Scrum master certification: Top 13 certs for agile pros

The agile methodology, which facilitates collaboration between stakeholders, teams, and customers during software development, is fast gaining prominence in today’s enterprises. The methodology, which is also used beyond software development at some businesses, is at the center of several frameworks such as Scrum, Lean, Kanban, and Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe).

Scrum is a key variant of agile, typified by short iterations of work, called sprints, and daily meetings, called scrums, to tackle portions of a project in succession until the project is complete. The Scrum master leads this process, providing guidance to the team and product owner and ensuring agile practices are followed by team members. Getting certified in agile or a related framework, such as Scrum, can help demonstrate you have the skills and knowledge to lead a Scrum team in the organization as a Scrum master.

Agile and Scrum certified professionals are in demand, but which certification is right for you? Here are 13 certifications designed for Scrum masters and agile pros that can help set you apart from the competition.

Top 13 Scrum master certifications

  • Advanced Certified ScrumMaster (A-CSM)
  • Certified ScrumMaster (CSM)
  • Certified Scrum Professional Product Owner (CSP-PO)
  • Certified Scrum Professional ScrumMaster (CSP-SM)
  • Certified Scrum Developer (CSD)
  • Disciplined Agile Scrum Master (DASM)
  • PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)
  • Professional Scrum Developer
  • Professional Scrum Master (PSM)
  • Professional Scrum Product Owner Level 1 (PSPO-1)
  • SAFe Scrum Master (SSM)
  • SAFe Advanced Scrum Master
  • Scrum@Scale Practitioner

Advanced Certified ScrumMaster (A-CSM)

The Scrum Alliance’s Advanced Certified ScrumMaster (A-CSM) is an advanced course for those who currently hold a CSM certification (see below) and have one or more years of experience working in a Scrum master role. A-CSMs attend educational offerings to gain techniques and skills that go beyond the basics and introductory mechanics of Scrum, expanding into interaction, facilitation, coaching, and team dynamics, according to Scrum Alliance. 

Once all educational offerings are complete and approved by a Scrum Alliance-approved educator, candidates must accept the A-CSM license agreement and complete their Scrum Alliance membership profile. They also must validate at least 12 months of work experience as a Scrum master within the past five years.

Price: Course fees vary from $600 to $1,500, depending on your location and whether you choose an online, in-person, hybrid, or self-paced course.

Renewal: A-CSM certification must be renewed every two years at a cost of $175; candidates must also earn 30 SEUs during that time. (To renew more than one Scrum Alliance cert, use the “Combined Certified ScrumMaster and Certified Scrum Product Owner and/or Certified Scrum Developer” option.) 

Certified ScrumMaster (CSM)

The Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) certification is an entry-level certification offered by the Scrum Alliance for those who want to work as a Scrum master or on a Scrum team. As a Scrum master, you’ll be responsible for leading an effective Scrum team while following the best practices, values, and principles of Scrum. The CSM certification demonstrates your understanding of Scrum and your ability to apply it to a team and throughout the organization.

The CSM course covers the fundamentals of the Scrum framework, including concepts such as team accountability, events, and artifacts. Through hands-on training, you will gain skills and knowledge to help you pass the CSM exam and be successful in a Scrum master role or on a scrum team. The certification is also well-suited for software engineers, business analysts, and project managers.

Price: Course fees vary from $400 to $1,000, depending on your location and whether you choose an online, in-person, or hybrid course.  

Renewal: The CSM must be renewed every two years at a cost of $100; candidates must also earn 20 Scrum education units (SEUs) during that time.

Certified Scrum Professional Product Owner (CSP-PO)

The Certified Scrum Professional Product Owner (CSP-PO) certification from Scrum Alliance is designed for Scrum professionals who work on the “business side” of projects. As a CSP-PO, you’ll be responsible for creating product visions, maintaining the product backlog, and ensuring projects meet customer requirements. The cert covers the basics of adopting agile and ensure you maximize the team’s value to create quality products.

Once you’ve earned your CSP-PO certification, you’ll qualify to take the exam for the Advanced Certified Scrum Professional Product Owner (ACSP-PO) certification. You’ll also need to validate at least 24 months of work experience specific to the role of product owner within the past five years to qualify.

Cost: The course fee for CSP-PO certification is $495 and the course fee for the ACSP-PO certification is $1,495; however, cost can vary by location.

Renewal: The CSP-PO and ACSP-PO must be renewed every two years at $250; candidates must also earn 40 SEUs during that time.

Certified Scrum Professional ScrumMaster (CSP-SM)

The Certified Scrum Professional – ScrumMaster (CSP-SM) certification from Scrum Alliance is designed to certify your experience, training, and knowledge in Scrum. The cert focuses on Lean, agile, and Scrum, including Scrum master core competencies, as well as service to the development team, product owner, and the organization. To qualify for the exam, you’ll need to attend certified CSP-SM training and validate at least 24 months of work experience specific to the role of Scrum master within the past five years.

Along with your cert, you’ll also be given access to attend exclusive CSP events to network with other leaders in Scrum and agile and you’ll receive a free premium subscription to Comparative Agility, an agile assessment and continuous improvement platform.

Cost: Course fees vary depending on location and instructor but typically range from $1,400 to $2,000

Renewal: The CSP-SM must be renewed every two years at $250; candidates must also earn 40 SEUs during that time.

Certified Scrum Developer (CSD)

The Certified Scrum Developer (CSD) certification from Scrum Alliance is designed for product developers working in a Scrum environment to demonstrate their understanding of Scrum and agile principles and certify they have learned specialized agile engineering skills. The two-day course required for the exam covers Scrum foundations and how those impact the role of Scrum developers.

Once you’ve earned your CSD certification, you will qualify for the Advanced Certified Scrum Developer (A-CSD) certification. You’ll also be required to validate at least 12 months of work experience specific to the role of Scrum developer or team member within the past five years. The next level of credentials dives deeper into the relationship between Scrum and the development process, focusing on more advanced tools and collaboration techniques for building strong products in a Scrum environment.

Cost: Course fees vary depending on location and instructor but typically range from $900 to $1,500

Renewal: The CSD certification must be renewed every two years; candidates must also earn 40 SEUs within that two-year period.

Disciplined Agile Scrum Master (DASM)

The Disciplined Agile Scrum (DASM) certification from PMI focuses on the DA mindset and its underlying principles, which include concepts such as “pragmatism, the power of choice, and adapting to context.” The cert covers the fundamentals of agile and Lean, including methods such as Scrum, Kanban, SAFe, and more. You’ll learn how to apply these concepts in real-world situations and how to apply the Disciplined Agile toolkit to discover the most effective methods for your team and business needs.

Once you’ve earned your DASM certification, it also opens you up to take the Disciplined Agile Senior Scrum Master (DASSM) Certification or Disciplined Agile Value Stream Consultant (DAVSC) Certification exams.

Cost: The course fee is $499 for nonmembers and $399 for members; the exam fee is covered in the course registration fee and retakes cost $150 each.

Renewal: The DASM certification must be renewed every year.

PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)

Although the Project Management Institute (PMI) doesn’t offer specific Scrum certifications, its PMI-ACP certification is popular among Scrum masters because it covers several agile and Scrum practices and principles. The cert recognizes candidates’ knowledge of agile principles and skill with agile techniques. It spans many agile approaches, including Scrum, Lean, Kanban, extreme programming (XP), and test-driven development (TDD).

The PMI-ACP requires a secondary degree, 21 contract hours of training in agile practices, 12 months of general project experience within the past five years, and eight months of agile project experience within the past three years. A current Project Management Professional (PMP) or Program Management Professional (PgMP) cert will satisfy the requirement for 12 months of general project experience within the past five years, but neither are required.

Cost: $435 for PMI members; $495 for nonmembers

Renewal: PMI-ACP certification holders must earn 30 professional development units (PDUs) involving agile topics every three years to renew the certification.

Professional Scrum Developer

The Scrum.org Professional Scrum Developer certification is designed to validate your knowledge of building complex software products using Scrum. The certification will show employers you have the right set of skills to work as a Scrum developer following the best practices outlined in the Scrum Guide.

According to Scrum.org, the assessment is “exhaustive and rigorous,” with questions that will test your knowledge of the Scrum Guide and your ability to interpret its meaning and apply that context in real-world settings. You’ll also be tested on the content in the Software Developer Learning Path and you’ll also be asked questions that require you to apply your own real-world experience as a Scrum developer.

Cost: $200 per attempt

Renewal: The PSD does not expire.

Professional Scrum Master (PSM)

The Professional Scrum Master (PSM) I certification is the first of three credentials offered by Scrum.org to certify your skills and knowledge with Scrum. The exam covers several focus areas outlined in the Professional Scrum Competencies and you’ll be asked how to interpret meaning from the Scrum Guide and how you would apply Scrum within a Scrum team.

There are no specific prerequisites for the exam, but candidates should be aware that the material covered is high-level and complex, and only those well-versed in Scrum principles are expected to pass the exam. Once you’ve passed the PSM I exam, you will be able to move onto the next two levels of certification, the PSM II and the PSM III.

Cost: The PSM I exam fee is $150, while the PSM II exam costs $250 and the PSM III exam costs $500.

Renewal: The PSM does not expire.

Professional Scrum Product Owner Level 1 (PSPO-1)

The Professional Scrum Product Owner Level 1 (PSPO-1) certification from Scrum.org is an assessment designed for those who want to validate their Scrum skills, as well as their ability to support value creation and delivery. The exam tests your understanding of the product owner role and will ask you to “think about or interpret them earning from the Scrum Guide and to apply context from the PSPO subject areas.”

While not required, it’s recommended to take the Professional Scrum Product Owner course before attempting the exam, unless you already have sufficient knowledge to pass the exam. The two-day course covers everything you need to know about the product owner role through hands-on instruction and team-based exercises. The course covers topics such as agile product management, value-driven development, Scrum principles, and release management.

Cost: $200 per attempt

Renewal: The PSPO-1 does not expire.

SAFe Advanced Scrum Master

The SAFe Advanced Scrum Master certification offered by Scaled Agile is a two-day course that focuses on preparing current Scrum Masters for leadership roles where they’ll have to operate in a Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) environment. The exam covers topics such as identifying and solving team anti-patterns, improving value flow with Kanban and other engineering practices, supporting program-level execution, and using problem-solving and advance coaching techniques to drive improvement.

It’s an advanced certification but there are no prerequisites for candidates interested in getting certified. Scaled Agile, however, strongly recommends you have at least one of the following certifications: SAFe Scrum Master (SSM), Certified Scrum Master (CSM), or Professional Scrum Master (PSM) certification.

Cost: Course fees vary based on location, but the first exam fee is covered in the course registration fee. Each retake attempt is $50.

Renewal: SAFe Scrum Master certification holders must renew annually, at a cost of $100, and complete at least 10 continuing education hours each year.

SAFe Scrum Master (SSM)

The SAFe Scrum Master (SSM) certification offered by Scaled Agile is designed to demonstrate your skills and abilities with integrating Scrum practices into an organization. You’ll be tested on your knowledge of using Scrum and Kanban to facilitate team events, supporting program execution, and coaching agile teams. To earn the cert, you will need to attend the SAFe Scrum Master course, which covers everything you’ll need to know for the exam.

Along with your certification, you’ll also receive one-year membership access to the SAFe Community Platform, meetup groups and events with other certified SAFe professionals, and various learning resources that will support you during your Scrum journey.

Cost: Course fees vary based on location, but the first exam fee is covered in the course registration fee. Each retake attempt is $50.

Renewal: SAFe Scrum Master certification holders must renew annually, at a cost of $100, and complete at least 10 continuing education hours each year.

Scrum@Scale Practitioner

The Scrum@Scale Practitioner certification from Scrum Inc. focuses on your ability to scale any Scrum implementation so that it aligns with specific business needs and goals “without introducing anti-Scrum patterns or unnecessary waste.” The certification dives into Scrum’s flexibility and adaptability, leaning on the fact that no two organizations will have the same Scrum implementation.

The online courses are interactive and will teach you how to “scale Scrum through a combination of lectures, hands-on exercises, and real-world case studies.” The course will prepare you for the exam by covering topics such as how to facilitate cross-team collaboration, create and prioritize transformation backlogs, measure and improve metrics, and increase team efficiency.

Cost: $1,995

Renewal: The Scrum@Scale Practitioner certification must be renewed every two years for a fee of $50; candidates must pass the most up-to-date version of the exam.

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