Recently I learned something very insightful about the various scrum.org certification counts, which I wanted to share with the broader audience here in this blog. Below, I am using the Professional Scrum Master (PSM) as an example, I believe the findings apply to all certifications that offer more than one level, such as PSM I, II or III.
There is something incredible awesome going on in our community, but there is also a troubling trend on the horizon. Let’s start with the positives:
As of August 30th, we have almost 500,000 certified Professional Scrum Masters (PSM I) spread across the globe in our community. That is an incredible number if you let this sink in for moment. Over the years, a half-million professionals went the extra mile and they wanted to demonstrate their knowledge about the Scrum framework. That is just incredible and shows the growing interest in Scrum.
The real reasons why each of the professionals decided to take the exam is of course unknown, but showing evidence of new skills acquired is probably one big driver. With the widespread adoptions of Scrum in teams around the world, those fundamental Scrum skills are very important and created a fundamental vocabulary about Scrum around the world. I myself remember the very first time I met a stranger next to me at a restaurant bar in Boston who introduced himself as a Scrum Master. That’s when I knew Scrum is becoming mainstream.
Yesterday I had a similar a-ha moment, but unfortunately it showed the sad side of what I believe is going on in our community. It was a picture shared by Christina Pawlikowski on LinkedIn, in which I blacked out the domain name and phone number. We could argue that this is just like any form of marketing, but it does carry a message that Scrum is a commodity, easy to learn and do, and literally available at every street corner. Now this training is not a certification training and it does of course not necessarily mean that this course isn’t good. A little bit of research however revealed that this training will not give you the fundamentals explained and tested in the PSM I program more the Scrum Guide.
The real dilemma begins, when we look at a second data point. Only a little more than 21,000 professionals went the “extra-extra mile” to gain the Advanced Professional Scrum Master certification. The advanced certificate shows that Scrum Masters can apply the framework, the Scrum Values and have a deep understanding of the role of the Scrum Master. Isn’t that a requirement for companies to evaluate candidates against? We at team Incrementor do. Why do so many professionals stop their Scrum Master learning journey already after reaching step 1?
I would like to invite you to start using the certification levels to guide your personal learning journey toward becoming an advanced Scrum Master. Up to 6 times a year, I am offering a PSM II training. Currently only virtual, but hopefully soon again in person. I have one course scheduled in September, which is guaranteed to run, and one scheduled in October. If you feel like you have a thorough understanding of the fundamentals, the PSM I is not required to take the PSM II, but certainly helpful.
Let’s end with a piece of more good news about the PSM III, a.k.a. the Distinguished Scrum Master. Even though a little over 1,000 professionals went the “extra-extra-extra mile” the percentage gap between the PSM II and III is not widening which shows an encouraging trend in our Scrum Master community of taking the journey all the way. Keep also in mind that the PSM III has a very high bar to clear. To complete the PSM III goals: