If you’re in the software development industry, you’ve probably heard the term ‘Scrum Master’ popping up here and there. There’s a high chance that you’ve worked with a Scrum Master, too.
The Certified Scrum Master (CSM) is a certification offered by Scrum Alliance. The main goal behind the certification is to help professionals improve and validate their knowledge in Scrum and Agile best practices.
But what exactly do you need to get the Scrum Master Certification? That’s what we attempt to cover in this guide, so stick around!
What Is Scrum?
Scrum is an Agile framework that’s primarily used in software development. However, it’s not uncommon to find the framework being used in other functions like marketing and sales.
The Scrum framework makes it easier to develop, deliver, and sustain complex products. The three pillars of Scrum, which are transparency, adaptation, and inspection, are the foundations that the framework is built around.
The framework also places a huge emphasis on teamwork, progress, and accountability.
More About Scrum Alliance
Scrum Alliance is a non-profit association founded in 2001. It’s one of the largest and most prestigious certification bodies in the Agile community.
Since its launch, the organization has helped more than 750,000 professionals get certified.
What Does a Scrum Master Do?
As a Scrum Master, your responsibilities in an organization will include initiating meetings with the Scrum team. A Scrum team consists of the Scrum Product Owner, Scrum Master, and Scrum Team members.
In the meetings, you’ll discuss what was done on the previous day and what will be done on that day. You’ll also be responsible for coaching your teammates and helping them overcome any challenges that hinder the project’s progress.
The Scrum Master’s involvement in the actual development is usually limited or non-existent because they should dedicate their time to their main role: coaching and leading the team.
Certified Scrum Master Certification Requirements
The CSM certification doesn’t have any special prerequisites other than familiarizing yourself with Scrum theory before enrolling in a Scrum Master course.
After you’ve read enough about Scrum on your own, enroll in the training course. Once you attend and complete the course, your next step is to attempt the CSM exam and secure a passing grade to get certified (more about the exam later).
Having a bachelor’s in computer science isn’t an official prerequisite, but it’s definitely preferable for CSM candidates to have a technical background.
Benefits of the Certified Scrum Master Certification
There are a plethora of benefits of acquiring the CSM certification, which can be summed up as follows:
Skill and Knowledge Development
By becoming a certified Scrum Master, you’ll expand your knowledge in everything related to Scrum and improve your problem-solving skills. You’ll be able to lead small Scrum teams effectively and help them tackle any obstacles they may face.
On top of that, you’ll enhance your leadership and teamwork skills since you’ll learn how to lead your teammates and get the best out of them by motivating and supporting them. These skills are transferable, meaning that they could benefit you in other job roles in the future.
Better Career Prospects
Valuable certifications like CSM can take your career to a whole new level. It lets you showcase your skills to potential employers and establish credibility as a subject matter expert.
It’s more than just a piece of paper that you hang on your wall; it’s proof that you have robust foundational knowledge about the Scrum framework and that you’ve developed an Agile mindset that’s usually deemed valuable by large corporations.
What’s more, the certification will make you stand out from the crowd and increase your chances of getting more job interviews and better offers.
Once you get CSM certified, you’ll become a part of a large community of professionals that can help you increase your knowledge, get more job opportunities, and share their best practices.
How to Prepare for the Scrum Master Certification
Preparing for the Scrum Master certification is as easy as it gets. Here’s your step-by-step guide:
Learn About Agile and the Scrum Framework
Your first step to becoming a Scrum Master is to educate yourself about the fundamentals of the Scrum framework.
This step is crucial because you won’t be able to enroll in a Scrum Master course if you don’t know the basics.
Take the CSM Course
A CSM course is an in-person, two-day course taught by a certified Scrum trainer. The course is mandatory for you to become eligible to attempt the CSM exam.
To enroll in the course, you must pass the enrollment quiz that tests your existing knowledge of Scrum and Agile. You should be able to pass it easily if you’ve read enough about the concepts before enrolling.
The content of the course revolves around teaching students the fundamentals of the Scrum framework and its real-world applications through case studies. You’ll learn all about Agile, Scrum Artifacts, Scrum Events, and Scrum Roles.
The course also includes several exercises and discussions to deepen your understanding of the concepts.
The Certified Scrum Master exam is a 60-minute exam that includes 50 multiple-choice questions. To pass the exam, you need to correctly answer 37 questions within the allowed time frame.
If you failed the test, you can retake it one more time at no extra fees. However, you’ll have to pay a $25 fee starting from the third attempt.
It’s also worth noting that you can’t pause the exam. However, you can bookmark questions and answer them later.
The exam is available in a wide variety of languages, including English, Danish, Spanish (Castilian), French, Italian, Latin American Spanish, German, Portuguese, Japanese, Simplified Chinese, Czech, Russian, and Polish.
The exam will test your knowledge about applying the Scrum framework in Agile environments. The syllabus includes:
- Overview of Scrum
- Overview of a Scrum Project
- The Scrum team
- Product backlog
- The Product Owner
- The Scrum Master
- Enterprise Transformation
Your CSM certification journey doesn’t end with your name printed on the certificate. If you want to keep your certificate, you’ll need to renew it once every two years by earning SEUs (Scrum Education Units).
You can get SEUs by reading articles and attending courses and agile events. It’s also worth mentioning that there’s a $100 renewal fee.
After officially becoming a Certified Scrum Master (CSM), you can start pursuing more advanced certifications in the field as you gain more experience, like Advanced Certified Scrum Master (A-CSM) and Certified Scrum Professional – Scrum Master (CSP-SM).
Not to mention, you can pursue other tracks if you want to switch to a Product Owner or Developer role. You can start with the Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO) or Certified Scrum Developer (CSD) certifications.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Scrum Masters in Demand?
Yes! The demand for Scrum Masters is surging, with more and more companies realizing the challenges that their development teams face day-to-day and how these obstacles affect the company’s strategic and business goals.
According to study.com, the Scrum Master role is projected to grow by 24% annually until 2024.
Can I Become a Scrum Master With No Experience?
Yes and no. You can get the CSM certification even if you have zero practical experience. However, you won’t be able to practice the job effectively unless you work closely with an experienced Scrum Master and learn how they lead their teammates and coach them.
How Much Do Scrum Masters Make?
According to glassdoor.com, the average salary of a certified Scrum Master in the United States is $96,166 per year, making it one of the highest-paying certifications in the software development field.
And based on the data collected by payscale.com, the mean annual pay of a Scrum Master is $92,123, which is pretty close to the figure reached by glassdoor.com.
Who Gets Paid More: Scrum Master or Product Owner?
Usually, a Product Owner’s salary is higher than that of their Scrum Master peer. However, a more experienced Scrum Master may earn more than the Product Owner.
Which Is Better: PMP® or Scrum Master?
There’s no right or wrong here; it all depends on your industry and personal interests.
The substantial difference between the role of a project manager and a Scrum Master is that the project manager is responsible for setting the project’s scope, assigning tasks to team members, and submitting the deliverables within the project’s deadlines.
On the other hand, Scrum Masters coach small Scrum teams in Agile environments on Scrum. Scrum is dominantly used in the software development industry, but it’s not uncommon for companies to apply it in other industries. Still, project management has a wider scope as it can be applied to virtually any industry.
That’s all for today! You should now have a better understanding of how the CSM certification process works. Just read about Scrum, take the course, pass the test, and get certified! Easy, right?
But keep in mind that getting certified is just the first step to becoming a professional Scrum Master. Once you acquire the certification, start searching for job roles in the field, even if they’re in the form of internships. Scrum is a highly practical field of study, and you’ll only get good at it with practice.
So, what are you waiting for? Start your Scrum Master journey right now and get certified!
To learn how you can pass your PMP® certification exam in the next 6 weeks, sign up for a free class to get a study plan + valuable tips & tricks!