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


We’re all kinda saying some version of the same thing here I think. Certs aren’t all the way bad, nor all the way good. The question is, if the classes are awesome for 10 out of 100 people who attend, are they worth it? And employ some of our friends in the process?

I might have stayed up too late last night. :slight_smile:


If you are not a subscriber, the new Agile for Humans podcast is an episode on this topic. Ryan Ripley discusses a similar abstraction of these numbers scoped specifically into the 2016 certifications as well as a bunch of other related areas. Worth a listen in my opinion.


I’m going to agree with the general trend of all the comments and summarize bec I can’t help myself:

  • The certification matters to those looking for Scrum Masters.
  • Good experience without the cert is absolutely valid, usually MORE effective than those newly certified
  • Going for training and getting certified is an indicator for interest in the craft, BUT only if you keep up the certification :slight_smile:
  • Training/certification is the best way to break into this arena (which goes with the first point)

For those who want to engage Scrum masters, therefore, the key will be to identify those who believe in the methodology AND know how to work in it. Certification does not guarantee either of those, imo. But helps with the second part,


I hope to be concise. I suppose there are conflating issues at hand, both related to interpreting scalar data and infering significance of implied trends.
Based on history of SA existense to a decade or so ago, it is alarming that there are disproportinately large number rof CSM’s compared to CSP and CST/CEC. False inference to draw is that SA is failing at promoting or making CSP relevant or that it is beaurocratic overhead for qualified people to apply for CSP or CST/CEC. The right question to ask is whether it is attracting the right people to levels that imply deeper understanding and application of skills advertised or professed by certification holders. For Agile to be really taking hold in last decade I would expect a trend as shown in chart above. This is symbolic of “gold rush” period. There are many prospectors, some know their trade , many hope get lucky and people who sell picks and shovels get rich. Real test for effectiveness of any organizational strtegy, accidental or deliberate, is survivability. So for thise who jump to conclusions your predictions are as reliable as any others. Esecially when


Great insight @Dhaval_Panchal! Thanks for posting that!


Agreed, thanks @Dhaval_Panchal for participating in the conversation. We could use more of your thoughts around here!


@Dhaval_Panchal you nailed it !


I’m a little late to the convo, but what it says to me is… “What can WE do … what can I do… to encourage new CSMs to take the next step?” It’s not only up to the Scrum Alliance to market the certification. It’s up to us to mentor those on our same path, and to encourage them to grow. As certs are not the end-all and be-all, that effort may or may not end up completely reflected on this chart-- but imagine that it would/could make an impact.

Are we inviting others in, or scaring them away with an air of “You’re doing it wrong.” or “Your cert doesn’t mean anything.” I’m not implying an answer here— but a question worthy of pondering individually. Personally, I was very interested in my CSP several years ago, but a little intimidated. All it took was a little nudge from some thoughtful and caring friends (who were further down the road than me), and I took the plunge. I hope to do the same for others.


@ryan That show was pretty great!


It is a continuum / sliding scale of experience and thirst for knowledge - and the other thing that must be remembered is that there are those even beyond CSP and CTC - and there are those who are not yet CSM. Heck, there are still those who think Agile and Scrum is about Dog-Training and Rugby. The thing that each of us can do to advance our craft is to get the newbies on-board by showing them new ideas and encouraging each other ( even the advanced) to move on to the next step. As the leader of a local Agile User Group, I encourage advanced people to give back and give talks ( or just attend and keep the Q&A and Dialogs at meetings insightful and entertaining). Those are great ways for “advanced” and certified people to keep the movement toward Agile in the workplace relevant to new people. Of course, I have my own reasons for promoting payback. I run a local Agile user group. - John Voris, Coordinator, AgilePhilly.com


In most professions, you do not necessarily “advance” the craft with certifications, you “regulate” it. The problem with most certifications in software is that they do neither. Fundamentally, they are certificates of training at the base level and then indications of individual levels of experience at the next level(s). In some cases, like Scrum’s certified trainer and coach levels, they add recognition by existing certified practitioners that they feel you quality to enter that level. This level is more like how other professions typically regulate themselves through some form of peer acceptance of one’s skills and experience. One example of “advancing” a craft would be having a Body of Knowledge which highlights the important areas of a profession’s skill/knowledge and which is periodically updated to recognize advances in the field’s actual practice. Another example would be peer-reviewed journals of empirical work which document such advances.


I listened this morning to the agile uprising podcast regarding certification and not so long ago had a discussion with a trainer regarding the CSM certification. I heard and understood the trainer that the CSM certification is just a piece of paper and I felt offended.
I think I felt offended because that’s one of two certifications I got to show I attended a course and I understood the material and now I have more stuff in my toolbox to assist teams into changing and improving their processes (way of working), to rather have the conversation face to face than sending a email / Whatsup and that we as an organization must use what is working for us and not just because the book said so or this person said so. I see myself as a DrPhilOprahGordenRamsey technician meaning I coach the team they must always be FROGS:

openesS when we approach everyday task with the above values/principals we are already on the correct path forward.

Before I loose completely track of the discussion both the Podcast and trainer had good points and I agreed with most of the topic contents however till the work environment have changed one will need a piece of paper to get yourself in the door to start the conversation with interviewer.

I don’t see myself as a Master and believed they should never have called the role Scrum Master perhaps Master Scrum master license to kill waterfall behaviors.


I have to start by saying I read the post 2-3 times because I thought you said the podcast offended you. I dont think that is the case after re-reading, but if we did please DM me. That is never the intent.

So, I look at certifications the way I look at driving school in America. Before you are licensed to drive, there are companies that offer basic driving instruction under the supervision of an instructor. There are many benefits to the student for taking the driving instruction:

  1. Learning
  2. Lowers the insurance cost once licensed
  3. Preparation for licensing test
  4. Improves confidence

There are a subset of drivers that have gone through driving school, because it is not required to drive in America. There are also folks that have taken driving school that fail the licensing test. If they do pass, there are folks that took driving school with a wide variety of actual driving skill, from amazing to horrendous. The same is true of those that have not taken the driving school.

My point: the instruction you get in anything is a tool that assists. It is up to the person to apply that tool and master it in application. If you have a good CSM/CSPO/PSM/… trainer that resonates with you and helps to shape the mindset, your certification process was of high value. The inverse is also true.


To clarify, the podcast didn’t offend me since I agreed to most of the podcast, like one of the speakers mentioned, I personally need to attend the class structured training for that interactive discussions to understand the content better and get that real life experience stories from other sources on how they make it work.


The driver license analogy is interesting. In California, no training is required, but there are two separate steps: the written test and the road test. After passing the written test, you are issued a “permit”, not a “license”. With a permit, you are only allowed to drive if there is another licensed driver in the car “close enough to take control of the vehicle if necessary”. Getting an actual “license” requires a road test where a driving expert watches you physically drive through a variety of scenarios.

That would almost match the CSM/CSP model, with CSM as merely a permit and CSP as more of a license, if CSMs were only allowed to practice scrum mastering with a CSP present and able to take control if necessary. :slight_smile:


imo the CSM is a very valuable class which can be the starting point for many people’s careers in agile. It also teaches the fundamentals according to the scrum guide and offers a chance to ask questions from the trainer and get an understanding about real life examples.

To me it’s a great cert, the problem is the way HR uses it. It’s not a cert that shows you are an expert and it seems that a lot of HR views it that way. I think that’s where the backlash comes from.