Watermark Learning Blog

Beware – Not all ScrumMaster Certifications are Equal!
Deciding to earn a certification can be a stressful process – the application, the studying, even deciding which certification is right. If you are looking at earning a certification as a ScrumMaster, the options can be confusing.

The two most recognized certifications for agile practitioners include Project Management Institute’s Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP®) and Scrum Alliance’s Certified ScrumMaster (CSM®). Both of those are excellent certifications and have been compared and contrasted in earlier posts.

For ScrumMaster’s specifically, there are a number of options, of which the CSM® is the most sought after. Knowing about the organizations behind various certifications can help choose the best path for your certification goals.

The Scrum Alliance, a nonprofit organization, is the largest organization in the Agile community. With over 750,000 certified professionals worldwide (including CSMs, Certified Scrum Product Owners (CSPO®s), and others), the CSM is the most widely recognized ScrumMaster certification in the marketplace. All of Scrum Alliance’s certifications are rooted in the Agile Manifesto and the Scrum Guide, co-authored by Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland, co-creators of Scrum. Only a Certified Scrum Trainer (CST®) is able to teach a CSM class, and becoming a CST is extremely rigorous. All CSM materials are written by CSTs and must be approved by the Scrum Alliance prior to the CST using the materials in class.

As non-profits (.org), organizations like Project Management Institute (PMI) and ScrumAlliance are in the business of promoting the professions they represent. Some ScrumMaster certifications are awarded by for-profit organizations (.com) that are in the business to make money. While it is up to every individual to find the right path for them, the purpose behind a certification-granting institution helps explain why some certifications are more popular than others. It has been our experience that non-profit organizations like ScrumAlliance, PMI, and International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA®) better serve practitioners in those fields. In addition, their certifications are more highly respected and in demand than those from for-profit organizations.

Unfortunately, it is not always easy to navigate the sea of certification acronyms. We have heard from people who thought they were getting a CSM when they were actually getting a different ScrumMaster certification. If it is CSM certification you are seeking, remember that you must attend the class in-person; if someone is offering a class online or virtually, it is not a CSM class. Importantly, make sure you know what organization is granting your certification. The organization behind the certification you are earning is significant.

We pride ourselves at Watermark Learning in helping you find the best training, coaching, and certification for your project and business needs – even if that means we aren’t the best fit! Have questions about earning your CSM certification, or another business analysis, agile, or project management certification? Contact us today!

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