A journey to the Certified Scrum Professional®

February 1, 2021

The Scrum Alliance has become the global leader in Agile and Scrum related certified training. In addition to individual certifications, the Scrum Alliance provides a career learning path. The peak of the practical learning path is the Certified Scrum Professional (CSP). The path to CSP enables a progression of skill development and knowledge for an Agile practitioner, from the foundations of Scrum to advanced theory and practices. There are two separate paths, one for the Scrum Master and one for the Product Owner.  

The Path to CSP program is a combination of three educational courses and at least two years of practical experience. Each path consists of three learning levels: introductory, advanced and professional levels. Separating the program into levels, it is easy for trainees to see a progression of their learning and be rewarded at key milestones with certifications that highlight their accomplishments. From start to finish, the Professional (CSP) level could be obtained within two years.  

Let’s focus on the growth path of the Product Owner. The Product Owner’s purpose is to maximize the return on investment of a product for the organization. This is an enormous responsibility both to the team and to the business. Let’s explore the journey further.  

Introductory training

The learning journey begins with the Certified Scrum Product Owner® (CSPO), the introductory certified training. In this course, you will be prepared to become an agile Product Owner, through learning the basics of Scrum from the perspective of a Product Owner.

It’s important to note that the first level of certification (CSPO) serves as a pre-requisite to the advanced level trainings, within the same track, defined by the Scrum Alliance.  

Advanced level trainings

After taking a valid introductory accreditation, it is possible to continue your learning journey to an advanced level. The Advanced Certified Scrum Product Owner (A-CSPO) builds upon the foundations of the CSPO learnings, by focusing on defining product visions, managing multiple business initiatives and validating business value. In order to achieve the A-CSPO, you will need: 

  • Hold a CSPO from the Scrum Alliance
  • Complete an A-CSPO education offering
  • Demonstrate at least 12 months experience as a Product Owner (within the past five years)

Because the advanced courses are so different for Scrum Masters or Product Owners, accreditations are only valid for a single track. This mean if that if you hold a CSM, you can only take the A-CSM and not the A-CSPO. In order to take the A-CSPO you would need a CSPO certificate.  

Professional level certifications

For Product Owners, the Certified Scrum Professional®- Product Owner (CSP®-PO) is the final and most advanced certification in a Product Owner’s learning path. This course is designed to further education in topics like advanced stakeholder management, funding, product launches and product discovery. The training will help you learn how to grow in the role of the Product Owner and implement greater purpose and strategy.

In order to achieve the CSP-PO, you will need:

  • Hold an A-CSPO from the Scrum Alliance
  • Complete a CSP-PO education offering
  • Demonstrate at least 24 months experience as a Product Owner (within the past five years)  

What does the CSP give you?

The CSP is a recognition of professional experience as a Product Owner or Scrum Master. What the PMP is to project managers, the CSP-PO is to Product Owners and the CSP-SM is to Scrum Masters. Many organizations understand this when recruiting for senior positions or growing roles internally.

Many who have invested in obtaining a Certified Scrum Professional® (CSP®) don’t stop their learnings there. Some participants decide to become what the Scrum Alliance calls Guide Level Certifications. The CSP is a pre-requisite for the three Guide Levels: Certified Team Coach ® (CTC ®), Certified Enterprise Coach (CEC) and Certified Scrum Trainer ® (CST ®). Those who choose that path are eligible to train classes from their domain of expertise.

Why Scrum Alliance courses?

The Scrum Alliance is the largest certification body when it comes to Scrum and Agile related trainings. With nearly two decades of experience and almost 1.5 million members, the Scrum Alliance represents the largest alumni community in the world. The Scrum Alliance remains at the cutting edge of agile delivery both within technology fields and in the growing number of non-technical fields, from marketing to education. In addition to targeted paths for career growth, the Scrum Alliance organizes global conferences and facilitates the community of experienced professionals you will be joining.

Choosing a training or coaching path

Advanced programs, from A-CSPO to CSP-PO, are available through both training or coaching and mentoring. If you need to get certified quickly, it would be through attending 2-day training classes from a registered Certified Scrum Trainer (CST). Training has definitely been the more popular way to get an advanced certificate due to the compressed time commitment.  

An alternative is a deeper dive through a coaching and mentoring program. This path is separated in to four half-day sessions, over a four-week span, and is designed for attendees to apply new ideas immediately in the workplace as they learn them. This can be perfect for those who can’t find the time to take two full days off work to get certified through the training track, or for those looking for a practical applied program, in which discussion revolves around the real-time challenges of product ownership.  

The program offers ongoing support through the four -week period to maximize the application of the concepts taught. Is it longer to get certified? Yes. But the questions that you get answered along the way and the experiences shared make for a deeper learning experience. Working with small cohorts over an extended period enables attendees to learn from their peers and build a network along the way.  

Still not sure what path is best for you?  Please reach out to our training team for additional questions. We offer bundled packages at discount rates, regardless of the stage of your journey.

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