Agile continues to set the benchmark for software development methodologies, with Scrum leading as the most favored Agile framework. Given this prevalence, IT professionals and project leaders should consider obtaining Scrum Master certification to stay ahead of industry trends and meet future demands. Investing in a certification is a strategic choice that promises substantial long-term benefits. However, prospective candidates face a choice between two prominent Scrum credentials: Professional Scrum Master™ (PSM) and Certified ScrumMaster® (CSM).

This article will delve into these two certifications, defining each and exploring their differences. We will examine the advantages of each, outline their certification processes, and assess the complexity of their exams, helping you decide which certification best suits your professional goals.

What Is CSM?

A Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) is a facilitator who ensures that a Scrum team works according to the principles and practices of Scrum. The CSM helps everyone understand Scrum theory, practices, rules, and values. The CSM does not manage the team but helps it to self-organize and make changes quickly, according to agile principles.

Eligibility Requirements for CSM Certification

To become a Certified ScrumMaster, the following steps are typically required:

  • Attend a CSM Course: You must attend a two-day (16-hour) CSM course taught by a Certified Scrum Trainer (CST).
  • Pass the CSM Test: After completing the CSM course, you'll need to take and pass the CSM test, a multiple-choice exam.
  • Accept the License Agreement: After passing the exam, you must accept the License Agreement from the Scrum Alliance.
  • Complete Your Scrum Alliance Membership Profile: You must complete your membership profile to become a CSM officially.

Benefits of CSM Certification

The Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) certification offers several key benefits that can enhance both personal development and professional opportunities:

1. Improved Team Management and Collaboration

  • Facilitates Teamwork: As a CSM, you learn to facilitate, not command, which helps build an environment of mutual respect and rapid progress.
  • Promotes Agile Practices: You help your team adopt Scrum and Agile practices, ensuring more adaptive and flexible project management.

2. Enhanced Understanding of Scrum

  • Deep Knowledge of Framework: The certification provides a solid understanding of the Scrum framework, including roles, meetings, and artifacts.
  • Practical Skills: You gain practical knowledge and skills to manage large and complex projects in dynamic and changing environments.

3. Increased Career Opportunities

  • Broad Recognition: The CSM credential is recognized globally, making certified individuals attractive to Agile and Scrum employers.
  • Career Advancement: Being a CSM can lead to greater job prospects and roles with higher responsibility in organizations practicing Agile methodologies.

4. Professional Growth

  • Continuous Learning: Scrum Alliance requires Certified ScrumMasters to earn Scrum Education Units (SEUs) and renew their certification every two years, promoting continuous learning.
  • Networking Opportunities: Access to local and global user groups, online social networks, and additional resources through the Scrum Alliance community.

5. Higher Salary Potential

  • Competitive Salaries: CSM certification often leads to higher-paying job roles since many organizations view formal certification as an essential credential for a Scrum professional.

6. Better Project Outcomes

  • Efficiency in Processes: Knowledge gained through certification helps optimize the Scrum process, potentially leading to faster deliveries and higher-quality end products.
  • Problem Solving: Trained ScrumMasters can help teams navigate challenges by fostering a collaborative environment focused on finding solutions.

Job Prospects with CSM Certification

Having a CSM certification can enhance your job prospects in several roles:

  • Scrum Master: Directly facilitate project teams and manage how information is exchanged.
  • Agile Coach: Help teams implement and understand agile processes and methodologies.
  • Project Manager: Manage projects more effectively within the agile framework.
  • Product Owner: Although not the direct role of a ScrumMaster, understanding Scrum can help in roles that require close interaction with development teams, such as Product Owners.
Learn from a course that has been designed to help you ace your Certified Scrum Master exam in the first attempt! Check out our CSM Course today!

What Is PSM? 

PSM, or Professional Scrum Master, is a certification offered by that validates proficiency in Scrum practices and principles. Unlike the Scrum Alliance's CSM (Certified ScrumMaster), PSM emphasizes a deep understanding of Scrum's framework, theory, and principles, typically requiring a more rigorous assessment.

Eligibility Requirements for PSM Certification

The path to obtaining a PSM certification is relatively straightforward:

  • Course Attendance: Unlike CSM, attending an official course is not a mandatory requirement for taking the PSM exams. However, it is highly recommended that you prepare effectively for the exam.
  • Pass the Exam: There are three levels of PSM certification - PSM I, PSM II, and PSM III. Each requires passing a rigorous multiple-choice exam:
    • PSM I: Focuses on foundational Scrum knowledge.
    • PSM II: Requires a deeper understanding of how to apply Scrum and Agile practices.
    • PSM III: An advanced level that tests a candidate's ability to understand, apply, and teach Scrum in various complex team and organizational situations.

Benefits of PSM Certification

The Professional Scrum Master (PSM) certification from offers a range of benefits for individuals looking to deepen their knowledge and application of Scrum. Here are some of the key advantages:

1. Recognition of Expertise

  • Global Acknowledgment: PSM certification is recognized worldwide as a benchmark of Scrum mastery. This recognition is especially important in industries that rely heavily on Agile methodologies.

2. Comprehensive Understanding of Scrum

  • Deep Knowledge: The PSM certification ensures that you have a thorough understanding of Scrum practices, principles, and values, going beyond the basics to include advanced concepts and their applications.

3. Improved Job Prospects

  • Career Opportunities: Holding a PSM certification can make you a desirable candidate for roles such as Scrum Master, Agile Coach, and Project Manager, particularly in organizations implementing or transitioning to Agile practices.

4. Enhanced Team Leadership and Management Skills

  • Effective Facilitation: Certified individuals can facilitate team meetings and remove impediments, leading to more efficient project management and delivery.
  • Better Problem Solving: With a strong grasp of Scrum, you can help teams navigate challenges and blockers more effectively.

5. No Renewal Required

  • Lifetime Certification: Unlike other certifications that require periodic renewal and ongoing fees, the PSM certification does not expire. Once you pass the exam, it is yours for life.

6. Professional Development

  • Continuous Learning: Preparing for and achieving the PSM certification encourages personal and professional growth and learning, helping you stay competitive and relevant in the job market.
  • Training and Resources: Access to comprehensive resources, community support, and continuous learning opportunities through

7. Higher Earning Potential

  • Competitive Salaries: Individuals with PSM certification often command higher salaries due to their proven expertise in Scrum, an invaluable asset in dynamic and fast-paced work environments.

8. Flexibility in Preparation

  • Self-Paced Learning: Unlike other certifications that may require attending specific courses, PSM allows for self-study, enabling you to learn at your own pace and schedule.

Career Trajectory With PSM Certification

  • Scrum Master: Facilitates the Scrum team, ensures proper execution of the Scrum framework, and removes impediments.
  • Agile Coach: Helps organizations adopt Agile methodologies, coaching multiple teams and facilitating organizational change.
  • Project/Program Manager: Manages broader and more complex projects with a strong foundation in Agile practices.
  • Consultant: Provides expert advice and guidance on project management and team dynamics using Scrum and Agile methodologies.
  • Trainer: Teaches Scrum practices to new and existing teams, often as a certified trainer affiliated with
Are you a professional who is aspiring to be a Professional Scrum Master? Then check out the PSM Certification course now.

Key Differences Between CSM vs PSM Certifications 

Below is a table highlighting the key differences between PSM and CSM. These differences help you decide which certification suits your professional goals and learning style.


PSM (Professional Scrum Master)

CSM (Certified ScrumMaster)

Issuing Organization

Scrum Alliance


Deep understanding of Scrum principles and practices

Understanding and application of Scrum framework

Course Requirement

No mandatory course, self-study allowed

Mandatory two-day course led by a Certified Trainer


Rigorous exams (PSM I, II, III) with higher difficulty levels

Relatively straightforward exam following the course

Exam Format

Multiple choice, true/false, essay (for higher levels)

Multiple choice

Renewal Requirement

None, certification is lifelong

Every two years, with continuing education units

Learning Path

Allows for a flexible, self-paced learning approach

Structured, in-person training is required

Global Recognition

Highly recognized, especially for in-depth Scrum knowledge

Widely recognized, known for practical application


Varies by exam level; generally cost-effective due to no required course

Includes course fee; overall, it is more expensive

The Learning Outcomes of CSM vs PSM


  • PSM is more rigorous in theoretical understanding and application, which is ideal for those looking to deeply understand Scrum and apply it in complex environments or at a larger scale. It is well-suited for those in roles that require a high level of Scrum expertise and the ability to lead organizational change.
  • CSM is highly practical, focusing on the day-to-day application of Scrum and the role of the Scrum Master in facilitating team processes. It benefits those who will work directly with Scrum teams regularly and need practical skills to manage and lead these teams effectively.

When comparing the Professional Scrum Master (PSM) and Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) certifications, it's important to consider the specific learning outcomes each program emphasizes. These outcomes shape how each certification prepares individuals to implement Scrum in real-world scenarios and contribute to their professional roles. Here’s a detailed breakdown:

PSM (Professional Scrum Master) -

  1. Deep Theoretical Understanding: Gain a robust understanding of Scrum’s underlying principles and values, going beyond the mechanics of Scrum to grasp why specific practices and roles are important.
  2. Scrum Framework Mastery: Learn the roles of the Scrum Master, Product Owner, and Development Team in depth, including responsibilities and interactions within a Scrum Team and with stakeholders.
  3. Advanced Problem-Solving Skills: Develop the ability to apply Scrum principles to complex, real-world problems, ensuring flexibility and responsiveness in project management and execution.
  4. Leadership and Coaching Skills: Focus on leading and coaching Scrum Teams and the broader organization, promoting and supporting Agile transformation at multiple levels.
  5. Scalability and Application: Understand how to scale Scrum beyond small teams to large, multi-team projects and how to apply Scrum in various types of organizations and industries.

CSM (Certified ScrumMaster) - Scrum Alliance

  1. Practical Application of Scrum: Learn the practical aspects of managing and facilitating Scrum ceremonies, creating and managing backlogs, and helping teams estimate and plan.
  2. Team Facilitation and Collaboration: Focus on team dynamics, motivation, and the role of the Scrum Master as a servant leader and facilitator, ensuring the team works effectively and cohesively.
  3. Impediment Removal: Develop skills to identify, address, and remove impediments to the Scrum Team’s progress, improving the overall efficiency and effectiveness of project execution.
  4. Stakeholder Communication: Learn how to manage stakeholder interactions and communication, ensuring clear and productive communication between the team and external stakeholders.
  5. Foundation for Agile Practices: Build a strong foundation in Agile practices, emphasizing how Scrum integrates into broader Agile methodologies and practices.

PSM vs. CSM: Explaining the Certification Process 


  • PSM: Offers a flexible path that is largely self-directed. Its rigorous set of exams tests theoretical and practical understanding of Scrum. It appeals to those who prefer self-study and are looking for a certification that requires a deep understanding of Scrum principles.
  • CSM: This mandatory course provides a structured learning environment, making it ideal for beginners or those who prefer structured guidance. The focus is on practical application, and ongoing engagement with Scrum practices is encouraged through renewal.

Both the Professional Scrum Master (PSM) and Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) certifications offer pathways to becoming recognized as a proficient Scrum Master. Understanding each certification process can help individuals choose the best fit for their professional development and career goals. Here’s how each certification process breaks down:

PSM (Professional Scrum Master) -

1. Study and Preparation

  • Self-Directed Learning: The PSM certification does not require a course. Candidates can study independently using various resources provided by or attend a course taught by Professional Scrum Trainers (PSTs), but it's optional.
  • Resources: provides a comprehensive study guide, a Scrum Guide, and practice assessments to help candidates prepare.

2. Examination

  • Levels of Certification: There are three levels of PSM certification - PSM I, PSM II, and PSM III, each increasing in depth and difficulty.
  • Exam Format: Exams are online and consist of multiple-choice and essay questions. The difficulty and format escalate with each level.
  • Scoring and Results: Candidates must score a certain percentage to pass (85% for PSM I, 85% for PSM II, and 85% for PSM III). Results are typically available immediately after the exam.

3. Certification

  • Lifetime Validity: Once achieved, PSM certifications do not expire and do not require renewal, making them a one-time investment.

CSM (Certified ScrumMaster) - Scrum Alliance

1. Mandatory Course

  • Course Requirement: To obtain the CSM certification, you must attend a two-day (16-hour) certified course taught by a Certified Scrum Trainer (CST).
  • Interactive Learning: The course includes lectures, group discussions, and hands-on exercises to familiarize candidates with Scrum practices, roles, ceremonies, and values.

2. Examination

  • Exam Access: Candidates gain access to the CSM exam after completing the course.
  • Exam Format: The exam is online and consists mostly of multiple-choice questions.
  • Passing Score: To pass, candidates must correctly answer at least 37 out of 50 questions (74%).

3. Certification Maintenance

  • Renewal: CSM certification holders must renew their certification every two years, which involves earning Scrum Education Units (SEUs) and paying a renewal fee.

CSM vs PSM: What Is the Difficulty Level of Each Exam? 

The difficulty levels of the Professional Scrum Master (PSM) exams from and the Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) exam from Scrum Alliance vary significantly, reflecting their distinct approaches to evaluating a candidate's understanding of Scrum practices and principles.

PSM Exams (

1. PSM I

  • Difficulty: Moderate to difficult.
  • Focus: Tests a candidate’s fundamental understanding of Scrum methodology, including roles, events, artifacts, and rules as described in the Scrum Guide.
  • Format: Multiple choice and True/False questions.
  • Passing Score: 85%.
  • Preparation: Extensive self-study of Scrum concepts, practices, and theory is required, even though a formal course is not mandatory.


  • Difficulty: More challenging than PSM I.
  • Focus: Evaluates a candidate’s ability to apply Scrum practices in complex, real-world situations. It tests understanding of the nuances and challenges in Scrum.
  • Format: Includes scenario-based questions and some essay-type answers.
  • Passing Score: 85%.
  • Preparation: In-depth understanding and practical experience with Scrum are necessary, often requiring more than just theoretical knowledge.


  • Difficulty: Very difficult.
  • Focus: Advanced level that tests a candidate's ability to teach Scrum and apply Scrum in various complex team and organizational situations.
  • Format: Mix of multiple-choice, essay, and case study responses.
  • Passing Score: 85%.
  • Preparation: Extensive experience with Scrum, deep theoretical knowledge, and the ability to handle complex Scrum concepts and scenarios are essential.

CSM Exam (Scrum Alliance)

1. CSM

  • Difficulty: Generally considered less challenging than any of the PSM exams.
  • Focus: Tests basic knowledge of Scrum methodology, focusing on the Scrum Master role and Scrum framework as taught in the mandatory CSM course.
  • Format: Multiple choice only.
  • Passing Score: 74% (37 correct answers out of 50 questions).
  • Preparation: The course usually requires sufficient preparation for most candidates, as it is designed to cover all necessary aspects of the exam.

Considerations for Choosing Between Certified Scrum Master and Professional Scrum Master

Choosing between the Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) certification from the Scrum Alliance and the Professional Scrum Master (PSM) certification from involves several considerations. Each certification has unique attributes that might make it more suitable depending on your career goals, learning preferences, and professional background. Here are some key factors to consider:

1. Learning Style and Course Requirement

  • CSM: Attendance at a two-day training course taught by a Certified Scrum Trainer (CST) is required. This is beneficial if you prefer structured learning or are new to Scrum. The course is designed to be interactive and includes discussions, group exercises, and real-world scenarios.
  • PSM: Does not require a formal course. While offers courses, they are optional. This certification might be preferable if you prefer self-study or have prior experience with Scrum that you feel confident can help you pass the exam.

2. Examination and Certification Process

  • CSM: The exam is generally considered less rigorous than the PSM exams and focuses on ensuring that candidates understand the basic principles and practices of Scrum. The passing score is 74%, and the exam is taken online after completing the mandatory course.
  • PSM: Offers three levels of certification, each increasingly difficult and detailed. PSM I focuses on foundational knowledge, PSM II on intermediate application skills, and PSM III on advanced knowledge and ability to teach Scrum. The exams are rigorous, and all passing scores are 85%.

3. Certification Maintenance

  • CSM: Requires renewal every two years, which includes obtaining Scrum Education Units (SEUs) and paying a renewal fee. This encourages continuous learning and engagement with the Scrum community.
  • PSM: Once obtained, the certifications are yours for life with no renewal required. This can be appealing if you prefer not to deal with ongoing maintenance fees and continuing education requirements.

4. Global Recognition and Acceptance

  • Both certifications are globally recognized and respected in the industry. However, the choice might depend on specific regional or industry preferences. For instance, some regions or companies might have a stronger preference for one certification over the other.

5. Career Goals

  • CSM: Ideal if you are beginning your journey in Agile environments and aim to start roles such as Scrum Master or Agile Coach. The CSM certification is also well-suited for professionals who need to effectively implement Scrum in their current roles.
  • PSM: Better suited for those who wish to deepen their existing Scrum knowledge and skills, potentially aiming for roles that require advanced Scrum mastery, such as organizational Agile transformation leaders or Scrum trainers.

6. Cost

  • CSM: Typically includes the cost of the mandatory training course, which can make it more expensive overall.
  • PSM: The exam fee alone is generally lower than the total cost of obtaining a CSM, especially if you opt out of the training courses offered by

Are You Interested in Becoming a Scrum Master?

Here’s a great opportunity for an individual interested in pursuing a career as a Scrum Master! Simplilearn offers comprehensive courses for the Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) and the Professional Scrum Master (PSM) certifications, catering to different learning needs and career goals.

Simplilearn's CSM Course

  • Objective: This course is designed to help participants understand Scrum methodologies and their implementation.
  • Features: It includes interactive sessions led by experienced instructors, hands-on exercises, and real-world case studies. This course fulfills the Scrum Alliance requirements to sit for the CSM certification exam.
  • Benefits: Participants will learn effective facilitation of Scrum ceremonies, handling of Scrum artifacts, and ways to address team dynamics. Upon completion, they'll be eligible to take the CSM exam, and after passing, they can register as a Certified ScrumMaster with the Scrum Alliance.

Simplilearn's PSM Course

  • Objective: This course aims to deepen the participants' understanding of the principles and process theory underpinning the Scrum framework and the role of the Scrum Master.
  • Features: It offers in-depth coverage of Scrum and Agile methodologies, including the roles, events, and artifacts of Scrum. While the course is not mandatory for taking the PSM exams, it provides a solid foundation and preparation for them.
  • Benefits: It prepares you for PSM certification exams, which are known for their rigor and are particularly useful for those who aim to demonstrate a distinguished level of Scrum mastery. The course provides all the knowledge needed to pass the PSM exams (I, II, and III).


1. What is the difference between PSM and CSM?

PSM (Professional Scrum Master) focuses on deep theoretical knowledge and practical application and does not require a mandatory course. CSM (Certified ScrumMaster) emphasizes practical application via a mandatory training course and is more interactive.

2. Which certification is better for beginners?

CSM is generally better for beginners due to its structured, guided learning approach and mandatory training that covers basic Scrum principles and practices.

3. Which certification holds more value in the job market?

Both are highly valued, but PSM is often considered more rigorous and may be preferred in markets or industries emphasizing deep Scrum knowledge.

4. How do employers perceive PSM and CSM?

Employers typically regard both certifications positively; CSM is well-regarded for its practical training approach, while PSM is respected for its depth and the rigorous understanding it requires of Scrum practices.

5. Is CSM harder than PMP?

No, the CSM exam is generally considered less difficult than the Project Management Professional (PMP) exam, which covers a broader range of topics and requires more extensive project management experience.

6. Is CSM certification worth it?

Yes, CSM certification is worth it for those looking to establish foundational knowledge in Scrum practices, enhance their resume, and improve their potential for career advancement in Agile environments.

7. Can I switch between PSM and CSM certifications?

Yes, you can pursue both certifications. Switching or obtaining both can enhance your understanding from different perspectives and broaden your appeal to various employers.

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