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Scrum Master Certifications Explained

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Scrum Master Certifications Explained
Jacqueline Metrowich
Principal Consultant Delivery Management, DVT

Scrum Master Certifications Explained

By Jacqueline Metrowich


People often ask which Scrum Master certification they should do. There are two internationally recognised certifications, and both of them are endorsed by the founders of Scrum and authors of the Scrum Guide, Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland.


There is no right or wrong when choosing between Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) and Professional Scrum Master (PSM). Both certifications are equally good to have on your CV as evidence of your understanding of Scrum, and you would have to weigh up the pros and cons of each and which is most suitable for you. For example: in a two day CSM class you get practical experience, networking opportunities with other Agilists and exposure to an international subject matter expert, whereas the PSM course is a quick, although not necessarily easy, and cost effective way of getting the desired certification.


Here is some information to help you decide:


1. Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) – Scrum Alliance

To be certified you first must take a two-day course taught by a Scrum Alliance authorised trainer. The process to become a Scrum Alliance authorised trainer is lengthy and stringent to ensure a high standard of training and an accurate representation of Scrum and Agile practices and principles is provided. Instructors must verify their knowledge, experience and training ability, and their course content has to be approved as being consistent with Scrum and Agile principles. For this reason, there are not many trainers certified to train CSM, and the course is relatively expensive starting at R12,500 (excl. VAT) in South Africa. However, you can be assured that a course from a Scrum Alliance authorised trainer is the real thing.


Within 90 days of doing the course, attendees must do an online assessment, which is included in the cost of the course. The assessment consists of 35 multiple choice and true or false questions, of which 24 must be answered correctly. It takes about an hour to do and can be completed in more than one sitting. It can also be retaken once at no extra cost. There is a small fee of $25 for subsequent attempts or if done after 90 days of doing the course.


The CSM certification includes a 2-year membership with Scrum Alliance. Both the certification and Scrum Alliance membership require renewal every two years for a $100 fee.


Website - https://www.scrumalliance.org


2. Professional Scrum Master (PSM) – Scrum.org

For the Professional Scrum Master certification, it is not mandatory to take a training course if you feel you already have a high level of knowledge about Scrum from self-study and on the job experience. You can then do the online assessments to certify your knowledge and ability to apply it.


There are three levels of PSM assessments (foundation, intermediate and advanced) that are based on the Scrum Guide, which is freely available, as well as other recommended reading suggested on the Scrum.org website.


Scrum.org provides training as well. However, there are no courses available in South Africa.


The PSM I assessment consists of 80 multiple choice questions (with one or more correct answers) and true or false questions and requires an 85% pass mark. It takes about an hour and, although it is open book, it requires an understanding of the Scrum Guide in-depth to apply the content based on your experience. It is said to be harder to pass than the CSM assessment, and each payment only gives you one chance to take it, after which you have to pay again. There are free open assessments available to test your knowledge beforehand and gauge your chances of passing.


The costs of the assessments currently are:
PSM I: $150
PSM II: $250
PSM III: $500


There is no renewal cost for the PSM certifications.


Whereas you can claim PMI PDUs (Project Management Institute Professional Development Units) for CSM training, you cannot claim any for the PSM assessments.


Both Scrum Alliance and Scrum.org also provide other certifications to further your Scrum knowledge and expertise. (e.g. Certifications for Product Owners, developers and coaches.)


You may have heard of alternative Agile certifications and training and wonder what they offer and how they differ. While CSM and PSM are specific to Scrum, these options cover Agile more generically and tend to be more expensive. The primary ones that are available in South Africa are:


  • PMI-ACP: Offered by the Project Management Institute, requires training, experience and passing an exam
  • AgilePM: Offered by APMG International, needs training or self-study to pass an exam
  • PRINCE2 Agile: Requires training and passing an exam

DVT Academy offers the Scrum Alliance Certified Scrum Master training and certification with international trainers. DVT Academy specialises in Agile training and certification, and also provides the Scrum Alliance Certified Product Owner training, a suite of ICAgile Certified courses, Kanban training as well as locally certified Agile courses. For more information on all of the courses, visit: http://www.dvt.co.za/training