A Complete Scrum Certification Guide
| training | certification paths - Richard Bevis

A Complete Scrum Certification Guide

This Scrum Certification guide contains a comprehensive introduction to the various Scrum certification badges, recommended Scrum certification paths, the costs associated to achieve Scrum certification, and insights into job opportunities related to the Scrum certification path.

What is Scrum Certification?

Scrum Certification is a set of credentials that assure that development team members are proficient in the use of the Scrum Agile framework and practices for complex software development projects. Both Scrum.org and the Scrum Alliance separately offer credentials for Scrum team roles including Scrum Master, Scrum Product Owner, and Scrum Developer.

In addition, Scrum.org offers further Scrum certifications related to proficiency in scaling Scrum, using Scrum with Kanban, and Scrum team leadership.

What is Scrum?

The traditional waterfall model of software development is so-called because progress flows in one direction from concept, to analysis, design, develop, test, deploy, and maintain. Waterfall-based development has been widely replaced by more flexible software development lifecycle (SDLC) models including ‘Agile’ development models.

Agile software development depends on collaboration between cross-functional development teams and their end-user customers. An Agile approach allows development teams to respond to and incorporate user change requests. Agile development is based on a set of guiding principles, and projects are executed using a specific Agile methodology, such as Extreme Programming (XP), Kanban, or Scrum.

In a Scrum project, the output—“the Product”—is built in a series of iterations, which are called “Sprints”. Sprints are used to break complex projects into small, easily achievable components. Each sprint contains a subset of the required features selected from the Product Backlog—that is the prioritized set of requirements known to be needed in the product.

The Scrum Agile framework is supported by Scrum.org, which offers a portfolio of assessments and certifications for Scrum Team practitioners. As defined by the creators of Scrum in their Official Scrum Guide, a Scrum Team consists of a Product Owner, the Development Team, and a Scrum Master.

What is a Scrum Product Owner?

The Scrum Product Owner is a person who is solely responsible for the final result of the development project. He or she is accountable for the specifics and priorities of user requirements that go into the Product Backlog and into each Sprint. Other people on the Development Team may actually do the work, but the Product Owner is still accountable.

The Product Owner understands the business and market vision for what the Scrum Team is to build and ensures that the resulting product delivers. The Product Owner works with the Scrum Team and other stakeholders to create, manage, and communicate the Product Backlog such that the Development Team incorporates necessary features in each Sprint.

What is a Scrum Master?

The creators of Scrum defined the role of Scrum Master as the “Servant-Leader” for the Scrum Development Team. The Scrum Master is an expert in the Scrum methodology. As a Leader, he or she is responsible for ensuring that the Product Development Team understands and follows the Scrum Process. As a Servant, the Scrum Master organizes Scrum events, assists the Product Owner in managing the Product Backlog, coaches the Development Team, removes impediments to team progress, and much more.

What is a Scrum Team?

The Scrum Development Team is a small, nimble team of software development professionals. Unlike in traditional development teams, Scrum Team members do not have designated roles such as designer, programmer, or tester—instead they are cross-functional and work together to complete the set of tasks for each sprint.

The Development Team is self-organizing. Team members decide among themselves how much work they can complete and how they handle the work of delivering a Product Increment for each sprint. The Team works with the Product Owner to understand the items in the Product Backlog to the level they need to design and build.

Scrum.org Professional Scrum Certifications

The Scrum.org organization offers eight certifications for Scrum practitioners:

  • Professional Scrum MasterTM (PSM)
  • Professional Scrum Product OwnerTM (PSPO)
  • Professional Scrum DeveloperTM (PSD)
  • Scaled Professional ScrumTM (SPS)
  • Professional Scrum with KanbanTM (PSK)
  • Professional Agile LeadershipTM (PAL)

Professional Scrum Master

The Professional Scrum Master certification has three levels:

  • Foundational
  • Intermediate
  • Advanced

Professional Scrum Master: Level I (PSM I)

The Professional Scrum Master: Level I is designed for beginning Scrum professionals who demonstrate a fundamental level of Scrum mastery, understanding Scrum and how to apply it in Scrum Teams. The PSM I certification validates a candidate’s understanding of the following selected focus areas from the Professional Scrum Competencies:

  • Understanding and Applying the Scrum Framework
  • Developing People and Teams
  • Managing Products with Agility

Required exam: Earning the Professional Scrum Master: Level I certification requires passing one assessment — PSM I Assessment.

Prerequisites: While not required, Scrum.org recommends candidates take the Scrum Open Assessment before taking the PSM I Assessment.

Recommended experience: Scrum.org recommends that PSM-I candidates have the experience and skills outlined in the Scrum Master Learning Path.

Professional Scrum Master: Level II (PSM II)

The intermediate-level Professional Scrum Master: Level II certification is designed for experienced Scrum professionals who demonstrate an advanced level of Scrum mastery and can apply Scrum to complex projects.

The PSM II certification validates a candidate’s understanding of the following selected focus areas from the Professional Scrum Competencies:

  • Understanding and Applying the Scrum Framework
  • Developing People and Teams
  • Managing Products with Agility
  • Developing and Delivering Products Professionally
  • Evolving the Agile Organization

Required exam: Earning the Professional Scrum Master: Level II certification requires passing one assessment — PSM II Assessment.

Prerequisites: While not required, Scrum.org recommends candidates have the PSM I certification. Additionally, Scrum.org recommends candidates take the Scrum Open and Product Owner Open practice assessments before taking the PSM II Assessment.

Recommended experience: Scrum.org recommends that PSM-II candidates have the experience and skills outlined in the Scrum Master Learning Path.

Professional Scrum Master: Level III (PSM III)

The advanced-level Professional Scrum Master: Level III certification is designed for certified Scrum professionals with extensive practical Scrum experience. PSM III certified Scrum Masters demonstrate a distinguished level of Scrum mastery and can apply Scrum in a variety of complex team and organizational situations.

The PSM III certification validates a candidate’s understanding of the following selected focus areas from the Professional Scrum Competencies:

  • Understanding and Applying the Scrum Framework
  • Developing People and Teams
  • Managing Products with Agility
  • Developing and Delivering Products Professionally
  • Evolving the Agile Organization

Required exam: Earning the Professional Scrum Master: Level III certification requires passing one exam — the PSM III Assessment exam.

Prerequisites: Prior to attempting this certification, candidates must earn two certifications — the PSM I and PSM II certifications. Additionally, Scrum.org recommends candidates take the Scrum Open, Nexus Open, Developer Open, and Product Owner Open practice assessments.

Recommended experience: Scrum.org recommends PSM-III candidates extensive Scrum experience prior to taking this assessment.

Professional Scrum Product Owner

The Professional Scrum Product Owner certification demonstrates an increasing level of Scrum Product Ownership knowledge and proficiency at two levels:

  • Intermediate
  • Advanced

Professional Scrum Product Owner: Level I (PSPO I)

The Professional Scrum Product Owner: Level I certification is designed for business, marketing, or management personnel who intend to participate as a Product Owner in Scrum projects.

The PSPO I certification validates a candidate’s understanding of the following selected focus areas from the Professional Scrum Competencies:

  • Understanding and Applying the Scrum Framework
  • Developing People and Teams
  • Managing Products with Agility

Required exam: Earning the Professional Scrum Product Owner: Level I (PSPO I) certification requires passing one exam — the Professional Scrum Product Owner I exam.

Prerequisites: While not required, Scrum.org recommends candidates take the Scrum Open and Product Owner Open practice assessments prior to taking the PSPO I Assessment.

Recommended experience: Scrum.org recommends PSPO I candidates should have a good understanding of the Scrum framework and how to apply it to deliver a quality product.

Professional Scrum Product Owner: Level II (PSPO II)

The Professional Scrum Product Owner: Level II certification is designed for PSPO I-certified individuals who want to demonstrate an advanced level of Scrum Product Owner proficiency.

The PSPO II certification validates a candidate’s understanding of these selected focus areas from the Professional Scrum Competencies:

  • Understanding and Applying the Scrum Framework
  • Developing People and Teams
  • Managing Products with Agility

Required exam: Earning the Professional Scrum Product Owner: Level II (PSPO II) certification requires passing one exam — Professional Scrum Product Owner II.

Prerequisites: Prior to attempting this certification, candidates must earn the PSPO I certification. Additionally,, Scrum.org recommends candidates take the Professional Scrum Product Owner course, and take the Scrum Open and Product Owner Open practice assessments.

Recommended experience: Scrum.org recommends PSPO II candidates have in-depth Scrum and Product Owner experience.

Professional Scrum Developer (PSD)

The Professional Scrum Developer certification is designed for software development professionals who participate as a member of a Scrum Development Team.

The PSD certification validates a candidate’s understanding of these topics and skills selected from the Professional Scrum Competencies:

  • Understanding and Applying the Scrum Framework
  • Developing People and Teams
  • Managing Products with Agility
  • Developing and Delivering Products Professionally
  • Evolving the Agile Organization

Required exam: Earning the Professional Scrum Developer certification requires passing the Professional Scrum Developer Certification exam.

Prerequisites: While not required, Scrum.org recommends candidates take the Professional Scrum Developer course, and take the Scrum Open and Scrum Developer Open practice assessments prior to taking the PSD Assessment.

Recommended experience: Candidates should be software development professionals, with knowledge and understanding of Scrum and how to build software using Scrum.

Scaled Professional Scrum (SPS)

The Scaled Professional Scrum certification is designed for development leads/managers and others who participate in or manage scaled product development projects using Agile and Scrum with the Nexus framework.

The SPS certification validates a candidate’s understanding of the following topics and skills selected from the Professional Scrum Competencies:

  • Understanding and Applying the Scrum Framework
  • Developing People and Teams
  • Managing Products with Agility
  • Developing and Delivering Products Professionally
  • Evolving the Agile Organization

Required exam: Earning the Scaled Professional Scrum certification requires passing the Scaled Professional Scrum certification exam.

Prerequisites: While not required, Scrum.org recommends candidates attend the Scaled Professional Scrum Workshop, and study the Scrum Guide, Nexus Practices, the Nexus Guide, and Scaling Scrum with Nexus.

Recommended experience: Candidates should be software development professionals experienced in complex, multi-team software development projects using Scrum with the Nexus framework.

Professional Scrum with Kanban (PSK I)

The Professional Scrum with Kanban is designed for Scrum Team members who use Scrum with the Kanban visual framework.

The PSK I certification validates a candidate’s understanding of the following topics and skills selected from the Professional Scrum Competencies:

  • Understanding and Applying the Scrum Framework
  • Developing People and Teams
  • Managing Products with Agility
  • Developing and Delivering Products Professionally
  • Complementary practices

Required exam: Earning the PSK certification requires passing one exam — the Professional Scrum with Kanban (PSK) certification assessment.

Prerequisites: While not required, Scrum.org recommends candidates study the Scrum Guide and the Kanban Guide for Scrum Teams and take the Scrum with Kanban Open practice assessment before taking the PSK assessment.

Recommended experience: Candidates should be Scrum Team members who use Scrum with the Kanban visual framework.

Professional Agile Leadership (PAL)

The Professional Agile Leadership certification is designed for managers and team leaders who are working with and leading teams in a Scrum environment.

The PAL certification validates a candidate’s understanding of the following topics and skills as defined in the Professional Scrum Competencies:

  • Understanding and Applying the Scrum Framework
  • Developing People and Teams
  • Managing Products with Agility
  • Developing and Delivering Products Professionally
  • Evolving the Agile Organization

Required exam: Earning the PAL certification requires passing one exam — the PAL exam.

Prerequisites: While not required, Scrum.org recommends PAL candidates take the Professional Agile Leadership Essentials (PAL-E) course and the Agile Leadership Open practice assessment prior to taking the PAL exam.

Recommended experience: Candidates should be individuals with a high level of agile leadership skills and a solid understanding of Scrum.

Scrum Alliance Scrum Certifications

The other Scrum certification authority is the Scrum Alliance, which has a portfolio of Scrum certifications aligned by Scrum Team Role:

Scrum Master

Product Owner

Developer

NOTE: Whereas Scrum.org does NOT require that candidates attend their training courses, the Scrum Alliance does. Candidates for Scrum Alliance certifications are required to attend in-person training courses taught by Scrum Alliance authorized trainers.

Scrum Master Track

The Scrum Alliance offers three tiers of Scrum Master Certification, with each tier being a prerequisite to the next higher level:

  • Certified ScrumMaster® (CSM®)
  • Advanced Certified ScrumMaster (A-CSM℠)
  • Certified Scrum Professional®-ScrumMaster (CSP®-SM)

Certified ScrumMaster (CSM)

The Certified ScrumMaster is an entry-level certification designed for individuals who aspire to formal recognition as a Scrum Master.

The CSM certification validates a candidate’s understanding of the following topics and skills as outlined in the CSM Test Content Outline:

  • Scrum and Agile
  • Scrum Theory
  • Scrum Values
  • Scrum Team
  • Scrum Master
  • Scrum Events
  • Scrum Artifacts

Required exam: Earning the Certified ScrumMaster certification requires passing one exam — the CSM exam.

Prerequisites: Prior to attempting this certification, candidates must attend an in-person, 16-hour CSM course taught by a Certified Scrum Trainer..

Recommended experience: Candidates should be practicing Scrum Masters, Product Owners, or members of Scrum Development teams.

Advanced Certified ScrumMaster (A-CSM)

The Advanced Certified ScrumMaster certification is designed for Certified ScrumMasters, who want to achieve the next level of Scrum certification.

The A-CSM certification validates a candidate’s understanding of the following topics and skills as outlined in the Advanced Certified ScrumMaster Learning Objectives:

  • Lean, Agile, and Scrum
  • Scrum Master Core Competencies
  • Service to the Development Team
  • Service to the Product Owner
  • Service to the Organization
  • Scrum Mastery

Required exam: Earning Advanced Certified ScrumMaster certification requires passing one exam — the A-CSM exam.

Prerequisites: Prior to attempting this certification, candidates have an active CSM certification, and attend an in-person authorized A-CSM course.

Required experience: Candidates must have at least one year of experience in the role of Scrum Master.

Certified Scrum Professional – ScrumMaster (CSP-SM)

The Certified Scrum Professional – ScrumMaster is the highest level of the Scrum Alliance’s ScrumMaster certifications and is designed for experienced A-CSM certified Scrum Masters with two years or more experience.

The CSP-SM certification validates a candidate’s understanding of the following topics and skills in the CSP-SM Learning Objectives:

  • Lean, Agile, and Scrum
  • Scrum Master Core Competencies
  • Service to the Development Team
  • Service to the Product Owner
  • Service to the Organization
  • Scrum Mastery

Required exam: Earning the Certified Scrum Professional ScrumMaster certification requires passing one exam — the CSP-SM exam.

Prerequisites: Prior to attempting this certification, candidates have an active A-CSM certification, and attend an in-person 3-day authorized CSP-SM course.

Required experience: Candidates must have at least two years of experience as a Scrum Master.

Product Owner Track

The Scrum Alliance offers three tiers of Scrum Product Owner Certification, with each tier being a prerequisite to the next higher level:

  • Certified Scrum Product Owner
  • Advanced Certified Scrum Product Owner
  • Certified Scrum Professional® – Product Owner

Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO)

The Certified Scrum Product Owner certification is designed for business, marketing, product management, architects, and other managers who represent the user on the Scrum Team.

The CSPO certification validates a candidate’s understanding of the following topics and skills in the CSPO Learning Objectives:

  • Product Owner Core Competencies
  • Describing Purpose and Strategy
  • Understanding Customers and Users
  • Validating Product Assumptions
  • Working with the Product Backlog

Required exam: Earning the Certified Scrum Product Owner certification requires passing one exam — the CSPO exam.

Prerequisites: Prior to attempting this certification, candidates must attend an in-person, 16-hour CSPO course taught by a Certified Scrum Trainer.

Recommended experience: The Scrum Alliance recommends candidates have experience on the “business side” of a project with a role such as business user, business analyst, product manager, architect, or line of business sponsor.

Advanced Certified Scrum Product Owner

The Advanced Certified Scrum Product Owner certification is designed for Certified Scrum Product Owners (CSPO) who aspire to the next level of Scrum certification.

The A-CSPO certification validates a candidate’s understanding of the following topics and skills as outlined in the A-CSPO learning objectives:

  • Product Owner Core Competencies
  • Advanced Purpose and Strategy
  • Empathizing with Customers and Users
  • Advanced Product Assumption Validation
  • Advanced Techniques for Working with the Product Backlog

Required exam: Earning the Advanced Certified Scrum Product Owner certification requires passing one exam — the A-CSPO exam.

Prerequisites: Prior to attempting this certification, candidates have an active CSPO certification, and attend an in-person, 2-day A-CSPO workshop lead by a Certified Scrum Trainer.

Required experience: Candidates must have at least one year of experience as a Product Owner on a Scrum Project Team.

Certified Scrum Professional – Product Owner (CSP-PO)

The Certified Scrum Professional – Product Owner is the highest level of the Scrum Alliance’s Product Owner certifications designed for experienced A-CSPO certified Product Owners.

The CSP-PO certification validates a candidate’s understanding of the following topics and skills in the CSP-PO Learning Objectives:

  • Product Owner Core Competencies
  • Implementing Purpose and Strategy
  • Advanced Interactions with Customers and Users
  • Complex Product Assumption Validation
  • Advanced Product Backlog Management

Required exam: Earning the Certified Scrum Professional – Product Owner (CSP-PO) certification requires passing the CSP-PO exam.

Prerequisites: Prior to attempting this certification, candidates must have an active A-CSPO certification, and attend an in-person 3-day authorized CSP-PO course.

Required experience: Candidates must have at least two years of validated Product Owner work experience.

Developer Track

The Scrum Alliance offers two Scrum certifications for developers:

  • Certified Scrum Developer
  • Certified Scrum Professional

Certified Scrum Developer (CSD)

The Certified Scrum Developer certification is designed for developers, QA/testers, designers and analysts, and other software professionals who build software in a Scrum environment.

The CSD certification validates a candidate’s understanding of the following topics and skills as defined in the Certified Scrum Developer Learning Objectives:

  • Introduction: Agile Values, Scrum Principles and Practices
  • Architecture and Design
  • Collaboration
  • Test-Driven Development
  • Refactoring
  • Continuous Integration

Required exam: Earning the Certified Scrum Developer certification requires passing a CSD assessment which is administered during required CSD training courses.

Prerequisites: CSD candidates are required to undertake at least five days of formal Certified Scrum Developer training.

Recommended experience: Candidates for Certified Scrum Developer (CSD) should be practicing software development professionals who are, or will become, members of a Scrum Development Team.

Certified Scrum Professional for Developers

The Certified Scrum Professional for Developers is the highest level of the Scrum Alliance’s Developer certifications and is designed specifically for experienced CSD-certified Dev Team members.

Certified Scrum Professional for Developers certification validates a candidate’s proficiency in developing in a Scrum environment, through the formal validation of successful Agile/Scrum project work experience and completion of authorized Scrum education.

Required exam: None.

Prerequisites: While there are no prerequisite or required exam, candidates must have at least 36 months of successful Agile/Scrum work experience within the past five years, completed 70 Scrum Education Units (SEU) in the past three years, and be an active CSD certification.

How Much Does It Cost to Get Scrum Certified?

The cost to get Scrum-certified varies based on cert level and authority. Scrum Alliance authorized training courses are prerequisites to their certs, but exam costs are included. Scrum.org charges for exams, but their courses are not prerequisites. Scrum Alliance courses vary from $995 to $1,950 for base-level certs. Scrum.org base-level exams cost from $150 to $250.

For both certification authorities, the total Scrum certification cost rises for higher level certifications—especially when a lower level cert is a prerequisite to the next and subsequent level of cert.

The total Scrum certification exam cost to earn Scrum.org’s Professional Scrum Master (PSM) III certification is $900 — $150 for PSM I, $250 for PSM II, and $500 for PSM III. Remember that this does not include costs for any training courses.

For the Scrum Alliance, the total cost to become a Certified Scrum Professional – ScrumMaster is over $5,000, based on course pricing from third-party Scrum Alliance authorized trainers: CSM $995, A-CSM $1,195, and CSP-SM $3,199.

Scrum Recertification and Renewal

With Scrum.org, Scrum professional certifications are valid for life, with no requirement—or cost—for renewal/recertification.

Scrum Alliance certifications must be renewed every two years by earning Scrum Education Units (SEU) AND by paying a $100 administrative fee. The Scrum Alliance also charges a fee between $100 and $250 for renewing foundational-, advanced-, and professional-level certifications.

Scrum Certification Salary and Career Information

A quick search of the Indeed.com job site for “scrum master” and similar generic titles reveals that there are many, well-paying job openings — over 28,000 — for Scrum professionals, with salaries ranging from $85,000 to over $125,000.

Searches specifically for “Scrum.org” or “Scrum Alliance” resulted in fewer than 250 open jobs—with Scrum Alliance accounting for about three quarters of them. In many of the jobs, certs from the two authorities seem to be used on an either/or basis.

In general, without regard for certifying authority, an average Scrum certification salary for a Scrum Master can range from $84,000 for an entry-level position, to $96,000 for mid-level, and $108,000 for senior-level positions.

Scrum certification salaries for Scrum Product Owners average nearly $88,000 for entry-level positions to $97,500 at mid-level, and $107,600 for senior-level positions. On the developer front, entry-level Scrum Developers can earn an average of $88,000, compared to $97,800 for mid-level, and $11,700 for senior-level developers.

Scrum Certification Training

As you begin on your Scrum certification path, be sure to check on the CBT Nuggets video training courses that support Scrum and Agile certification.

Our course offerings do change from time-to-time, so be sure to check CBT Nuggets for new and updated on-line Scrum certification training courses that are relevant to your personal goals.

Download

Download

Ultimate Tech Support Cert Guide

A 119-page guide to every CompTIA, Microsoft, Cisco, VMware, and Citrix certification, and how they fit into your career.

I have read and understood the privacy policy, and am able to consent to it.