In the world of project management and Agile approaches, Scrum Master certifications play a pivotal role in establishing one’s credibility and expertise. The most recognized Scrum certification is Certified ScrumMaster® (CSM®), with the Professional Scrum Master ™ (PSM ™) in second place. Let’s understand the differences between the two.
Professional Scrum Master (PSM)
The PSM certification is offered by Scrum.org, a for-profit organization founded by Ken Schwaber in 2010. This certification program emphasizes a good understanding of Scrum’s principles, practices, and the Scrum Guide‘s intricacies. PSM I, which is what most people get, is an exam only. There is no formal training requirement. The exam tests your ability to read and memorize the Scrum Guide. In terms of rigorous knowledge of the Scrum Guide, it is a good indicator, however the PSM I is entirely academic, with no questions about applying Scrum in real life, no practice or discussion of challenging scenarios, and no exploration of the why behind principles. Instead, you study, pay your fee, take your test and, boom, it’s done.
Certified Scrum Master (CSM)
The CSM certification is offered by the Scrum Alliance, which is the original Scrum certifying body, a not-for-profit group founded in 2001. The CSM certification focuses on providing an understanding of Scrum basics, knowledge specific to the role of a Scrum Master, and how to effectively apply Scrum in real life. CSM workshops must be run by a Certified Scrum Trainer, and qualifying to be a trainer is a rigorous, multi-year process. Student certification requires their active participation in the training course and demonstration of comprehension of the material.
Professional Scrum Master Compared to Certified Scrum Master
- To become a Certified ScrumMaster , the ScrumAlliance requires that you attend a workshop with 14 hours of training time with a Certified Scrum Trainer. There is no requirement for training with a qualified instructor for a Professional Scrum Master certification.
- General consensus is that the CSM exam is easier than the PSM exam. While arguably true, it misses the point. Learning how to deal with challenging real-world problems doesn’t happen on a test about what you read in a book (PSM process). Instead, you learn by running experiments to see what did and didn’t work (CSM process). While both PSM and CSM certify you as a Scrum Master, their focus areas differ. The PSM is more theoretical and emphasizes understanding Scrum’s underpinnings, while the CSM focuses on the practical aspects of implementing Scrum.
Both PSM and CSM are certifications that can boost your credibility and career prospects as a Scrum Master, and result in an increased certified scrum master salary . The choice between the two depends on your personal and professional aspirations. Do you want to focus on theory? Or focus on how to coach real teams to better performance? If theoretical mastery and rigorous testing align with your goals, consider the PSM. If interactive learning and practical understanding appeal more to you, then the CSM might be a better fit.
Whichever certification you choose, remember that the ultimate goal is to be an effective Scrum Master. This means not just understanding Scrum, but also being capable of facilitating teamwork, resolving conflicts, and helping your team deliver the highest value products.