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SAFe Product Owner Certification: to Certify or not to Certify?

Are you one of those product managers who can’t sit still and are constantly on the hunt for the next certification that could amp up your professional growth? Or maybe you’re looking into a first certification as the next move for you as a new product manager. 

In any scenario, you’ll want to know exactly what you’re getting yourself into. After all, certifications can take a lot of elbow grease to complete and they can cost a chunky sum. Luckily, you’re here to find out:

  • What the SAFe Product Owner certification even is – for those of you who have only just stumbled across it.
  • The value of SAFe Product Owner credentials and how it could influence your career in product management.
  • The perks and investments needed to get the SAFe Product Owner certification, such as boosting your skill sets and what you’ll need to fork out.

What is SAFe?

SAFe is a very popular system or framework that is currently used by over 20,000 organizations worldwide (including American Express, FedEx, and CVS). The term stands for Scaled Agile Framework, which means it has a lot to do with business agility, something that is highly effective for organizational performance.

Being SAFe certified means that you can capitalize on the SAFe method in the real world and, of course, improve your professional development.

While there are a bunch of different SAFe certifications, like SAFe Scrum Master and SAFe for Architects, we’re looking at the SAFe Product Owner/Product Manager (SAFe POPM) course.

What’s the Value of the SAFe POPM Certification?

The SAFe POPM certification teaches you how to pick up a more customer-centric approach to product building using the Scaled Agile Framework. The course will cover topics including:

  • Insight into the daily role of product managers and product owners
  • How to collaborate with business stakeholders and engineering teams
  • How to write epics, features, and stories
  • How to become more productive when it comes to designing, building, testing, and delivering at a higher quality
  • How to work in remote environments as a PO/PM

The course is done entirely remotely with remote learning materials such as e-learning modules and discussion forums to immerse you in the content. There’s then a certification exam that you’ll have to pass to become fully certified.

But what’s the inherent value of the certification? Well, it’s a trusted and widely-used framework that’s considered the number one adopted framework for scaling Agile, according to Gartner. Beyond the hearsay, it’s also a framework that’s got some proven and demonstrated results for organizations of all sizes and in all industries. So, even if you decide to leave a PM role, it’ll still be a useful certification somewhere else. It could also be common for certain companies to require a Scrum methodology certification for more senior positions.

If you take a gander at the SAFe website, you’ll also see a couple of statistics about much-improved business results after SAFe implementation, such as happier employees, faster time-to-market, better productivity, and improvements in quality.

Pros and Cons of the SAFe Product Owner/Product Manager Certification

But what’s the real deal regarding the SAFe POPM certification? Is it really the most useful scrum certification that product managers should have, or is it just another certification to brag about?

SAFe is naturally going to want to show off the great results and famous companies that put the methodology into practice, so here’s an unbiased take:


  • Respected in the industry – Earn a SAFe POPM certification, and you’re bound to command some sort of respect in the industry. Big industry players know and recognize SAFe, so you’re not just signing up for a small fry course.
  • Can boost your professional standing and potentially provide a raise – Having any added credentials on your resume or LinkedIn product can help you become more marketable and give you more avenues for career growth.
  • Enhances your personal skills and expertise – While the official, printed credential is nice to have, you’ll learn effective and relevant skills to the world of product ownership and management that’ll make you more confident in the workplace.
  • Helps you network within the community – With SAFe Summits and a community platform to get you acquainted with others in the SAFe network, you can learn, make connections, and collaborate with other certified members.
  • Helps the organization itself prosper – Apart from the individual benefits, your organization can also reap the benefits of your newfound skills and experience, whether it’s productivity, quality, or something altogether.


  • The course isn’t cheap – It costs anywhere between $995 - $1195 to take the SAFe POPM course for U.S. residents, with an exam retake fee of $50 if you don’t pass the first time.
  • Renewals are costly – The certification is only valid for one year, which means you’ll have to pay a renewal fee of $190 yearly.
  • Many say it’s more for larger companies – Critics of this POPM course often consider it geared more towards larger corporations due to its focus on coordinating large teams and the amount of busy work it creates.
  • Some say it actually conflicts with Agile – Similarly, it’s said that SAFe, being as complex as it is, might contradict the simplicity and flexibility integral to Agile.
  • The top-down approach can seem bureaucratic – The overly structured and top-down approach can come off as too bureaucratic and not collaborative enough for a product manager to use.


Pursuing any product management certification comes with its upsides and downsides – it depends on what tips the scales more in your favor. Assess all these factors and figure out whether the course works with your professional direction and the nature of your work. If the answer is yes – go for it! If it’s no – no stress – there are other course and experience options out there.

Looking for other tools to bolster your product management experience? Fibery can help streamline your workflows and champion collaboration for your organization – whether certified or not. Sign up for a 14-day free trial today!

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