July 29, 2022
Summary: The PMI Disciplined Agile certifications continue to grow in popularity, albeit slowly. The PMI-ACP is more popular than the Disciplined Agile certifications though the % growth rate is lower. And the revenue from all the PMI agile certifications combined is dwarfed by the revenue from the PMP, which continues to be the most popular PMI Certification.
I frequently provide updates on the Project Management Institute’s (PMI) certifications and the agile certifications in particular. If I have been quiet about the certifications, it is because PMI has been pretty quiet.
Back in 2021, I posted an update on the growth of the PMI Disciplined Agile certifications. At that time, the number of people getting certified in Disciplined Agile (DA) was somewhat low though I was optimistic they would improve.
In my last update in February 2022, I focused on which of the PMI agile certifications to choose. The answer I gave was the consultant’s response – it depends.
There has not been much news about the PMI Disciplined Agile Certifications this year. The most newsworthy event this year was the announcement in April 2022 that Disciplined Agile co-creators Mark Lines and Scott Ambler would be leaving PMI at the end of July. Lines and Ambler, along with NetObjectives founder Al Shalloway, were the thought leaders behind what has become PMI’s Disciplined Agile Training and Certification offers. I was not surprised by the announcement that Lines and Ambler were leaving though it made me question the commitment PMI is making to their Disciplined Agile offerings.
PMI was oddly quiet at Agile2022, the annual Agile Alliance conference in Nashville held in July. Sure PMI had a large booth and some new purple Disciplined Agile shirts. But otherwise, there was nothing noteworthy. Both Mark Lines and Scott Ambler attended the conference, and Ambler spoke, though not on a Disciplined Agile topic.
Let’s look at the publicly available information about the PMI agile certifications to see if anything is interesting.
The following charts show the growth of the three available PMI Agile Certifications. These come from the PMI Fact File on the Critical Path Blog.
I know that the chart above is a bit of an eye chart. I’ve put some of the key statistics into the chart below:
For the three Agile-related certifications from PMI, the most significant net growth came from the PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP), with a gain of 7,387 certification holders for the 18 months ending in June 2022.
The Disciplined Agile Senior Scrum Master (DASSM) was the fastest growing on a percentage basis. The growth of 1,364 new DASSM holders represents a growth rate of 184%.
Note that there is a weird blip in the June 2022 data for the DASSM. It increased 26% from the previous month, which looks like an anomaly. I don’t have an explanation for it though it seems unlikely to be accurate.
Let’s take a look at the potential revenue that each certification generates.
The PMI Agile certifications provide revenue in slightly different ways. For the PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP), PMI doesn’t get involved in your training. They simply collect an exam fee of $435 for members and $495 for non-members. So the PMI revenue for the PMI-ACP for the last 18 months is conservatively 7,387 X $435 / person = $3.2M.
Note that the actual revenue from the PMP-ACP could be higher since some applicants will be non-members, and others may need to take the exam more than once before passing.
Another source of revenue for the PMI-ACP is renewal. Renewal is required every three years. So roughly 1/3 of the existing certificate holders will need to renew each year at the cost of $60. This works out to about $840K (42,000 holders X 1/3 renewing X 60).
The revenue generated by the Disciplined Agile certifications is lower than that of the PMI-ACP. PMI requires that those seeking Disciplined Agile Certification take their training from an Authorized Training Partner. The PMI revenue is related to the PMI-required student courseware, which is $180 per person. That means the DA Training over the last 18 months has provided $625K.
As with the PMI-ACP, the actual revenue is probably higher as some will take the training and not get certified, and some will need to take the exam twice.
A larger revenue source for the Disciplined Agile certification is the annual fee that PMI charges the Authorized Training Partners or ATPs. There are two partnership levels with two different fees. In the United States, the basic partnership level is $6,999 per year, and the premier level is $9,999 per year. As far as can be discerned from the PMI Directory of Authorized Training Partners, 192 ATPs are providing Disciplined Agile Training. That represents potential annual revenue of between $1.3m and $1.9m from Authorized Training Partners. (Note it is likely less since ATP fees are lower outside the US).
The PMI DA Certifications need to be renewed each year at the cost of $50. If we round off the certification holders to 5,000, that adds $500K each year for the DA Certifications.
It might be helpful to check out the growth and revenue for the Project Management Professional (PMP). The PMP is the PMI’s flagship certification and the organization’s cash cow.
Check out this chart below of the 10-year growth in PMP certification holders up to June 2022. As you can see, the net increase in the PMP is slow and steady. In the last ten years, the PMP certification has more than doubled. This is data taken from the PMI Fact File on the PMI Critical Path Blog after 2020 and the PMI Today magazine prior to that.
Did you notice that downturn in the chart above? Yeah, me too. There is a weird flattening in the 2022 data. It could just be related to renewals.
The chart below looks at the PMP growth over just the last 18 months. Is this a flattening of demand or just lumpy data? It is hard to tell.
In case the chart above is hard to read, here is a summary of the gain over the last 18 months for the PMP:
Though the percentage growth is low, the 18-month net gain of 87,822 is nothing to sneeze at. However, it is lower than what Scrum.org and Scrum Alliance have booked for their Scrum Master certifications, as I reported previously:
Scrum.org offers three different levels of Scrum Master certification (PSM-I, PSM-II, and PSM-III). In 2021 alone they added 89,249 new Professional Scrum Master (PSM) certifications for a total of 462,047 scrum masters certified since 2009. While the overall number of PMPs is greater than the PSMs, the net new number is nearly the same for both. And since Scrum.org is just one of the two main certification bodies for Scrum and Scrum Masters, it is fair to say that the Scrum Master certification is outstripping the PMP certifications.
Anthony Mersino, Which PMI Agile Certification Should I Get, February 2022
In terms of revenue, the PMP revenue model is similar to that for the PMI Disciplined Agile certifications. So the 18 month revenue is 87,822 X $180 / person = $15.8m.
This ignores a couple of other sources of PMP revenue for PMI. First, each PMP must renew every three years, so about 1/3 of the existing PMP holders renew each year at a fee of $60. That works out to be $23M, which is huge.
We should also mention the fees PMI collects from the Authorized Training Partners to be able to teach the PMP. There are 701 ATPs offering PMP prep training. Suppose we remove the 192 already counted for Disciplined Agile above; that leaves 509 ATPs for the PMP. Given the ATP fees mentioned above, PMI collects another $3.5m to $5.1m in ATP fees for the PMP. (Note it is likely less since ATP fees are lower outside the US).
The future of the PMI Disciplined Agile certifications is murky as PMI has been pretty quiet this year, and two of the three Agile thought leaders are departing PMI.
The PMI Agile certifications continue to grow slowly. The PMI-ACP is more popular than the Disciplined Agile certifications though the % growth rate is lower. And the revenue from the PMI agile certifications is dwarfed by the revenue from the PMP, which continues to be the most popular PMI Certification.
I hope that you found this information helpful.