Is the CSM Worth It?

Learn what makes this certification the gold standard in the industry
An image of a young professional with the words Is CSM Worth It?

Reviewed by Raúl Herranz

If you’re exploring a career as a scrum master, or if you’re already a scrum master and want to make yourself more marketable, you may be asking yourself, is the Certified ScrumMaster® (CSM®) course worth it? If you want to stand out from the crowd by holding an industry-recognized certification and increase your skills and potential earning power, then the answer is yes!

What Does a Scrum Master Do?

The scrum master accountability (formerly called a role) is part of the scrum framework, so if you’re new to the field, it’s unlike any typical corporate job you may be familiar with. This scrum team accountability is one that requires a lot of interpersonal skills and the ability to influence people to work differently and have a growth mindset. 

One of the reasons the scrum master accountability exists is to guide the scrum team and organization, coaching them to use scrum effectively and practice agile ways of thinking. A scrum master needs to understand the ins and outs of the framework and be able to apply it in a way that’s pragmatic, not dogmatic, to help the team become more collaborative and autonomous, which in turn supports the team's ability to deliver work faster and come up with innovative solutions.

Scrum Masters Possess "Agile Acumen," an Asset at Work

According to a recent report, "Skills in the New World of Work," practical knowledge and experience with agile ways of working are in demand across employers. Also known as agile acumen, this skill is, in fact, expected in many organizations. As a certified scrum master, you'll have started down the path to building agile acumen, which you can bring to any role you pursue, whether that's a dedicated scrum master position or a different role that also requires agile experience.

As a scrum master, you’re accountable for serving the scrum team, the product owner, and the organization. You’ll serve the team by coaching team members in self-management of their work and cross-functionality of their skills to make the team more well-rounded. You’ll also be there to get rid of things that may be hindering the team’s productivity, such as talking to someone outside of the team to request information or getting the right equipment for the team. You’ll also serve the product owner in several ways, such as helping the team understand the work in the product backlog. You’ll also help the organization change its culture and learn how to apply scrum and an agile mindset.

What Is the CSM Certification?

While the general term "scrum master" indicates a guide who may mentor, coach, facilitate, and teach, the Certified ScrumMaster is a certification denoting knowledge and competency in this scrum team accountability. While there are exceptional scrum masters out there with and without CSMs, getting the certification differentiates you from the crowd and shows teammates and recruiters that you are committed to continuous learning and improvement.

The CSM is offered through Scrum Alliance and has a reputation as the gold standard for scrum master training. To teach the course, a trainer must become a Certified Scrum Trainer (CST), which is a highly selective process. The designation is only given to the top people in the industry who have demonstrated commitment, dedication, and significant experience in the field.

Does a CSM Earn a Higher Salary?

Infographic: 55% of orgs pay more for people with certificationsEarning a Certified ScrumMaster may support your ability to negotiate salaries and pursue greater earning potential. According to "Skills in the New World of Work," only 23% of employers who participated in the survey said certifications were not important during the recruitment process. The survey also found that 55% of organizations will pay more for individuals with relevant certifications. 

While certification is no guarantee of higher pay, it is one more tool you can use to show your commitment to agile skills and agile ways of thinking and working. Sixty-nine percent of organizations in the skills survey said they would pay higher salaries for any individual with demonstrated agile skills, certified or not, and regardless of the role being hired for. Therefore, while a Certified ScrumMaster is only the beginning of building and demonstrating your skills, it helps you show recruiters and employers that you're committed to this agile role and a flexible, adaptable, innovative, highly collaborative team member in general.

What Will I Learn?

The CSM course offers comprehensive learning that will set you up for hands-on success as a scrum master or a member of a scrum team. All of the courses have activity-based learning, so you can go from theory to practice with work-based scenarios.

With any CSM course you take around the world, you’ll learn:

  • Scrum theory
  • The scrum team
  • Scrum events and activities
  • Scrum artifacts and commitments

Individual instructors can choose to add additional topics, so when selecting a course, look for an instructor that best meets your personal goals and learning style.

All CSM courses are quality-checked by Scrum Alliance to ensure you’ll leave with the skills to be an effective and competent scrum master or team member.

Is the CSM Really Worth It?

So, if you’re still asking yourself whether the CSM is really worth it, several influential sources outside of Scrum Alliance believe it adds a lot of value.

According to Forbes, “The CSM designation can boost your CV or resume by indicating to potential employers that you have the skills, knowledge, and experience needed to contribute positive organizational change, lead agile teams successfully, and fulfill an organization’s goals and scrum master responsibilities.”

When you take the CSM through Scrum Alliance, you get a two-year membership, giving you access to a huge network of professionals, industry conferences and events, and more. There’s no better way to find your first job as a scrum master than by showing you’re part of the community and networking with people from the companies you want to work with.

Business culture has evolved, and by having the skills to coach people on agile ways of working, you’ll demonstrate that you have a very modern, in-demand skill set that can help you land a job as a scrum master or that you can apply right away to be a more effective, adaptable professional in any field.

Taking a CSM Course

The CSM is definitely worth taking if you want to expand your career into in-demand skills that center around people. In a world where everything is becoming automated, one thing that can’t be replaced is the interpersonal skills you learn as a Certified ScrumMaster.

Find a Certified ScrumMaster course online or at a location near you and get a jumpstart on your career possibilities.

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