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CSM or CSPO: Which Certification Is Right for You?

Nov 27, 20224 mins readAmit Masih
CSM or CSPO: Which Certification Is Right for You?

No matter what your current job is, you can earn either a Certified Scrum Master (CSM) or a Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO) certification. The Scrum Alliance issues both certifications. Usually, people begin with the CSM course as it provides an introduction to the basics of Scrum.

However, some individuals opt to take both courses, with 20-30% of CSM-certified individuals going on to complete the CSPO course, which concentrates on the role of the Product Owner and offers further specialized knowledge. Let's explore the CSM and CSPO certifications in more detail.

As Agile methodologies continue to gain popularity in the business world, more and more companies are adopting them. Scrum is one of the most widely used among the various Agile frameworks. Within a Scrum team, the Product Owner, Scrum Master, and Software Developer play vital roles. Due to this, there has been a significant increase in the demand for both CSM and CSPO certifications in recent years.

What is CSPO?

The role of the Product Owner in a Scrum process is typically filled by a Project Manager or Business Analyst who clearly understands the product and how it should function. Those who hold the Professional Scrum Product Owner (PSPO) certification possess knowledge and expertise in Scrum, the Product Owner role, and the ability to apply that knowledge in practical, real-world scenarios.

Obtaining the Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO) certification benefits those looking to learn how to lead product development within a Scrum team. The certification covers topics such as the product backlog and its various stages in software projects. The mandatory assessment for the CSPO certification is the Professional Scrum Product OwnerTM level I (PSPO I) exam.

Target audience

  • Scrum Masters
  • Product Owners
  • Product Managers
  • Project Managers
  • Business Analysts
  • Program Managers
  • CXOs

Benefits of earning the CSPO certification

The CSPO certification offers the following advantages:

  • Validation of your expertise as a Product Owner who can effectively manage stakeholders and drive value
  • Development of conflict resolution skills to manage stakeholder or team member escalations
  • Acquisition of prioritization skills to effectively prioritize items on the backlog
  • Understanding of Scrum values, principles, and processes to guide the development team and educate stakeholders on the value of Scrum
  • Eligibility for the A-CSPOSM and Certified Scrum Professional®-Product Owner (CSP®-PO) certifications
  • Demonstration a commitment to ongoing excellence and the ability to secure high-paying job roles.

What is CSM?

The Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) certification is ideal for professionals who are new to Scrum and want to understand the project management methodology. The certification program provides candidates with knowledge of the Scrum values, which focus on teamwork, accountability, and incremental progress toward a clearly defined objective. Individuals with CSM certification can serve as a Scrum Master or team member.

As Scrum Masters, they facilitate communication and act as servant leaders to support the self-organizing and self-managing team in achieving their objectives.

Target audience

  • Software Developers
  • Project Managers
  • QA Analysts
  • Business professionals

Benefits of earning the CSM certification

The benefits of obtaining a CSM certification include the following:

  • Gaining expertise in Scrum Master responsibilities
  • Being able to progress toward becoming an Agile coach and mentor
  • Developing organizational abilities to manage teams and streamline processes efficiently
  • Achieving a comprehensive understanding of Scrum to guide teams and promote its use within an organization effectively
  • Qualifying for the A-CSM® certification
  • Opening up new job opportunities and the potential for higher earning potential.

CSM or CSPO: which is better?

The CSM and CSPO certifications are well-known and widely accepted credentials that provide unique knowledge and skills to candidates and have their benefits. It depends on the individual's goals and aspirations whether they wish to become a Scrum Master by obtaining the CSM certification or a Product Owner by obtaining the CSPO certification.

Pursuing the CSM or CSPO certification largely depends on your current job role and professional aspirations. It is crucial to clearly understand the roles and the corresponding certifications and choose accordingly based on your career plan.

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