Relevant certifications for Agile Coaches

Last post 01:40 am September 17, 2020
by Erwin Lim
10 replies
02:58 am February 6, 2018


I am currently working as Scrum Master and my future plan is to move into Agile Coaching role. I have CSM and PMI-ACP certifications. I would appreciate if the experienced forum members can advise me on the following:

1) Which of these 2 certifications are important for Agile Coaches?



2) If both are important then which one should be done first?

3) Is it advisable to take classes on the above 2 courses from SME like SPC from SAFe Fellows and Agile Team Facilitator/Agile Coaching from reputable instructors?

4) I came across a training institute which is offering ICAgile ATF/Coaching classes online. I personally think that it's far better to take these classes in person. Do you guys agree?

thanks for your time !

12:02 am February 8, 2018

Hi Mike - The answer depends on where you want to focus?  If you want to coach Kanban or Scrum teams, Scrum Masters and Product Owners, AFT and ACC should be your focus.  Start with ATF first.  Agile Coaching Institute and Lyssa Adkins, in person, would be my first choice over a virtual course.

If you want to coach Release Train Engineers and organizations on how to leverage SAFe, go for the SPC.  There are yearly fees (almost $900), and other requirements to satisfy. 

Most of the coaches I work with get the ATF/ACC and SAFE SA (Scaled Agilist), rather than the SPC, if they are not focused on SAFe.  That is the path I took.

Also consider PSM I, II and III.

All the best,


07:36 am February 8, 2018

If you want to focus on the "coach" side of the "agile coach", you can look at International Coach Federation program.

Actually it was my way because I found myself not comfortable with the "coach" wording. Then I went to a ICF-ACSTH program.

02:16 am February 12, 2018

Thanks for the reply gents.

03:32 pm March 11, 2020

Hello, I have been Agile practitioner for 6+ years but don't have scrum master certification. I am interested in obtaining Agile coach certification. Do I have to get scrum master certification first ? Thanks

07:20 am March 12, 2020

If you want to become an agile coach, my personal opinion is that PSM-II is a must-have foundation (including the classes that is). there rest depends on your personal focus 

09:39 am March 12, 2020

Maybe this is useful for you. To be an Agile Coach it always helps to have a profound understanding of multiple frameworks, so PSM II indeed is advisable (taking into account if the organization has chosen for the Scrum Framework, the Scrum Master is doing the coaching and an Agile Coach is not needed in the parts where Scrum has been applied).

03:32 am March 13, 2020

In-person classes. Always. No exceptions. Most coaches I have met over the last two years had all three, ICP-ATF, ICP-ACC and SAFe SPC. Only take classes that you find through the ICP and SAFe websites. You could also work towards a PSM III which would make you stand out since very few people hold that certification.

09:18 pm March 13, 2020

To be totally honest, you don't have to get any certifications in order to become an agile coach.  All you have to find is an organization that will value your knowledge of agile practices and feel you have the ability to contribute to their needs/value. Certifications are useful for showing you have the ability to absorb information.  Yeah, I have several Scrum and agile related certifications. But they have never gotten me a job.  I use them for my self-validation that I understand the materials. 

Agile coaches need a well rounded knowledge and understanding of how agile practices are beneficial.  They need to know how to help teams become self-sufficient, self-organizing.  They need to know how to help organizations learn to let the teams do their best work and how to support them. All of this makes a good agile coach.  

Certifications carry weight in some countries and with some companies. But it is up to the people interviewing and hiring you to decide if they are required and why.  However if you want to pursue certifications, all of the replies above have great recommendations.  I am also going to include the Professional Agile Leader (PAL) in the suggestions because it does test your understanding of more than one specific framework. 

Good luck. 

05:06 am September 13, 2020

To grow as an agile coach, some professional foundations are essential:
PSMII courses and body of knowledge, with relatively complete and in-depth Scrum understanding
ICP-ATF, ICPACC body of knowledge
Or ICF-PCC body of knowledge
If you are serving SAFe framework companies or industries, you can consider SPC

01:40 am September 17, 2020

I've signed up for ICAgile coaching track starting with ATF (as I have gotten a training subsidy)

PSMII and even PAL you learn what is a good retrospective, but coaching/facilitation certification equips you more soft skills needed to facilitate  a good retrospective and other events/ceremonies. 

I bring up retrospectives as I feel that it is one of the most difficult ceremonies to do well and get value out of.