What is the PMI-ACP certification, and how does it complement an information systems degree?

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Many professionals today supplement their higher education pursuits with a specialized certification. In some instances, employers will prefer that applicants have these certifications before considering them for a position, or may support workers in the certification process after they’ve been onboarded. There are numerous different types of certifications available, some focusing on specific types of technologies, while others center around management or other working processes.

What is the PMI-ACP certification, and how does it complement an information systems degree?

One such type of certification revolves around project management, an increasingly important pursuit being developed and defined across many enterprises. Before entering any industry, it’s beneficial for students to gain skills and knowledge in project management.

As part of the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s online Bachelor of Science in Information Systems program, students will take course MG 417: Project Management, as part of the information systems core curriculum. This three-credit-hour course teaches an array of concepts, including project management methodology, guiding tenets, and other techniques.

Students can also complement the skills they gain in the information systems curriculum with an IT project management certification like PMI-ACP, or Project Management Institute Agile Certified Practitioner. Let’s take a more in-depth look at the PMI-ACP, the principles it involves, and the benefits it can bring for students in addition to a Bachelor of Science in Information Systems.

PMI-ACP: An overview

This certification comes from the Project Management Institute (PMI), a globally recognized organization that provides education, networking, tools, and other resources to students and professionals in the project management industry. In addition to the PMI-ACP, the PMI also offers certifications in areas like portfolio management, business analysis, scheduling, and risk management.

The Agile Certified Practitioner certification enables students and professionals to expand their skills in agile project management. As the PMI notes, the PMI-ACP allows individuals to better respond to the dynamic market and customer needs of today in a way that differentiates themselves and their organization from the competition.

In fact, the PMI reports that businesses that are highly agile in their processes have a 75% success rate on projects, compared to the 56% success rate seen in companies without agile strategies.

This certification helps students learn about a wide range of agile approaches, including techniques like:

  • Scrum
  • Kanban
  • Lean
  • Extreme Programming (XP)
  • Test-Driven Development (TDD)

How to get project management certification

As explained in the Project Management Institute’s Agile Certified Practitioner Handbook, the certification process includes the following steps:

  • Submission of the initial application, which must take place within 90 days of starting the application.
  • Review of the application to ensure its completeness after submission
  • Audit process, where applicants have 90 days to submit audit materials to accompany their application. Institute personnel then audit these materials within five to seven days.
  • Payment process, when applicants can pay their certification fees ahead of scheduling their exam.
  • Examination, where those seeking certification have a one-year period to successfully complete their exam. Applicants can take the exam up to three times.
  • Certification cycle, when applicants who have successfully completed their exam are given their official certification. This cycle begins the day individuals pass their exam.
  • Certification maintenance, which encompasses a three-year period. Certified individuals must earn and report 30 professional development units (PDUs) within three years of earning their certification to maintain it.
  • Once professional development has been proven, individuals can submit their renewal fees and officially renew their certification.

If the requirements for maintenance and renewal are not met, the certification goes into suspension for a one-year period on the third anniversary of the day the initial exam was passed. At the end of this suspension period, individuals’ certifications expire, if they do not keep up with maintenance and renewal.

Overall, once professionals pass the initial multiple-choice exam, they can continually develop their skills and show this development through the required 30 PDUs and renew their certification.

Advantages of the PMI-ACP

There are several key benefits of going through this process and not only initially earning certification, but earning the necessary PDUs to maintain the certification.

The first of these advantages is gaining expertise in agile working processes. Since the agile philosophy was first developed in the 1990s and crossed over into the mainstream within the last few years, it is being applied to more industries every day. Under agile principles, projects are broken down into smaller, more digestible parts. This not only offers increased visibility into the work involved in a project, but also enables decision-makers to appropriately prioritize parts of the project according to their goals.

What’s more, because agile involves project participants being more collaborative — both with one another and especially the customer — this style of project management can help drive higher success rates and increased customer satisfaction.

Earning this certification can also open the door to higher income potential for students and professionals in the information systems industry. According to data from PayScale, the average salary for PMI agile certified practitioners currently stands at $108,000.

Building on the curriculum of the BS IS program

Students taking part in the online Bachelor of Science in Information Systems at the University of Alabama at Birmingham will learn about project management strategies as part of their core IS curriculum. The concepts of course MG 417 encompass critical skills like efficient planning, scheduling, and organizing and overseeing important budgeting and performance activities.

Students can expand upon these important areas by earning a certification like the PMI-ACP, and gain the skills required for IT project manager roles.

To find out more about how the PMI-ACP can benefit students in the BS IS program, connect with one of our expert enrollment advisors today.

Recommended Reading:

Agile vs. Waterfall project management methodologies

What you need to know about Kanban project management

Project management: What is scrum?



UAB BSIS Course Descriptions


PMI-ACP Handbook

Association for Project Management