Many industries, including technology, healthcare, construction, banking, agriculture etc., have embraced agile technology and practices in their daily jobs. One of the common agile practices used is the Scrum framework. When these industries build products, they search for Scrum masters who can help them implement the framework in their company. The masters lead the rest of the team, like developers, product designers, etc. Some even go ahead and train the team and show them how they can develop products following the guidelines and features. According to Ziprecruiter, certified scrum masters can pay up to $118,353 /year. It makes the demand high and makes more professionals join the field. The scrum master job needs a lot of skill sets to understand the framework. Some common ways to increase your skills are by taking certifications like Professional Scrum Master and Certified Scrum Master. Both have differences and similarities that you look for when you want to take one. The article will help us compare and understand CSM and PSM.

Differences between CSM and PSM

Let's look at some differences between a Professional Scrum Master and a Certified Scrum Master. This difference varies from the price, the type of exam, the exam body, the type of content, etc.

Certified Scrum Master Certification(CSM)

The Certified Scrum Master Certification(CSM) certification body is Scrum Alliance®. It is a non-profit NGO that offers the best agile values and practices. It requires one to follow a pathway where you need the highest certificate ranks like A-CSM and CSP-SM. You need to start with the basic CSM certification.

The training courses normally happen within a 2-day workshop led by Certified Scrum Trainers® (CST®). You can also attend a recognized coaching program by the Certified Agile Coach. It also offers only one level of certification.

The cost of taking the CSM course ranges from 1000 to 1400 USD, which is a bit expensive considering that you have to renew your certificate.

The majority of the people who take this course are software engineers, new scrum members, scrum masters, business analysts, etc. It helps them apply Scrum concepts they learn to their sector. It offers simple methods of solving complex methods.

There are four types of CSM certification:

  • Certified Scrum master-those who are new to the Scrum framework.
  • Advanced Scrum master-those who already have the Scrum skills and want to advance them.
  • Certified Scrum Professional Scrum master-It works in improving the Scrum talents.
  • Certified Agile Coach Certified Scrum trainer-these are experienced Scrum masters who get the roles of teaching and mentoring the new Scrum learners.

When taking CSM lessons, you have to use your listening techniques to grasp the meeting's discussions. You have to show that you have experience in engaging in conversations and being able to create an event with a good agenda. You also need to understand how to coach in case a chance arises.

CSM License

After attending and completing all the classes, you get a grace period of 90 days from the day of finalizing your lessons to do the exams. You will take a test that comprises 50 questions, and you have to score at least 37 out of 50 within one hour for you to pass. Most of the exam questions are multiple-choice, where you choose the right one.

The exam is easier than PSM, and it's a must for you to attend the two-day training to meet the criteria for sitting the exam. If you fail the first attempt, you will have to repay  $25 for every effort you make

Once the results are out, you agree with the license agreement and complete your profile. You will later get a certification that lasts for only two years.

Once the two years are over, you are required to pay US$100 and at least get 20 SEUs.If you have both the advanced and beginner certificates, the rest of the certificates renew once you pay for the advanced certificate without you making an extra payment.

CSM content

The instructor has to deliver 30 % of the total content as prerecorded training where the scrum masters can go through the videos and learn before attending the training. It has a team of experts who review and interpret the curriculum with the help of guidelines.

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Certified Scrum Master Certification curriculum

Some of the things found in the curriculum include:

  • Scrum general knowledge.
  • Understanding agile practices.
  • Scrum theories, artifacts, scalings, and meetings.

Benefits of taking the Certified Scrum Master Certification course

There are several benefits one gets after finishing the  CSM course. These benefits are:

  • You get more chances to work in companies and sectors that use agile practices in the workforce.
  • It provides the chance to meet several Agile lovers that have a passion for continuous integration and improvements.
  • Having a deeper understanding of the Scrum principles, tools, practices, roles, values, etc.
  • You get more respect and chances of getting a job when you apply to a new company or promotion.
  • You meet different Scrum masters, and you get the Scrum Alliance membership.
  • Having higher chances of taking the experienced CSM courses and becoming expert and landing roles like training junior Scrum masters as a coach.
  • Understanding the Scrum foundations and the roles of the Scrum master.
  • Increase your salary and alliances according to your experience using Scrum, the number of certifications, and the country you reside in.

Professional Scrum Master (PSM™)

The main body for this course is Scrum.org, a company owned by Ken Schwaber which played a significant role in developing Scrum. The course takes two days, and the person in charge of the training is Professional Scrum TrainerTM (PST).

Levels of Professional Scrum Master (PST).

There are two levels of Professional Scrum Master (PST): This are:

PSMI assessment. At this level, they learn the basic Scrum fundamentals, its terminologies, and how to use and apply the Scrum guide in teams.

PSM II-this is where you have a deeper understanding of Scrum, and you can use the knowledge to apply it in real-world situations.

The PSM path is a bit independent, where it can allow users to do the PSM II without doing the PSM I. You can even do the advanced courses without PSMI and II, but they have higher prices, and the tests are not easier, it requires more knowledge.

When taking the courses, it is not compulsory to attend the lectures, and you can skip them if you feel you have the required knowledge. Apply for the PSM exam and wait for the date.

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PSM Exams

PSM has 80 questions that you have to answer in 60 minutes. For PSM I, you have to get 85% to get the certificate. You have to get 37 out of 50 to pass and get the certificate for the rest of the PSMs.The exam has multiple-choice questions, true and false questions, and multiple answers questions.

Most PSM exams are hard, and you have to prepare enough to avoid failing or taking retakes. The exam fee is  $150 per attempt, and when you have a training course, you get one free attempt.

One of the most significant advantages of PSM certification is that it doesn't require renewal. Once you have the certificate, it's a lifetime opportunity to showcase your skills with it.

PSM training materials are a bit different and are the same across various institutions that offer the certification.

Most of their content uses reflective and collaborative approaches to meet the Scrum Master learning. It covers a lot of Scrum implementation in a big organization. All the content gets delivered during the live lecture by the instructor. They don't offer pre-recorded content like the CSM certification.

PSM also has advanced certifications that one can take after completing the basic ones. These include Professional Scrum Master I,  Professional Scrum Master III, Professional Scrum Master II, and Professional Scrum Master Trainer.

Some of the topics covered under the PSM curriculum include:

  • Understanding the Scrum guide.
  • Understanding agile culture
  • How to manage people and teams using the Scrum framework.
  • Understanding product development.
  • Delivering projects professionally.

Benefits of PSM certification

Several benefits come with an individual being PSM certified. Some of the benefits include:

  • It covers the Scrum in-depth topics and knowledge to ensure the members have enough understanding of the Scrum framework.
  • You get more skills exposing you to more job opportunities that require people who have taken and passed the PSM test.
  • You can use Scrum.org to network and connect with Scrum professionals and companies that can make you get new opportunities like jobs, conference talks, tutors, etc.
  • It gives courage and skills to new individuals in the Scrum career by exposing them to different scrum topics.
  • Once you get the PSM certification, you get a guarantee among the professionals that you are a Scrum expert.

Which certification is better?

We can't really say which one is better than the other. It depends on an individual's desires and goals. The majority of the topics they cover are almost the same, and they talk about Scrum. Most of the CSM training is about interactions, while the PSM has a lot of emphasis on individual abilities.

What you need to do is to be careful when searching for training institutions. Many fake institutions lie they offer the certification, yet the authorities in charge do not license them to do so. You may end up losing your cash without training.

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Both the certifications are suitable and can help individuals develop and improve their skill set. Whatever option you choose, there are still opportunities for each course, and you will have a great result. Those who possess the Scrum skills in the current times by either having one or both certifications have higher chances of getting recognition in the agile world. The majority of the users prefer the CSM as they say their exams are easier to pass, and they forgo the PSM option, whose exam is difficult, but the certificate durability is lifetime, saving you costs. In some countries like the United States, there are more jobs that require CSM certification than those that need PSM, according to the Indeed website.

We hope the article has helped you differentiate between the two certifications, and now you can make an easier decision when choosing which one to go for.

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As a Senior Writer for HKR Trainings, Sai Manikanth has a great understanding of today’s data-driven environment, which includes key aspects such as Business Intelligence and data management. He manages the task of creating great content in the areas of Digital Marketing, Content Management, Project Management & Methodologies, Product Lifecycle Management Tools. Connect with him on LinkedIn and Twitter.