We asked 3,796 job seekers about their Certified Scrum Master (CSM). This is what they told us:
- 72% of job seekers said "help my career progression" was the biggest reason for earning their Certified Scrum Master (CSM)
- 51% said earning their Certified Scrum Master (CSM) helped them make more money
- 50% said earning their Certified Scrum Master (CSM) helped them get a job
- 95% said they would recommend a family member or friend earn their Certified Scrum Master (CSM)
Scrum Training, Requirements and Certification
The Scrum certification covers the usage of the Scrum guide in real-world situations. Scrum is a product-development technique that originates from the computer science field of the 1990s. The practice took hold in software development and has been expanding to other industries. The popularity–and effectiveness–of Scrum has led to many employers looking to hire workers who are trained to problem solve using the Scrum principles. Professionals looking to improve their teamwork skills, increase their professional value and add to their resumes can seek a Scrum certification.
What is Scrum?
Scrum is part of the Agile practice of problem solving.1 For example, a team is brought together to work collaboratively to solve a problem or create a new product to meet a specific need or set of specifications. Agile involves the values and principles that will guide the team. The Scrum method takes Agile a step further to increase company productivity and product quality. Rather than the traditional “waterfall” approach to product development, in which the development trickles down from a product manager, a Scrum approach involves working collaboratively with a team to determine the approach to a problem, outline deliverables and assign tasks.
The Scrum process is designed to be circular in nature. The Scrum Team is charged with continually evaluating and adapting a product or solution to remove any bugs and increase the quality of the final deliverable.
There are a few key positions involved in Scrum:2
The Scrum Team consists of 5 to 9 people who work collaboratively on a project or problem to generate the deliverable product or project components. Scrum teams often bring together people of different disciplines and departments to increase collaboration and to ensure that the team has all of the skills and expertise it needs to resolve a problem or deliver a product without depending on outside people or departments. There is no “leader” in a Scrum Team. Instead, team members work together to decide how to progress with the project and set their own rules for the team’s operation. The team meets daily during the Scrum period to touch base on progress or issues.
The Scrum Master is the peer facilitator of the Scrum Team. The Scrum Master may facilitate meeting times, discussions and communication among the Scrum team members as well as address any obstacles the scrum team or process faces. The Scrum Master is also responsible for the optimal functioning of the team by ensuring that the Scrum method is being properly used.
The Product Owner acts as the primary stakeholder in the product development. In many situations, the Product Owner represents the customer. The Product Owner provides vision for the product and outlines the product’s specifications or the needs that the product will meet. Working with the Scrum Team, the Product Owner outlines the functionality of the product, which is transcribed into a Product Backlog that outlines everything that needs to be done to deliver on the final project.
Who should undergo training and certification in Scrum?
There are many types of professionals who could benefit from receiving Scrum training and certification. Most people choose to become certified in Scrum because they are working for a company that employs Scrum methodology and either the company encourages Scrum training or the employee wants to play a more active role in the Scrum process and progress within the company.
It also can be beneficial to seek a Scrum certification for those who work in fields that frequently use Scrum. Agile methods are increasingly popular with employers. Having a Scrum certification can make you more relevant in your field and increase your value to employers. Some companies are now specifically hiring for Scrum Master positions or seeking Scrum Masters to serve as project managers. For those who have experience within a field and with implementing Scrum methods, earning a Scrum certification can position them to take a leadership role.
It can also be beneficial for business owners or managers who want to see a change in their organization to become trained and certified in Scrum. Scrum training allows business owners or managers to implement the problem-solving methods of Scrum to increase the company’s productivity, connectivity and product quality.
How do you earn Scrum certification?
There are many ways to earn Scrum certification, from taking an assessment that verifies Scrum knowledge to completing online or in-person training courses. Scrum certifications usually take only a few days to complete and range in cost from $200 for assessment only to $2,000 for in-person training. The cost depends on the type of training, level of certification and the certifying organization. In general, the process for obtaining Scrum certification involves:
Step 1. Determining which Scrum certification to earn
With numerous Scrum certifications available, you must first determine which Scrum certification best suits you. Choosing a Scrum certification involves looking at your existing skills as well as the skills you would like to obtain to further your career. It’s also important to research which Scrum certifications make most sense for your industry, your company and your job type.
Step 2. Complete the necessary training and assessment exams
Each Scrum certifying organization and Scrum certification has different training and assessment requirements. The next step in the certification process is to complete the training and testing you need to earn your desired certification.
Step 3. Submit certification applications
Some certifying organizations, such as Scrum Alliance, require applications showcasing Scrum education and experience. Certain degrees require a portfolio of project management and Scrum management.
Step 4. Maintain certification
Many Scrum certifications require continued education for the renewal of certifications. The professional must complete a certain number of educational credits within a given time period to maintain certification.
What are the different types of Scrum certifications?
While there are Scrum training certifications available through many online schools and training centers, there are two primary organizations that set the standards for Scrum certification: Scrum.org and Scrum Alliance.3 Both bodies certify Scrum instructors and Scrum training programs for those interested in obtaining their Scrum certifications through online and in-person Scrum training opportunities.
Scrum.org certifications are earned through assessments only as there are no certification training, experience or educational requirements. As long as professionals can demonstrate that they have the necessary skills and knowledge, they are awarded Scrum.org certifications. However, Scrum does offer training courses, and it’s strongly recommended that those who wish to obtain certification first complete the training. The Scrum certifications offered through Scrum.org include:
- Professional Scrum Master I (PSM I) – The Professional Scrum Master I certification demonstrates that recipients understand the principles outlined in the Scrum guide and know how to effectively implement those principles as part of a Scrum team.4
- Professional Scrum Master II (PSM II) – To earn a Professional Scrum Master II certification, Scrum Masters must prove a firm grasp on the underlying principles of Scrum and the ability to apply those principles in complex situations.5
- Professional Scrum Master III (PSM III) – Those seeking Professional Scrum Master III certification must demonstrate mastery of the workings and application of Scrum in complex real-world situations.6
- Professional Scrum Product Owner I (PSPO I) – The Professional Scrum Product Owner I certification demonstrates an understanding of Scrum principles and the role the Product Owners play increasing the value of the delivered product.7
- Professional Scrum Product Owner II (PSPO II) – For Professional Scrum Product Owner II certification, the PSPO must prove an advanced knowledge of the role of the Scrum Product Owner and understanding of the Scrum framework and its applications.8
- Professional Scrum Product Owner III (PSPO III) – Experienced Scrum Product Owners can prove their knowledge with the Professional Scrum Product Owner III certification. These professionals must know how to create a project vision, manage a backlog, engage with customers and deliver a valuable finished product using the Scrum method.9
- Professional Scrum Developer (PSD) – Getting certified as a Professional Scrum Developer showcases that a software developer has the ability to work as part of a Scrum team to develop complex software.10
- Scaled Professional Scrum (SPS) – Scaled Professional Scrum certification shows the ability to scale Scrum and an understanding of Nexus Framework.11
- Professional Scrum with Kanban (PSK) – Scrum principles can be applied with the Kanban scheduling system. The Professional Scrum with Kanban certification proves that professionals know how to optimize the two systems together for increased efficiency and improved products.12
- Professional Agile Leadership (PAL) – With the Professional Agile Leadership certifications, business executives can demonstrate their understanding of how Agile practices can improve businesses and the basics of Agile processes.13
Scrum Alliance certifications
Scrum Alliance certifications are earned by completing Scrum training sessions, passing Scrum assessments and proving experience in implementing Scrum practices. Certifications through the Scrum Alliance require renewal every 2 years To maintain certification, continuing education credits must be earned. Scrum certifications from Scrum Alliance include:
- Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) – Certified ScrumMasters learn to optimize Scrum team performance by removing distractions and implementing Scrum method best practices. Earning certification requires the completion of a 16-hour in-person training course and passage of a competency exam.14
- Advanced Certified ScrumMaster (A-CSM) – Once ScrumMasters have achieved their initial certification, they can advance their skills with training to become Advanced Certified ScrumMasters. Through A-CSM training, participants learn how to create better dialogue among all those involved in the Scrum process, handle resistance to change, increase engagement in the Scrum process and scale Scrum beyond one team. To be eligible for A-CSM certification, ScrumMasters must already be CSMs, must have documented 12 months of work experience as a ScrumMaster within the last 5 years and complete a certified A-CSM course.15
- Certified Scrum Professional - ScrumMaster (CSP-SM) – The Certified ScrumProfessional - ScrumMaster designation enables ScrumMasters to showcase their level of skill and experience as well as adds to their Scrum training for higher levels of certification. To earn the CSP-SM designation, ScrumMasters must already be A-CSMs, complete CSP-SM training and document at least 24 months of ScrumMaster experience over the last 5 years.16
- Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO) – Certified Scrum Product Owners learn the basics of the Scrum process and the role. Product Owners play in creating the product vision. Those who wish to become CSPOs must undergo a 16-hour in-person training course.17
- Advanced Certified Scrum Product Owner (A-CSPO) – In training to be an Advanced Certified Scrum Product Owner, CSPOs will hone their Scrum skills, learning to balance priorities from multiple stakeholders, create hierarchical backlogs, establish a clear product vision and communicate more effectively with team members. To become an A-CSPO, applicants must already be a CSPO, must complete certified A-CSPO training and must have documented at least 12 months of work as a CSPO in the last 12 months.18
- Certified Scrum Professional - Product Owner (CSP-PO) – Becoming a Certified Scrum Professional - Product Owner allows Scrum Product Owners to demonstrate their level of skil and experience and deepen their ability to create product vision, manage backlogs and communicate with customers and teams. To become a CSP-PO, Product Owners must already be A-CSPOs, must complete a certified training course and must demonstrate at least 24 months of experience working as a Scrum Product Owner within the last 5 years.19
- Certified Scrum Developer (CSD) – The training to become a Certified Scrum Developer gives software developers working in Scrum Teams an understanding of Scrum principles and methods to help them succeed. To become a CSD, developers must take a 5-day CSD course taught by a certified instructor and demonstrate their knowledge of the Scrum process.20
- Certified Scrum Professional (CSP) – Certified Scrum Professionals are experienced Scrum developers who are dedicated to learning how to get the most out of Scrum team operations. To become a CSP, a CSD must demonstrate 36 months of experience working as a Scrum Development Team Member, Scrum Master or Scrum Product Owner. Scrum Alliance provides in-depth educational opportunities to CSPs.21
- Certified Team Coach (CTC) – Scrum Alliance Certified Team Coaches are certified Scrum professionals with experience participating on multiple Scrum Teams. CTCs work with organizations to provide Scrum leadership, training, facilitation and mentoring, among other things. To be eligible for CTC certification, Certified Scrum Professionals must have hands-on experience working with Scrum. They must have also served as a Scrum Coach for at least 2 different organizations or departments with at least 1,000 hours over the last 2 years focused on coaching Agile teams or members, not counting the time spent as a ScrumMaster.22
- Certified Enterprise Coach (CEC) – Scrum Alliance Certified Enterprise Coaches have years of Scrum experience and years of experience in transformational leadership. CECs must have a deep understanding of Scrum principles and operations to guide organizations through the adoption and implementation of Scrum and Agile practices. Professionals with Scrum Alliance certifications can apply to be a CEC. They must have hands-on experience with 1 or more Scrum teams, must have provided Scrum coaching to at least 3 organizations, departments or teams, and must have at least 2,000 hours in the last 3 years of coaching at the enterprise level.23
- Certified Scrum Trainer (CST) – Scrum Alliance Certified Scrum Trainers are able to train others for official Scrum certification. To be eligible to be a CST, Scrum practitioners must be a current CSP-SM or CSP-PO and have experience implementing Scrum practices within an organization. They also must have taught Scrum to at least 100 students and performed at least 10 multi-day Scrum training sessions under the supervision of a current CST. To earn certifications, Scrum professionals must submit an application and undergo interviews with the Scrum Alliance Certification Panel.24
- Certified Agile Leadership I and II (CAL I and CAL II)– The Certified Agile Leadership I program is meant to introduce organization leaders to the concepts of Agile development. CAL II expands on the knowledge gained in CAL I to allow leaders to apply and share the Agile principles they have learned. CAL certification is obtained by completing the Alliance CAL I and CAL II courses.25
Other Scrum certifications
Other popular Scrum certifications include:
- Agile Scrum Master (ASM) – Agile Scrum Master through EXIN combines training with other Agile disciplines to perform as a Scrum Master on Scrum-driven project development. EXIN allows you the options of in-person training, eLearning or just taking the exam.26
- Scrum Fundamentals Certified (SFC) – The Scrum Fundamentals Certification through SCRUMstudy is a fundamental course on the principles of Scrum designed for those who are entering workplaces in which Scrum is being used or who are looking to begin their Scrum training. The online course is followed by a 40 question exam which requires a 75 percent score.27
1. “What is Scrum Methodology?”. CollabNet VersionOne. Retrieved January 1, 2020.
2. “What is Scrum - International Scrum Institute”. Scrum.org. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
3. “Professional Scrum Certifications”. Scrum.org. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
4. “Professional Scrum Master I”. Scrum.org. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
5. “Professional Scrum Master II”. Scrum.org. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
6. “Professional Scrum Master III”. Scrum.org. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
7. “Professional Scrum Product Owner I”. Scrum.org. Retrieved January 9, 2020.
8. “Professional Scrum Product Owner II”. Scrum.org. Retrieved January 9, 2020.
9. “Professional Scrum Product Owner III”. Scrum.org. Retrieved January 9, 2020.
10. “Professional Scrum Developer”. Scrum.org. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
11. “Scaled Professional Scrum”. Scrum.org. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
12. “Professional Scrum with Kanban”. Scrum.org. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
13. “Professional Agile Leadership”. Scrum.org. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
14. “Certified ScrumMaster”. Scrum Alliance. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
15. “Advanced Certified ScrumMaster”. Scrum Alliance. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
16. “Certified Scrum Professional – ScrumMaster”. Scrum Alliance. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
17. “Certified Scrum Product Owner”. Scrum Alliance. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
18. “Advanced Certified Scrum Product Owner”. Scrum Alliance. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
19. “Certified Scrum Professional – Product Owner”. Scrum Alliance. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
20. Certified Scrum Developer”. Scrum Alliance. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
21. “Certified Scrum Professional”. Scrum Alliance. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
22. “Scrum Alliance Certified Team Coach”. Scrum Alliance. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
23. “Certified Enterprise Coach”. Scrum Alliance. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
24. “Application Process for Becoming a Certified Scrum Trainer (CST)”. Scrum Alliance. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
25. “Certified Agile Leadership I”. Scrum Alliance. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
26. “EXIN Agile Scrum Master”. EXIN. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
27. “Scrum Fundamentals Certified”. SCRUMstudy. Retrieved January 9, 2020.
Editorial content last updated: February 2020
Required for my current job
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“I wish I would have an opportunity to use it in my organization.”
“That my current scrum training was more comprehensive than the training of the class.”
“Research other online programs that offer certification.”
“I wish I would have known how valuable it is in the I.T. field, I would have obtained the certification much sooner.”
“I wish I would have taken it earlier”
“The training course is very interactive, so be prepared to be involved. It made taking the exam a lot easier.”
“Research more about managing PDUs and renewal process”
“Ensure acquire job that actually uses methodologies of agile management.”
“Take a deep breath, listen to the instructors (if doing a Scrum Alliance SM Course), and you'll do GREAT!”
“Do not try to memorize the material....but rather understand the WHY of the reasoning behind the material.”