Can you attend Certified ScrumMaster without Agile experience and will it help you get a job?

by Brendon Livingstone on 17/01/2018 10:00

Can you attend Certified ScrumMaster without Agile experience?

We regularly receive enquiries from people looking to attend our Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) courses, which are delivered by our Certified Scrum Trainer Rowan Bunning from Scrum WithStyle. Sometimes the questions are from people with little or no project, product or Agile experience. If you are in this situation, then in this post we will help you understanding whether Certified ScrumMaster training is right for you.

What is the Certified ScrumMaster course?

The founders of Scrum, Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber, define Scrum as:

"A framework within which people can address complex adaptive problems, while productively and creatively delivering products of the highest possible value."

Scrum is the most popular Agile method used.

Scrum teams consist of a Product Owner, the Development Team, and a Scrum Master, with the Scrum Master responsible for guiding the team as a 'servant-leader' to understanding and follow the Scrum approach, practices, rules and values.

CSM is a two-day course that provides an understanding of the Scrum approach and the Scrum Master role. Participants sit an online test following attendance on the course and must achieve 24 correct questions out of 35 to be awarded the certification.

See our Certified ScrumMaster course description for full details on the course that Equinox IT delivers in partnership with Rowan Bunning and Scrum WithStyle.

Who is the intended audience for Certified ScrumMaster courses?

While the primary audience for the Certified ScrumMaster course is those intending to fulfil the Scrum Master role on Scrum projects, the course is also suitable for all participants in Scrum projects including analysts, developers, testers, architects, project managers and business representatives. For all of these roles the course provides a solid understanding of the Scrum approach and the roles included in the approach.

Note that a different course is offered for those who are planning to fulfil the role of Product Owner on a Scrum project - Certified Scrum Product Owner.

Can I attend Certified ScrumMaster training if I have no project or product development experience?

In short 'yes' but you will unlikely get the full value from the training and as such we wouldn't necessarily recommend it.

Most of the people who attend the CSM course will have current project or product development experience that provides an important foundation of knowledge that they build on during the course. They understand project life and the challenges that most projects face, which allows them to recognise the differences and benefits of Scrum and the ScrumMaster role.

Our recommendation would be first gain experience on an IT or product development project and then attend a CSM course to build on that experience.

However, the Scrum Alliance who administer the certification do not have stringent pre-requisites for the certification, meaning those with little experience who are motivated can still attend. The course also includes pre-work to get everyone to a certain basic level of understanding of Scrum fundamentals before attending the course.

If you are in this situation and decide you would like to attended CSM training we would certainly recommend doing the course pre-work to the fullest and even spend additional time reading or researching other Agile, project and product development topics. Gain insight into the other areas of responsibility you might see on an IT or product development project – project management, analysis and requirements, architecture, design and development, and testing. You may also want to gain some insights into some of the common limitations from traditional approaches to software and product development, such as the waterfall approach.

Can I attend Certified ScrumMaster training if I have project or product experience but no Agile experience?

Yes, we have many people who attend the Certified ScrumMaster training who have come from traditional project or product development life as a project manager, analyst, developer, tester, architect, business representative or other role. We would encourage you to attend the CSM course to understand different ways of working that may be more suited to the problems that your organisation faces.

The course includes pre-work to get everyone to a certain basic level of understanding of Scrum fundamentals before attending the course, and this is all you need ahead of attending the course if you have previous project or product experience.

Will the Certified ScrumMaster credential help me get a job?

Prospective employers will look at CSM as one string to the bow.

Candidates who have experience of working on Agile projects, who have fulfilled important roles in software and product development, and who also have the Certified ScrumMaster credential will most likely be seen favourably by prospective employers.

Those with little relevant project or product development experience will need to grow their experience. The Certified ScrumMaster credential along with the growing experience may help them gain further work opportunities.

Note, that the ScrumMaster role itself is a leadership role on projects; it is about acting as a 'servant-leader' guiding the team to follow the Scrum approach; the team will expect this person to be somewhat experienced if they are to follow their lead. So even with the Certified ScrumMaster credential don't expect to slot straight into a Scrum Master role until you have gained suitable experience. Most people will start their project and product development careers in the Development Team, with skills such as software developer, software tester, or systems analyst.

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