Getting certified as a Scrum Master can take your career to the next level by giving you more and better job opportunities. It’s an investment that’ll definitely pay off in the long term.
But how much does the Scrum Master certification cost? That’s exactly what we’re going to shed light on in this guide!
What Is a Scrum Master Certification?
As its name implies, a Scrum Master certification is a credential that enables practitioners in the software development field to become Scrum Masters. The role of a Scrum Master is to guide team members on following the Scrum framework and help them self-organize their work schedule.
The most popular Scrum Master certification among recently-graduated and junior-level professionals is the Certified Scrum Master (CSM) certification from Scrum Alliance. Why? Put simply, the certification’s requirements are easy to achieve, and the exam itself isn’t that hard to pass.
More About Scrum Alliance
Scrum Alliance is one of the most reputable Scrum certification bodies in the industry. With over 750,000 members from different parts of the world, Scrum Alliance is considered to be one of the largest non-profit organizations in the Agile community.
The organization is the industry leader when it comes to setting new work standards, providing training, and contributing to the development of this interesting field of work.
Scrum Alliance was founded in 2001 by Ken Schwaber and Mike Cohn, both of whom are software developers. The organization is based in Denver, Colorado, United States.
Cost of Scrum Master Certification
The cost of the Certified Scrum Master (CSM) certification is mainly about the training fees. The costs associated with training varies based on the course you pick. It can cost you anywhere from $500 all the way up to $2000, depending on your location and the time you choose to take the course. Also, different instructors will charge different fees.
The exam itself is free of charge, provided that you’ve already completed an accredited course.
However, keep in mind that if you failed to secure a passing score on the first attempt, you’d have to pay a $25 fee for every additional attempt.
Other than the initial training and examination fees, renewing your Scrum Master certification is associated with charges. At the moment of writing this article, the CSM renewal fees are $100 that are paid once every 2 years.
In addition to the renewal fees, you’ll need to acquire 20 SEUs (Scrum Education Units) by volunteering or attending seminars, courses, and events. It’s a bit hard to estimate an exact figure on these activities, though. Nevertheless, as a CSM holder, you get exclusive discounts on courses and seminars.
It’s also worth mentioning that you won’t have to pay any renewal fees if you acquire a higher-level certification, like the Advanced CSM certification. In that case, you’d only have to pay the renewal fees of your highest level certification, and the lower ones will be renewed automatically. You still need to earn half of the required SEUs for each lower-level certificate, though.
Benefits of Scrum Master Certification
As you can probably tell, becoming a Certified Scrum Master is definitely costly. However, in return, you’ll get a plethora of benefits, which include:
Better Job Opportunities
The CSM certification is an excellent way for you to establish credibility as a subject matter expert. Having the accreditation listed down on your CV will undoubtedly impress your potential employers and help you score more job interviews and even get accepted for suitable roles.
A non-certified practitioner can’t take over the role of a Scrum Master, and that’s exactly how the certification will make you stand tall among your peers.
Pursuing the CSM certification will give you the chance to learn new concepts and develop the skills needed to become a Scrum Master.
Even after you’ve earned the certification, you’ll need to continue learning on your own to renew your certification.
Once you earn the CSM certification, you’ll become a part of the Scrum Alliance community that includes a large number of practitioners from all over the world.
Not to mention, by letting people know that you’ve earned the CSM certification, you’ll automatically be able to expand your network because many people will look up to you as a role model and ask for your advice on how to acquire the certification.
Scrum Master Competencies
Here are some of the most sought-after skills and competencies that employers search for when hiring Scrum Masters:
- Strong leadership and teamwork skills
- Initiating and accepting change
- Top-notch communication skills
- Effective handling of conflicts and obstacles
- Collaboration skills
- Problem-solving and crisis management skills
Steps to Become a Certified Scrum Master
Feeling intrigued yet? Alright, let’s walk you through the steps of acquiring the CSM certification:
Learn About the Scrum Framework
The first step to becoming a Scrum Master is to read about the Scrum framework on your own and understand why it’s important and how it can be beneficial to organizations.
This step is essential because, in order to become eligible for the CSM certification, you must attend the official Scrum Master training course, which will test your knowledge of the Scrum framework before enrolling.
Take the Scrum Master Course
The Scrum Master training program is a 16-hour, two-day course that’s taught through live instructor-led sessions. The instructor must be a certified Scrum trainer.
Throughout the course, you’ll learn about the fundamentals of the Scrum framework, as well as concepts like Scrum artifacts and events.
What’s more, you’ll get the opportunity of participating in practical workshops to apply what you’ve learned.
Practice With Mock Tests
Before attempting the real CSM exam, make sure that you practice with a couple of mock tests first, so you can develop a clearer picture about what questions to expect.
Certified Scrum Master Exam Details
The CSM exam consists of 50 multiple choice questions and has a duration of 60 minutes. To pass the exam, you need to answer 37 questions correctly.
The questions are based on the following syllabus:
- Overview of Scrum
- Overview of a Scrum Project
- The Scrum team
- Product backlog
- The Product Owner
- The Scrum Master
- Enterprise Transformation
Further, the exam is available in a wide array of languages, including English, Danish, Spanish (Castilian), German, Portuguese, Japanese, Simplified Chinese, Czech, Russian, French, Italian, Latin American Spanish, and Polish.
On a side note, keep in mind that you only get 2 free attempts to pass the exam. Any extra attempt will cost you $25.
The Certified Scrum Master (CSM) certification isn’t your only option when it comes to getting certified as an entry-level Scrum Master.
Here are some of the most popular alternatives and their costs compared to CSM:
Scrum.org’s Professional Scrum Master (PSM)
Unlike the CSM certification, Scrum.org’s Professional Scrum Master (PSM) certification doesn’t require you to take an expensive course to attempt the exam, making it a better option for those who don’t want to spend a fortune to get certified.
You can simply look for low-cost training on any of the popular online platforms or even ask a certified practitioner to coach you. However, unlike the CSM exam, The PSM exam isn’t free. It costs $150 per attempt, but since you’ll save on training costs, it doesn’t really matter.
It’s also worth noting that the PSM certification exam is a bit harder to pass than the CSM exam. The minimum passing score for the PSM exam is 85% compared to 74% for the CSM exam.
There’s a high chance that you could need more than one attempt to pass the exam, which can make the costs add up drastically. Nevertheless, if you prepare really well, you should be able to pass from the first attempt.
Project Management Institute’s Agile Certified Practitioner (ACP)
Contrary to popular belief, the Project Management Institute (PMI) doesn’t only offer project management certifications like PMP® and CAPM®; it also offers Agile and Scrum training through its Agile Certified Practitioner (ACP) credential.
The minimum requirements to sign up for this certification are to have a secondary degree (at least), 21 contact hours of agile training, 12 months working in projects in the last 5 years, and 8 months of Agile experience in the previous 3 years. You can skip the 12-month work experience requirement if you’re a PMP® or PgMP holder.
The certification is pretty expensive, though. The exam alone will cost you $495 per attempt. You also have to account for training costs. Not to mention, the exam isn’t that easy to pass from the first attempt. It consists of 120 multiple choice questions that must be answered in a 3-hour timeframe. The exact passing score isn’t known, but it’s estimated to be around 72%
You should also take into consideration that the certification must be renewed every 3 years by submitting 30 Professional Development Units (PDUs) and paying the required $60 fees.
Scrum Inc.’s Scrum Master (SM) Certification
Scrum Inc.’s Scrum Master credential is another reputable Scrum Master certification that many have praised for its training program’s rich content.
Unfortunately, the training course is quite expensive. It can cost you anywhere from $1,000 to $3,987, making this Scrum Master certification one of the most costly ones to pursue.
To earn the certification, you must attend and complete the course, then pass the final exam.
Scaled Agile’s Certified SAFe Agilist (CSA)
The CSA certification from Scaled Agile is tailored for professionals who work in organizations that use the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) as opposed to the original Scrum framework. The substantial feature of the SAFE framework is that it’s more focused on scaling lean and Agile efforts to a company-wide philosophy instead of adopting them on a small team-based scale.
The prerequisites for the CSA certification are to have a minimum of 5 years of experience in software development and a basic understanding of the Scrum methodologies. You also have to enroll in the “Leading SAFe” training course and complete all of your assignments. The course will cost you $700-$1000.
As for the exam, the first attempt is included with the course, but you have to attempt the exam within 30 days of completing it. Each additional attempt will cost you $50.
The exam consists of 45 multiple choice questions and has a duration of 1.5 hours. To pass, you need to earn a score of 74%. The exam is somewhat hard compared to the CSM exam, but it’s not impossible to pass from the first attempt if you dedicate enough time and effort to it.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Certified Scrum Master?
The CSM training program only lasts for 16 hours, which means that you can study for the exam and acquire the certification in less than a week.
Is Scrum Master Certification Difficult?
Acquiring the Scrum Master certification isn’t that hard, provided that you pay attention in class, take notes, and practice with mock tests. The certificate has a pretty promising pass rate. Not to mention, you get 2 free attempts to pass the exam.
Can I Take CSM Exam Without Training?
Attending a Scrum Master course is a prerequisite for attempting the CSM exam, which means that you’ll only become eligible as a candidate if you complete it. The only case where you can try the CSM exam without training is if you have an expired certification.
Are Scrum Masters in Demand?
Scum is one of the fastest evolving fields of study, and the demand for Scrum Masters is gradually increasing as more corporates are starting to adopt the Agile mindset.
According to an article published by study.com, the demand for Scrum Masters is expected to see an annual growth of 24% until 2024.
How Much Do Scrum Masters Earn?
Based on statistical data, Scrum Masters earn an average of $96,000 per year in the United States. There are several variables that can affect your actual salary as a Scrum Master, like years of experience, interpersonal skills, location, and company.
You can increase your chances of getting higher-paying jobs by participating in Scrum internship programs and attending courses related to Agile and Scrum.
Is PSM (Professional Scrum Master) Better Than CSM (Certified Scrum Master)?
One popular alternative to the CSM certification is the PSM certification offered by Scrum.org. It could be more cost-effective in the long term because the certification doesn’t expire, which means that you won’t have to pay any renewal fees whatsoever.
Becoming a Certified Scrum Master (CSM) is definitely not cheap, but is it worth it? Definitely! The certification will not only improve your career prospects but also give you the chance to meet new people in the field and uncover more learning and work opportunities.
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