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A complete guide to CMMI certifications

CMMI certifications: A complete guide

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 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.

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.

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.


Required courses (choose 1 of 3):

Fee: $250

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.


Required courses:

Fee: $550

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.

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.


Required courses:

Fee: $7,200

Duration: 5 days

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


Required courses:

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

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

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:

Requirements for CMMI Services Instructor:

Requirements for CMMI Acquisition Instructor:

Requirements for People CMM Instructor:

Required courses for all instructor certifications:

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.

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.

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

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.


Required courses:

Price: $4,400

Duration: 4 days

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.


Required courses:

Price: $3,900

Duration: 4 days

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.


Required courses:

Price: $7,200

Duration: 5 days

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.


Required courses:

Fee: $10,750

Duration: 3 days


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