If you’ve decided to become Scrum Master certified, you’ve come to the right place. This article is going to point you in the right direction, to make sure you get the Scrum Master certification that is right for you. Let’s go straight into it.
There are some things you really need to look for in a certification. Those are quality, renown, easy of access, and ease of maintenance.
You need to make sure the Scrum Master certification and process is itself quality and worthwhile. The experience needs to be straightforward and reliable.
This is critical: the certification needs to be respected! There is no point getting one if no employer pays any attention to it, or thinks it is garbage. And sadly, there are some garbage certifications out there.
The certification should be easy to get. If you have to jump through a lot of hoops to get it, that might be a problem. Similarly, it should be easy to keep up your certification.
The two main Scrum master certification paths in the world are the Scrum.org and the Scrum Alliance certification paths.
Each of these paths consists of three different certifications. Starting with a basic one, then followed by an intermediate one and then an advanced one.
The Scrum.org certification path starts with PSM-1, which stands for Professional Scrum Master 1. You can get this certification by doing an online exam, which consists of about 80 multiple choice questions, and getting an 85% or higher score. As of writing, there is a $150 fee for attempting this exam.
After that, there is a PSM-2 certification, for more advanced Scrum Masters. This is also an online exam. There are 30 multiple choice questions, and you need an 85% score to pass. There is currently a $250 fee for attempting this certification.
Finally, there is a PSM-3 certification, which is very difficult to obtain. You need to do an online exam consisting of multiple choice questions and essay questions. You need to pay a $500 fee to attempt this certification.
The good thing about the Scrum.org certifications is that they only require an online exam, and they last forever. So if you pass on your first attempt, you just pay the initial small fee, and that’s it. They are also quality and highly respected.
The Scrum Alliance certification path starts with CSM, or Certified Scrum Master. To get this certification, you have to do a training course, which usually goes for two days. This has to be done by a certified Scrum trainer from the Scrum Alliance. How much this training cost could vary widely from place to place and person to person. But you are probably looking at $1000 or $2000 (or more).
As long as the trainer is happy that you turned up and paid attention, they will probably just give you the certificate. That is, there is usually no assessment required.
Following the CSM certification are the A-CSM (Advanced Certified Scrum Master) and CSP-SM (Certified Scrum Professional: Scrum Master). These each also require a training session, delivered by a Scrum Alliance trainer. Again, you are probably looking at thousands of dollars for these training sessions.
There is currently no way to get these certifications without doing the training.
If you go with the Scrum Alliance way, you need to renew these certifications every two years. This requires paying a $100 fee, and earning some SEUs (Scrum Education Units). You can get those from attending training, conferences and so on.
There are many organizations, some of which are pretty bogus, that are claiming that they have their own certifications. Scrumstudy is an example of these.
These certifications are not globally recognised, have little or no respect, and are not worth it. Don’t waste your time and money on them! You need to go with Scrum.org or Scrum Alliance, it is that simple.
I recommend doing the Scrum.org basic certification, PSM (Professional Scrum Master).
It is quite easy to get, it is a high quality certification, it is respected in the industry, it only costs a small fee, and it lasts forever.
Full disclosure: I am a certified Scrum Master with Scrum.org, though I am not involved or affiliated with Scrum.org in any way. I am not rewarded in any way for recommending them.
If you want to go with Scrum Alliance, that might be a good choice for you, especially if you are a beginner and want to get some training anyway.
If you want to continue down the path and get further certification, that can be a good idea, though I would consider getting other certifications (such as Lean Kanban) first. That is because it will give you a more well-rounded education.
In summary, I think the PSM certification from Scrum.org is the best one around. What do you think? Do you agree or disagree? Let me know in the comments.