Agile Methodology

The Beginners Guide to Agile Project Management and PMP Certification

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The Beginners Guide to Agile Project Management and PMP Certification
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The Beginners Guide to Agile Project Management and PMP Certification

Being in charge of a project can be as exciting as it is challenging. If you’re brand new to taking ownership of a project you may be wondering how to even start. Or maybe you’re looking to expand your skillset and get certified in project management so you’ll be first in line for a promotion.

There are a couple of different schools of thought on how projects should be run. In this article, we’re going to go through PMP (Project Management Professional) certification and Scrum Master certification based on Agile methodology.

Both of these certifications are in high demand and they’ll make you incredibly attractive when applying for new jobs. Let’s take a look at what separates these two certificates and which one you should go for.

What Is Agile Project Management?

The Agile methodology is used by startups and smaller companies who need to remain agile in their work. Agile project management is about breaking project life cycles into smaller iterations or sprints. It’s most commonly used during software development but many other types of businesses have taken to using this model for their projects too.

The core principles of Agile project management are rooted in collaborative working. Project members engage in 2-week sprints and develop their processes as they go along. Sprints are led by a Scrum Master who is there to answer any questions and make sure Agile principles are being adhered to.

The Scrum Master is not the project lead, nor are they solely responsible for the outcome. Instead, the product owner will be the leader but they may not need to attend all of the meetings such as the daily standup. A Scrum Master can oversee these meetings and help teams to progress.

Agile project management incorporates regular feedback, testing, and response to changes. The short sprints mean that project members can debrief and learn from one another. It helps teams to stay agile and easily adapt as they embark on the next sprint.

What is PMP

What Is PMP?

PMP stands for project management professional and it’s based on the PMBOK (Project Management Body of Knowledge) model. The PMBOK guide is primarily written for those who want to follow a framework such as Waterfall which is pre-planned. However, it can be utilized with different styles and can work in tandem with Agile methods.

PMBOK takes project management and simplifies it into 5 process groups, sometimes known as phases. These are the following:

  • Initiating: Define a new project or phase and seek authorization for the project to begin.
  • Planning: Establish the deliverables of the project and plan the action needed to reach project objectives.
  • Executing: The processes involved with completing the work to project specifications.
  • Monitoring and controlling: Track, review, and regulate the progress of the projects. Identify areas of necessary change and implement them.
  • Closing: Finalize the activities for all process groups and formally close the project.

PMP is one of the most standardized models for project management. Those who hold certification are held in high regard. Although, whether you choose this or Scrum will depend on the industry you’re in. If your industry emphasizes PMBOK principles, then PMP certification is what you should do.

How Do Scrum and PMP Differ

How Do Scrum and PMP Differ?

Agile and Scrum are very popular among small teams and with startups. This is because it allows teams to be dynamic, adaptable, and adjust their processes as they go on. The Agile methodology was created for software development which benefits from this kind of routine. The principles can be applied to a wide range of industries and are no longer confined to just software.

PMP follows the strict 5 defined processes of PMBOK and doesn’t have much room for alteration. PMP experts will have all 5 phases occur once during the entire project, one after another. Agile, on the other hand, will have you break down the project into smaller sprints that last around 2 weeks.

If your project is following the PMBOK method, stakeholders will be involved only during the early stages of planning. In Agile, they will be responsible for continuing collaboration throughout the project.

The strict structure of PMBOK means that change is viewed as undesirable. There is an emphasis on control. However, change is a key part of Agile and it’s encouraged that teams review roadblocks and implement changes to their processes.

For ongoing projects, you might be better off using PMP methods. It can be particularly useful for projects that aren’t likely to change. PMP gives you a clear roadmap to refer to.

Scrum is going to be more useful if the project is brand new or is unfamiliar. This is because you can change and adapt with each sprint to perfect your team’s workflow.


Should You Get Certified In Both?

There’s no obvious right answer for this but it won’t harm your career to get certified in both. If you do, you’ll have more flexibility when job seeking and could find opportunities in new industries. Consider what your career aspirations are and if getting both certificates will be a benefit for you.

Do your research to find out what is the standard choice for your industry before you undertake an exam. Some industries are better suited to PMP and likewise, others will be better suited to Scrum.

If the project suits a traditional waterfall-style workflow, PMP will be the best certificate to get. Many companies will prefer this style of project management, particularly older companies that might be wary of change.

Scrum Master certification is better suited to projects in new verticals or teams that haven’t worked together before but are working on the same deliverables.

If you choose one certificate now, you can always retrain and obtain the other later in your career. There is a benefit to having both certifications because they can work in tandem with each other. Instead of using the 5 phases of PMBOK for the overall project, they can be applied to each sprint.

Scrum Master and PMP Certifications

Choosing which certification you should undertake is down to a few different factors. You’ll want to consider things like salary implications, cost of certification, and what the industry standards are. The good news is, companies are willing to pay more for recruits with these certifications so it’s a great way to improve your job prospects.

Cost of Certifications

PMP certification is administered through the Project Management Institute (PMI) who developed the certification. It’s internationally recognized and over 1 million people have undertaken the course. The cost of certification differs depending on your membership with the PMI. This is how much it costs:

  • Members: $405
  • Non-members: $555

Scrum Master certification is available through many providers including the PMI who offer the PMP certification. The Scrum certificates are also internationally recognized and are a great way to demonstrate your understanding of Scrum and Agile methodology. Scrum Master certification is not the same as being certified in Agile. Although there are some similarities, it is not a replacement for Agile certification.

Here is a selection of certificates worth looking into if you’re looking to get Scrum certified.

  • Professional Scrum Master (PSM I) by $150
  • Certified ScrumMaster by $1295
  • Scrum Master Accredited Certification Program by $69
  • Disciplined Agile Scrum Master Certification (DASM) by PMI: $399/$499

Salary Expectations

Salary Expectations

Both of the certifications lead to higher salaries compared to project managers without them. The first thing to consider is the average salary for project managers in America which according to is $73,922.

Project managers with PMP certification on average earn +15.36% more than the base earnings. Although PMI claims that their certificate holders can negotiate salaries up to 25% higher.

Those who get certified in Scrum can expect a similar pay increase which averages to be +16.64% more than project managers without the certificate.

It’s clear that either certification increases your earning potential. You could use the certificates as an opportunity to negotiate a pay increase or look for positions at a different company.

Since the overall costs for certification and salary expectations are similar, it’s difficult to suggest one of the other. The most important thing to consider is what the standard is for the industry you work in and your career goals.

Project Management Opportunities

How to Find Project Management Opportunities

Project management is a highly sought-after career both for prospective employees and employers. The job features a lot of important responsibilities with great salaries attached to them. People who work as project managers report high levels of job satisfaction and they get to work with others from a wide range of disciplines.

The key responsibility for project managers is overseeing the development and completion of a project. How big the scope is varies between projects. Typically you will have a team of people working for you and you’ll be responsible for delegating tasks.

You don’t necessarily need to have previous experience in project management to be considered for a position. The skills needed to do the job can be developed while working in other roles. What hiring managers are looking for include:

  • Communication skills
  • Leadership skills
  • Organization skills
  • Critical and creative thinking
  • Collaboration skills
  • Problem-solving

Some jobs may require a degree as a minimum requirement. Degrees in topics such as business, communications, finance, psychology, and sociology can help you land a project management job.

If you are planning out your career then the entry-level positions you could look at are in operations, marketing, customer service, and software development. The key is to apply for positions that share duties with project managers such as overseeing other people and their tasks.

Once you have the necessary skills you can look at the certificates to increase your chances of getting the job as well as your remuneration. Project management positions are sometimes hired internally but a lot of them look for external hires too. Many positions are offered on a per-project basis rather than as a full-time position.


Getting certified in PMP or Agile Project Management is a great choice for any project manager. There are a wealth of opportunities in project management and holding these certificates will demonstrate you as an expert. Once you have obtained them you will be able to secure higher-paying jobs.

If you’re brand new to project management but you’re keen to make this your career, training in one (or both) of these methods will increase your chances of getting a job. There are plenty of free resources online to teach you more about PMBOK and Agile. Check them out before sitting any exams to ensure you pass the first time.


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