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Getting Started

Last post 09:18 pm November 9, 2016 by Curtis Slough
11 replies
02:28 pm October 5, 2016


TL/DR: Just starting out, should I go for the CSM and then the PSM or am I OK going just for the PSM1?

I am starting the path towards a Scrum Master and I have a few questions. Some background first, I do have experience with Scrum but from almost a 3rd party standpoint instead of 1st hand on the project experience. In my previous job, I worked as a trainer and tester for websites and software. Because of that, I was part of the regular Scrum meetings that took place for the specific projects I was assigned to. I also have a few close friends that are Scrum Masters and from what I witnessed in the scrum meetings and talking with my friends, I really feel this is the right career for me and my strengths.

My question is this, I know there are 2 main Scrum Master certificates; the CSM and PSM1 and that the PSM1 is respected higher because the CSM is just so easy to obtain. With that said, should I worry with getting the CSM or just work for the PSM1? I live near a facility ( and they offer the 2 day classes for training for the PSM1 course that I am very interested in attending. When I look on the job postings and all, I see most listings have the CSM as preferred/required but the PSM is not mentioned as much.

If you read all that, should I start with the CSM and then get a position and work towards the PSM1 and or do you all think I would be fine skipping the CSM and just focusing on getting the PSM1? Thanks for the insight!


06:46 pm October 5, 2016

Hello Curtis,

I would like to first understand from you, what is the purpose of you getting certified? Is it to validate your knowledge about Scrum or just to get a certification that would look good on your CV?

Reading through your post I kind of get a feeling that so far you have experienced Scrum only from a distance and before answering the question that you have around the certifications, I would like to know, what is your take about the role of a Scrum Master?


07:48 pm October 5, 2016

Hi Piyush,

Thanks for the reply. I wouldn't say my experience is from a distance so much as it's just not me sitting in the Scrum Master chair. I know the processes and goals and overall job function of a Scrum Master and Scrum in general because I attended and participated in the daily Scrum meetings for the projects that I was assigned to be testing and training for.

My goal for the certification is so I can actually get into the Scrum Master role. I've applied for these positions but without the PSM or CSM, I've yet to get so much as a phone interview. I do plan to attend the 2 day training classes because, to me, it's worth the investment to gain actual training on this before getting the certificate and jumping into a role like Scrum Master.

I have a very close friend that is a Scrum Master and he is working with me on all of this but he was not really able to answer my question of if I would be ok skipping the CSM and just going with the PSM because he started with the CSM.

I am not one of those guys that will take the certificate and jump in thinking I know it all. Thankfully, I have at least a ground floor exposure and experience with Scrum so I know what I am getting into and the importance of the role.

Thanks Everyone.

04:46 pm October 6, 2016

Man, almost 100 reads but 1 response. Have any of you started with the PSM and skipped the CSM altogether? If so, was it difficult to land a position or get a raise because you went with the PSM instead of the CSM?

02:33 pm October 7, 2016


Perhaps some clarity around your motivation would help your response volume.

You've stated that you want to get into the Scrum Master role. You have experience working in a Scrum environment, so I would simply ask the following questions of you:

"What is it about the Scrum Master role that appeals to you? Why do you believe it is the right career for you?"

"Why do you believe the Scrum Master role plays to your strengths? What are those strengths?"

"What do you believe is the single most important job function of a Scrum Master?"

I think some of the reasons why you are not getting replies is your focus on how the certification will benefit you and your career (Piyush's comment on whether you're simply trying to make your CV look good for potential employers).

To specifically address your concerns regarding the CSM and the PSM1, I will say that your observations are pretty accurate. The CSM from Scrum Alliance is a fairly easy certification to get. The PSM1 from is a stronger examination and is more respected within the Scrum community because of it.

I achieved the CSM first, and then I passed the PSM1.

I would not focus too much on what the industry is asking for (CSM/PSM1). Very often, the industry simply doesn't know what it is looking for, and throws up certification labels as a screening mechanism. I would suggest focusing on the knowledge needed to be a good Scrum master, and then demonstrate that to potential employers. Get a solid foundational understanding of Scrum. Learn about leading without authority. Read about ways in which people are motivated. Learn about lean practices. Understand the pros and cons of different agile approaches (besides Scrum).

If you are truly committed to this career path, understand that it is a long journey, and that you have much to learn (and unlearn!).

Even after certification, it will be difficult to secure a Scrum Master position without having any true experience in the role.

Good luck to you.

04:34 pm October 7, 2016

Hi Curtis,

Hi Curtis,

I am going through a similar process. Based on the information I've read, CSM and PSM1 are basically the same certification but one is provided by (PSM1) and the other by (CSM).

After doing some research I have decided that I will stay with since I relate more with their system and principles. The letter by Ken Schwaber posted in the link below describes very clearly the differences between both certification processes:

In regards to the career choice, the questions provided above by Timothy are key to figure out your role in the Agile world and whether Scrum Master is the right fit for you.

Good luck!

03:33 am October 8, 2016

I am going through the same phase as well. I have more than 10 yrs of project management experience, but most of the projects that I had worked were in waterfall methodologies. While more and more organizations are adapting to Agile methodologies, and Scrum being the most popular framework, I feel that I need to inspect my career choices and adapt to the changing landscape.
My reasons for getting certified as Scrum Master -
1. I understand why many (or most) organizations are adapting to Agile to some extent
2. I feel and I want to transform myself adapt to this change
3. I am ready to acquire new mindset and skills for the new role
4. As it is mentioned in above posts, most organizations put certification as screening criteria. Even when working as a vendor partner with the customers, the customers prefer people with certification above non-certified people
5. So getting certified might open doors for new career path.

Of course, only time can tell whether I will be successful in this new role; but it's worth giving a shot!


04:13 pm October 24, 2016

Sorry for the delay in my reply, I have had a busy couple weeks with a lot of travel for work.

So I have been exposed to Scrum for quite a while as I’ve worked on projects and performed testing for applications and as a result I was involved with the scrum meetings. I met with the scrum master regularly and through our conversations with him explaining the other details on the role, it is something that I want to do as my career. I’ve worked with small teams as the project leader my entire career and am a good people leader. I have strong organization, people, and communication skills. I also have several friends that are scrum masters that have encouraged me to go this route as well. I know the role is a servant leader position and my leadership style is perfect for that. I am not a CEO type leader and have no desire to be. I do best when I am the middle level leader, where I can lead a small team while serving the project/product lead. I understand the processes and procedures, I know the importance of the role, but the issue right now is getting my foot in the door. I know a large amount of developers move into that role but I’m not a developer so getting in the role without that will be a challenge but it is one that I want to take. It is an interesting position and one that in DFW is in demand.

The main reason for my question is due to the fact that my buddies that are Scrum Masters went with the CSM first, I am more interested in the PSM1 because at least to the interviewers and those who understand Scrum, it is respected higher because it is harder to obtain than the CSM. I am curious if any of you on this board has been in the same place and how the journey was for you.

02:49 pm November 3, 2016

Curtis, nobody would give you an answer, as it's totally up to you. Certification in order to get a new job, or knowledge in order to be *potentially* used.
If 1st - go with CSM - less efforts, get your certificate quicker.
If you want to know and understand Scrum - set higher goals, more difficult to achieve, i.e. PSM. Learn through this forum, relevant articles, read about all the new terms you see, do the simulation tests, etc.

11:41 am November 4, 2016

I did not get any Scrum certification until after my first two Scrum Master jobs, and all training was from books, on-line materials, and being part of my local Agile community. I have just done PSM because I hope to do contract work now, and it would be too easy to have my CV filtered by a keyword search. Probably I'll need to get the letters CSM on there too, but for now I'm relying on personal contacts and past achievements.

05:42 pm November 4, 2016

It's a chicken & eggs problem.
Certification helps to get contracts, and experience helps to pass certifications.

09:18 pm November 9, 2016

Thank you everyone for your comments. This has greatly helped my decision. I have chosen to start with the CSM, like Nick pointed out it is ground level and get the certification faster. Once I'm in the role and gain more experience, I'll pursue the PSM. Thank you all. Looking forward to being more active in the Scum community.

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