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Software Development

Scrum Certifications (Part II)

Business People Discussing Strategy With A Financial Analyst

If you missed the first part, read it here.

By Level:

Each institution offers at least 3 levels for SM and PO, and each has a different set of prerequisites for taking them.

Scrum.Org offers a three-level path for SM and PO certifications, but they are not prerequisites. Some professionals recommend taking the three-level I certifications before going for level II.

  • Level I. Focuses on having a high level of Scrum knowledge and understanding of the Scrum Guide (and Professional Scrum Competencies for POs.)
  • Level II. Focuses on having advanced Scrum knowledge, in-depth Scrum experience, or having already taken the course training.
  • Level III. Focuses on a deep understanding of Scrum practices and values, and having the ability to apply Scrum in a variety of complex team and organizational situations.

Scrum Alliance offers a three-level path in all of their certifications, which you need to take in sequential order. This is the only institution that offers 3 levels for developers.

  • Certified. Entry level, no work experience required.
  • Advanced-Certified. Requires to validate at least 12 months of work experience specific to the role of the certification (within the past five years).
  • Certified Scrum Professional. You need to validate at least 24 months of work experience specific to the role of Scrum Master (from within the past five years).

ScrumStudy has only 2 required levels of certification but does suggest taking alternative certifications. One main difference with the other two is that it recommends taking the SDC before any of the other certifications. Normally, it is the other way around.

  • Scrum Developer Certified. Entry-level certification for members of the Scrum team and those who work or collaborate with any Scrum team. Recommended, not required.
  • SM/PO Certified. First level certification, no prerequisites.
  • Expert. Requires 3 years of experience managing Scrum/Agile Projects, SMC/SPOC certification, and a 500-word essay talking about two Scrum/Agile projects.

*SSMC/SSPOC are the scaled scrum certifications. According to the company, these certifications are not required but recommended before taking the Expert level.


By role:

Lastly, if you want your certification to be aligned with your current role, while maintaining the Agile mindset; you could choose to follow the path toward specialized certifications, offered by diverse institutions.

Business Analysts. IIBA, the global thought leader and voice of the business analysis community, offers a couple of certifications tailored to Agile BAs. These certifications focus on applying an agile mindset to the fundamental knowledge, competencies, and techniques of business analysis.

  • Agile Analysis Certification (IIBA®-AAC). Aimed for business analysis professionals with more than 2 years of experience executing analysis-related work in an agile context, wishing to apply an agile perspective within a business analysis framework. It is a competency-based certification formulated from the Agile Extension of the BABOK Guide.
  • Certificate in Product Ownership Analysis (IIBA-CPOA). Aimed for professionals wishing to obtain a foundational understanding of the standards of practice and techniques needed to successfully become or support a product owner in an agile environment. It is based on their Guide to Product Ownership Analysis, which integrates Business Analysis and Product Ownership concepts with an agile mindset.

Quality Assurance Analysts. ISTQB, the leading global certification scheme in the field of software testing, offers 2 levels of certification in Agile Testing. These certifications can be a good option to align your previous testing experience with agile values and principles to effectively contribute to an agile environment.

  • Foundation Level Agile Tester (CTFL-AT). Appropriate for anyone who wants a deeper understanding of software testing in the Agile world, and collaborates in a cross-functional Agile team being familiar with principles and basic practices of Agile software development.Prerequisite: Certified Tester Foundation Level certificate.


  • Certified Tester Advanced Level Agile Technical Tester (CTAL-ATT). Aimed for professionals wishing to support their agile team in continuous delivery and deployment by learning new testing, Agile, and test automation approaches and techniques.Prerequisites: Certified Tester Foundation Level certificate and Certified Tester Foundation Level Agile Tester certificates; sufficient practical experience.

Leadership and Operations. There are several certifications aimed to enhance and validate your leadership skills to properly sponsor, encourage, and support Agile practices within your organization.

  • PAL.(Scrum.Org) Aimed for leaders who want a fundamental level of understanding about how agility adds value to an organization, how to support agile teams to help them achieve higher performance and, consequently, achieve organizational agility.
  • CAL. (Scrum Alliance) Aimed for leaders wanting to attain a certain level of knowledge and understanding of the foundations of agile leadership, and how to foster the right environment for agile teams to thrive. You can choose the agile leadership model that fits your management style, and take one of the three foundational certification courses: CAL Essentials, CAL for Teams, and CAL for Organizations.


Remember that these are only suggestions, not endorsements. Each journey is unique and I encourage you to make a conscious choice, taking into account your specific needs, the job market and your employer’s vetted institutions and the certification’s reputation.


Ensure you consider if you have access to or are part of communities of interest in agile where you can constantly share experiences, and gain knowledge of agile frameworks implementation, since the level of exposure you have to this may significantly impact the deep learning and understanding of Agile and Scrum. Determine if you are more willing to go the full self-study route or if you prefer to be guided through workshops and courses that are part of the theoretical preparation, the options are endless and that is the great thing of all! No matter which path you choose to follow, you are already taking the first step, which is knowing your options. As Brian Herbert said, “The capacity to learn is a gift; the ability to learn is a skill; the willingness to learn is a choice”. So go and eat your cake!


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Carolina Cansino

PSM I Certified Business Analyst with more than 15 years of IT experience. Enthusiastic learner and passionate people developer committed to fostering Agility at all organizational levels. Jarocha-Regia, by heart, enjoys discovering by traveling, watching a movie, eating delicious food, playing with her awesome child, or listening to her friends' random stories.

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