences Between PMP and PMI-ACP?

The main difference between the two is their approach.

Waterfall vs. Agile

As hinted in the certification’s full title, the PMI-ACP is focused on the agile methodology.

Recently, the PMP certification has included hybrid and agile practices in its curriculum.

However, the level dedicated to the agile topic is not as comprehensive as the coverage of the PMI-ACP.

You can expect a level of difference in skills between a PMP and a PMI-ACP, particularly for agile project teams.

An agile PMP could exist, but their skills and experience would not be as robust.

That said, how will you choose between the two certifications?

Which Is For You – PMP or PMI-ACP?

Which is better-PMP or PMI-ACP?

This is not a simple question, and there are some factors you must consider if you are choosing between the two.

Desired expertise and project management role

If you are interested in general project management, the PMP, with its comprehensive view of the PMBOK guide, can be sufficient for your purposes.

Plus, it is a highly-recognized certification across countries and industries.

If you are interested in explicitly becoming an agile practitioner and likely to work in tech or software development, your skills as a PMI-ACP will be in high demand.

Years of experience

The PMI-ACP is in the beginner tier of the PMI certifications because it requires a minimum of one year of project experience.

The PMP is in the middle tier due to applicants requiring a minimum of three years of project experience.

It all depends on where you are in your career and your reasons for getting a certification as soon as possible.

You should look into your career timeline for what makes sense for your growth.

PMP vs PMI ACP – Conclusion

For project managers who want to gain a competitive edge in their industry, a project management certification is an excellent step to take.

This is especially true if the certificate is one from the reputable Project Management Institute.

The available programs offer validation on specific skill sets, so it’s essential to identify which skills you want to highlight in your resume beforehand.

That said, despite the similarities that PMP and PMI-ACP have, mainly since they are based on the same PMBOK guide, it is a good idea to start with one or the other.

A PMP certification is excellent for all-around project managers interested in general project management and could see themselves shifting from one industry to another.

PMI-ACP certification is great for project managers who want to specialize in the agile project management methodology.

Neither exam is a walk in the park and requires a dedicated amount of exam prep to pass.

Once you do pass, you have a shiny new certification that proves your dedication to your project management career!



Project Management Institute

PMI PMP Examination Content Outline as of June 2019

PMI Agile Certified Practitioner Exam Outline as of  December 2014

ITIL 4 Certification



All Posts

career employers editorial process

Here at career employer, we focus a lot on providing factually accurate information that is always up to date. We strive to provide correct information using strict editorial processes, article editing and fact checking for all of the information found on our website. We only utilize trustworthy and relevant resources. To find out more, make sure to read our full editorial process page here.

Leave a Comment

How Career Employer Collects Its Data

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Nulla quam velit, vulputate eu pharetra nec, mattis ac neque. Duis vulputate commodo lectus, ac blandit elit tincidunt id.