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CSM vs PSM: Difference Between CSM and PSM

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24th Sep, 2023
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CSM vs PSM: Difference Between CSM and PSM

Staying ahead of the curve is critical in the fast-paced world of Agile project management. Certified Scrum Master vs Professional Scrum Master are two credentials that have become a mark of Agile excellence. These certificates are sought by professionals looking to enhance their understanding of Agile processes and flourish in Scrum jobs. 

This blog will look at the fundamental distinctions between CSM and PSM, from the topics they cover to how to become certified. Whether you’re new to Agile or looking to improve your Scrum skills, grasping these distinctions can help you select the certification that best meets your needs. Dive into the specifics to learn CSM vs. PSM, which is better

Understanding CSM

The Certified Scrum Master (CSM) title may sound intimidating, but it’s your pass to mastering project management. Consider it the key to enhance your job prospects. Many people in the corporate world manage projects using a sophisticated framework called Scrum. It’s similar to having a team game plan, and the ScrumMaster is the referee who ensures everything goes according to plan. Obtaining the “Certified ScrumMaster” title shows a person has mastered the art of being an excellent team manager. They are adept at bringing order out of chaos and advancing tasks.  

To become a Certified Scrum Master, you need to attend a workshop, engage in a cordial discussion about what you’ve learned, receive a certificate, and join a group of people who support your path. CSM helps you find great jobs, makes you a teamwork hero, and offers your career significant leverage. 

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Understanding PSM

The title “Professional Scrum Master” (PSM) is the key that unlocks the door to effective teamwork and project completion. Consider it your road map to excelling as a team leader. Many businesses in the corporate world use a creative framework called Scrum to ensure their projects run smoothly. The facilitator who makes sure that everyone adheres to this system is the Scrum Master. When someone calls themselves a “Professional Scrum Master,” they refer to their expertise in the Scrum methodology and their thorough understanding of Agile project management.

The PSM certification enables you to offer agile greatness to any team or organisation, opens doors to excellent job prospects, and transforms you into a problem-solving professional. To put it briefly, PSM is your ticket to being a truly Agile superhero in project management. 

Difference Between PSM and CSM Certification

Professional Scrum Master (PSM) and Certified Scrum Master (CSM) credentials stand out as markers of experience when it concerns navigating the Agile world. Every certification offers a different way to learn the nuances of Agile approaches. Let’s examine the basic difference between Certified Scrum Master and Professional Scrum Master so you can make an informed decision. 

1. Certification Body:

  • CSM: Offered by the Scrum Alliance, CSM is well-established and widely recognised in the Agile community.
  • PSM: Maintained by Scrum.org, PSM emphasises global standards and a more disciplined approach to Agile practices.

2. Curriculum and Focus:

  • CSM: CSM focuses primarily on Scrum framework applications and practical knowledge.
  • PSM: PSM offers a more comprehensive curriculum, including a deeper dive into Scrum theory and principles, making it suitable for those seeking a broader agile skill set.

3. Assessment Approach:

  • CSM: Attending a CSM training course is mandatory, followed by a relatively straightforward online exam.
  • PSM: PSM offers multiple levels of certification, each with a rigorous assessment that tests your understanding of Agile principles.

4. Flexibility:

  • CSM: Ideal for beginners, CSM provides a solid grounding in Scrum practices.
  • PSM: PSM is versatile and adaptable to various Agile frameworks beyond Scrum, making it suitable for experienced Agile practitioners.

5. Community and Resources:

  • CSM: CSM certification connects you with the Scrum Alliance community, offering access to events, resources, and networking opportunities.
  • PSM: PSM offers a robust Scrum.org community and resources for ongoing learning and support.

Choosing between CSM or PSM, which is better, depends on your career goals and the depth of knowledge you seek. Both certifications open doors to exciting opportunities in the ever-evolving world of Agile project management. 

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PSM vs CSM Benefits

The table below demonstrates the benefits of PSM and CSM:

AspectPSM (Professional Scrum Master)CSM (Certified Scrum Master)
ScalabilityVersatile and adaptable to various frameworks beyond ScrumPrimarily focused on Scrum practices, ideal for beginners
Global RecognitionRecognised globally, maintained by Scrum.org, consistent standardsWidely accepted in the Agile community, associated with Scrum Alliance, extensive network
CurriculumComprehensive, covers Scrum theory, principles, and practical applicationsStrong foundation in Scrum practices, emphasises practical skills
Hands-On LearningEmphasises theoretical knowledge and deep understandingInvolves interactive workshops and group activities, a hands-on approach
Career FlexibilityOffers adaptability to different Agile approaches and frameworksA solid grounding in Scrum practices, great for starting an Agile journey
Community SupportConnected to a dedicated Scrum.org communityLinked to a Scrum Alliance network with access to resources and events

PSM vs CSM: Explaining the Certification Process

In Agile project management, choosing between Certified Scrum Master (CSM) and Professional Scrum Master (PSM) certifications often perplexes aspiring Agile professionals. One key factor to consider is the certification process itself. Let’s dive into the certification journeys of CSM and PSM to demystify the path to Agile mastery. 

Certified Scrum Master (CSM):

The Scrum Alliance oversees the CSM certification process. To become a CSM, you’ll typically follow these steps:

  • Training: Attend a two-day CSM workshop led by a certified Scrum trainer. This immersive experience provides practical knowledge and insights into Scrum.
  • Exam: After completing the training, you must pass a relatively straightforward online exam. The passing score is typically 24 correct answers out of 35 questions.
  • Membership: Pay a fee to join the Scrum Alliance and become a CSM member. This membership provides access to a vibrant community, resources, and events. 

Professional Scrum Master (PSM): 

PSM certification is maintained by Scrum.org and is known for its depth and rigour. Here’s how you can achieve PSM certification:

  • Self-Study: Prepare for the PSM assessment through self-study or use Scrum.org’s recommended resources, including the Scrum Guide and other readings.
  • Assessment: Take an online review, which can vary in difficulty based on the level of certification you’re pursuing (PSM I, PSM II, or PSM III). The passing score differs for each level.
  • Certification: Upon passing the assessment, you’ll earn your PSM certification directly from Scrum.org. There’s no mandatory training requirement.

Choosing between CSM and PSM often depends on your learning style, career goals, and prior experience. While CSM emphasises practical knowledge gained through workshops, PSM focuses on theoretical understanding and self-study. Both certifications hold value in the Agile world, so choosing the one that aligns best with your aspirations is essential.

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PSM vs CSM: Difficulty Level of Each Exam?

When it comes to embarking on a journey to become a certified Scrum Master, choosing between Certified Scrum Master (CSM) and Professional Scrum Master (PSM) certifications can be a daunting task. One of the key concerns that often arises is the difficulty level of each exam. Let’s unravel the intricacies to help you understand what to expect.

Certified Scrum Master (CSM):

CSM, offered by the Scrum Alliance, is often considered a more beginner-friendly certification. The exam is typically characterised by:

  • Training Emphasis: CSM begins with a two-day training workshop, ensuring participants grasp the fundamental concepts of Scrum. This practical experience readies candidates for the exam.
  • Straightforward Questions: The CSM exam consists of 35 multiple-choice questions, with a passing score usually set at 24 correct answers. Many find the questions to be reasonable, especially after the training.
  • Practical Focus: CSM emphasises practical Scrum skills, preparing you to apply Scrum principles effectively in real-world scenarios.

Professional Scrum Master (PSM): 

PSM, offered by Scrum.org, takes a different route with its exam:

  • Self-Study Approach: PSM encourages self-study and a deep understanding of Scrum. No mandatory training requirement allows you to prepare at your own pace.
  • Varied Difficulty: PSM exams vary in complexity depending on the level (PSM I, II, or III). Questions are designed to test your comprehensive knowledge of Scrum theory and principles, requiring a solid grasp.
  • Theoretical Depth: PSM is renowned for its theoretical depth, making it suitable for those who prefer a more academic approach to Agile and Scrum. It focuses on a deep understanding of Scrum and its underlying principles. 

Which Is More Expensive, PSM or CSM?

A Certified Scrum Master (CSM) certification typically includes a training fee ranging from INR 24,000 to INR 26,000 in India, depending on the training provider. 

On the other hand, the Professional Scrum Master (PSM) certification has no mandatory training requirement, allowing candidates to self-study for free. The cost associated with PSM certification is primarily the exam fee, which ranges from  INR 23500 to 26000, depending on the level (PSM I, II, or III) you aim to achieve.

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Ultimately, the choice between CSM and PSM should consider not just cost but also your learning preferences and career goals. 

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Wrapping Up 

The best option in the PSM vs. CSM debate will depend on your professional objectives, expertise level, and desired Scrum knowledge. CSM is an approachable starting point for newcomers, concentrating on the fundamentals of Scrum and teamwork. On the other side, PSM provides a better comprehension of the Scrum tenets and is regarded for its adaptability and exacting evaluation. Deciding between Scrum org vs. Scrum alliance is fantastic for individuals looking to become Scrum specialists.

Each certification has its specific advantages, and your choice is based on your goals in the Agile and Scrum fields. Whichever route you take, the journey of lifelong learning and professional development in the Scrum community awaits you.

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Pavan Vadapalli

Blog Author
Director of Engineering @ upGrad. Motivated to leverage technology to solve problems. Seasoned leader for startups and fast moving orgs. Working on solving problems of scale and long term technology strategy.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1 Is CSM harder than PSM?

When comparing CSM vs. PSM certification, it can be difficult to objectively compare how challenging each is. In contrast to PSM, which delves deeper into theory and concepts and may prove more difficult for some, CSM frequently emphasises practical Scrum expertise and may be seen as more approachable for novices.

2Is PSM certification valuable?

Yes, PSM certification holds significant value in the Agile community. It demonstrates a strong understanding of Scrum practices, making certified individuals desirable candidates for Scrum Master roles and other Agile-related positions.

3What is the salary of a PSM-certified Scrum Master in India?

When comparing PSM vs. CSM salary, it's essential to note that salaries can vary based on location, experience, and industry. Typically, both certifications can lead to competitive salaries in the Agile field. However, PSM-certified Scrum Masters in India typically earn competitive salaries, ranging from INR 6.5 lakhs to INR 26 lakhs per annum or more, depending on expertise and location.

4Is PSM higher than CSM?

PSM and CSM are different certifications, each with its own merits. PSM is known for its theoretical depth, adaptability, and global standards, while CSM is recognised for practical Scrum skills and strong community support. The choice between PSM vs. CSM depends on your career goals and learning preferences.

5Is it easy to pass PSM?

Passing the PSM assessment can vary in difficulty based on your familiarity with Scrum principles. It may be challenging for some due to its theoretical nature, but adequate preparation and understanding of Scrum can lead to success.