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CMMI certifications: A complete guide

CMMI certifications: A complete guide

The CMMI institute offers certifications for individuals, appraisers and instructors, but you’ll have to start at the associate level and work your way up.

The Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) helps organizations streamline process improvement and encourage behaviors that decrease risks in software, product and service development. The model provides businesses with a framework for developing better products and services, starting with a series of appraisals of process and service development, service establishment and management, and product and service acquisition.

Professionals seeking to improve their organization’s development processes — and their careers — should consider pursuing CMMI certification. Certifications are offered directly through the CMMI Institute, which certifies individuals, appraisers, instructors and practitioners.  

Following is a guide to all the CMMI certifications you can earn and the courses you’ll need in order to qualify to take the exams.  

CMMI certifications

CMMI certification begins with two entry-level exams to earn your associate and then professional CMMI credentials. After that, if you meet the eligibility requirements, you can get certified as an appraiser or instructor.

The CMMI Institute offers different disciplines for appraiser and instructor certifications with the main three being acquisitions, development and services. Choose the domain that best suits your skills and background and stick to that certification path.

Personal certifications

The CMMI Institute offers two main CMMI certifications for individuals: CMMI Associate and CMMI Professional. These are meant to verify your skills and knowledge around CMMI fundamentals, maturity levels and process areas. You’ll need to pass these first in order to move on to any further certifications.

CMMI Associate

The CMMI Associate certification covers your understanding of the three CMMI models: CMMI Acquisition, CMMI Development and CMMI Services. You can take the Fundamentals of CMMI course, which is a one-day crash course on the CMMI model. The course is not required to earn your certification, but it is designed to get you up to speed before the exam.

You will have to complete one course before you can take the exam, but you can choose from three courses listed below. You’ll complete the exam online; it is open book and consists of 30 multiple choice, true or false and multiple select questions.

Requirements:

  • Fundamental knowledge of the CMMI model

Required courses (choose 1 of 3):

  • Fundamentals of CMMI
  • Introduction to CMMI for Services
  • Introduction to CMMI for Development

Fee: $250

CMMI Professional

Once you complete the CMMI Associate certification, you can move onto the CMMI Professional credential, which demonstrates your ability to apply the CMMI model in an organizational structure through road maps for performance, team coaching, organizational change management and fostering a culture of improvement. You’ll dive deeper into the CMMI maturity levels and find ways to apply your knowledge to real-world scenarios.

Requirements:

  • CMMI Associate certification
  • 3+ years of experience with domain-specific work, including product development, service delivery, or acquisition of products and services
  • 2+ years of experience with developing, assisting or implementing process improvements

Required courses:

  • Advancing Enterprise Data Management Capabilities

Fee: $550

Appraiser Certifications

CMMI maturity levels are assessed by SCAMPI (Standard CMMI Appraisal Method for Process Improvement) appraisers, who apply the SCAMPI framework to a business process to determine how far along it is in the five-stage maturity process. To become an appraiser, you’ll need to earn your Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser certification.

Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser

SCAMPI appraisers are responsible for assessing business processes and categorizing them on a five-point maturity scale. New processes begin at stage one and then progress through each phase as the organization discovers ways to improve and refine the process. There are three tracks for the SCAMPI Lead Appraiser certification: acquisition, development and services.

Requirements:

  • Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser – Acquisition: 10+ years of project management experience, with 2+ years spent managing technical or acquisition personnel and 5+ years of experience in acquisition.
  • Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser – Development: 10+ years of experience with project management and systems or software engineering — at least two of those years should include management.
  • Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser – Services: 10+ years of experience as an employee, manager or supervisor in a services environment — that includes 3+ years as an employee, manager or supervisor in a non-CMMI environment and 2+ years managing a service.

Required courses:

  • Introduction to CMMI Development or Services
  • Advancing Organizational Capability: Applying CMMI

Fee: $7,200

Duration: 5 days

Certified SCAMPI High Maturity Lead Appraiser (HMLA)

The SCAMPI HMLA certification is for appraisers who want to be qualified to lead process appraisals for organizations ready to reach maturity level four or five.

You’ll first have to pass the HMLA entrance exam, which you can take online or at a specified location. It covers your understanding of the CMMI model, quantitative and statistical concepts, best organizational practices for CMMI and the various maturity levels and process areas. The exam is multiple choice and you will have three hours to complete it. If you don’t pass, you can retake it once within three months of your first attempt. After that, you’ll have to wait an additional six months and then submit a letter to the CMMI Institute Certification Program to request a retake.

Once you pass the entrance exam, you’ll move on to the HMLA oral exam, which is administered by two HMLA examiners and will take around two hours to complete. It covers CMMI high-maturity concepts and process areas, data interpretations, high-maturity business objectives, process performance baselines and models and elicitation of requirements. You’ll also need to apply your real-world knowledge and experience, as the exam will also include your personal interpretations of high-maturity appraisals. The test also includes several short-answer and scenario-based questions. You can retake the exam once every twelve months. 

Fee: $400 for HMLA entrance exam, $1,800 for HMLA oral exam

Requirements:

  • Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser certification
  • Led two or more CMMI SCAMPI A Appraisals and participated in an appraisal on one or more high-maturity SCAMPI A Appraisals.

Required courses:

  • Completed the Advancing Organizational Capability: Achieving High Maturity

Renewal: To renew a Lead Appraiser certification, you’ll have to earn four renewal credits for the first certification and one credit for each certification subgroup. Renewal credits are earned through approved activities

Instructor Certifications

For professionals seeking to spread their knowledge of CMMI processes, the CMMI Institute also offers Certified CMMI Instructor credentials in a variety of domains.

Certified CMMI Instructor

In order to become a Certified CMMI Instructor, you’ll need at least 10 years of experience working in your domain. All candidates, no matter what track you choose, need to have spent at least three years as a member of an engineering process group (EPG), a process improvement team or as a process improvement coach. You’ll need to have completed at least two SCAMPI A appraisals, or one SCAMPI A and two SCAMPI B or C appraisals. In order to teach courses on the CMMI or SCAMPI, you’ll have to meet extensive requirements to earn your instructor certification.

Requirements for CMMI Development Instructor:

  • 1+ year of experience teaching technical or management topics to adult learners
  • 10+ years in your chosen field
  • 3+ years working with CMMI models
  • 5+ years in product development

Requirements for CMMI Services Instructor:

  • 1+ year of experience teaching technical or management topics to adult learners
  • 3+ years working with CMMI models
  • 10+ years as an employee, manager or supervisor in a services environment
  • 3+ years working in a non-CMMI environment
  • 2+ years managing a service

Requirements for CMMI Acquisition Instructor:

  • 1+ year of experience teaching technical or management topics to adult learners
  • 3+ years working with CMMI models
  • 5+ years in acquisition

Requirements for People CMM Instructor:

  • 1+ year of experience teaching technical or management topics to adult learners
  • 3+ years working with the People CMM in an organization
  • 10+ years in management

Required courses for all instructor certifications:

  • Introduction to CMMI for Development or Services
  • Advancing Organizational Capability: Applying CMMI

Renewal: Valid for 3 years — after three years you’ll have to go through the renewal process to make sure you are aware of any updates to the CMMI and are knowledgeable about new tools and software. If you do not complete the requirements, your certification will expire unless you’ve requested and received an extension to obtain your continuing education units (CEUs). 
 
To renew your certification, you’ll need to earn four renewal credits for the first certification and one credit for each additional certification you hold. You’ll also need to teach one course per certification during the three-year period. The renewal process for instructors is complex and includes several requirements that are specific to each domain.

CMMI courses

The CMMI Institute offers courses that will help get you ready for your certification exams. In some cases, one or two courses will be required as a prerequisite to take the exam.

Introduction to CMMI for Development or Services

The CMMI Institute offers two introductory courses, one for CMMI for development and another for services. The development course covers the basics of improving the development process and overall quality and consistency of your final products. The services course focuses on improving customer expectations by defining, implementing and managing service process. Both courses are designed to teach you the fundamentals tailored to your career track.

Price: Varies

Duration: 3 days

Advancing Organizational Capability: Applying CMMI

This course on applying CMMI covers the skills and abilities necessary to apply the CMMI effectively in an organization. You’ll learn how to interpret and apply the CMMI to improve process performance and to solve real-world problems. The course includes assignments that will be sent to you weeks before the course starts. You’ll need to complete these assignments beforehand.

Requirements:

  • Experience using CMMI models in an organizational setting
  • Pre-class assignments sent by the professor prior to the course start date

Required courses:

  • Introduction to CMMI Development or Services

Price: $4,400

Duration: 4 days

Advancing Organizational Capability: Achieving High Maturity

This course on achieving high maturity covers the traits of high-maturity organizations and goes in-depth on maturity levels four and five. The course covers how to use process-performance baselines, models and control charts and dives into how CMMI and the management framework Six Sigma can work together. You’ll also explore statistical methods and how they can be applied to assist with high-maturity practices. It’s designed with CMMI practitioners and prospective High Maturity Appraisal Team Members in mind.

Requirements:

  • Experience using CMMI models in an organizational setting

Required courses:

  • Introduction to CMMI Development or Services

Price: $3,900

Duration: 4 days

Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser Training

The SCAMPI Lead Appraiser Training covers the skills you’ll need as a lead appraiser for acquisition, development, services or the People CMM. The course consists of lectures, class exercises and group discussions. It takes place in-person over five days and you’ll be graded on a pre-course assignment, class participation, a final written assignment and an exam at the end of the course.

Requirements:

  • Submit a certification application with the required documents
  • A pre-course assignment you’ll receive one month before the course starts

Required courses:

  • Introduction to CMMI for Development or Services
  • Advancing Organizational Capability: Applying CMMI

Price: $7,200

Duration: 5 days

CMMI Instructor Training

This instructor training course consists of lectures, exercises, candidate presentations and assignments to complete before and during the course. You’ll learn how to teach Introduction to CMMI and to showcase your deep understanding of the CMMI model. The course qualifies you to teach one of the three introductory courses for CMMI Development, CMMI Services or People CMM.

Requirements:

  • Complete the application to become a certified CMMI instructor
  • Earn a passing grade for class participation, presentations and pre-class assignments
  • Passing grade for class participation and presentations

Required courses:

  • Introduction to CMMI Development or Services
  • Advancing Organizational Capability: Applying CMMI

Fee: $10,750

Duration: 3 days

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