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Certified Scrum Professional...Now what?

Recently, I was accepted by the Scrum Alliance as a Certified Scrum Professional or CSP.  After achieving either Certified Scrum Master (CSM) or Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO), the Scrum Alliance directs their users to the CSP certification as the next step in your Scrum certifications.  At the time of this writing, there are 342,841 Certified Scrum Masters worldwide and there are only 3,940 CSPs.   That's a significant drop off which could warrant a posting all to itself to discuss the reasons why this is the case.

Obtaining the CSP certification isn't easy but the process is simple and fairly straight forward:

  • Users must already be a CSM, CSPO, or Certified Scrum Developer (CSD)
  • Users must has 36 months experience with Scrum over the past 5 years
  • Users must gather and submit 70 Scrum Educational Units (SEU) over the past 3 years
The Scrum Alliance makes the process easy as well in that they have an online application where you can fill out the needed information, record your SEUs, and attach them to your application.  For most, the 70 SEUs would be the hardest qualification in achieving this certification.  

As a brief side note, I'll share with you one of the best sources of obtaining these SEUs that I know of: free webinars.  If a Certified Scrum Trainer records a talk they give on Scrum and puts it online, that's a valid source of SEU hours.  Some good sources for this are:

  • Mountain Goat Software - This is Mike Cohn's company and he gives all the talks here.  Mike is a great Scrum leader and you'll see in the videos that he really knows his stuff.  There are a total of 7 SEUs you can get from this location alone!
  • Scrum Alliance Webinars and Replays - Assuming you have your CSM, CSPO, or CSD already and have created your account on the Scrum Alliance's new community portal, you will have access to both live and replays of webinars sponsored by the Scrum Alliance.  You'll have to look at the speaker and research their credentials but as long as they are Certified Scrum Trainers, you can use these to earn SEUs as well.
  • Front Row Agile - While mostly a paid content site, the content is very good.  Again, Mike Cohn hosts several topics here that are not only SEU worthy but they are very good content as well.  I personally took the Scrum Repair Guide course which earned 4 SEUs and found it to be very helpful in my own coaching.  
The point of this post though is to address the big question of what comes next after you achieve your CSP?  Since the Scrum Alliance is so clear on the next steps after CSM/CSPO, why is it so unclear as to the next step after the CSP?

The Scrum Alliance lists 3 additional certifications as possibilities following your CSP: Certified Scrum Trainer (CST), Certified Enterprise Coach (CEC), and Certified Team Coach (CTC).  However, these are not in any sequence but stand on their own.  If you take a look at the diagram on this page, you'll see that the 3 entry level certifications feed into the CSP and the 3 higher ones come out of it.  I take from this that the Scrum Alliance would want you to choose the higher level certification based on your career path and what would be the most useful.

So what are the differences?  It can be tricky to navigate as there are slight differences between these three based mostly on the audience you intend to serve.  

CST is likely the hardest to achieve and comes with the most rewards.  It is also the most costly.  The process to becoming a CST can take anywhere from 1 1/2 to 3 years of preparation.  This includes currently 10 multi-day co-training sessions with a CST.  There are currently only 192 CSTs worldwide so this will prove increasingly difficult as the number wanting the certification increases.  The annual cost of the certification is also steep at $5,000.  However, this certification does allow you to host training events.  With the average cost per head for training events hitting near $1,000, it can prove to be a lucrative investment.  In my opinion, anyone considering this course needs to take a good, hard look at themselves to find out if this is truly something they feel called to do.  

CECs have a focus on enterprise transformations.  This certification shows that an individual is not only aware of how scrum works in teams but how to take a company from waterfall to agile and avoid the common pitfalls.  The certification cost goes down as well to $750 annually.  One important note on this certification is that even though you can't host training events, you CAN recommend individuals to become CSM and CSPOs provided they have had 25 hours of coaching.  The Scrum Alliance website does not list a limit to the number you can recommend so if you know of one, please comment.  This could be a huge benefit to a company in that an individual can obtain this certification easier than they can the CST but can still recommend individuals for certification without having to pay the large fee for the 2 day training corses.

CTCs are the newest certification and have a focus on scum at the team level.  The annual fee is $500 making it the cheapest of the 3.  There are  no privileges for recommending other CSMs or CSPOs.  unlike a CEC and there are no courses that you can lead unlike a CST.  The benefit here is the credential assuring prospective hiring companies that you have the needed qualifications.  While this is a new certification though, it's not as widely sought after by hiring companies, at least not yet. 

Which is right for you?  Only you can answer that.  The simple answer to the title question here is that you can move up to any of the higher certifications.  Where you go next is up to you! 

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