Which PO cert is right for you? Read on to find out!
Everything you need to know to choose the right PO certification for you
Choosing the right certification to support your career in Product Management can be an overwhelming task, especially when there are so many available options to choose from. Whether you are new to Product Management, looking at taking your Product Owner skills to the next level, contemplating a career change or in-charge of uplifting your team’s capabilities in Agile, this guide will help you choose a course to meet your specific learning needs.
We’ve compiled and compared the most popular Product Owner certifications to build, support or accelerate your career in Agile. Product Management expertise is at your fingertips. Read on and for any further queries, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team of experts at why academy!
We have taken into consideration some useful factors (in the table above), which will help you compare most popular Product Owner courses (with or without certification) to choose from.
This refers to credibility of the certification body as well as the certification in general. Higher the credibility, better the perceived value of the certification.
If you were looking for recognition via certification, then this would be an important factor to consider.
How marketable is the certification? Will it increase your chances of getting a job in Product Management? Which certification will give you a competitive advantage over your peers?
This would be an important factor to consider, if you were looking to fast track your career in Product Management, making a career shift to this track or looking to get ahead of competition.
3. Exam DIFFICULTY
Some courses need you to pass an exam to get certified. In our table, this factor indicates the level of difficulty to pass these exams. There are some certification bodies however, that have trainers prepare students for the same. Higher the level of difficulty, more sought after the certification gets. If you're still concerned about the exam and would like to have a chat, please email us your specific question(s) here.
If you are one to take up challenges head on, then an exam’s difficulty is something to consider.
Comparing courses based on accessibility will help you gauge the popularity of each course as well as how easily they can be found online.
If you are pressed for time and are looking for multiple time slots to engage in learning, this would be an important factor to consider.
This comparison will help you zero in on a course which doesn’t burn a hole in your pocket. Prices vary depending upon whether you opt for certification. Funding is available for some courses, details of which are included here.
This is important to consider especially if you are starting out early in your career or don’t have the budget to invest at the moment.
6. Learning path availability
One important aspect of getting certified is to understand whether the certification adds to your existing certification portfolio for a specific learning path. For instance, some certification bodies like why innovation! and scrum.org offer a full portfolio of Product Owner certifications to achieve mastery in Product Management.
Whether you’re just starting out as a Product Manager or looking to take your Product Owner skills to the next level, you should consider this area carefully.
SAFe Product Owner / Product Manager Certification
Total score: 21/30
This certification focuses on the responsibilities of a Product Owner and Product Manager, in accordance with SAFe® (Scaled Agile Framework). This course should provide you with an in-depth knowledge of the Scaled Agile Framework®, including the specific activities and tools utilised to deliver value to business.
The SAFe PM/PO certification, besides the certification itself, gets its credibility from the SAFe certification body. Taking this certification requires some work experience in a SAFe environment, Lean, Agile or similar space. Getting trained by practising experts and experienced training providers would add to this certification’s value in the market.
Beware that a few concepts (e.g. the role of PO) taught in this course are specific to SAFe implementation, for example, your organisation is rolling out a program-wide adoption of Scaled Agile with SAFe. These concepts may not have the exact interpretation in other PO certificates.
SAFe® is the most popular scaling Agile framework, 35% respondents cited they are using it in 14th State of Agile Survey. Having a SAFe certification will increase your chances of getting ahead of the competition. Being SAFe certified implies a standard proficiency and expertise in Agile. Getting it done from a reputed training provider will add to its marketability.
Exam DIFFICULTY 3/5
Passing the exam is not difficult. It is a 90-minute closed book exam with multiple choice questions. If you already have experience in Agile, this would be a simple one to take.
There are more than 400 trainings provided for this certification worldwide, out of which Singapore and Hong Kong account for two each. This makes the SAFe certification easily accessible and available to take at your own convenience, wherever you are.
Getting SAFe certified will cost you anything between USD 1200-1500 for a two-day, compulsory training if you want to get certified. It is lower than most certifications discussed in this article. The certification will add value to your portfolio if you are looking at achieving proficiency in Scaled Agile.
Learning path availability 2/5
SAFe is a stand-alone certification that will add value to your Agile expertise, especially if you are a Product Owner looking at gaining expertise in Scaled Agile for enterprise agility. You are requited to renew your certification every one to two years.
The other SAFe certifications that may support your SAFe journey are:
- SAFe APM (Agile Product Manager): design Thinking with Lean-Agile values and principles to create products and solutions that are desirable, viable, feasible, & sustainable.
- SAFe LPM (Lean Portfolio Manager): teaches how Strategy and Investment funding is established, how to apply Agile Portfolio operations and Lean governance, and how to build a plan for implementing the Lean Portfolio Management function.
Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO)
Total Score: 22/30
The Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO) credential from Scrum Alliance® which is currently the largest Agile membership organization worldwide.
This foundation-level certification targets Agile professionals close to the business end of projects. Typical product owners work with project stakeholders, manage project vision, create user stories and define expectations for completion.
The CSPO certification ranks high on the credibility scale since it is offered by Scrum Alliance, one of the largest and well-known Agile membership organisations worldwide. It is therefore, a popular and well-known certification in the worldwide Agile community.
Offered by Scrum Alliance, the CSPO certification ranks high on marketability too. Its popularity makes it one of the most marketable certifications in Agile. Go for it, if you are considering foraying into Product Management or switching roles to that track. It’s a ticket into the world of Agile.
Exam DIFFCULTY 1/5
There is no exam for this certification. However, you can obtain a certificate of completion after a two-day training
CSPO is one of the most accessible Product Owner courses with over 700 training events worldwide. You can easily find one that fits in your busy schedule. You can also apply for a training online.
A bit on the higher side, this certification will be included as part of training, which will cost you approximately $1,195 to $1,500 USD.
Learning path availability 4/5
CSPO is the starting point of a Product Owner’s learning path. It is usually followed by more advanced certifications like A-CSPO (Advanced Scrum Product Owner) and CSP-PO (Certified Scrum Professional – Product Owner) in the Product Owner learning track. Additionally, you are required to renew your certification every one to two years.
Professional Scrum Product Owner (PSPO)
Total score: 29/30
This sought-after certification is offered by Scrum.org, the home of Scrum although the training course is offered by many Agile training providers. Professional Scrum Product OwnerTM (PSPO) is a 2-day course that focuses on how to maximize the value of products and systems. PSPO is the cutting-edge course for Product Owners, Agile product managers and anyone responsible for a product’s success in the market.
PSPO ranks highest for credibility amongst all the Product Owner certifications since it is officially issued by Scrum.org, the home of Scrum. All trainers use the same course materials maintained by Scrum.org. It is one of the most desirable certifications to have if you want to pursue a career in Product Management.
Due to its high credibility and coveted status, PSPO ranks high on marketability too. This is absolutely a certification to have if you are considering a career in Product Management, upskilling your product owner skills or adding to your Agile portfolio of certifications.
Exam DIFFICULTY 5/5
The PSPO exam is difficult to pass if you don’t have Product Owner experience and solid knowledge of Scrum. However, the PSPO course (generally two days) which is provided by several leading Agile training providers, will help you to prepare for the exam. You won’t get certified without passing the exam.
Although PSPO courses aren’t as accessible as the CSPO, there are over 230 training events worldwide and it is easy to find one that suits your needs. There are many online courses offered by reputed training providers to choose from. You can get certified separately without having to do a course as well.
You can sit for the PSPO exam without having to enrol for a course or training. The exam costs US$ 200 and is available to take at any time online, from Scrum.org. This is why we score this certification very high on affordability.
The two-day training course however, will set you back by approximately US$ 1,500 – US$1,800 depending on where you take it from. Find out more about why academy!’s Scrum Product Owner course here.
Learning path availability 4/5
The Product Management track that includes PSPO certifications is a desirable learning journey in Agile. There are three levels to mastering Product Ownership starting from PSPO I, followed by PSPO II and PSPO III, of which the last is the toughest (and rarest) to achieve. This certification is has lifetime validity.
Scrum Inc Product Owner
Total score: 17/30
The Scrum Inc. Product Owner training™ was developed by the co-creator of Scrum, Dr. Jeff Sutherland. The certification is offered by the same organisation.
Although Scrum Inc. was started by Dr. Jeff Sutherland, one of the founding members of Scrum.org the course and certification holds little credibility. This might be solely due to lack of awareness about the course outside of the core Agile community.
Marketability of this certification is not as high as the other PO certifications as it is relatively new in the market. Employers would choose a CSPO or PSPO over Scrum Inc. due to low popularity scores of the latter. Not a wise choice to make if you are looking at changing careers, upgrade your Product Owner skills or building team capability in Product Management.
Exam DIFFICULTY 4/5
The exam is part of the course. Although this certification is relatively new, the exam is a difficult one to pass, given that it is designed by the co-creator of Scrum.
Not as easily accessible as the other courses, Scrum Inc. has approximately seven trainings, all conducted online. Their physical trainings are limited to Boston, U.S.A.
At $1995 incl. tax for two days, it is slightly more expensive than the other Product Owner courses listed in this article.
Learning path availability 2/5
For now, this is the only certification offered by Scrum Inc. in the Product Management track. This might not be the right certification for you, if you are looking to embark on a complete Product Owner learning journey or upskilling yourself to the next level. This certification needs to be renewed once every two years.
ICAgile Agile Product Ownership (ICP-APO)
Total score: 17/25
This Product Owner certification is offered by the certification body ICAgile. They do not offer any training courses but design a curriculum and license worldwide trainers to offer learning programs that lead people to Agile mastery. Course materials vary greatly from one trainer to another.
The ICP – APO certification holds credibility, although not as much as the CSPO and PSPO.
Having a ICP will increase your chances of getting ahead in Product Management, especially if your peers don’t have any certifications to show. Having said that, a PSPO or CSPO certified Product Owner will have a better chance at getting that job.
Exam DIFFICULTY 2/5
You will receive a certification after completion of the course. There isn’t a separate exam that you’ll have to sit for. This makes it easier to get certified, but also means anyone can get certified.
There are over 80 training events for this certification, offered by different training providers all over the world. It would be relatively easy to find a course that suits your specific requirements.
Slightly on the higher side, this course will cost you anywhere between $1300 - $1800, depending on which training provider you choose.
Learning path availability 3/5
The ICP-APO is the starting point of your Product Owner learning track, which can be completed by ICP-EPO (Enterprise Product Ownership) and ICE-PO (Expert Product Ownership). All these certifications are offered by ICAgile. This certification has lifetime validity.
Winner: Professional Scrum Product Owner (PSPO)
We recommend the PSPO certification for the following reasons:
It is relevant and useful for all stages of your Product Owner learning journey
This course has a highly recognised, valued and coveted certification in Agile Product Management
It has a tough exam to pass, which increases its credibility and marketability
It is a comprehensive curriculum which covers all aspects of being a successful Product Owner
It acts as foundation to the next levels of Product Owner proficiency
It is equally applicable across all organisational functions (IT or otherwise)
PSPO is ideal for uplifting individuals as well as enterprise capability for the digital age
It will help you enhance your Agile leadership skills as well as improve agility in business
The time and money you’d invest in it would be worth the value you’d get out of the course
There is a lot of reading material online to help you prepare for the PSPO certification
It is has lifetime validity
For more information on why academy! Product Owner track and PSPO certification in Singapore, please click here.
Sometimes a comparison table just isn’t enough. Learning needs vary from person to person and it helps to have a conversation with the course provider, trainer or an expert to put things in perspective to help you decide based on your personal learning goals.
At why academy! the digital training arm of why innovation!, our expert Agile trainers have extensive practical experience and can offer sound advice to help you meet your objectives. For further one-on-one guidance on which course is right for you, please feel free to get in touch with us here!
Additionally, if you're keen on signing up for the training but have questions about the CITREP+ funding for Singaporeans/PRs, check out our useful FAQ!
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This article was first published on why academy!