If you’re looking to gain an internationally recognized Scrum Master certificate, there are two main contenders worthy of your attention. The Certified ScrumMaster certificate from the Scrum Alliance and the Professional Scrum Master certificate from Scrum.org. Which should you go for? CSM vs PSM! Let’s look at the options.
Most Recognized Certificate CSM vs PSM
Both the entry-level Professional Scrum Master (PSM I) and Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) certificates are globally recognized by recruiting agencies and employers alike. Though the CSM has been available for 8 years longer than the PSM, there now seems to be nothing to choose between these two certificates in terms of recognition.
Result. CSM vs PSM – Which certificate is most recognized: Draw
Least Costly Certificate to Earn
In most circumstances, the PSM I will be the cheapest certificate to earn. That is because the assessment is not tied to class attendance. However, see the section below on certificate retention.
- Cost to acquire PSM certificate : $150 (cost of single assessment attempt)
- Cost to acquire CSM certificate : $800 (cost of course attendance which includes cost of assessment)
Note that the cost of gaining the CSM certificate is based on the average cost of a CSM class in the UK. It is possible to shop around and get a cheaper seat on a course.
Result: CSM vs PSM – Which certificate is cheapest to earn: PSM
Least Costly Certificate to Retain
The PSM is the cheapest certificate to retain because there are no renewal fees. Once you have earned the certificate, it’s your for life. There are no renewal requirements.
By comparison, the CSM must be renewed every two years at a price of $100. Certificate holders must also earn Scrum Education Units (SEUs) over the term to qualify for re-certification.
- Average cost of retaining PSM over 5 years : $0
- Average cost of retaining CSM over 5 years : $200
If cost is your only determining factor, then the PSM wins hands down. However, while the cost of CSM renewal is unpopular, the requirement for continued education, in the shape of Scrum Education Units is considered a positive step.
Result: CSM vs PSM – Which certificate is cheapest to retain: PSM
Easiest Certificate to Earn
The pass rate for the PSM I assessment is approximately 80% (according to a post on Trustpilot from Scrum.org staff.) The pass rate for the CSM assessment is considerably higher. The CSM then is the easiest certificate to earn.
It may be worth considering this when looking at the cost of acquisition. If you take multiple attempts at the PSM assessment, the cost closes in on the cost for class attendance. To make the decision even more difficult, both the CSM and PSM offer a free assessment re-sit should you fail the first attempt.
Result: CSM vs PSM – Which certificate is easiest to earn: CSM
Fastest Certificate to Earn
It is possible to buy a PSM I assessment right now and have earned a PSM in an hour. For a CSM, you’ll need to book a class, complete that, and then take the exam. So, in theory then, the PSM is the fastest to earn.
However, it’s very unlikely that someone will be able to pass the PSM I exam without preparation. This is true even if you take the PSM course because the course is not designed to help you pass the test (more on this in another article). Either way, the PSM exam is much harder than the CSM exam so preparation will take considerably longer.
By contrast, the CSM exam is much easier and the two day course is as much preparation as you need. Given the wide availability of CSM courses online, I think the CSM is the fastest to earn.
Result: CSM vs PSM – Which certificate is earned the fastest: CSM
Conclusion on CSM vs PSM
- If you want a recognized Scrum certificate, both PSM and CSM will serve you well.
- To gain and maintain a Scrum certificate for the lowest cost, PSM is your best choice
- If speed and ease of acquisition are your primary need, CSM is the option for you.
While these results may be all you need to decide on CSM vs PSM, I must point out that we’re comparing apples to oranges here . We’re comparing the PSM exam, without the associated class, against the CSM exam, with the associated class.
If your intention is to take a class, then there’s another set of comparisons that will be useful and that’s the subject of the next article on how the Scrum Alliance and Scrum.org classes compare.