Deciding which certification will suit you best – CSM, PSM or SSM

If you intend to become a Scrum Master or have been functioning in this arena for some time, it would be good to explore various certification opportunities. In this article, an aspiring Scrum Master would get relevant details like course content, certification and provider assessment type. It is a definite advantage to be an experienced and certified Scrum Master as an incompetent person would do more harm than good.

Course focus/content

CSM- A Certified Scrum Master® ensures that Scrum is enacted and understood. This is done by making sure that the Scrum Team follows the rules and practices of Scrum theory.  The Scrum Master is a servant-leader for the team and coaches both stakeholders and Product Owner.

PSM- Professional Scrum Masters is the demonstration of understanding and knowledge of Scrum and the ability of applying it in practical situations. Certification is dependent on the demonstration of Scrum and the knowledge required for achieving it.

SSM- The SAFe® 4.5 Scrum Master training course lays emphasis upon fundamentals of Scrum at the team-level, explores Scrum and its’ scope for the enterprise as a whole, prepares participants to plan successfully and also execute Program Increment (PI).


CSM- The topics covered are The Case for Scrum, Agile Principles and the Agile Manifesto, The Scrum Process, Mastering Scrum Events, Artefacts, Scrum Roles and Responsibilities, Agile, and Scrum, Transitioning to ScrumLean, Agile Facilitation & Agile Coaching, Service to the Product Owner and the Organisation, Service to the Development Team.

PSM- Topics covered are Scrum theory and principles, Definition of Done, Scrum Framework, Running a Scrum project, Scrum in your organisation, Working with people and teams and the role played by the Scrum Master.

SSM- Participants would get to know about how to coach an Agile team, Scrum introduction in SAFe,role of a Scrum Master, going through the process of Program Increment planning, iteration execution and finishing Program Increment (PI).


CSM- To be a ScrumMaster® (CSM), attendees need to attend a two-day certified ScrumMaster course and complete an online Scrum Alliance CSM exam.

PSM- Participants who would be able to complete the Professional Scrum Master course would receive a password for attempting the PSM I assessment. Attendance is not mandatory for taking the PSM I exam.

SSM- Attending the course would prepare you for SAFe 4.5 Scrum Master examination. Upon successful completion, you shall be certified as SAFe Scrum Master (SSM).

 Assessment procedure

CSM- The assessment has 35 multiple-choice questions in which candidates need to get 24 or more correct answers to meet the requirements for certification. This assessment will not happen during the two-day course, but a link would be sent after the course. This would allow candidates to give the test as per their convenience.

PSM- There is an hour long, multiple choice, true/false, multiple answer exam. The assessment happens online, one needs to answer 80 questions and the passing score is 85%.

SSM- Candidates need to give an online multiple choice exam. If a candidate appears for the exam within 30 days of the course completion date then it is free of charge. The candidate requires to answer all 43 questions and achieve the passing score of 72%, which means that 31 questions need to be correctly answered.


CSM- Candidates need to read up and be prepared with the basics like the key Scrum terms, definitions which are described in the Scrum Guide. There is an online version and a downloadable pdf version of the Scrum Guide that one can read up before joining the course.

PSM- Candidates can read up the materials for PSM as described in the guidelines.

SSM- There is no reading list as such for this course. Some knowledge of Agile would help. All those who work in the Agile transformation can attend this course.

This article describes the main points of CSM, PSM and SSM which would help candidates select a suitable one. Though all three are equally beneficial, SSM has the unique benefit of allowing candidates discover the building high performing Agile teams and coaching them to deliver the highest business value at team level as well as at scale.

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