How To Become A Certified Scrum Master?

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04th Jan, 2023
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How To Become A Certified Scrum Master?

Organizations all over the world are looking to hire external assistance to manage their project development in a sagacious manner. The demand for Certified ScrumMasters has thus seen an increase off-late. As a ScrumMaster your responsibilities would include facilitating meetings, coaching team members, encouraging the use of Agile practices, reviewing the team’s work, communicating the requirements of the product owner to the team, guarding the team against external distractions, and maintaining harmony in the tea.

Who is the Scrum Master?

In one of our previous blog posts, Rumesh Wijetunge shared some relevant insights on the role of Scrum Master. Wearing different hats, coach, enabler, facilitator, team leader, problem-solver, s/he is in charge of giving right directions to team members so that they reach objectives. First promoter of Agile mindset, values and principles, the Scrum Master uses the Scrum framework to help a team in understanding, working on, and achieving a common goal.

Read more on Scrum Master Certification Guide!

Responsibilities of the Certified Scrum Master

It is expected from the Certified Scrum Master to promote an Agile way of working and to lead Scrum implementation in order to improve the team's overall performance. It implies these activities:

  • Teaching Agile values and principles and ensuring they have been understood and adopted by the Scrum Team, and even by the whole organization if possible (and relevant)
  • Implementing the Scrum framework so that it fits  the needs expressed by the Scrum Team
  • Listening, observing and reflecting on how the Scrum Team is reacting to first changes, then selecting and adapting Scrum elements accordingly.
  • Protecting Team Members from any interference or troubles that make them losing focus on their primary work
  • Anticipating, identifying and removing any impediments, and coaching Team Members to learn to solve these situations by themselves
  • Helping the Product Owner to manage the Product Backlog so that time-to-market is reduced and every increment brings value to end customers
  • Acting as a Servant Leader

how to become a scrum master

Requirements to become a Certified Scrum Master

Getting some basic knowledge about the Scrum framework is a nice-to-have prerequisite. However, the first mandatory step is to attend a two-day CSM course conducted by a Certified Scrum Trainer® (CST®). This course will prepare you well for the CSM exam by delivering insights about how to organize and support a Scrum Team. The final step is easy: you need to accept the License Agreement and update your Scrum Alliance membership profile.

Who Should Be a Certified ScrumMaster?

Ideally, anybody looking to help develop and maintain an efficient team in their organization can apply for a ScrumMaster certification. The candidates who are most likely to benefit from this certification are:

a. Professionals - With a ScrumMaster certification, you can add more value to your résumé and expand career prospects. More importantly, you can enhance the success of your team and make significant contributions to the project.

b. Trainers - Make a career by training aspirants in this up-and-coming field, while building a concrete knowledge about the subject.
c. Coaches - Project management teams need to be tutored with latest updates of Scrum and Agile. With a ScrumMaster certification you can coach the team and also ensure they implement these practices in the advancement of the projects.

d. REPs - With a ScrumMaster Certification, you can be a part of one of the several REPs—Registered Education Providers—and offer Agile training to aspiring students.

What do You need to do to become a CSM? 

A true belief and strong interest in Agile philosophy will help for sure to get knowledge, to practice efficiently and to stand out among Agile practitioners. Nonetheless, passing the Scrum Alliance certification for Scrum Master lies mainly in learning Scrum fundamentals and attending to the two-day training (see above paragraph c.)

a. Why CSM over PSM: Best Scrum Master certification

1. Scrum.org courses- Price, Renewal, Pros, and Cons

  • Price: It includes exam fees but depends on content, duration, trainer and location:
    • US: $1500
    • Europe: 1500 euros
    • India: INR 26,000
  • Renewal: No expiration (lifetime certification)
  • Pros:
    • Course content is officially designed by Scrum.org so all teachers deliver same content. It implies that Scrum.org selects qualified instructors and ensures students learn the same core content.
    • Exam can be taken without attending course - Exam fees are $150
    • There is an online free assessment exam for practising
  • Cons: 
    • Exam is much harder than CSM. It requires experience, and deep theoretical knowledge

2. Difference between the Scrum Alliance and Scrum.org courses

The main difference lies in the fact that Scrum.org provides standard curriculum and course content, while training conducted to become CSM depends on individual trainers experience, opinion and knowledge.

CSM Certification Training

Syllabus of Scrum Master certification 

Syllabus of Scrum Master certification


Scrum Alliance provides a list of selected resources to learn the Scrum framework. People who want to become Certified Scrum Master are invited to read articles from experts like Mike Cohn or Steve Denning, or from other members. One specific advantage with Scrum Alliance lies in their elearning series: a dozen short videos introduce Scrum Theory and Values, Scrum Roles, Scrum Events and Scrum Artifacts.

 Besides, it is strongly recommended to read those references:

  • the Scrum Guide by Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland
  • the Scrum Primer by Pete Deemer, Gabrielle Benefield, Craig Larman and Bas Vodde
  • the Do Better Scrum by Peter Hundermark

 Not mandatory but relevant to go further, Scrum: A Pocket Guide by Gunther Verheyen and Software in 30 days by Ken Schwaber.

Exam and Certification Information

Scrum Alliance courses- Price, Renewal, Pros and Cons 

  • The CSM course is a two-day (16 hours) course delivered by a Certified Scrum Trainer® (CST®).
  • There is no standard fee, so the price can vary depending on the context: trainer, content, location, date ; the usual range is from 1000 to 1500 euros (or from 1150 to 1750 dollars).
  • It includes two attempts to take the CSM exam and a two-year membership to the new Scrum Alliance® community. Those two attempts have to be used in the next 90 days after attendees receive the welcome email to pass the test. Beyond this duration, they will be prompted to pay $25 to take the exam. Certification is valid for two years, then it requires to be renewed after that.

Besides, attendees to the CSM course will be granted with 14 PDUs credits: 10 PDUs in Technical Project Management and 4 PDUs in Leadership.

 What can be considered as a drawback is that there is no standard content course. Course materials are made by individual trainers, which implies it can be limited by their experience and opinion.

Cost of the Scrum Master Certification

There is no specific cost for the Certification: the fee is included into the CSM two-day course.

 The structure of the exam

The exam is composed of 35 multiple-choice and true/false questions. At least 24 correct answers are required to pass the exam, and there is no time limit to answer those questions.

Topics covered in the CSM exam

As this exam requires to demonstrate an understanding of the key Scrum elements, it covers general Scrum knowledge, Scrum roles, Scrum meetings and Scrum artifacts.

How To Take Up The CSM Exam?

To earn the ScrumMaster Certification, you need to enroll yourself to a CSM course with a Scrum Alliance Authorised Trainer. It is an added benefit if you are already familiar with Scrum.

You’ll have to attend a 16-hour CSM course, following which you can take up the CSM test.

The test is comprised of 35 questions multiple-choice questions. To qualify as a Certified ScrumMaster, you’ll need to get at least 24 of these right. If you do not clear the test, the questions that you missed will be shown to you. The answers however are not displayed.

You can opt for a second attempt to better your score for free. You’ll charged a small amount of fee for any consequent attempts.

There is no hard-and-fast rule that you have to finish the test in one shot. You can stop and restart the test as many times as you want. If you are uncertain about an answer, you can always skip it and bookmark it for a later review. If you plan on completing the test, try to spend at least an hour answering the questions.

Learning After The Certification

Changing times and technology require a constant updation and adaptability to newer techniques and methods. You can learn a lot through the real-time experiences throughout your career. You can also opt to keep up with the changing standards and values of Scrum and get a boost in knowledge in conventional ways.

Scrum Alliance gatherings are a great way to meet like-minded people and learn as well as share experiences. Participate in CSM LinkedIn forums. You can pursue further qualifications to enhance your knowledge, which in turn adds value to your résumé. With the right amount of experience and expertise, you can choose to become a Certified Scrum Professional.

Choose from the various reputed institutions that offer the online course to become a Certified ScrumMaster. With commitment to constant improvement, patience, and persistence you can promote an enhanced production and management of your team’s project

Sample questions for CSM exam

1) What does NOT belong to the agile manifesto's main pillars?

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation
  • Processes over people
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation

Answer: Processes over people

2) How should work be allocated to the team in an Agile project?

  • The Team Leader (ScrumMaster) should allocate specific tasks to individuals
  • Tasks should be randomly allocated to team members, using Planning Poker
  • Team members should self-select tasks appropriate to their skills
  • The most complex tasks should be allocated by the Team Leader (ScrumMaster)

Answer: Team members should self-select tasks appropriate to their skills

3) What are the disadvantages of the classical waterfall model? (Select the best alternative)

A)  End-Product has to be fully anticipated beforehand
B)  Some requirements are implemented as defined in the beginning of the project, and yet they are not really needed by the customer
C)  Each phase is strictly separated

- A

- A, B

- C, B

- A, B, C

Answer: A, B, C

4) Who is responsible for prioritizing the product backlog?

- Product Owner
- Project Manager
- Lead Developer
- Business Analyst

Answer: Product Owner

5) What kind of software development projects can be executed by Scrum Project Management Framework?

- Complete software packages
- Customer projects
- Sub-systems, components or parts of bigger systems
- All kinds of software development projects
- None of the given answers

Answer: All kinds of software development projects

Salary of the Certified Scrum Master

Salary per year Junior Senior 
US$82,000 - 105,000$105,000 - 120,000
Europe38,000 - 55,000 €55,000 - 75,000 €
DubaiAED 25,000AED 35,000
IndiaRs. 731,983Rs. 1,424,186

How To Become A Certified Scrum Master: Refer to our getting started guide

Why you should be a Certified Scrum Master?

Becoming a Certified Scrum Master is one way to expand your career opportunities. Indeed, Agile is spreading everywhere in organisations, in all industries. Strongly correlated, software and digitalization are eating the world, so the need for Scrum Masters in software development is increasing. It is also the beginning of a long journey: it enables you to engage with other Scrum practitioners all over the world, to share best practices, to solve common issues and to promote Agile values and continuous improvement.

Besides, this certification offers you to learn foundation of Scrum and scope of the role of Scrum Master. And because it is delivered by Scrum Alliance , this is a very valid proof of your Scrum knowledge. Some of the benefits of being a certified ScrumMaster are:

  • Diversifying career options across a variety of industries
  • Displaying and putting to use your core Agile knowledge
  • Acquiring Scrum knowledge from reputed Scrum geniuses
  • Engaging with a community of well-trained and highly skilled Scrum experts
  • 2-year membership with Scrum Alliance and access to all their resources and meetings
Profile

Binod Anand

Blog Author

A content marketing analyst, Binod’s area of interest is EdTech, marketing analytics, and digital marketing. He is also a professional blogger and writes extensively on skill development. His hobbies include travelling, programming, and watching sitcoms.

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