Monday, October 22, 2018

Which Scrum Master Certification should I get? CSM or PSM?

Jeff - I'm thinking of getting some Scrum Master training to help me get a new job.  Which one should I get?

There are two different version of Scrum Master certification: the Certified Scrum Master (CSM) from the Scrum Alliance, and the Professional Scrum Master from
The CSM requires that you take a class from an instructor certified by the Scrum Alliance, and the class must be the formal CSM class. The exam is fairly easy, and so is the class, so much so that there has been a lot of criticism in the market about it.  Cost is roughly $800-1000 for the class, and that often included the cost of the online test.
Right now, the CSM is the “HR standard” in corporate IT for hiring new Scrum Masters - like it or not.  There are a lot of reasons to NOT like the use of certs for hiring criteria, but I'll leave that to another post.
The Professional Scrum Master cert from scrum . org does not require a certified class, and you can take the test based on your own study of the Scrum Guide and hands-on experience. I feel that this was done on purpose to encourage real experience as the teacher, vs learning in the 2-day class . This would align more with agile values. 
My experience was that the PSM exam is much more difficult, and also much more practical and scenario than the CSM.
A lot of hiring managers are moving to the PSM as the standard for hiring because of the experiential nature of it, and how robust the test is, as compared to CSM.  To the extent that HR managers use certs for criteria, this is a good thing.
That all said, certifications are not a very good way to make hiring decisions, but if you don’t have a lot of solid work experience, a PSM can be helpful.
Good luck!
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Jeff Dalton is a Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser, Certified CMMI Instructor, author and consultant with years of real-world experience with the CMMI in all types of organizations. Jeff has taught thousands of students in CMMI training classes and has received an aggregate satisfaction score of 4.97 out of 5 from his students.

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