More than 15 years after the introduction, Agile and Scrum are still in the spotlight. Started as an innovation in software development, the methodology is on the increase in other domains, including in non-software environments. And, of course, a variety of training- and certification organizations have picked up on this trend.
Candidates can earn their much-wanted certificate by taking an exam. However, there are many different certificates, and many will find it cumbersome to make the right choice. In addition, an objective assessment of the whole choice of training institutes is difficult as well. To help you to find your way, please find an overview of the most important Agile/Scrum certifications below.
Certified Scrum Master Certificate
The Certified Scrum Master exam is organized by the Scrum Alliance. To earn the internationally accepted CSM certificate, it is mandatory to take one of the accredited 2-day CSM training courses. After passing the CSM test, the candidate receives the official CSM certificate plus Scrum Alliance membership for one year. Every two years, the Scrum Alliance expects a contribution of $ 100 for prolongation of the certificate and the membership.
The Scrum Alliance has also certificates for Certified Product Owner (CSPO) and Certified Scrum Developer (CSD), also in combination with 2-day training. A current holder of a CSM, CSPO and/or CSD certificate can apply for the Certified Scrum Professional certificate when the candidate has sufficient and approved amount of hands-on Scrum experience.
|Cost||from € 1.500 (tied selling with a 2-day CSM course)|
|Format||an open-book, online test|
|Size||35 multiple-choice questions|
|Pass Score||at least 24 answers must be answered correctly|
|Duration||30 minutes. Note that the exam is not time-boxed to 30 mins, you can stop the time and finish it in 90 days.|
Professional Scrum Master Certificate
The Professional Scrum Master exam is offered by Scrum.org, the enterprise of the initiators of Scrum. The PSM I examination can be rather hard and requires a sincere preparation. The point of departure is the official Scrum Guide, which candidates must study thoroughly. Taking a scrum training class is recommended, but is not mandatory. On the scrum.org site, candidates can take an open assessment as a foretaste, with a number of sample questions reflecting the nature of the real examination (which is harder).
Candidates with a number of years practical scrum experience can take the arduous PSM level II essay-based exam. Scrum.org has also certifications for Professional Scrum Product Owner (PSPO I en II) and Professional Scrum Developer (PSD I).
The Professional Scrum Master certificate is an internationally accepted and valued diploma. The certificate is known in the traditional IT world, but has a stronger recognition in technical automation and (international) software development organizations.
|Format||an open-book, online test|
|Size||80 multiple-choice questions|
|Pass Score||at least 64 questions must be answered correctly|
The Agile Foundation Certificate
The Agile Foundation certificate is issued by the Agile Consortium (a division of the British DSDM Consortium). The Agile Foundation exam tests the Agile principles and methods in the more traditional IT environment in 7 categories, and has therefore a broader (and also a somewhat vague) scope compared with the Scrum Master examinations that are focused on the formal definitions and practices of Scrum methodology. Nevertheless, there is a certain overlap in exam material.
The Agile Consortium is based in the Netherlands, and organizes open-enrollment examinations a number of times each year. The Agile Consortium has also exams for Agile Practitioner and Agile Master.
For a group of minimal 5 candidates, an in-company examination can be carried out by an examiner of the Agile Consortium.
The Agile Foundation certificate is well known in traditional IT circles (banks, insurance companies, government, etc.), since that is also the home of the Agile Consortium. The Agile Foundation certificate is issued in the United Kingdom, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, Italy, Poland, Romania and The Netherlands. Therefore – in contrast with the internationally accepted Scrum Master certificates – the Agile Foundation certificate has a more regional recognition.
|Format||traditional closed-book, supervised test|
|Size||60 multiple-choice questions|
|Pass Score||at least 42 questions must be correctly answered|
The Agile Scrum Foundation Certificate
Recently the Dutch examination institute EXIN has introduced the Agile Scrum Foundation certification as part of the EXIN qualification program. The scope of this exam is both the Agile body of thought and the Scrum principles and practices.
Candidates will have to answer multiple-choice questions on 5 categories: Introduction of Agile and Scrum, Scrum practices, Scrum planning, Monitoring Scrum projects and Advanced Scrum concepts.
The EXIN exam has the lowest threshold (a score of at least 65%), and therefore appears to be easier than the Agile Foundation exam (70% score) and the Professional Scrum Master exam (80 %). Although EXIN is a known Dutch examination institute, their Agile Scrum Foundation certificate must yet prove itself.
|Format||written or on-line test, supervised and closed-book|
|Size||40 multiple-choice questions|
|Pass Score||at least 26 answers must be answered correctly|
ICAgile Certified Professional
The International Consortium for Agile’s (ICAgile) Professional Certifications can be earned by participating in any one ICAgile-accredited course offered by ICAgile Member Organizations. Certifications are mapped to various disciplines across the ICAgile Learning Roadmap, which allows professionals to pursue a continuous journey with knowledge- and competency-based certifications (rather than role-based, or framework-based). As a result, ICAgile Professional Certifications tend to be more varied and flexible, allowing training providers and students alike to blend methodologies in the way best adapted to their reality.
After obtaining the ICAgile certification in Agile Fundamentals, individuals can progress on a learning journey to more advanced certification across various topics. Learning Tracks on the ICAgile Learning Roadmap include Business Agility, Agile Coaching, Agile Engineering, DevOps, Product Ownership, and more. Experienced certified professionals may also apply for the prestigious, and extremely rigorous, ICAgile Expert Certification.
ICAgile certifications are not earned from an examination, but rather an individual’s engagement with an accredited learning experience. As such, methods of assessment may vary among training providers and courses.
|Cost||varies by training provider|
|Format||a synchronous course (classroom or online)|
|Language||varies by training provider|
|Size||assessment varies by training provider|
|Pass Score||varies by training provider|
This overview of agile / Scrum Certifications was written by Erik Philippus, owner of ImprovemenT BV, specialized in Agile Scrum Foundation training programs following a blended learning concept. More info to be found at: scrum training.
Last updated on October 22, 2018