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I am planning to go for Scrum Master certification, and while researching the certification providers, I could not clearly make up my mind about which one was most widely accepted.

There are two organizations providing Certified Scrum Master certifications: Scrum Alliance and Scrum.org. I am not able to figure out which one of these is more widely recognized or accepted (if there is such a distinction for this certification). I know that PMI also offers an agile-based certification that has wider coverage than these two, but I am not looking for that.

Can anyone tell me about the difference in recognition/acceptability of certifications from these two organizations?

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    Isn't this like a software recommendation? Localized in time, predicated on soft/subjective criteria, etc.? Will the answer still be valid 6 months from now? – Mark C. Wallace Sep 3 '13 at 16:30
  • At this time, there is a Scrum Institute certification, which is much cheaper than Scrum.org certification (it is $29), and even lets you retry tests. To me, that makes it sound not very respected, but the price makes it attractive. [scrum-institute.org/… – macetw Jun 6 '16 at 17:11
  • @macetw - this one is almost like you or me starting our scrum certification. This is some company run by anonymous people getting naive people to buy "certification" from you. – Piotr Uryga Mar 12 '17 at 20:34
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There isn't much of difference in recognition/acceptability of both certifications.

One big difference is that to get Scrum.org Professional Scrum Master I you don't have to go to the training. They offer trainings, but they're optional. You only need to pass online exam and you can even try out your knowledge for free in online assessment. Despite requirement of getting 85% on PSM I exam, it's very simple and most of the questions are obvious.

For scrumalliance.org Certified Scrum Master, their training is mandatory and for many years training was all it took to get certification. That's right: no exam. So, the value of certification was next to nothing. Now it changed and you need to pass exam.

I'm holding both of these and attended both what I would recommend: if you're looking to get certification, go with Scrum.org PSM I - you won't have to invest money in training.

If you want to get to Scrum training, I would focus not on ScrumAlliance vs Scrum.org, but rather on specific trainer. Unfortunately both organizations have great and bad trainers and before investing money into Scrum training I would suggest asking someone for opinion on specific trainer.

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TL;DR

At the time of this writing, I'm not aware of any formal market research about the level of demand for either of these certifications. You should do your own research regarding the job sectors you're personally interested in, or contact the certifying organizations about their marketing efforts in those sectors.

It's All Marketing

Like all certifications, Scrum certifications are all about marketing. Certifying organizations are interested in:

  • Marketing the certification to job seekers who will pay for the certifications.
  • Marketing the certification to the public in order to raise the visibility and desirability of the brand.

In turn, job seekers should be interested in:

  • Marketing themselves to clients or employers.
  • Standing out from the slush pile by differentiating themselves from their competitors.
  • Branding themselves, often as generalists with broad expertise or as experts in a specific knowledge domain.

Any certification can be a differentiator on a resume if all else is equal, but in my personal opinion the agile movement is young enough that most employers are more interested in a proven track record of project management success than in a formal certification. Your job sector and personal experience may certainly vary.

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This area is highly contentious. I went through a similar process and can share my take on the subject.

Both certification providers are well recognized and accepted in the industry. I have seen a small number of job advertisements that request Scrum.org certification specifically.

The Scrum.org test is generally regarded as harder to get, with a 85%+ pass rate.

That being said, I have met many Scrum Masters who use Scrum Alliance and this seems to be the more popular choice.

Certification itself can be sniffed at with regards to Scrum. Perhaps a reaction to the ease of gaining certification through Scrum Alliance. I guess the Alliance strategy is to engage as many people as possible to the world of Scrum and the certification is a nice juicy carrot. But this can be counter productive. I have seem traditional PMs go away on the course and them come back thinking there are Scrum expects where they have only just scratched the surface.

I personally chose Scrum.org. If you are serious I think this is the best place to earn your stars. Although in the grand scheme of things I do not think it really matter who you choose and some would argue the certification is worthless anyway.

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The Professional Scrum Master (PSM) exam is not straight-forward at all. You can study all of the materials, have tons of hands-on scrum experience, and still not reach the 85% mark. Most of the questions are highly subjective and support is unresponsive. The forum is full of theoretical debates.

If you aren't sure of the answer they're expecting, you won't get it without a Magic 8-Ball. For me, a total waste of money. Luckily, I have an awesome job, so pass or fail this PSM certificate from Scrum.org really delivers no value or holds any weight.

Good luck to anyone pursuing it, but as a manager who is heavily involved in the hiring process I stopped considering it. Just my two cents!

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    This answer seems like someone is being salty about not clearing the exam. This certification is really straightforward if you know basic Agile principles and read Scrum Guide couple times. – Piotr Uryga Mar 12 '17 at 20:35

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