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Is there an alternative to Scrum Alliance's CSM and Scrum Org's PSM for becoming a scrum master? I have been talking to a lot of people who have taken these courses and find the content of CSM and PSM very outdated.

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In my opinion both certificates are just that - certificates. They don't make you a Scrum Master. They get you started with the general ideas of agile and scrum.

The tricky part is the day to day work with a team as a Scrum Master. Ideally you have some senior Scrum Masters or Agile Coaches to lead you and help with all the ideas and approaches. If that is not the case I suggest just to jump in the cold water. That way you can fail fast and learn a lot. Sorry if this sounds whacky at best :-)

One side note to CSM: since you partake in a course you may want to look for great coaches to learn from. There you could also address first problems or questions that may have arisen from your own work.

  • Tacking on to this comment -- if you're looking for a great trainer, we've had a wonderful experience with Jim Schiel (scrumalliance.org/community/profile/jschiel) at my organization. He's very much a pragmatic practitioner of Agile and Scrum. – JDRoger Jun 10 '16 at 11:51
  • Before I got my CSM, I was getting no job interviews. OP, please invest into it. It is sought after by employers even if you do not have the XP, because it tells them that you have some foundations in Scrum decreasing their risk in hiring you. – bobo2000 Jun 17 '16 at 11:06
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Certificates are there to show you are familiar with the basics, tools, techniques, and the overall knowledge of that particular field.

As you read and experience more in Scrum or any other Agile environment, you will realise that "Scrum (Agile) is difficult to implement and execute" but it's very easy to learn and to teach the others.

The real value comes from practical experience, not from a particular certificate or a degree.

PSM and CSM are similar in nature. In fact, there is another alternative; ScrumBok by PMStudy. But you should consider the cost, effort, and difficulty to get the certificate as well.

For CSM you need to pay more and spend the valuable time to attend the mandatory training. On the other hand, to get PSM, you can just do self-study then buy exam voucher and boom; get certified :)

It would be better if you invest your time and learning other Agile frameworks/methodologies, such as DSDM, FDD, XP, and TDD, as well. Again, I re-emphasize that the Practical Experience is the key.

Cheers, Rasoul Baghban, PMP

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As mentioned by others, they are just certificates - they demonstrate to employers/bosses that you have applied yourself to learn the basics of the framework. That is not necessarily a bad thing, some people like seeing a PM with certs, some companies require you to have a "higher level" PM cert.

They may feel dry and "out dated" because they adhere to the framework, it is the whole "do not reinvent to wheel" dogma, it is a tried and true framework that does not need any modernization.

However, it is not a be all end all, practical "on the job" experience will get you much further than attending the course and taking a test. Not every company does purely Scrum either, as it is just a framework, you will encounter hybridization of different methodologies.

If I had to choose between the two I would go for PSM, only for the sake of it being self-paced rather than taking a few days off to attend an expensive course. My company hires a lot of PMs, most of us (to include myself) do not have a cert at all, our CDO has his PSM and that is it.

Hope that helps, good luck whichever path you decide to go down.

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I think the key question is what all options exist as a alternative to CSM and PSM. So the answer is there are 3 options that do exist

  1. Agile Scrum Master certification (ASM) by EXIN is a new take on Scrum master training that looks at exploring the modern day scrum team challenges including geographically dispersed teams' management. The training is provided by Certified Agile Coaches with years of Industry implementation level experience. This is also the only Scrum Master training course that can be taken Online through an Instructor led live training. For both PSM as well as CSM it’s delivered by CSTs or PSTs in physical workshops alone, something that is quickly losing relevance in a world that is evolving at a rapid pace. Additionally there is a growing dissonance around the CSM and Scrum Alliance in general by the thought leaders in the domain.

  2. PMI-ACP: it’s a holistic Agile training and thus covers a wider scope but lacks that sharp focus that some scrum centric teams may desire, nor does it train you to be a scrum master. This training is available with only some of the training providers that offer PMI certification training courses as the course is really wide and a little niche. But worth a shot as it cover XP, TDD, SCRUM etc.

  3. SaFe: Scaled Agile Framework looks at implementing agile over a wide scale and geo depending on business requirement. This again is a new certification compared to CSM or ASM

For all the above the feedbacks on training are quite good specially on the learning outcomes

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Because the PSM from scrum.org is based upon the authoritative document, it is updated with each revision of The Scrum Guide. Recently, they even modified the Scrum Master certifications into into three levels.

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