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Best Scrum Master Certification 

 May 13, 2021

Scrum is a process framework designed for project management. By following a framework, you can apply it to any setting where product development is needed. It improves efficiency through having scrum teams that are organized with specific roles in a manner that encourages team accountability.

Scrum teams are led by a Scrum Master, who ensures that issues that may cause distractions are dealt with so that the rest of the group focuses on delivering the product. 

We will be reviewing the best Scrum master certification courses; each of these courses can enable you to be distinguished as a certified trained Scrum professional. Depending on where you are in your Scrum journey, you can compare and choose the best course for you.

Comparison Table

Course Provider Cost Pre-requisites Exam
Certified Scrum Master (CSM) ScrumAlliance $495 No ✔️
Professional Scrum Master (PSM) Scrum.org $150 No ✔️
SAFe Scrum Master (SSM) Scaled Agile $800 No ✔️
Advanced Certified ScrumMaster (A-CSM) ScrumAlliance $1495 Yes ✔️
Professional Scrum Master (PSM) II Scrum.org $250 Yes ✔️

The 5 Best Scrum Master Certification Courses 

Below are the five courses we have chosen to review. We’ve made sure to mention their positives and negotiables, stressing what makes each of them a potential choice.

1. Certified Scrum Master (CSM) – Best Overall

ScrumAlliance is the first to provide certifications for Scrum Master development and credits itself as being non-profit. Because of its establishment in being a provider since 2001, it’s widely recognized across industries.

The course is led by agile Scrum-certified trainers who personalize training to the learners’ needs. Depending on the industry you’re from, the materials used cater to what is most crucial in your day-to-day. 

The CSM doesn’t require any prerequisites, so you could be new to Scrum concepts or a professional at any level, from any industry, and get accepted all the same. It gives you the training needed to move from the idea stage to the delivery stage more quickly, which improves customer satisfaction and boosts employee morale. 

CSM courses offer at least 14 hours of tuition from a verified trainer; this can be online or in-person. To get the certification of CSM, you need to have had the training with ScrumAlliance. 

ScrumAlliance requires you to take an exam. You get two attempts at this exam, which are included in the fee you pay. 

The online courses come with two 8-hour days and start at $495, including the exam fee. Prices vary according to the course trainer. Currently, Scrum trainers aren’t offering in-person training due to health restrictions. 

Extra benefits that come with a CSM with ScrumAlliance are ongoing professional development experiences. Events are organized with excellent speakers, and all graduates of courses with ScrumAlliance are invited to participate. 

Scrum recognizes that learning is continuous, so it requires members to gather SEU’s or Scrum Education Units necessary for recertification. Recertification for CSM is every two years, and the renewal fee is $100.  

A few times a year, global and regional scrum gatherings are organized for the community to engage more and for Scrum to be more regionally specific to your area. There are also ongoing virtual events throughout the year for you to connect with others and learn new tips. 

Positives: 

  • Leading provider of Scrum certification courses 
  • Verified trainers both online and in-person 
  • Ongoing professional development through global and regional events 

Negotiables: 

  • Renewal fee every two years may be seen as a drawback

Final Verdict

The Certified Scrum Master (CSM) is a fabulous all-rounder, perfect for those at the beginning of their Scrum journey. It is equipped with the support a newbie would require and continuous professional development long after training and exams are completed.

2. Professional Scrum Master – Best for Flexibility 

Scrum.org was founded by one of the establishers of ScrumAlliance, who felt there was a need to provide an alternative to CSM that focused more on the scrum fundamentals. It’s open to those who have undergone the CSM training and require validation for their further Scrum Mastery.  

This course allows flexibility, as you don’t have to take the course if you feel you can sit the assessment right away. This differs from the above approach with ScrumAlliance, which focuses on their specific training to be done to sit the exam. The course is led by Professional Scrum Trainers (PSTs) who bring their own experiences to the study. 

The PSM doesn’t require any prerequisites, but because it’s more advanced than CSM, it’s probably safer to have scrum knowledge. 

The training gives you real-life cases to solve along with classmates and additional exercises that challenge you better to understand Scrum’s core principles and its empirical processes. This would be fabulous for team leaders who require tips on improving their teams’ efficiency and behavioral changes.  

The PSM is usually offered in person but is currently offered in the shape of online-only courses. These are two days long and start at $150. The price includes the two attempts at the exam and a discount for the PSM II assessment. 

Once you’re part of the community, you have access to connecting with other PSM holders to organize meetings and share experiences. 

Scrum.org releases podcasts frequently that address current issues in the industry but also general issues. They’ve released several podcasts on “Women in Agile” to support women who are leaders and Scrum practitioners. 

Positives: 

  • Offers flexibility in taking PSM assessment whenever ready 
  • Doesn’t require a prerequisite of CSM, though it’s advised 
  • Supports additional causes such as women in Scrum
  • Cheaper than other available Scrum courses

Negotiables: 

  • Exam-centric focus rather than training focus

Final Verdict

The PSM with Scrum.org is a flexible and easy choice. It’s perfect for those who want a boost to their CSM. It comes with benefits such as connecting with other PSM holders to know ways to improve. The lack of formal training required to sit the exam may be a drawback, but the flexibility it allows opens up the chance of being certified to many. 

3. SAFe Scrum Master (SSM) – Most Unique Option

Scaled Agile was established to provide all-rounder certifications. It sets up the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) that includes agile, lean, and Scrum practices applicable in all industries. 

SAFe applied these concepts to corporations like IBM and Nokia, and the results speak for themselves. The SSM certification can enhance a Scrum Master’s qualifications when one needs to apply at a business level. 

SAFe is a leader in providing Scrum Master certifications and boasts a whopping 20,000 enterprises using SAFe.

The course focuses on building agile teams and how to embed Scrum principles into them. Training you with better work methods and product increment can create added value to the business.

SAFe believe they offer more than traditional Scrum courses as they give you a contextual view of the entire business and your role as Scrum Master. The program has clearly defined excellent outcomes for a manager needing to execute large-scale planning successfully. 

Though there are no prerequisites, it is recommended that some familiarity exists about Scrum before you apply.

The SSM currently offers online-only courses. These are two days long and start at $800. It includes an attempt at the exam, and then each attempt after that would cost $50. 

SAFe Scrum Master certification holders must renew their certification, which costs $100, and should complete 10 hours of professional development every year. 

Professional development is easy with SAFe because they have their eLearning platform, similar to universities and academies. It makes ongoing professional learning enjoyable and navigable. Access to templates and resources such as the “PI Execution Toolkit” can be used actively for your next PI planning meeting. 

Also, SAFe are international, as they have numerous partners dotted around the world providing consulting services to help organizations implement the Scaled Agile Framework. 

Positives: 

  • It goes beyond regular Scrum courses by focusing on more than just team-making 
  • Perfect for large-scale corporations 
  • Partnered with global organizations
  • Has an e-learning platform

Negotiables: 

  • The recertification and extra exam attempts costs may be seen as expensive
  • Maybe more catered towards larger-scale organizations 

Final Verdict

The SSM with Scaled Agile is a golden standard in the industry. It’s perfect for those who want something more than the traditional Scrum methodology. It’s equipped with providing training for larger-scale corporations. Some could see the costs associated as a drawback, but it’s worth it due to the unique program it offers.

4. Advanced Certified ScrumMaster (A-CSM)– Best for One-on-One Coaching

In addition to providing CSM (as above), ScrumAlliance also provides A-CSM. It can offer you skills that go beyond basic Scrum understanding and delve into the applied benefits of Scrum, such as interacting and coaching techniques for Scrum teams (beyond single teams) and facilitation of this. 

The A-CSM does require prerequisites, so you need to hold a CSM with ScrumAlliance, show evidence of at least 12 months of work experience specific to the role of Scrum Master, complete pre and post-course, and show that you have earned some Scrum Education Units (SEUs). So, this is for those who want to add extra value to themselves and boost their industry mark. 

A-CSM courses offer one-on-one, after-course instructor coaching, currently available online only. ScrumAlliance requires an exam to be taken. You get two attempts at this exam, both included in the fee you pay. The online courses come with two 8-hour days and start at $1495.

Extra benefits of having an A-CSM with ScrumAlliance are taking one step closer to achieving the Certified Scrum Professional (CSP) certification and qualifying for 16 ScrumAlliance SEUs. 

Recertification for A-CSM is every two years, and the renewal fee is $100.  

With ScrumAlliance, there are global and regional gatherings organized frequently. Depending on where you are in the world, Scrum events would be tailored to your regional setting. Throughout the year, members can benefit from virtual events and connect with A-CSM holders.

Positives: 

  • Leading provider of Advanced Scrum certification courses 
  • One-on-one, after-course Instructor coaching
  • Advanced certification distinguishes you from the crowd

Negotiables: 

  • Strict guidelines on prerequisites
  • Costs for course and renewals for certification can be expensive

Final Verdict

Perfect for those who require a strict layout of achieving the certification and advanced help through one-on-one coaching through this leading provider. Taking this course ensures a future with this provider as you’re given SEUs in recognition.

5. Professional Scrum Master (PSM) II – Best Advanced Scrum Certification

Scrum.org, as reviewed above, provides several Scrum courses that are recognized in the industry. The PSM II is for those who have advanced Scrum knowledge and have a showable level of experience in Scrum. 

Scrum.org was established to find a need to provide an alternative to the regular CSM training, giving more focus on the Scrum fundamentals. 

This course allows flexibility, as you don’t have to take the course if you feel you can go straight in for the assessment. Scrum.org does point out that the assessment is complex, so going through the course training would be beneficial and give you a higher likelihood to pass. 

The course is led by Professional Scrum Trainers (PSTs) that bring their own experiences to the course. 

The course specializes in being hands-on, requiring you to bring your own experiences using Scrum and how you would apply them to particular circumstances. A hands-on approach gives the benefit of being more proactive for learners and a higher chance that everything learned will be applied to future settings. 

Scrum.org also sets out clear guidelines to follow to get the most out of the course. This’s through their “Scrum Master Learning Path”, a structured guide organized by a set of professional scrum competencies. Users can mark off where they fall in the learning path and what they need to do to reach the next stage. 

They offer open assessments to test out where Scrum managers think they may be in their formal or theoretical understanding of Scrum concepts and see if they are ready for the PSM II. 

They then suggest reading some resources (videos and articles) to prepare for the PSM II, so even if you decide not to take the course with Scrum.org, their clear guidelines can help you better prepare for the assessment. 

The PSM is usually offered in person but currently offers online-only courses. These are two days long and start at $250. It includes an attempt at the exam. 

Taking the assessment with Scrum.org requires a minimum score to pass. This is because they want the marketplace to value their certification above other Scrum providers that simply require class attendance.

Another benefit that comes with a PSM II is the learning path framework that gives users a clear direction of where they are in the Scrum journey. Also, Scrum.org has regular virtual events with speakers worldwide to equip users with a better understanding of Scrum applications in different case studies. 

Once you are part of the community, you have access to connecting with other PSM II holders and organize meetups. Scrum.org have partnered with universities and corporate businesses so that they have a better reach and recognition globally.  

Positives: 

  • Offers flexibility in taking PSM II assessment whenever ready 
  • It gives everyone taking the PSM II assessment support with the Scrum Master Learning Path – whether you take the course or not 
  • Partnered globally, therefore your certification would be recognized everywhere
  • Cheaper than other available Scrum courses 

Negotiables: 

  • Exam-centric focus rather than training focused

Final Verdict

The PSM II is perfect for advanced Scrum practitioners. It comes with flexibility; the user can go straight into the assessment. It comes with helpful guidelines that give users pointers on what they will need to know for the exam.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Scrum Course

These are some of the things to keep in mind so that you can choose the best Scrum Certification for your needs. 

Current Level 

All Scrum courses available come at different levels. Some are for newbies, while others are for more advanced Scrum practitioners. It is worth following the guidelines and not jumping the gun to trying for a more advanced Scrum certification if you haven’t equipped yourself with the basics.

Once you are certified with a Scrum provider, you are sure to have continuous advice and guidance on how to proceed in the future.

Price 

Scrum Certifications come at different prices. If you are on a budget, Scrum.org offers more purse-friendly courses and the option to skip training and into assessment straight away. 

However, if you require one-to-one training around a tight set of guidelines, it might be worth going for ScrumAlliance or SAFe. These trustworthy courses ensure you get value for money. 

Extra Benefits 

Most Scrum Certifications come with added benefits depending on the provider you choose. These may be, for example, certification by an internationally acclaimed provider, personalization of programs, e-learning platforms, and flexibility. 

All come with event organizations online or in-person to engage with the broader community of Scrum certified people. 

Suppose you’d like something that personalizes training to your needs, perhaps due to the nature of the industry you’re working in. In that case, the ScrumAlliances course on A-CSM tailors to individual needs. Or if you are someone who would like to work internationally or is an international professional, the Scaled Agile’s SSM course would be great. 

FAQs

Is Becoming a Scrum Master Worth It?

As more companies become interlinked through projects and processes, project managers need to be more aware of the constant changes around them. A Scrum certified project manager is trained with proven methods that give Agile team skills to manage processes and product delivery effectively. This provides expertise beyond a regular project manager. 

Which Certification Is Better CSM or PSM?

PSM is the advanced version of CSM, so the decision on which is suitable for you depends on your level of experience. It’s worth mentioning that the CSM course revolves around generic product delivery, and its exam isn’t that hard to pass. The PSM course, on the other hand, goes deeper into software product delivery, and its exam is hard to pass.

How Much Do Scrum-Certified People Earn?

The salary of a ScrumMaster depends on factors, such as the level of certification (CSM, A-CSM, SSM), experience, and the company in question.

According to a survey conducted in 2017, Scrum managers earn the following in USD:

UK: 60,000-70,000

USA: 97,000-125,000

India: 25,000-30,000

Can Anyone Apply for a Scrum Certification Program, Regardless of Where They are Globally?

All Scrum programs that were reviewed above are open to anyone from anywhere in the world. 

Does a Scrum Master Have to be from a Project Management Background?

No, a Scrum Master can be seen as a coach of an organization that deals with things related to Agile Teams and Scrum. It’s a people-focused role open for anyone to do. The tasks that a project manager would traditionally do could be spread across the Scrum team, as following a Scrum framework shares the load equally and creates even accountability.

Final Thoughts 

The key to deciding the best Scrum Certification to go for depends on where you are in your professional career and what you want out of it.

A certification course by Scrum.org gives you a choice to decide between formal training or not and also a budget-friendly price. 

Whilst if you prefer a more stringent certification process, ScrumAlliance offers one-on-one coaching and a wide range of courses for those with no Scrum background. It would be a star choice for both the newbie and the advanced, offering both CSM and A-CSM. 

Scaled Agile’s SSM course would be ideal for those working in larger corporations. Both Scaled Agile’s SSM and Scrum.org courses have partners internationally. So, if you prefer accreditation internationally, these would be perfect.

All of the Scrum Certification providers are credible, and whichever you go for, there’s always continuous development and support for your future in Scrum development. 

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