Which Agile/Scrum Certificates?

Last post 10:53 pm February 5, 2018
by Chris Belknap
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03:51 am April 3, 2015

Agile and Scrum are the new fashion nowadays. Most IT related companies are interested in hiring people who are familiar with the concepts and are preferably certified, even if the company is not really Agile. That’s why being certified is important for many of us.

But the problem is between so many certificates which one is suitable for us? I studied a lot and read a lot of articles. I’ll try to explain and share my experiences here and make it easy for you to decide.

Scrum Master Certifications

There are different types of certifications for Scrum Masters, Product Owners, and Developers. The fact is that everyone should start with the Scrum Master certification programs in my opinion, because that’s how you can know the framework.

The most famous Scrum Master certifications are as follows:

PSM I from Scrum.Org: it’s a great examination. Very precise and professional. You don’t even have to take any specific courses. As long as you can pass the online exam, it’s OK. After all, they just want to assess your knowledge. The price is not high too; it’s only $150. That’s why this examination is interesting for those who are interested in self-study and serious assessments. However, it’s hard to pass the exam, because the questions are tricky, and the passing score is 85%.

CSM from Scrum Alliance: this is also a famous certification. You need to take a standard course for that, and the exam is very easy to pass (or better say, really hard to fail). The courses are rather expensive.
The previous ones are focused on the Scrum framework, while there are two other certifications that cover both Agility, and the Scrum framework. They are about general knowledge, but in practice are close to what we expect from a Scrum Master certification. These two are:

ASF from EXIN: the exam is easy to pass and the price is moderate. The positive point about it is that it is governed by one the most famous examination institutes in the world, EXIN, which is mostly known for PRINCE2 and other AXELOS certifications.

PMI-ACP: this is a long and rather hard examination. Also expensive (about $400), like other PMI certifications. You also need to take certain training (classroom based or eLearning) and have enough Agile experience.
Product Owner Certifications

There are also Product Owner certifications that are mainly designed for… well, Product Owners. However, I believe these certification programs are also very helpful for Scrum Masters.
These are the main ones:

PSPO I from Scrum.Org: similar to the PSM I certification, low-cost, hard to pass, without the need for training.

CSPO from Scrum Alliance: similar to the CSM certification, rather expensive, easy to pass, and requires specific training.

Scrum Developer Certifications

The term developer refers to anyone who’s involved in the production of the solution, which includes technical analysts, architects, programmers, testers, UI designers, and so on.
Most developers have difficulty learning how to create the solution incrementally, without upfront architecture. That’s why this type of certification can be helpful. However, such a course needs to be focused on a certain programming language to stay practical, and it makes it very difficult to design and run. That’s why this type of certification program is limited. Both Scrum.Org and Scrum Alliance provide such programs through their partners.

Other Certifications

I’m also going to mention some other certifications that you might have heard of:

PSM II and PSPO II from Scrum.Org: these are the higher-level certifications, and very few people aim to get them, because they are even harder than the original one. While people can take and pass the first level exams without standard courses, it doesn’t seem likely for the second level certifications.

DSDM Foundation and Practitioner: these are certificates for another Agile methodology, DSDM Atern. I’ve not seen many people using the methodology or be certified, even though it’s a nice methodology.
AgilePM Foundation and Practitioner: this is also about DSDM Atern, but is focused on its project management aspects.

So, Which One?

Well, it’s not really easy to say, but I try to explain my own opinion for different scenarios (which others might not agree):

If you want to get just 1 certificate and if you want it to be easy then go for ASF. It is easy and from a well-know company otherwise you can try PSM which is harder or I can suggest to get both.( they are not too expensive)
But If you are rich and you want get more than 2 certificate you can go for CSM or ...

I hope it helps you. If you have any question or experience regarding this let's share it with everybody
What do you think? which certificate?

09:43 am April 3, 2015

@Rouzbeh,

It seems certifications will remain a popular topic. I just sent someone a deck on certifications comparing the logistics of training. This included some on scaling.

Note:
There are some small gaps in regard to getting the CSM. There is a scenario where one doesn't have to take a 2-day class.

If anyone is interested, they can also visit --
https://db.tt/r9Eif8uT

.....but what next? What does (or has) certification(s) done for you? It would be nice to get some anecdotes or stories from members on the forum.

09:52 am April 3, 2015

@Nitin
Certifications are always an interesting topic. specially in Scrum because actually most of them follow a similar concept but they are too many too choose. And also after certification is important too. I would like to hear about that. It will also help to choose which certificate is appropriate base on industry or country.

About the presentation It was good one. But I don't agree about training cost of PSM. It is much much cheaper than CSM.

10:02 am April 3, 2015

If you're taking a 2-day class, I mentioned its about $1,200.
E.g. -- http://courses.scrum.org/classes/show/2478

However, if you just want to take the assessment, yes, its much cheaper at $150. Perhaps I could improve on the layout.

How has the PSM 1 helped in your journey thus far?

12:27 pm April 3, 2015

Some organizations value and sponsor PSM I because it requires no course attendance and is comparatively cheap.

I have noticed a desire in larger organizations to invest in an internal agile coaching competency which addresses scaling matters. They then turn to SAFe or to the Scrum Alliance for validation. It's perhaps a cause for regret that scrum.org doesn't offer a "coach" or "enterprise" certification, and which is clearly labeled as such.

The industry appetite for sponsoring employees through yet another Scrum Master exam appears to be almost nil. Higher-ups wonder what the point is. "Why PSM II? Aren't Scrum Masters being tested correctly the first time?"

01:28 pm April 4, 2015

There is also APMG Agile PM based on DSDM Atern and also Prince2 Agile are now running something to add to P2 practitioners, its certainly getting cramped out there with routes, if your unsure where and which one is for you.

http://www.dsdm.org/dig-deeper/book/dsdm-atern-handbook
http://www.apmg-international.com/en/qualifications/agile-pm/agile-pm.a…
https://www.axelos.com/faqs/prince2-agile

Scrum.org and scrum alliance now share the scrum guide as the basis for scrum which is great.
http://www.scrumguides.org/
We still have two separate course tracks (PSxX CSxX) so adds confusion as to which route is the best one to take, if you are an employer which one holds the best bang for buck and holds more value.
More so as they now both agree the scrum guide as common ground, and hold no cross over, say for example is PSx a CSP or is a PSx a CSx?

Now with scaling Agile becoming the next best thing we also have different tracks as well SPS, SSF, and SAFe, SP,SA,SPC. The problem of which track is the best one to follow has repeated its self again.
Perhaps there should be some form of crossover table between them all if we are to add real value as a community?
Were all after the same thing however cant agree on common points between them (apart from the scrum guide).

12:58 am April 5, 2015

I think comparing PSM II vs PSM I is lik comparing P2 foundation vs Practitioner.
When you get P2F it mean you have the fundamental knowledge of PRINCE2 and Project management. and when you get P2P it means you have deep understanding of PRINCE2 ad you know how to apply it to a project.
So About PSM II it is not about it isn't tested correctly at first time.
I think when you get PSM I it means you know the basic and when you get PSM II it means you have the deep knowledge and know how to apply it.

01:10 am April 5, 2015

Posted By michael on 04 Apr 2015 01:28 PM

There is also APMG Agile PM based on DSDM Atern and also Prince2 Agile are now running something to add to P2 practitioners, its certainly getting cramped out there with routes, if your unsure where and which one is for you.

http://www.dsdm.org/dig-deeper/book/dsdm-atern-handbook
http://www.apmg-international.com/en/qualifications/agile-pm/agile-pm.a…
https://www.axelos.com/faqs/prince2-agile

Scrum.org and scrum alliance now share the scrum guide as the basis for scrum which is great.
http://www.scrumguides.org/
We still have two separate course tracks (PSxX CSxX) so adds confusion as to which route is the best one to take, if you are an employer which one holds the best bang for buck and holds more value.
More so as they now both agree the scrum guide as common ground, and hold no cross over, say for example is PSx a CSP or is a PSx a CSx?

Now with scaling Agile becoming the next best thing we also have different tracks as well SPS, SSF, and SAFe, SP,SA,SPC. The problem of which track is the best one to follow has repeated its self again.
Perhaps there should be some form of crossover table between them all if we are to add real value as a community?
Were all after the same thing however cant agree on common points between them (apart from the scrum guide).

Actually Agile and Scrum is getting more and more popular. you can see it in google trends. I have something about it here.
http://mplaza.pm/time-to-get-the-professional-scrum-master-certificatio…

Companies tend to apply Agile and Scrum to their project regardless of their project nature. So that's why we see many new certificate and courses about Agile and Scrum recently.
And I think it is a good change we should have change our traditional way in our project and find new ways.

06:23 am April 5, 2015

Posted By Rouzbeh Kotobzadeh on 05 Apr 2015 12:58 AM
I think comparing PSM II vs PSM I is lik comparing P2 foundation vs Practitioner.
When you get P2F it mean you have the fundamental knowledge of PRINCE2 and Project management. and when you get P2P it means you have deep understanding of PRINCE2 ad you know how to apply it to a project.
So About PSM II it is not about it isn't tested correctly at first time.
I think when you get PSM I it means you know the basic and when you get PSM II it means you have the deep knowledge and know how to apply it.

The point I am trying to get across is, if we take the two main ones PSxX and CSxX,
both using the same guide as the basis for the rules of the game, both have different examination standards.
One has an 85% criteria one has a 68% criteria, one is considered "comprehensive" the other "superficial".
No crossover between them and both accepted in the industry, one has one certification that's classed as superficial, one has two certifications that are classed as comprehensive and advanced for the one SM.
The other has one certification for SM that holds a lower passing mark.

We are all after value be that value financial, knowledge related, ROI etc, WIIFM if I'm an employer?
Lets assume were comparing PSM1 to P2 Foundation, how does this stack up against a certification that's classed as superficial?
The industry should be looking at crossovers as there are many routes and some have higher passing criteria than others. More so as scaling is becoming popular which scaling is the best?
We hit the same issue again with LeSS, PSF, SAFe. neither is cheap, however we have the same dilemma.
If were after the greater good, then there should be a crossover between them.

Exams are not the be all and end all, however if your about to spend money as an employer.
The big questions for you is which one gives you the best return on your candidates coming back.
Which one gives you the best certifications currently available for your money, if were investing in our
people and our organisations?

11:34 am August 5, 2015

Has anyone completed certification from Scrum Study? I am planning to complete their online course and take the exam in September. Please share your thoughts.

04:19 pm August 5, 2015

Hi Forum(?)

I'm glad you're thinking of formal training or testing your knowledge at this junction.

Not to sound boastful or arrogant, but I have 13 certifications in the area of agility. This includes the certifying bodies above, as well as some more.

When I looked at the the one you are considering, I decided not to pursue it.

May I suggest that you read the freely available the Scrum Guide, as authored by Schwaber and Sutherland, the co-developers of Scrum. If you have some constraints in taking an in-person class (always recommended), then Scrum.Org offers an online assessment for $100.

Active in the Scrum community and when asked, I would ask people to only consider Scrum.Org or the ScrumAlliance.

09:11 pm August 5, 2015

I agree with Nitin.

Both of the PSM and CSM assessments are grounded in The Scrum Guide, the official Scrum Body of Knowledge.

The Scrum certifications provided by ScrumStudy are likely based on their own SBOK book..
Although they claim the SBOK term as trade mark, people active in the Scrum community know which one is the “OFFICIAL Scrum Body Of Knowledge”.

12:27 pm July 7, 2016

Hey guys, just joined and I have a query on Agile certification - which one or none is best for me? Basically I'm into release management who drives the day to day activities of a software release from end to end. Primary RnR includes coordinating with interfaces to set up test env, coordinating test cases/users and production deployment/planning/risk assessment from the process perspective/ITIL. Our team follows the agile/scrum so familiar with user stories >> sprints >> JIRA although I'm not scrum master/PO/dev team.
Will doing Exin agile foundation/advanced or CSM or PMP help in anyway?

04:48 pm July 8, 2016

Since you are in the Scrum.org forum, I'll advice to look at the PSM 1 assessment ;-)

07:19 am January 23, 2018

Hello

I have heard that PSM certification does not expire where as the CSM is to be renewed every year. Is this statement true?

Regards

Bhuwanesh

12:27 am January 24, 2018

Scrum.org certifications, including PSM I, does not expire.  CSM has to be renewed every two years.  I see no benefits to renewing every 2 years.

 

Chris

07:18 am January 24, 2018

Hi to all! 

What is your mind about PMI ACP certification? As I think (maybe I am not right) there are too much "general" Agile questions which I will not use in practice. As I think it more difficult to pass PSPO1 or PSM1 than PMI ACP. 

 

08:31 pm February 2, 2018

Orkhan, the PMI-ACP would help give you a perspective as you transition between frameworks and methodologies that fall under the Agile philosophy's umbrella.  So if you only use Scrum, then I would agree with you.  However, if you are to ever work in an XP shop or go to Scrumban, or transition from Scrum to Kanban, then knowing the common and some of the specific values, principles, and practices would help you tremendously.

10:53 pm February 5, 2018

>> What is your mind about PMI ACP certification? As I think (maybe I am not right) there are too much "general" Agile >> questions which I will not use in practice. As I think it more difficult to pass PSPO1 or PSM1 than PMI ACP. 

I have all three of those certs, and the ACP has made me a better Scrum Master and Coach.  My opinion is that the PMI-ACP was more challenging for me than PSM I or PSPO I, and requires more preparation, but PSM II was more difficult than the ACP.

While a portion of ACP focuses on Scrum, you will also have to prepare for XP and Lean.  Many Scrum teams leverage XP engineering practices such as Pairing, TDD, Refactoring, CI/CD etc.  And having Lean concepts can complement Scrum.  You will also learn about adaptive planning, stakeholder management, the Agile mindset, continuous improvement, and more.

Scrum On