Articles + Research

Is the CSM Worth the Time and Money?

Updated: Jul 21

Depends…


Just like any certification our there in the Project Management realm (yes, I know I just lumped the CSM into Project Management) you must determine if having that credential is helpful for your career. You can always read a book or watch videos on successful Scrum implementation to learn more, but when it comes down to your career, you have to have degrees, certifications, licenses, or experience for a lot of positions, unfortunately, in some cases.


What is the CSM?


According to the ScrumAlliance, “As a Certified ScrumMaster® (CSM®), you’ll help the Scrum Team perform at their highest level. CSMs also protect the team from both internal and external distractions. Through the certification process, you will learn the Scrum framework and gain an understanding of team roles, events, and artifacts.”


Now, in reality, the CSM can be obtained by going to a two-day course and taking a 50-question exam. There is no requirement for experience so essentially it is an entry-level certification…and that is fine, you must start somewhere.


Back to the question at hand.


Is the CSM worth the time (2 days) and Money (varied, but most courses are >$1000)? To answer that question, you need to determine who is paying for certification and why are you seeking this credential.


Since there are two aspects of that question, let’s break it out into two parts:


Q1: Is it worth the time?

A1: Yes, it’s two days, think back to October 14-15, 2019…what if you lost those two days, would you regret it if you obtained an industry-leading certification? (pick any dates in the past that work for you…it’s two days).


Q2: Who is paying?

A2.1: If your organization is paying for, case closed, YES, go get the CSM! There are many ways to get the CSM or equivalent (see below for options).


A2.2: If your organization will not pay for the course, think about why you want to get the CSM. If it is to further your career in Agile and roles in your organization require Scrum experience or the CSM, then your answer is probably going to lean toward yes.


A2.3: If you are looking for a new job in Agile, and you do not have a lot of Agile experience, then the CSM is worth a look. To know if your market is looking for the CSM, look at a job-search engine to see how many jobs are in your area. I chose a few large cities, my local area (Augusta, GA), and remote to search on the following keywords on Indeed.com:

There is a lot to take away in this information.


First, Scrum (Agile as a whole) is more popular in large cities, obviously the larger the population, the larger the demand; however, you will find that these are large tech areas where Scrum is almost the defacto framework teams work with, or say they work with. Second, searching Certified Scrum Master will not yield the results you are looking for and CSM is too broad (e.g., Customer Service Manager). Third, remote is picking up (currently in the midst of COVID-19 so take that in mind).


Back to the main question, is the CSM worth the time and money?


Overall Answer: Yes, to time, and depends on where the money is coming from.


For me, my company paid for the course, so it was worth it. I have been heavily involved in Scrum and Agile after getting the CSM and highly recommend one, or the equivalent, since it will lead to further exploration in the Scrum and Agile space!


FULL DISCLOSURE: I have let my CSM lapse, but have moved on to a PMI-ACP, a much harder and higher-level certification. See my follow-on blogs to learn more about what comes after the CSM, or the equivalent.

Hope that helps!

(or at least makes you do some more research!)

Information for more research:

Certified Scrum Master – Scrum Alliance

https://www.scrumalliance.org/get-certified/scrum-master-track/certified-scrummaster

Licensed Scrum Master – Scrum Inc.

https://www.licensedscrum.com/licensed-scrum-master/

Professional Scrum Master – Scrum.org

https://www.scrum.org/professional-scrum-certifications/professional-scrum-master-assessments

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