What does this chart mean to you? (Certification break down)


I created this today using the freely available member directory data on the Scrum Alliance site. I was trying to have a visual element for some research, but I am curious what your reaction to this is? Or if it says anything to you.


Hm, interesting. My reactions:

  • first: wow, such a difference between the number of CSMs and CSPs
  • second: almost half a million certified Scrum Masters?
  • third: certifications don’t prove skills (I know of so many people who have CSM but know next to nothing or only know the mechanics—that is probably for another discussion)

Btw. out of curiosity, I looked up that there are also 93.412 CSPO holders :slight_smile:


I mean, it’s cool that I’m in the small crowd CSPs but that’s not really a point of pride for me. Personally, I disagree with the point that certs don’t prove skills because spending the money (even if it’s not yours) means you have a commitment to your craft (and yes I’m being idealistic).

The cert also means the trainer got at least one or two nugget in that the individual wouldn’t have gotten from just doing the job in the wild without the class.

Our cert system is broken and threatens the value of our industry the larger we get, but having a cert in and of itself brings value to individuals with some certain stipulations. Just like going to a conference doesn’t mean you actually learned anything, but I can assume attendance means some interaction with the community happened. Which by the way happens at cert classes.

Another thing to consider is the numbers probably double if you consider Scrum.org.


My first question … Why aren’t more of these scrum masters demonstrating a thirst for knowledge? Shouldn’t more be working toward their CSP? Do they think the first step in learning is the only step necessary?

Caveat: I growl at the certification mill and put little value in certs. It’s experience that counts.


I have the desire for knowledge. I have enough point to get the CSP twice. I am just to lazy to login in and do the paperwork… that’s sad


Funny. It was just that thought that compelled me to add the caveat, @Scrummando . IME, certs don’t matter, but because they matter to others and because perception can often be reality, I went through the trouble.


To me it says it is super easy to get the CSM and to get a SM job these days your pretty much need to have it. From there very few care to pursue the CSP or as some mentioned here just don’t want to pay the money and fill out all the paperwork to get it. I personally think it is too hard to get anything beyond the CSP that I have and will likely never pursue it.

Also I don’t feel getting a CSM proves you can be a good SM or are even qualified for a SM job. You take a two day class and pass a really easy test to get it. You can get “Certified” for under a 1000 bucks.

Long story short that chart kind of makes me upset and makes me feel like my feelings that the system is broken are validated.


My thoughts kind of waffle a bit depending on the crowd. If a bunch are pro-cert, I can make tons of arguments for not needing them. This seems to be headed in the other direction, which of course leads me to see all of the things the certs offer.

Maybe I just like arguing too much.

Perhaps we are crossing the streams of two different topics. One is the usefulness of a cert in your career and the other is the usefulness to actual work. Fine line to be sure, but nonetheless different.

Personally, I don’t need to attend a seminar on every technique in order to learn how to do it but that’s how I learn. Other people actually might not learn on their own that way and need the classes.


If I can allow the cynic in me to surface for a moment, the chart means that 97 people are doing very, very well for themselves :stuck_out_tongue:


The chart tells me my feedback to Scrum Alliance suggesting they botched the opportunity to create market relevance with the CSP, then further watered it down unnecessarily with an even greater niche (and expensive) cert, CTC, was spot on.


The great disparity is a measure of industry interest in certifications rather than individual interest. The industry is not asking for CSPs in job postings, etc., but they are asking for CSMs (even if the job is a glorified PM or Dev Mgt role).

Also, why has there been no effort to create any substantive training (certification or not) for teams rather than individuals? Again, the industry isn’t asking for this, assuming that the CSMs will come back and train everybody else. Where I have seen non-certification training, it usually seems to be taken by PMs and other managers (with the same expectation that they will go back and train everyone else).


I think these numbers are interesting for all sorts of reasons:

  • The CSM has probably been the single most effective means of spreading awareness about the Agile values and principles
  • A small percentage of people who get CSM are actually working in a ‘Scrum-like’ environment – therefore many people simply can’t get 36+ months experience in a Scrum team. (36+ months as TM, SM, or PO are required to be awarded CSP)
  • Like @tkejzlar indicated, I think the CSP numbers are higher than depicted by @ryan
  • And the bar to acquire CEC is extremely high

I’d like to see statistics about attrition: the percentage of people who don’t renew the CSM, CSP, CEC, CST each year.


I am just running a search against the SA member directory for all CSPs, do you know of a better data source than the member directory? I am happy to update if there is a better source of truth.


Sadly, I would argue the CSPO is a weaker cert than the CSM as there is not even a test - its legit just a training. So it would either be combined with CSM or left off as the only barrier to entry is paying the training fee and showing up. :pensive:


True. And I know of people who “took the CSPO because there is no test and therefore it is easier”. Which sums up this certification business pretty nicely I am afraid. For the issues (regardless of what business model they choose) it is business & for most of the participants it is the cool thing they can put into their resumes. On a brighter note—I have arranged both CSM and CSPO trainings for some groups I’ve been working with and it achieved one thing: at least some of the participants became actually interested in the subject and wanted to learn more and experiment; something I consider a huge success.


Hi @ryan, I do not know a better source of truth.

I suppose I was tempted by @tkejzlar and wanted to believe it. Like, “surely there are more than 5000 worldwide?!”


I think that’s the reaction of anyone that loves the advancement of the scrum mindset. But the sad reality is the significant majority check out after they check the CSM box :confused: Not that you. We’d a CSP or any cert for that case. But that steep a drop off should set off some alarm that continuous learning and proving applied learning to too steep an ask for second level validation.


I have quite a few certs and CSP is probably my favorite one. Then i’d say PSM II after that.


My fav cert is the SSL Cert on this site :stuck_out_tongue:


Da Dum Cha!!! Ryan Lockard everybody!!!