A Scrum master certification shows that you not only have mastered the Scrum framework but also are committed to Agile principles within your organization and beyond.
Whether the benefits of a Scrum master certification will be worth the time and expense for you personally will depend on your current level of expertise and career goals. Let's look at the reasons you might or might not choose to obtain a Scrum master certification.
What is the purpose of a Scrum master certification?
Scrum masters play the role of a servant leader. They are facilitators whose most important responsibilities are to remove obstacles that would impede the scrum team in reaching a sprint goal.
As such, the Scrum master must fully understand the purpose and importance of the Scrum ceremonies, including sprint planning, daily standup, sprint review and sprint retrospective. To coach the team members and help them collaborate, the Scrum master must understand the roles and responsibilities of the product owners and development team.
The foundation-level certification offers high-level training on Scrum focused on principles and theory. As you might expect, this certification is the easiest to pass and least costly to obtain. Anyone interested in Scrum will benefit from this course.
Advanced certification delves more deeply into the role of the Scrum master. You will learn more about the roles and responsibilities in Scrum and how to execute them as well as the services that the Scrum master offers to the team and organization. Advanced Scrum master certifications are designed for not just Scrum masters but also managers, team leads and other stakeholders. Other Scrum certifications are geared to specific Scrum roles, including product owner, developer and general Agile leadership.
The pros and cons of obtaining a Scrum master certification
Scrum master certification at all levels provides a relatively quick way to learn Scrum concepts. With this knowledge, you should be more effective in your particular Scrum role and a more valuable participant in the team's broader Scrum process.
Passing the exam provides a credential, which can be helpful during a job search or when seeking a promotion. Certification shows dedication to Scrum; some certifications also offer membership in Scrum organizations.
Still, consider the drawbacks. Obtaining a Scrum certification, especially a more advanced one, can be time consuming and expensive. If you have several years of Scrum experience in one or more of the roles, you might not learn a lot, particularly if you are studying for a foundational-level exam. Also, if the organization you work in or are interested in working in uses another Agile approach, a Scrum certification, particularly one at an advanced level, might not have a lot of value to you.
Is a Scrum master certification right for you?
In addition to weighing the pros and cons, consider where you are in your career and what direction you want to go.
If you are in the early stages of your career and/or new to Agile and Scrum, a foundational Scrum master certification could be worthwhile. It would quickly get you familiar with Scrum with a relatively low investment of time and money.
If you are further along in your career, have Scrum experience and are focused in one role, such as developer or product owner, it might make sense to invest in a certification specific to your role.
If your organization's approach to Agile development isn't focused on Scrum, a Scrum certification may not be of much value to you unless you plan to change employers.
Ultimately, certification provides you with a strong foundation in Scrum as well as recognition from your colleagues and from the greater Agile community. Before you decide to pursue certification, assess the specifics of the course agenda, the time involved and the cost. Then consider how certification would enhance your current role or career aspirations.
Gerie Owen is a lead quality engineer at ZS. She is a conference presenter, author on technology and testing topics, and a certified Scrum master.