Are you planning to become a Scrum Master? If so, it is for good reason.
The Scrum framework is very popular among Agile teams. This is because it helps build Scrum teams where every team member is focused on the task of delivering the best possible value to clients.
Scrum helps teams to foster efficient collaboration which allows them to speed up the development process, reduce mistakes, and to maximize the team’s collective skills and experience.
In order to master Scrum, you will need to choose the right Scrum Master certification. This article will cover the best training courses and certification exams where you can do just that.
Table of Contents
The Scrum Framework and the Agile Methodology
Scrum is a framework that enables teams to tackle problems of various levels of complexity. Teams can use this framework to create adaptive solutions in regards to how they approach their project in order to offer the best possible value.
Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland created Scrum in the early 1990s. Organizations and teams that use the Agile project management methodology find Scrum very helpful. The Scrum framework facilitates iterative development, which makes it suitable for the Agile framework.
Organizations planning to use the Scrum framework first must form Scrum teams. The central member of the team is the Scrum Product Owner, whose job is to maximize the value of products developed by the Scrum team.
Scrum teams are composed of various team members. A Scrum team is a small team led by a Scrum Master while the types of skills of the team differ according to the industry and task required.
You can think of a Scrum Master as a project manager (PM). However, the Scrum Master role is focused heavily on empowering the team to be able to do its job effectively. In regards to a software development project, a Scrum development team might have UI designers, developers, testers, and DevOps engineers.
The best Scrum teams collaborate with clients to deliver sustained value. Such teams focus on the key processes and avoid overburdening themselves with unnecessary auxiliary or side processes.
Rather than needing higher management to make decisions, capable Scrum teams take ownership of problems and solve them using their collective efforts. Smart Scrum Masters are vital for this process.
Why Agile Scrum Practitioners Must Take CSM Courses
You might wonder whether you can learn Scrum simply by accessing free resources. LinkedIn, for example, has free Scrum training. While these resources help, they aren’t enough. We recommend you take a paid Scrum training and certification.
We say this due to the following reasons:
- Reputed and premium Scrum training and certification programs use a systematic approach.
- Paid training programs cover all the Scrum practices and relevant aspects of Agile. E.g., these training programs cover Sprint planning, Scrum values, Scrum principles, product backlog, etc.
- Well-known Scrum training programs cover many useful methodologies and practices, e.g., Lean, Kanban, Extreme Programming, etc.
- Reputed Scrum training programs use many real-world case studies, which helps learners.
- Organizations looking for Scrum Masters prioritize candidates with reputed Scrum certifications and enough SEUs (Scrum Education Units).
- You benefit from the robust communities of learners associated with these training programs.
Best Scrum Master Courses and CSM Certifications
Consider undergoing any of the following training and certification programs:
1. Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) – The Scrum Master Certification from Scrum Alliance
Scrum Alliance, the well-established professional membership and certification organization offers the Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) certification. CSM is the 1st training and certification program in the learning roadmap for Scrum Masters offered by Scrum Alliance.
Note: Scrum Alliance offers learning roadmaps for Scrum Product Owners and Scrum Developers too. E.g., the Certified Scrum Product Owner training program involves a two-day face-to-face training session or 14 hours of live online training.
Prerequisites of CSM exam
The CSM program doesn’t have any prerequisites.
The key features of the CSM program are as follows:
- It’s suitable for all industries and functional areas.
- Anyone can undertake this certification, e.g., PMs, software engineers, business analysts, marketing professionals, HR (Human Resource) professionals, etc.
- This interactive program covers all relevant scrum practices.
- Learners need to attend at least 14 hours of live online or face-to-face training before attempting the Scrum Master exam.
- The certification exam goes on for 1 hour. The passing score is 37 out of 50 questions answered correctly.
The price for the CSM certification ranges from $1,000 to $2,000 depending on the region. Certified professionals need to renew their certifications every two years. They need to pay $100 for this. Furthermore, they need to earn 20 SEUs during this period.
The CSM certification is a good choice.
2. Advanced Certified ScrumMaster (A-CSM): The advanced CSM training from the Scrum Alliance
Scrum Alliance offers Advanced Certified ScrumMaster (A-CSM), the advanced training and certification offering for Scrum Masters. It’s the 2nd training program in the CSM learning track.
You need the CSM certification from Scrum Alliance before undertaking the A-CSM certification. Also, you need 12 months of work experience as a Scrum Master within the last 5 years.
The A-CSM program has the following features:
- It utilizes the lessons learned in CSM, and it imparts enhanced implementation skills.
- Learners need to attend a certified A-CSM education offering.
- It shows ways to improve coordination and engagement in Scrum teams.
- This program demonstrates how to scale Scrum and Agile beyond one team.
The A-CSM certification costs between $1,000 and $2,000 depending on where you live. You need to pay $175 every two years to renew it, and you need to earn 30 SEUs during this period.
A-CSM is a comprehensive advanced training and certification program for Scrum Masters.
3. Certified Scrum Professional ScrumMaster (CSP-SM)
Scrum Alliance offers Certified Scrum Professional ScrumMaster (CSP-SM). It’s the expert-level certification program in the Scrum Master learning track.
Learners need A-CSM certification. They also need 24 months of experience as a Scrum Master within the last 5 years.
The CSP-SM program has the following features:
- Learners gain expertise in Agile facilitation, coaching, and progressive techniques.
- Learners need to attend a certified CSP-SM educational offering.
The CSP-SM certification costs from $1,000 to $2,000 depending on the location. You need to renew the certification every two years by paying $250, and you need to earn 40 SEUs during this time.
CSP-SM is a comprehensive expert-level Scrum Master certification program.
4. Professional Scrum Master (PSM) I
Ken Schwaber founded Scrum.org in 2009. This organization helps teams to solve complex problems by applying Scrum practices effectively. It offers a certification roadmap called “Professional Scrum Master” (PSM). PSM I is the 1st certification in this track.
The PSM I certification program doesn’t have any prerequisites.
The PSM I certification program has the following features:
- It’s relevant for all industries and functional areas.
- Learners need to demonstrate a fundamental level of Scrum mastery for this certification.
- Candidates can directly go for the assessment. They don’t need to attend any Scrum training program if they have sufficient conceptual knowledge and hands-on experience.
- The passing score is 85%.
Note: The PSM I examination is a difficult one. Scrum.org recommends learners to attend either Professional Scrum Master Training or Applying Professional Scrum Training. Both are 2-day hands-on training programs with comprehensive course materials.
The PSM I assessment costs $150. Scrum.org doesn’t have renewal requirements.
The training courses mentioned above cost nearly $1,495 in the US. Candidates that complete these courses get a free voucher for the PSM I assessment. Learners that attempt the PSM I Scrum Master exam within 14 days of completing the training courses get a 2nd attempt at no additional costs.
PSM I is a valuable certification for aspiring Scrum Masters.
5. Professional Scrum Master (PSM) II
Professional Scrum Master II (PSM II) is the 2nd certification program in the Scrum Master educational roadmap offered by Scrum.org. This certification denotes advanced knowledge of Scrum.
PSM II certification doesn’t have any prerequisites. Scrum.org recommends you have in-depth Scrum experience. The organization also recommends you attend the Professional Scrum Master II training, a 2-day course.
The PSM II certification program has the following features:
- It requires learners to have advanced knowledge of Scrum.
- The assessment and the associated learning material/courses cover concepts of the Scrum framework, Agile methodologies, and Agile practices comprehensively. E.g., they cover managing stakeholders, user stories, relevant metrics, etc.
- The PSM II exam has 30 questions including multiple-choice questions.
PSM II assessment costs you $250, and everything else is the same as the price and conditions of PSM I.
PSM II is a well-known advanced Scrum Master certification.
6. Professional Scrum Master (PSM) III
Scrum.org offers Professional Scrum Master III (PSM III) certification, which is the 3rd certification in its Scrum Master learning track. PSM III certificate requires expert-level knowledge of Scrum.
Learners need to pass PSM I and PSM II before attempting PSM III.
The PSM III certification program has the following features:
- Learners need in-depth expertise and hands-on knowledge of Scrum.
- While these aren’t mandatory, Scrum.org recommends you attend both PSM and PSM II training courses.
- The PSM III exam consists of multiple-choice questions, case study questions, and essays.
The PSM III certification costs $500. Learners that complete PSM II training receives a 40% discount. Scrum.org doesn’t have renewal requirements for its certifications.
PSM III is a well-established expert-level Scrum Master certification.
7. Project Management Institute Agile Certified Professional (PMI-ACP)
Project Management Institute (PMI), the non-profit organization for project management is well-known for its PMP (Project Management Professional) certification. This organization also offers the reputed PMI-ACP certification.
PMI-ACP has the following prerequisites:
- You need a secondary degree.
- Applicants need 21 contact hours of training in agile practices.
- You need 12 months of general project management experience within the last 5 years. Note: A current PMP or PgMP certificate satisfies this requirement. However, these certificates are not prerequisites for PMI-ACP.
- You need 8 months of agile project experience within the last 3 years.
The PMI-ACP certification has the following features:
- It’s not a certification for Scrum alone. It covers Agile principles, practices, and approaches.
- The PMI-ACP certification covers key approaches like Scrum, Lean, Kanban, Extreme Programming (XP), test-driven development (TDD), etc.
- You need to complete 120 multiple-choice questions in 3 hours.
Price, and the requirements for PDUs (Professional Development Units)
PMI members need to pay $435.00 for this certification, whereas non-members pay $495.00. You need to earn 30 PDUs in Agile-related topics every 3 years to maintain your PMI-ACP certification.
PMI is a highly reputed organization, and PMI-ACP is a well-known certification.
8. Certified SAFe Scrum Master
Learners should have work experience in a Lean-Agile environment. They need to attend the SAFe Scrum Master course, which is a 2-day course.
The Certified SAFe Scrum Master program has the following features:
- It covers key methodologies and frameworks like Agile, Scrum, Kanban, etc. in detail.
- The training and certification prepare learners to execute projects and coach Agile teams.
- The exam has 45 multiple choice questions, and the exam duration is 90 minutes. The passing score is 33 out of 45 questions, i.e., 73%.
You need to pay $795 to $995 for the SAFe Scrum Master course. This includes the first exam attempt, however, candidates need to take the test within 30 days of course completion. Retake attempts cost $50.
The Certified SAFe Scrum Master program has a considerable reputation.
9. Certified SAFe Advanced Scrum Master
Scaled Agile Inc. offers Certified SAFe Advanced Scrum Master, its advanced certification program for Scrum Masters.
Candidates need the experience of working in Lean-Agile environments. They also need to attend the 2-day SAFe Advanced Scrum Master course.
The Certified SAFe Advanced Scrum Master program has the following features:
- It imparts advanced-level knowledge of Scrum to Scrum Masters.
- Scrum Masters achieving this certification should find program-level execution easier, thanks to advanced problem-solving and coaching techniques.
- The exam duration is 120 minutes, and there are 60 multiple-choice questions. The passing score is 42 out of 60 questions, i.e., 70%.
The SAFe Advanced Scrum Master course costs $995. This includes the first attempt at the certification exam if learners take the test within 30 days of course completion. Each retake attempt costs $50.
Certified SAFe Advanced Scrum Master is a reputed advanced certification for Scrum Masters.
Which is the Right Scrum Master Training For You?
All of the above-mentioned Scrum Master training and certification programs have their advantages. Each learner has their unique requirements so analyze your requirements, and choose a Scrum Master certification program that suits you.
Want to become a Scrum trainer or Agile coach?
Do you plan to become a CST (Certified Scrum Trainer) or an Agile coach? You need considerable expertise and experience in these fields, and you must love coaching.
Scrum Alliance offers Certified Scrum Trainer (CST), a certification program for aspiring Scrum trainers. You need to meet the prerequisites and apply online. The certification process involves pre-screening, formal review, and a formal interview.
Scrum Alliance offers certifications for Agile coaches. You can become a Certified Team Coach (CTC), which involves a rigorous application and review process. Scrum Alliance also offers a Certified Enterprise Coach (CEC) program with very involved application and review processes.