written by
Sean Thomas

PMP vs. PMI ACP - What You Need to Know

ACP Exam Prep PMP Certification 4 min read

ACP (Agile Certified Practitioners) and PMP (Project Management Professional) are the most in-demand and sought-after certifications offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI). Both of these courses specialize in two distinct areas. ACP is centered on an agile approach to project management, whereas PMP focuses on traditional project management techniques with a much broader scope.

However, both ACP and PMP certifications help validate the skills and knowledge of professionals. Often, professionals find it hard to decide which certification they should pursue.

Although professionals can get both these certifications, it is better to choose one that best suits their professional goals.

If you’re struggling to choose between PMP and ACP, in this article, we have covered the core features of both to help you make the right decision:

How to Choose Between PMP and PMI-ACP

There are many factors to consider before you pick between PMP and PMI ACP. Let us consider each one of these factors to decide which is the best one for you.

Future Aspirations

For professionals, the main driver behind any certification program is the desire to expand one’s skills and open oneself to greater career opportunities. For instance, you can be a team leader who is aspiring to become a project manager someday. In that case, you need to equip yourself with similar certification.

Likewise, it’s natural for an experienced software developer to want to take on the role of a scrum master. Regardless of what your current job position may be, you need to be clear of what outcome you want from a certification.

Therefore, before you pursue either PMP or PMI ACP, you need to decide whether you want to become an Agile Practitioner or a Project Manager Professional. If you ultimately want to become a project manager, then pursuing the PMP certification makes more sense.

With that said, this doesn’t mean that you cannot pursue PMI ACP after completing PMP or vice versa. Both these certifications can help you attain growth in your career and enhance your earning opportunities, but you should choose a certification based on what you want to achieve in the end.

Knowledge Horizons

From a knowledge perspective, PMP has a broader scope as it aims to cover all dimensions of project management. On the other hand, ACP is a specialized certification in agile techniques and methods.

In other words, the Agile Certification Practitioner is a subset of PMP since PMP also includes Agile practices briefly. However, you can learn about Agile techniques in greater depth through the ACP certification. Therefore, you need to choose a certification that can help you acquire your desired expertise and knowledge.


Agile and other traditional project management certification have two different approaches to handling projects. They set project managers and leaders on two different paths, with one promoting self-organization while the other one pushes for greater central control over the project workflow.

Choosing either of the two programs should depend on what kind of mindset is prevalent in your organization (or the company you want to switch to). Many managers dislike organizational structures where there isn’t a defined hierarchy or central control whereas others appreciate an environment where people are responsible and accountable for their own actions.

workers in a Singaporean shipyard disembark a gas vessel during a planned fire drill.
Photographer: sol | Source: Unsplash

If you are aiming for an organization with a central management approach, you should pursue PMP since many traditional project management techniques are suited for this. On the other hand, if you want to break into an organization where people have greater self-independence, then ACP is a better option.

Current Organizational Needs

A number of professionals get the opportunity to pursue either of these certifications with the help of organizations. In such cases, you should pay attention to the existing structure in your organization.

If your organization requires qualified project managers, then you should go for PMP. PMP will prepare you to manage a project end-to-end with the help of various project management techniques. In case your current organization is Agile-driven, then PMI ACP is the way to go.

Market Dynamics

Depending on the industry you are currently working in, market dynamics may play a crucial role in helping you decide between PMP and PMI-ACP. If the market dynamics of your industry or field of work require rapid adoption to change, then you need to master techniques that can help you adapt to changes easily.

The Agile methodology specializes in handling changing requirements and addressing the change requests more efficiently. Therefore, if you are part of a fast-changing market, you must choose ACP over PMP.

Requirements for Eligibility

The eligibility requirements for both PMI-ACP and PMP differ and include the following.


1. 2,000 hours of general project management experience. If you are already a qualified PgMP®or PMP®, then you will be automatically eligible for PMI-ACP, but that is not mandatory.

2. 1,500 hours of project management experience on Agile project teams. This is necessary for an addition of 2,000 hours of general project management experience.

3. 21 hours of training in Agile practices


1. You must have project management experience of 4500 hours if you have earned a Bachelor’s or any other equivalent university degree. In the case of a High School Diploma or any other equivalent secondary school degree, that requirement is 7500 hours of PM experience in total.

2. You must gain 35 hours worth project management training by a R.E.P (Registered Education Provider) certified by PMI.

If you haven’t worked on Agile projects yet, then you cannot apply for the ACP certification. Similarly, if your total project management experience is less than the requirement for PMP, you cannot pursue it.


There are several factors that can help you decide which certification you should choose between PMI-ACP vs. PMP. Ideally, you should aim for both to take your career to the next level. Otherwise, you should keep your limitations in mind and pursue the certification that can help you meet your future goals and aspirations.

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