Do you want to become a Scrum Master? Today, Scrum is one of the most popular and widely used software development methodologies. Many Agile organizations use the Scrum framework due to the advantages it brings.
Companies boost their dynamic development processes by building Scrum teams that empower individual team members. Scrum Masters lead Scrum teams in order to deliver sustained value to clients.
In order to do this right, you need to choose the right Scrum Master certification to understand this role and execute it effectively. In order to help you, here are a few popular training courses and companies that offer certification exams for aspiring Scrum Masters.
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The Importance of the Scrum Framework
Organizations are increasingly using the Scrum framework to execute their Agile projects. This framework helps teams to address complex problems by creating adaptive solutions. Organizations can deliver value to clients and boost their productivity with the help of Scrum.
Created in the early 1990s by Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland, the Scrum framework enables iterative product development. Agile project management often involves changing requirements or goals. Iterative product development works well for the Agile framework. This makes Scrum suitable for Agile projects.
Companies must train teams if they wish to create successful Scrum teams that are able to work within the Scrum framework. Scrum Masters lead these small teams. A Scrum team needs a product owner. The objective of a Scrum Product Owner is to maximize the value of the product and to ensure that the Scrum team is delivering according to the agreed demands.
A Scrum team must have team members with the required skills. E.g., a Scrum development team in a software development project might have Architects, UI designers, programmers, testers, and DevOps engineers.
A Scrum Master role has many similarities with a traditional project manager (PM). Scrum masters need to empower their teams, which is the key to success. Capable Scrum teams work closely with clients. They demonstrate collaboration and ownership, and effective Scrum masters work as enablers.
Benefits of CSM Courses for Agile Scrum Practitioners
You might think that a free Scrum Master training course like the one available on LinkedIn will be enough for your needs. Unfortunately, free courses are never as comprehensive as the paid ones. Therefore, we recommend you choose a paid certification program. Paid programs offer the following advantages:
- Systematic approach;
- Covering all the Scrum practices and relevant aspects of Agile, e.g., Sprint planning, Scrum values, Scrum principles, product backlog, etc.
- Covering relevant methodologies and practices, e.g., Lean, Kanban, Extreme Programming, etc.
- Using real-world case studies;
- Rich learners’ communities and resources.
Finally, reputed Scrum certifications and SEUs (Scrum Education Units) help you during interviews.
Top Scrum Master Courses and CSM Certifications
We find the following training and certification programs very effective:
1. Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) – The Scrum Master Certification from Scrum Alliance
You can undertake the Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) certification, which is offered by the Scrum Alliance. It’s a reputed professional membership and certification organization. This organization offers a comprehensive training and certification track for Scrum Masters. The 1st program in that track is CSM.
Note: Scrum Product Owners and Scrum Developers can also access specific learning roadmaps offered by the Scrum Alliance. One example is the two-day face-to-face training program named the Certified Scrum Product Owner. Alternatively, learners can attend 14 hours of live online training.
Depending on the region, you need to pay between USD 1,000-2,000 for the CSM certification.
The CSM certification exam has a 60-minute duration. Learners need to answer 50 questions during that time.
You need to renew a CSM certification every two years. The renewal costs USD 100, and you need to earn 20 SEUs during this period.
CSM exam prerequisites
You need to take the Certified ScrumMaster course from Scrum Alliance before you attempt the Scrum Master exam. It involves at least 14 hours of live online or face-to-face training. You don’t need to meet any prerequisites before undertaking this course.
The CSM program has the following key features:
- Practitioners from all industries can benefit from it.
- This certification is open to all professionals, e.g., PMs, software engineers, business analysts, marketing professionals, HR (Human Resource) professionals, etc.
- The CSM course is a highly interactive one.
- The course comprehensively covers the relevant Scrum practices.
- The passing score of this 1-hour certification exam is 37 out of 50 questions.
Aspiring Scrum Masters can benefit significantly from the CSM training and certification program.
2. A-CSM (Advanced Certified ScrumMaster): An advanced CSM training and certification program from the Scrum Alliance
Are you already a Scrum Master? You can consider the Advanced Certified ScrumMaster (A-CSM) from the Scrum Alliance. The organization offers this advanced training and certification program as the 2nd one in its CSM learning roadmap.
You need to pay between USD 1,000-2,000 for the A-CSM certification, depending on the region.
A-CSM certification doesn’t have a separate exam. You need to complete a certified A-CSM education offering. It’s 16 hours of live online or in-person training.
You need to renew the A-CSM certification every two years. The renewal costs USD 175. Note that you need to accumulate 30 SEUs during this period.
The Scrum Alliance mandates that the following prerequisites for the A-CSM certification:
- CSM certification;
- 12 months of work experience as a Scrum Master within the last 5 years;
- Attending a certified A-CSM education offering from the Scrum Alliance.
The features of the A-CSM program are as follows:
- This program provides enhanced implementation skills on the foundation of CSM.
- It demonstrated to learners how to improve coordination and engagement in Scrum teams.
- Practitioners learn to scale Scrum and Agile beyond one team.
Existing Scrum Masters can expand their skills notably by taking the A-CSM certification.
3. CSP-SM (Certified Scrum Professional ScrumMaster): The expert-level certification from the Scrum Alliance
Are you already a Scrum Master with advanced knowledge? You can become an expert by undertaking the Certified Scrum Professional ScrumMaster (CSP-SM) from the Scrum Alliance. It’s the 3rd on the Scrum Master educational roadmap offered by the Scrum Alliance.
You need to pay USD 1,000-2,000 for the CSP-SM certification. The price varies according to geography.
The CSP-SM certification doesn’t have a separate exam. You need to complete the certified CSP-SM educational offering from the Scrum Alliance. It’s a 16-hours course. You can take it in-person or live online.
The CSP-SM certification has a validity of 2 years. You renew it by paying USD 250 and earning 40 SEUs during this period.
The prerequisites for the CSP-SM certification are as follows:
- A-CSM certification;
- 24 months of experience as a Scrum Master within the last 5 years;
- Completion of the certified CSP-SM educational offering from the Scrum Alliance.
The notable features of the CSP-SM program are as follows:
- Practitioners become experts in progressive Scrum techniques.
- The program focuses significantly on coaching and Agile facilitation.
If you want to become an expert Scrum Master, then CSP-SM is an ideal certification program.
4. PSM I (Professional Scrum Master I)
Professional Scrum Master I (PSM I) certification is offered by Scrum.org. Ken Schwaber, one of the creators of the Scrum framework who founded Scrum.org in 2009. Scrum.org enables people and teams to utilize Scrum practices effectively so that they can solve complex problems.
Aspiring Scrum Masters can take the advantage of the certification roadmap offered by Scrum.org. The roadmap is called “Professional Scrum Master” (PSM), and PSM I is the 1st certification in it.
You need to pay USD 150 for the PSM I assessment. Scrum.org recommends you attend either Professional Scrum Master Training or Applying Professional Scrum Training courses. They cost USD 1,495 in the US.
You get a free voucher for the assessment if you complete these courses. If you attempt the PSM I Scrum Master exam within 14 days of completing the training course, then your 2nd attempt is free.
The PSM I exam is for 1 hour.
Scrum.org doesn’t have a renewal requirement for the PSM I certification.
The PSM I certification program doesn’t have any prerequisites.
The key features of this certification program are as follows:
- Practitioners from all industries and functional areas can attempt it.
- The certification exam requires the candidates to demonstrate a fundamental level of Scrum expertise.
- The Scrum.org courses named Professional Scrum Master Training or Applying Professional Scrum Training cover the subject matter of this certification. These are 2-day hands-on training programs.
- The passing score of the PSM I certification exam is 85%.
PSM I is a useful Scrum Master certification.
5. PSM II (Professional Scrum Master II)
Scrum.org offers Professional Scrum Master II (PSM II), the 2nd certification in its Scrum Master educational track. Learners achieving this certification acquire advanced Scrum knowledge.
PSM II assessment costs you USD 250. While it’s not mandatory, Scrum.org recommends you attend the Professional Scrum Master II training. You get a free voucher to attempt the PSM II assessment with this course. If you attend it and take the PSM II assessment within 14 days, then the 2nd attempt is free for you.
The duration of the PSM II certification exam is 90 minutes.
The PSM II certification doesn’t have any renewal requirements.
You don’t need to meet any prerequisites before taking the PSM II assessment test.
However, passing this test requires advanced knowledge of Scrum. Scrum.org offers Professional Scrum Master II training to prepare for this exam. The organization recommends you take this 2-day course.
The PSM II certification program has the following features:
- Leaders from all functional areas and industries can take this certification.
- The focus of this certification program is to impart advanced knowledge of Scrum.
- The above-mentioned courses cover key concepts of the Scrum framework. They delve into the Agile methodologies and Agile practices. Practitioners also learn about aspects like managing stakeholders, user stories, and relevant metrics.
- There are 30 questions in the PSM II exam. They include multiple-choice questions, and the passing score is 85%.
If you are looking for an advanced Scrum Master certification, then PSM II is a good choice.
6. PSM III (Professional Scrum Master III)
The 3rd certification program in the Scrum Master educational roadmap offered by Scrum.org is the Professional Scrum Master III (PSM III) certification. Learners need to acquire expert-level knowledge to achieve this certification.
You need to pay USD 500 for the PSM III certification assessment. You get a 40% discount if you have completed the Professional Scrum Master II training.
The PSM III exam is for 2 hours and 30 minutes.
Scrum.org doesn’t have any renewal requirements for the PSM III certification.
Scrum.org requires you to pass PSM I and PSM II before you attempt PSM III.
The features of the PSM III certification program are as follows:
- This certification requires expert-level knowledge of Scrum and related subject matters. It focuses on practical experience.
- Learners should attend both PSM and PSM II training courses offered by Scrum.org. However, these aren’t mandatory.
- The PSM III exam has 30 questions. These include multiple-choice questions, case study questions, and essays.
- The passing score is 85%.
PSM III is a reputed certification program for Scrum Masters targeting expert-level knowledge.
7. PMI-ACP (Project Management Institute Agile Certified Professional)
The PMI-ACP (Project Management Institute Agile Certified Professional) certification is from Project Management Institute (PMI). Most people already know PMI, the reputed non-profit organization. The organization offers the well-known PMP (Project Management Professional) certification.
PMI-ACP isn’t exclusively for Scrum Masters. It covers the entire gamut of Agile and related methodologies, frameworks, and practices. However, aspiring Scrum Masters can get what they need from this training and certification program.
PMI members need to pay USD 435.00 for this certification, whereas, non-members pay USD 495.00.
The PMI-ACP exam is for 3 hours.
The validity and the requirements for PDUs (Professional Development Units)
You need to renew the PMI-ACP certification every 3 years. PMI requires you to earn 30 PDUs in Agile-related topics during this 3-year period.
The prerequisites of PMI-ACP are as follows:
- A secondary degree;
- 21 contact hours of training covering the Agile practices.
- 12 months of general project management experience within the last 5 years;
- 8 months of experience in an Agile project within the last 3 years.
- Note: If you have a PMP or PgMP certification, then you already satisfy the prerequisite of 12 months of project management experience. However, PMI doesn’t mandate PMP or PgMP certifications as prerequisites for PMI-ACP.
The PMI-ACP certification has the following features:
- This certification comprehensively covers Agile principles. It covers the associated approaches and practices.
- The associated learning material covers methodologies and frameworks like Scrum, Lean, Kanban, Extreme Programming (XP), test-driven development (TDD), etc.
- The PMI-ACP exam has 120 multiple-choice questions.
While not exclusively for Scrum Masters, PMI-ACP is a comprehensive certification program. It’s a reputed certification.
8. Certified SAFe Scrum Master
The Certified Safe Scrum Master certification program is from Scaled Agile Inc., which created the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe). The company offers an educational roadmap for Scrum Masters. The Certified Safe Scrum Master is the 1st program in this roadmap.
Scaled Agile Inc. requires you to attend the SAFe Scrum Master course before attempting this certification. This course costs you USD 795 to USD 995. The price includes the first exam attempt, however, you need to take the test within 30 days of course completion. Each retake attempt costs USD 50.
The Certified SAFe Scrum Master exam is 90 minutes.
You need to renew this certification yearly, by renewing your SAFe membership. Renewing a certified SAFe membership costs you $295 per annum.
Scaled Agile Inc. needs learners to attend the SAFe Scrum Master course. It’s a 2-day course. Furthermore, learners need the experience of working in a Lean-Agile environment.
The key features of this certification program are as follows:
- The scope of the training and certification includes the important methodologies and frameworks, e.g., Agile, Scrum, Kanban, etc.
- Participants learn how to execute projects.
- This training and certification program demonstrates how to coach Agile teams.
- The Certified SAFe Scrum Master exam has 45 multiple choice questions
- The passing score is 73%, i.e., 33 out of 45 questions.
The Certified SAFe Scrum Master program from Scaled Agile Inc. is a good choice for aspiring Scrum Masters.
9. Certified SAFe Advanced Scrum Master
You can check out the Certified SAFe Advanced Scrum Master program from Scaled Agile Inc. It’s the 2nd certification program in this learning track.
Scaled Agile Inc. mandates that learners need to attend the SAFe Advanced Scrum Master course before attempting this certification. It costs USD 995. This includes the first attempt at the certification exam. However, learners need to take the test within 30 days of course completion. You need to pay USD 50 for each retake attempt.
The duration of the Certified SAFe Advanced Scrum Master exam is 120 minutes.
Scaled Agile Inc. requires you to renew your membership yearly, which includes the renewal of this certification. You need to pay USD 295 per annum to renew a certified SAFe membership.
You must attend the 2-day SAFe Advanced Scrum Master course before attempting this certification. Additionally, you need work experience in a Lean-Agile environment.
This training and certification program has the following features:
- Its objective is to impart advanced-level Scrum knowledge.
- This program makes program-level execution easier. It covers advanced coaching and problem-solving techniques.
- The exam has 60 multiple-choice questions. The passing score is 70%, i.e., 42 out of 60 questions.
The Certified SAFe Advanced Scrum Master certification is a good choice if you want advanced-level skills.
Which Scrum Master Training to Choose Choose?
Each of the above-mentioned training and certification programs has its strengths. Think of your unique learning requirements and choose a Scrum Master certification program.
Bonus information: How to become a Scrum trainer or Agile coach?
What if you want to become a certified Scrum trainer or Agile coach? These professionals need proven mastery of the methodology and plenty of experience. Provide you put the hard work in, get the right training and qualification, and above all, you demonstrate a love for coaching then you will make a great Scrum trainer.
You can go for Certified Scrum Trainer (CST), a certification program from the Scrum Alliance. Aspiring Scrum trainers need to meet the prerequisites. They need to apply online. Subsequently, they need to undergo pre-screening, formal review, and a formal interview.
You can get Scrum Alliance certifications for Agile coaches too. The organization offers a Certified Team Coach (CTC) program. Another option is the Certified Enterprise Coach (CEC) program. You need to go through a rigorous review for both of these certification programs.