What is SAFe certification?
Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) certifications are becoming valuable in larger organizations that are looking for efficient project delivery, ensuring reduced time-to-market, and developing ways to provide better stakeholder value. These certifications provide a valid, reliable means of assessing skills, knowledge, and mindset of those seeking career advancement working with the framework. Earning a SAFe certification demonstrates that you possess the skills and knowledge needed to help your organization manage projects with a higher degree of agility. Numerous SAFe certifications are on offer, grouped at the foundational, intermediate, and advanced levels. Each is targeted for a specific role.
SAFe certification training
Deciding on the right path and certifications rests on knowing what your organization needs, its maturity with SAFe, identifying gaps, and understanding the role you will be playing. Then you’ll need to meet the prerequisites for the certification(s) you have chosen.
Once you’ve identified the SAFe training and certification providers that meet your goals, you’ll need to review their materials, study guides, and take any practice tests that are available. SAFe training and certification are available online or through in-person training through these and other education providers:
Agile Center: Agile Center is a consultancy and training services provider focused on Lean-agile transformation, agile strategy audit and implementation, and agile program/portfolio management. Their team is composed of highly experienced consultants and trainers.
Agilest: Agilest provides SAFe certification training for larger teams to keep pace with the demand of various industries and to enable career advancement.
Scaled Agile: Scaled Agile is a key provider of agile training, courses, and certification, including SAFe. Scaled Agile also has a SAFe business agility podcast that provides the latest news, experiences, and answers to questions about SAFe.
There are currently 13 SAFe certifications on offer — five foundational, five intermediate, and three advanced. Some work best for engineers and architects, and others for coaches, trainers, or those in more senior roles.
- SAFe Agile Product Manager
- SAFe Agilist
- SAFe DevOps Practitioner
- SAFe Government Practitioner
- SAFe Product Owner / Product Manager
- SAFe Agile Software Engineer
- SAFe Architect
- SAFe Lean Portfolio Manager
- SAFe Practitioner
- SAFe Scrum Master
- SAFe Advanced Scrum Master
- SAFe Program Consultant
- SAFe Release Train Engineer
SAFe Agile Product Manager
The SAFe Agile Product Manager certification is best suited to those in roles such as agile coach, consultant, agile trainer, or product manager, with a focus on design thinking with Lean values and principles. The 60-question exam requires familiarity with agile principles and practices and is geared toward testing candidates’ ability to:
- Use design thinking
- Explore market needs
- Manage value stream economics
- Apply product strategy and vision
- Develop and maintain roadmaps
- Execute and deliver value using SAFe
- Explore value stream innovation
Candidates must have attended at least one SAFe certification training session, have a background in product or solution management, and have experience as a product manager, product marketer, product owner, business owner, or in bringing products to market.
The SAFe Agilist certification works best for a program or project manager, Scrum master, team lead, release train engineer, change agent, or others who are part of a Lean transformation. The 45-question exam tests candidates’ ability to:
- Apply SAFe to scale Lean and agile development
- Apply Lean-agile mindset and principles
- Plan and execute program increments
- Execute and release value through agile release trains (ARTs)
- Build an agile portfolio with Lean-agile budgeting
Candidates need 5-plus years of experience in software development, testing, business analysis, or product or project management, as well as experience in Scrum.
SAFe DevOps Practitioner
The SAFe DevOps Practitioner certification is best suited for a Scrum master, team lead, release train engineer, business analyst, SAFe program consultant, architect engineer, developer, or similar roles responsible for improving the flow of value through the delivery pipeline. The 45-question exam tests candidates’ ability to:
- Build a culture of shared responsibility
- Explore user needs
- Describe architectural considerations
- Build and integrate the system continuously
- Improve system quality with testing
- Deploy systems to stage and production
- Release systems to customers and manage recovery
- Maintain security
- Support SAFe DevOps transformation
Candidates should have experience working in a development and/or operations environment before pursuing the SAFe DevOps Practitioner certification.
SAFe Government Practitioner
The SAFe Government Practitioner certification is aimed at business analysts, agile coaches, SAFe program consultants, or practice leads who are looking to use SAFe principles and practices to execute and release value through ARTs inside a government agency. The 45-question exam tests candidates’ ability to:
- Adapt technology to flow-based practices
- Organize government programs into ARTs
- Explore large solution coordination
- Follow government-based success patterns for SAFe implementations
- Accelerate the SAFe implementation in program or agency
Candidates need to understand the Agile Manifesto, SAFe House of Lean, and SAFe principles, as well as the full lifecycle of government technology programs.
SAFe Product Owner / Product Manager
The SAFe Production Owner / Product Manager certification is best suited for program or project managers, Scrum masters, release train engineers, business analysts, development managers, CTOs, and others who are SAFe professionals working with customers and development organizations. The 45-question exam tests candidates’ ability to:
- Apply Lean-agile mindset and SAFe principles
- Identify customer needs
- Write epics, capabilities, features, and stories
- Prioritize work to deliver value
Candidates should be experienced in agile and Lean.
SAFe Agile Software Engineer
The SAFe Agile Software Engineer certification works best for a Scrum master, agile coach, software developer, software engineer, or senior manager who is applying test-first principles to create alignment between tests and requirements and optimizing the flow of value. The 60-question exam is geared toward testing a candidates’ ability to:
- Define agile software engineering and the underlying principles
- Create tests with Behavior-Driven Development (BDD)
- Outline models for communication
- Build applications with code/design quality
- Collaborate on intentional architecture and emergent design
- Create an agile software engineering plan
Candidates should understand SAFe for teams and have a background in engineering, development, managing development, or quality assurance.
The SAFe Architect certification is aimed at Scrum masters, agile coaches, architects, agile trainers, solution architects, or system architects looking to become effective leaders and change agents. The 60-question exam tests candidates’ ability to:
- Apply SAFe principles to manage trade-offs between functionality, cost, risk, and sustainability
- Ensure designs can be implemented in small batches
- Communicate solution context and intent
- Establish intentional architecture guidelines
- Prepare architectural runway
- Ensure technology decisions are made within an ART
- Ensure solutions comply with portfolio technology strategy
SAFe Lean Portfolio Manager
The SAFe Lean Portfolio Manager certification is best suited for a program or project manager, release train engineer, business owner, solution manager, agile coach, or other senior roles assisting with understanding strategy and investment funding, how to apply agile portfolio operations, and Lean governance, and how to build a plan for implementing Lean portfolio management. The 45-question exam tests candidates’ ability to:
- Establish a Lean portfolio vision and connect it to enterprise strategy
- Implement Lean budgeting and guardrails
- Establish strategy and investment funding
- Apply agile portfolio operations and Lean governance
- Coordinate value streams and measure performance
Candidates should be familiar with agile concepts and principles, value streams, and portfolio management funding models, and be experienced working with SAFe.
The SAFe Practitioner certification is for program or project managers, Scrum masters, team leads, release train engineers, programmers, or other roles responsible for using Scrum, Kanban, and XP in a SAFe environment. The 45-question exam covers candidates’ ability to:
- Explain SAFe agile principles
- Plan iterations
- Plan program increments
- Execute iterations and drive value
- Improve ART processes
- Work with other teams on ART
- Perform as a member of an agile team on an ART
Candidates must be familiar with Scrum, Kanban, and Extreme Programming (XP), as well as agile concepts and principles, and have working knowledge of software or hardware development processes.
SAFe Scrum Master
The SAFe Scrum Master certification is suitable for program or project managers, Scrum masters, team leads, release train engineers, architects, engineers, developers, directors, quality managers, and other roles integrating Scrum practices into an organization. The 45-minute exam tests candidates’ ability to:
- Use Scrum and Kanban to facilitate team events
- Support program execution
- Coach Agile teams
SAFe Advanced Scrum Master
The SAFe Advanced Scrum Master certification is suited for program or project Managers, Scrum masters, release train engineers, business analysts, agile coaches, or SAFe program consultants, among others responsible for improving team results through the facilitation of cross-team interactions and relentless improvement. The 60-question exam tests candidates’ ability to:
- Identify and solve team anti-patterns
- Improve value flow
- Support program-level execution
- Drive improvements using problem-solving and advanced coaching techniques
SAFe Program Consultant
The SAFe Program Consultant certification is best suited for program or project managers, Scrum masters, release train engineers, business analysts, agile coaches, development managers, or professional services consultants, among others leading at every level of an organization through a Lean agile transformation at scale. The 60-minute exam is aimed at vetting canddiates’ abilities to:
- Design a SAFe implementation
- Develop an enterprise transformation plan
- Launch and facilitate an ART
- Extend the Lean-agile portfolio by launching additional ARTs
- Assist an organization with change management practices
- Train and coach an enterprise through a SAFe transformation
SAFe Release Train Engineer
The SAFe Release Train Engineer certification works for program or project managers, agile coaches, SAFe program consultants, IT managers, solution train engineers, or program managers responsible for driving end-to-end delivery of value in a single program or value stream in a Lean-agile enterprise. The 60-question exam vets candidates’ ability to:
- Facilitate program-level ceremonies
- Lead program execution
- Coach ARTs and agile teams
- Create transparency using metrics that drive positive change
- Facilitate the resolution of dependencies, impediments, and risks
Candidates should be versed in cross-team communication, SAFe principles and facilitation, and team dynamics. They should be able to launch or participate in ART and program increments, be able to manage stakeholders, and have at least three months of real-world, hands-on RTE experience.