Scrum.org Certifications Data Survey

Last post 12:26 pm September 5, 2017
by Steven Busse
10 replies
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08:00 am March 10, 2017

Scrum.org offers 7 distinct certifications, 3 of which are advanced levels of the remaining 5.  Have you ever wondered just how many certifications are handed out, or how popular certain certifications are?  Many certifying bodies issue annual statements for the number of certificates issued each year, but Scrum.org does not appear to openly disclose these numbers.  However, they do offer a public Certification List, so the data is publicly available for those who want to dig deep enough.

In the spirit of transparency, I've scoured the public lists and put it all together in a usable format.  My hope is to support both those who pursue certifications and those employers who look for certifications, by encouraging a better understanding of how people choose to specialize within Scrum.  Below, please find the compiled data.

 

Color version of Scrum.org certificate data

Click here for black and white version
* Please note that with the exception of the final table, data from 2009 and 2017 was excluded, as full-year data is not currently available for those years.
**Data is intended to be used as a guideline, and accuracy may vary with a small margin of error.

I did notice some interesting trends:

  • As of March 2017, over 100,000 certifications have been issued, and over 237,000 accounts created.  Roughly 95,000 individuals have obtained certification.
  • In the last 5 years, interest in most Scrum.org certificates has tripled.
  • PSM is about 5.5 times as popular as PSPO, which is 3 times as popular as PSD.  PSM certification is 18 times as popular as PSD certification.
  • Just 9% of people go for a second certification at all.  Of these, only 13% go for an advanced certification.
  • As rare as advanced certifications are, more than half of the people with one advanced certification have earned a second one.

I hope you find this information as interesting as I do.  I’d love to hear what other trends you spot, or feedback on how we can better use this information!

08:02 am March 10, 2017
09:55 pm March 10, 2017

Hello Jason,

Thank you for your interest in Scrum.org and for the helpful contributions you have been making on our community forums. The information you put together can be very useful to our community, but we wanted to bring to your attention that it is not entirely accurate.

Please be aware that while the PSM I has been available since 2009, the PSPO I was only open to students who took the Scrum.org PSPO course until February 2014. This is why the PSPO program did not see as much growth until recent years.  Following Scrum, we took time by having a smaller group attempt the assessment first, learned, adapted and improved before opening it up to the public.

Please also note that what is now known as the PSM II only became available to the public in July 2016 and what was PSM II became PSM III. More information about this change can be found in this blog post

I hope we were able to clarify some of these details. Thank you again for your contributions, and best of luck in your Agile journey.

03:49 am March 11, 2017

Thanks for the additional information!  You're absolutely correct, the information is not entirely accurate.  The data I provided is as accurate as I can make it, but it is not perfect and should not be considered an official record, just an approximation.

There are small nuances such as multiple users who share a name, multiple certifications for the same credential, or even people creating multiple accounts.  Then you have things like the PSM I/II/III having data for 2009, where these three exams didn't exist together at that time.  All of these things introduce errors, and those errors add up.

As you mentioned, the certifications have also changed over time, and that isn't clearly reflected in raw data either.  I was personally aware of the PSM II/III change last year, but this is the first time I've heard of past changes to the PSPO lineup.  Not all of these changes are well known to the public, and I really do appreciate the clarification.

Anyone looking for trends should definitely keep those points in mind.

10:12 am June 24, 2017

That's seriously a good and interesting read

06:39 pm June 25, 2017

Thanks, Ganesh.  I had a lot of fun making this.  I'd love to do the same for ScrumAlliance and PMI.org.  Unfortunately, right now that's not technically feasible.

There's been an outstanding debate since 2009 about whether the PSM or CSM is the "best" certificate.  But now, there are 450k CSM holders and over 90k PSM I holders.  That's over 500k people worldwide, and that number is rapidly encroaching on the 760k PMP certificate holders.  I think we need to modernize that original question.  Where do we go after the PSM I/CSM, and how we can distinguish ourselves from other Scrum Master certificate holders.

    07:05 pm June 25, 2017

    Since this thread has been bumped up, I did want to make a few updates to the original post, for people who find this post in the future.

    1. I have no current plans to update this for 2017 and onwards.  This is due to technical limitations Scrum.org added shortly after this post, to improve website security.
    2. No secure or personal information was collected.  The collected information consists exclusively of name, certification, date of certification, and location (if provided).
    3. Further information from Scrum Support on official metrics can be found here.
    03:49 pm August 31, 2017

    And do not forget that CSM is only Valid for 2 years. 

    12:27 pm September 1, 2017

    Considering a scrum team consists of 1 PO, 1 SM and 3 to 9 Developers, I find the number of PSD certificates very low. Is this not recognized as being valuable?

    03:56 pm September 1, 2017

    Joost, I don't believe it is about value recognition, but industry standardization dating back several years where xSM (whether CSM or PSM) has become the defacto standard for showing that I know Scrum, not that I am a Scrum Master.  We do see that starting to evolve a bit, but that will take a lot of time to undo years of thinking.   

    12:26 pm September 5, 2017

    Jost, I wouldn't see the PSM I as a real Scrum Master certification, but more as a Scrum Foundation certification.

    This is also reflected in the description of the certifications:

    PSM I:

    People who have passed PSM I, achieving certification, demonstrate a fundamental level of Scrum mastery. PSM I certificate holders prove that they understand Scrum as described in the Scrum Guide and the concepts of applying Scrum.  PSM I holders have a consistent terminology and approach to Scrum.

    PSM II:

    People who have passed PSM II, achieving certification, demonstrate an advanced level of Scrum mastery. PSM II certificate holders prove that they have an understanding of the underlying principles of Scrum and can effectively apply Scrum in complex, real-world situations.

    For me personally, after working as a developer in a scrum environment and getting coached by an Agile Coach, I was well able to do the PSM I certificate, it took me the switch to serve as a Scrum Master for that team and experience what it means to keep Scrum and everything running to feel prepared and ready to take the next step trying my luck on the PSM II.