Ambysoft logo

The Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) Certification: What People Actually Think

Follow @scottwambler on Twitter!

In late October and early November 2010 I ran the 2010 Scrum Certification survey to explore what was happening in the industry with regards to Scrum certification. Question # 5, of 8, asked "What do you think about the Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) designation? For the sake of clarification, to earn the CSM designation you must attend a CSM course (2-3 days) and then take an online questionnaire." This article lists all of the comments provided, organizing them in to several categories:

Note that it was possible for people to indicate that they held zero or more Scrum certifications, but that in the lists below I have listed a comment only once even though it may fall into several categories. To assign a comment to a category I first selected any CST comments, then I selected comments from any CSM, then comments from anyone who had other certifications, then finally comments from people who didn't indicate that they had Scrum certifications.

Comments from Certified Scrum Masters (CSMs)

Comments from other holders of Scrum Certifications

  1. Certified Scrum Novice: the certification gives a complete wrong expectation regarding the deployability of Scrum and the actual Scrum skills of CSMs.
  2. I think it is more of an introduction to the community of practice, emphasis on community. I'm not too sure there is much value in any of the certifications as I am not sure if there is a single way to practice scrum. I always thought it was more about principles than practice-but I'm not certified so what do I know. From a hiring point of view (both for employment and consulting, which is really why we get these certificates), I would use the certification as a filter for the first round of cuts. The certification implies an awareness of Scrum and Agile but I would be more interested in how the candidate employed agile principles and scrum techniques than the certification.
  3. I would suggest that some basic prior experience must be required by candidate for obtaining certification and also, Exam needs to at least 3 after the course. So, we will be able to assess candidate's skills post training.
  4. I think that the certification should require a more complete set of challenges. 2-3 days seems to me too simple to be a CSM
  5. It presents knowledge about scrum to people. Doesn't mean much if you're a developer
  6. No, I took the course with Ken Schwaber ( and then I did the exam.
  7. why not?
  8. It is a strategic certification to have for the future of the project management. However, at present time, it is recommended (by me) to either have a certification according to predictives methods prÃdictives and/or to have made studies in this sense. The actual certification, should take out IS-IT sector and open up to the other sectors of activities... toward to a Scrum 2.0 vision (and all Scrum certification too, I think about Scrum Product Owner in particular).

Comments from people without Scrum Certifications

Comments from Certified Scrum Trainers (CSTs)

  1. I think the CSM designation provides a consistent and predictable standard for a core education on the Scrum framework. I think the CSP designation provides a consistent and predictable standard for representing experience in applying Scrum. I think the CST and CSC provide a consistent and predictable standard for guide-level experienced practitioners who have the ability to teach and coach others in learning and applying Scrum. Taken together, the Scrum Alliance is providing a strong learning journey for individuals and organizations for learning, applying and adapting Scrum.
  2. I would like it to be more rigorous, but I think that no matter what happens to it, there will be a large population who take shots at it. I do not consider it to be a measure of anything other than whether or not a person has demonstrated that they "should" have enough basic knowledge to be a part of the conversation. With respect to that, I think it is fine, but I'd like to see more advanced levels added.
  3. Not much.
  4. Junk.
  5. I feel the focus should move towards practitioner level certifications based on actual experience.
  6. It certifies that a person knows the basics of being a ScrumMaster. It does not imply they have experience or will be successful in the role.
  7. It is OK as an entry level certification.
  8. What a bogus question. The CSM designation is a certification that you attended and that you reviewed what you learned and were given suggestions on what you needed to get more information on. Unlike the the industries that flourish around other certifications such as Law, Finance, Accounting, and Project Management where your memorization and regurgitation skills count more than learning self discipline and self respect and accountability, the Scrum Certification frame is transparently simple and honest. Come, and join an interactive class, learn the basics and get recognized for that, then take a quiz and find out what you need to learn more about. Got anything like this for modeling or architecture?
  9. It serves as an excellent introduction to Scrum, and an increasingly valuable industry credential.
  10. It's fine, people understand what it takes to become a CSM.

Suggested Reading

Choose Your WoW! 2nd Edition This book, Choose Your WoW! A Disciplined Agile Approach to Optimizing Your Way of Working (WoW) Second Edition, is an indispensable guide for agile coaches and practitioners. It overviews key aspects of the Disciplined Agile (DA) tool kit. Hundreds of organizations around the world have already benefited from DA, which is the only comprehensive tool kit available for guidance on building high-performance agile teams and optimizing your WoW. As a hybrid of the leading agile, lean, and traditional approaches, DA provides hundreds of strategies to help you make better decisions within your agile teams, balancing self-organization with the realities and constraints of your unique enterprise context.