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Scrum vs. PMP: Which Is More Suitable for You?

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Seeking professional certification from a prestigious institution can advance your skills and help you make yourself more in demand, giving you more and better opportunities in your career.

While both PMP and Scrum certifications are related to the project management process, they’re actually quite different and have different prerequisites. So, Scrum vs. PMP, which should you choose?

This article will give you a detailed comparison between them and cover their prerequisites, demand, and potential salaries to help you decide which is better for you.

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Scrum vs. PMP: The Full Comparison

The short answer is that the choice between pursuing either PMP or Scrum certification is heavily influenced by the region you want to work in. 

If you want to work in Asia or North America, the PMP certification will open more doors for you. On the other hand, if you’re going to work in Europe or Latin America, then Scrum certification would be a better option for you. Yet, it would be best if you considered your interests and research which of them would be more beneficial.

Now that you have the answer in a nutshell, let’s explore each certification in-depth and comare what each of them has to offer.

Project Management Professional (PMP)

PMP is a globally recognized project management certification that demonstrates your ability to lead a project from its initiation all the way to completion. 

It’s considered by many, including employers, to be the standard when it comes to having a working knowledge of project management. 

The certification is based on ten knowledge areas that help you grasp everything related to project management, from managing cost to resources and risk. The knowledge areas are:

  • Project Integration Management
  • Project Scope Management
  • Project Schedule Management
  • Project Cost Management
  • Project Quality Management
  • Project Resource Management
  • Project Communications Management
  • Project Risk Management
  • Project Procurement Management
  • Project Stakeholder Management

The certification is awarded by the Project Management Institute (PMI) in Pennsylvania, United States, which is a globally-recognized institution in the field of project management.

Scrum

Scrum is a project management framework that emphasizes developing, delivering, and sustaining complex products.

The framework was initially applied exclusively to software development, but it gained a high interest in other fields due to its effectiveness and simplicity, including sales, marketing, and research.

The Certified Scrum Master is the first level of certification you can earn in the Scrum framework. Its primary purpose is to provide professionals with a strong base in applying the Scrum framework principles to their projects. 

Some of the professionals that would greatly benefit from CSM certification include test engineers, business analysts, quality controllers, software developers, and support managers.

Prerequisites

The CSM and PMP certifications are quite different when it comes to their minimum requirements. The PMP certification requires that you spend 7,500 hours leading projects. If you have a four-year degree, that number goes down to 4,500 hours. In both cases, you need to need to have 35 hours of project management education.

On the other hand, Scrum doesn’t have any prerequisites, making it a more accessible option for more people. However, we recommend that you work on and complete multiple projects before applying for Scrum certification so you can better understand the concepts you’ll learn and how you can use them in your work.

Demand

The demand for each certification is primarily influenced by the region you want to work in. For example, Scrum’s interest is higher in Europe and Latin America, while most countries in Asia and North America show a greater interest in PMP. You can use Google Trends to check the interest levels for both certifications in specific cities or countries.

Nevertheless, you can still try your luck with a certification other than the one with the highest demand in your region if you’re really that interested in it, but then you’d be taking the more challenging path.

Mean Salary

Just like demand, the mean salary for PMP and CSM holders can vary from one country to another. Taking the United States as a reference for comparison, the average PMP salary is $80K – $110K depending on position and experience.

Per contra, a CSM in the United States can earn anywhere from $62K all the way up to $124K based on their career level and years of experience.

As you can see, the mean salary of CSMs isn’t that different from PMPs, keeping in mind that employers in the United States are more interested in PMPs.

As a CSM, you have a chance to earn more than a PMP, but you could also earn less. There are no strict rules for this. It all depends on your interpersonal skills and the value you can add to the organization you join.

Advantages

As a certified PMP, you get several advantages, including:

  • Attestation to your project management skills. The PMP certification is quite reputable and well-known worldwide, making it a trusted proof of your project management knowledge.
  • Better career opportunities. PMPs are more likely to be considered by employers who need a project manager than non PMPs.
  • A good chance to improve your English. As you go through the PMP knowledge areas, you’ll be able to improve your English language skills significantly.

If you opt for the CSM certification, you get the following advantages:

  • Learning how to use Scrum effectively. The knowledge areas of the CSM certification will help you develop a deep understanding of the Scrum framework and how you can apply it to your projects.
  • Improving your team management and collaboration skills. Knowing how to manage and communicate with your team is the core of the Scrum framework, and it’s one of the key factors that contribute to the success of a project.
  • Potentially higher salaries. As a certified CSM, you have a better chance of making higher earnings with better jobs and more frequent raises.

Exam

Here’s a detailed comparison between the CSM and PMP exams. Keep in mind that passing scores, formats, fees, and other information are subject to change depending on the year of offering.

ExamFees (Per Attempt)Passing ScoreTime LimitQuestionsFormatLanguageDifficultyPractice Assessment
PMP$555, $405 for PMI membersVariable240 mins200Multiple ChoiceEnglishHardYes, third party
Scrum$15085%60mins80Multiple Choice and True/FalseEnglish IntermediateYes

The PMP exam is quite hard to pass, and you’re more likely to need a second or a third attempt to pass it. On the other hand, the Scrum exam is much easier, and you should have a high chance of passing it from the first attempt.

It’s also worth noting that the passing grade for PMP exams can vary depending on the difficulty of the model exam you receive. On the other hand, the CSM exam has a minimum passing score of 85% for all exam takers.

Which One Should You Take First?

Some people may decide to pursue both PMP and CSM certifications, which takes us to whether it’d be better to take them in a specific order. 

Generally speaking, it’s a good idea to take the PMP path first. The study materials are extensive, and you’ll learn all the core concepts of project management.

After successfully passing the PMP exam, you may consider pursuing the CSM certification if you’re interested in agile values and the Scrum framework. It can enhance your perspectives and give you more solutions to problems related to complex products. However, keep in mind that Scrum may not apply to every project due to its limitations.

Maintaining or Renewing Certification

To keep your PMP certification, you must renew it once every three years. PMI’s renewal system requires that you get 60 PDUs (Professional Development Units). PDUs are one-hour blocks that you spend learning, volunteering, or teaching others. The renewal fees are $60.

On the other hand, renewing your CSM certification must be done once every two years. To renew your certificate, you must earn 20 SEUs (Scrum Education Units) and pay a flat fee of $100.

Final Thoughts

As much as we know that you would have preferred a more decisive answer, the choice between taking PMP or Scrum certification is influenced by many factors, which means that it doesn’t make sense to favor one of them.

We can still give you some hints, though. The Scrum certification is easier to earn since it doesn’t have any prerequisites. Not to mention, the exam isn’t hard to pass.

On the flip side, the PMP has more strict minimum requirements, requiring more practical and academic knowledge than the CSM certification. It’s also harder to pass.

Both are in demand, though it varies according to region. We advise you to read more about what you need to learn to earn PMP or CSM certification and see which of them seems to be more enjoyable for you.

Sign up for a free PMP class to learn how the exact study plan you can use to get certified in the next 6 weeks!


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