A perspective on Scrum certifications


In 2013 Van Haren Publishing has worked with Gunther Verheyen, director of the Professional Series at Scrum.org, on a book about Scrum for our Best Practices series. On November 4 it was published as “Scrum – A Pocket Guide” (A Smart Travel Companion).

I have learned, from Gunther and his book, that Scrum certifications not a methodology that can be exhaustively described. Scrum does not include detailed and specific answers on any given problem or situation. Scrum, by design, allows ambiguity in its openness as a low-prescriptive framework. I have learned that Scrum leaves the specifics to a solution unprescribed and open to be determined by the people. These specifics will also depend on context and time. Scrum helps uncover those specifics via inspection and adaptation.

It is therefore difficult to learn Scrum exclusively from books or theoretical study. The Scrum Guide is the acknowledged body of knowledge that defines Scrum. It is maintained by Scrum co-creators Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber and is only 17 pages long.

Yet, in his appraisal and foreword, Ken Schwaber confirms the qualities of Gunther’s Scrum Pocket Guide as ‘an outstanding accomplishment that simmers with intelligence’ and ‘an extraordinarily competent book.’

Both the Scrum Guide and our Scrum – A Pocket Guide will help people understand the basics, the mechanics and the principles of Scrum as well as the empirical process theory underpinning Scrum.

At a global level, the 2 major organisations that promote the use and adoption of the Scrum framework, as described in the Scrum Guide, and therefore our Scrum – A Pocket Guide, are:

Besides working with practitioners, communities and top-notch trainers, both organisations have globally recognised and respected certification programs in place for different aspects of Scrum.

Here is an overview of the possible certifications of both organisations. More detailed information can be found at:

The ScrumAlliance

The ScrumAlliance has 3 base certificates. All certifications include attending a class. Additional certification requirements depend on the area:

A perspective on Scrum certifications

The next level of ScrumAlliance certification is Certified Scrum Professional (CSP). 2 Ways, and specific requirements, have been foreseen to achieve CSP upon having the CSM, CSPO or CSD certificate:

scrum tabel 2

The ScrumAlliance advertises the 4 above certificates as ‘Practitioner’ certificates.

The next, final, level of certification provided by the ScrumAlliance is Certified Scrum Coach (CSC). It has following requirements that must be met to enter the procedure:

scrum tabel 3


When the above requirements are met, a Certification Review Committee recommends candidates to the Scrum Alliance Board. The board then has the final say to grant the certification or not. Upon approval a 750 $ yearly fee is to be paid.


Scrum.org has following programs in place:

  • Professional Scrum Foundations (PSF);
  • Professional Scrum Master (PSM);
  • Professional Scrum Product Owner (PSPO);
  • Professional Scrum Developer (PSD).

Every program has specific assessments. Assessments are online exams. Each program has a level I and a level II assessment, except PSD that currently only has level I. Each exam requires a passing score of 85% to be granted a certificate.

Scrum.org offers an open assessment, the Scrum Open. It is free of charge and has no certificate attached to it. It allows people to test their base understanding of Scrum.

Assessments can be done without attending a class, except PSPO for which currently class attendance is still required. All classes include vouchers for specific assessments, as indicated in below overview:

scrum tabel 4

By Ivo van Haren

Want to know more?

9789087537203_CoverLRTitle: Scrum – A Pocket Guide
Author: Gunther Verheyen
ISBN: 9789087537203
Price: € 15,95
Order here your copy or view the sample file


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