I get a lot of questions about training and certification, so I decided to write a blog post giving an overview on what is there (plus some advice on what I personally think is useful).


Scrum Master certification

The most common and most widely recognised certification is for Scrum Master. You can get it either at the Scrum Alliance (where they call it Certified Scrum Master) or at Scrum.org (‘Professional Scrum Master’). There are some other (smaller) organisations, but I advise you to pick between these two.. The normal procedure is that you follow a training at one of the (certified) training institutes that are members of one of those organisations and afterwards take the exam. Scrum.org does offer the possibility to take the exam without first doing the course (making it cheaper and more accessible).
The prices will differ a bit per training institute, but are roughly the same.
I have to say though, that the majority of the people I know that tried to pass Scrum.org exam without doing the two-day course ( they only did self-study) did not pass the exam, so I cannot really recommend doing only the Scrum.org exam without the course. Partially this has to do with the fact that some of the question in the Scrum.org exam have no ‘right’ answer that is widely accepted in the community (meaning there is no right answer and you need the course to know what they want to hear).
I liked the CSM course I did at Xebia, largely because they fly Jeff Sutherland in to give it (the war stories alone make it worth it). Other organisations in the Netherlands are Prowareness, Zilverline.


Scrum Product Owner

Just like for the Scrum Master role, there are courses and certifications offered for Scrum Product Owner offered by both the Scrum Alliance and Scrum.org. It is not as common (yet) for Product Owner to have an official certification as it is for Scrum Master, but you do see it as a requirement for a lot of job openings nowadays, so if you are comtemplating a role a Product Owner, I would stil advice to get your certification if you get the chance.

For the me, doing the CSM-course was a real eye-opener, I cannnot really say the same for the Certified Scrum Product Owner. I found part of the course content a repetition of Scrum basics and the rest more techniques that you could use, but I found that there were quite a number of topics untouched (managing stakeholders, innovation, how you really define a product). On the other hand, I know also quite some new Product Owner that did not really get the full scope of their role until they went to the course, so it might also just be me… 🙂

Agile Coach

The role of Agile coach is relatively new to the market and is, depending on your viewpoint, the same as Scrum Master, an extension of Scrum Master or a separate role. Regardless, a lot of different organisations have jumped into this market opportunity and have setup Agile Coaching courses in the last years. Unlike the training and certification for Scrum Master and Product Owner, there is not a wide consensus on what the content of these courses should be. Or what the role should do for that matter. (See more on that here.) As all courses and certifications are new, there is not a lot of demand of certifications on this front.
Personally I recommend the training and certification path offered by the International Consortium for Agile (ICAgile), as they only offer certifications and leave the training to individual organisations. They have two separate paths: one for team level Agile Coach, one for Enterprise level Agile Coach. See more details on their site. Your best bet to get the actual training is Lyssa Adkins AgileCoachingInstitutue, you can find their schedule here.
Recently the Scrum Alliance copied their setup and have split their own Certified Scrum Coach (CSC) setup into a team level and enterprise level. Regardless, their application process is still based on an subjective assessment of skill and experience alone, there is no formal training nor are there really clear criteria.


Scrum.org does not have a certification for Agile Coach, interestingly enough.


Advanced Scrum Master training

The different Scrum Master certification training will offer you basic knowledge of Scrum and the Scrum Master role, but unfortunately will not turn you into an experienced Scrum Master (big surprise, I know). As a reaction to a growing demand in the market, most training companies have created an “Advanced Scrum Master” course of some shape or form. As there is (again) no general agreement on what the content should be, the material and quality greatly differs. Basically, the usefulness of the course will depend completely on who gives the course.


Agile Management

Courses called “Scrum for managers”, “Agile Management” are also becoming more common additions to the curricula of training institutes. Just like with “Advanced Scrum Master” training, the content and quality will widely vary dependent on where you get trained.
Jurgen Appelo’s Management 3.0 course is an interesting course in this category, as it offers more of a set of ideas and principles combined with some practical ideas than a really comprehensive framework.


Agile Scaling: SAFe, LeSS etc

If you are going to apply any of the Agile scaling methods that have been developed in the last couple of years (such as SAFe, LeSS, Nexus etc), it is definitely worth it to take the relevant course, as it will be quite difficult to apply those methods without first having an expert explain all the details.

– Jasper Verdooren

Jasper Verdooren

Jasper Verdooren
Agile Coach | Senior Scrum Master | Scrum trainer