Every now and then, we receive an enquiry from an individual or organisation who is about to take the next step in their Scrum journey, but is unsure whether to go down the Scrum Alliance or route.

Often the basis of the conversation revolves around selecting either the Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) or Professional ScrumMaster (PSM I) course, and/or the Product Owner equivalents CSPO or PSPO.

Therefore, to help make an informed decision, we’ve summarised the similarities and (more importantly) the difference between the two options below.

A brief background

Despite founding the Scrum Alliance together in 2001, the two co-creators of Scrum Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber eventually followed separate paths. This led to Ken Schwaber establishing in 2009, while Jeff Sutherland continue to develop the Scrum Alliance.

While both organisations have developed a similar training offer, the main differences lie with the respective course materials, content, training delivery and the examination/certification process. The requirements and journey to becoming a Certified Trainer also vary quite considerably.

Side-by-side comparison

We’ve included a side-by-side comparison of the two organisations below.

  Scrum Alliance
Leadership The Scrum Alliance is largely a committee-driven, and managed, organisation. has a much heavier steer and leadership directly from Ken Schwaber.
No. of Certified

No. of Certified Scrum Trainers (CST’s):

  • Based in the UK: 22
  • Globally: 262

No. of Professional Scrum Trainers (PST’s):

  • Based in the UK: 27
  • Globally: 283
Certified Trainer

The process to become a Certified Scrum Trainer (CST) focuses on possessing significant real-world experience of Scrum training and implementation.

Before candidates can apply for CST status, they must:

  • Demonstrate a deep knowledge and understanding of Scrum concepts, practices, and principles
  • Hold an active Certified Scrum Professional designation (CSP-SM / CSP-PO).
  • Have extensive hands-on experience implementing Scrum inside organisations as a ScrumMaster, Product Owner, or team member.
  • Have taught Scrum in a co-training partnership with an existing CST or independently in a non-certified context meeting the following requirements:
    • Taught a minimum of 100 students
    • Hosted a minimum of 10 multi-day ScrumMaster training sessions

Once the above has been met, candidates can apply.

  • The application will be considered by the Trainer Approval Community (TAC)
  • If successful, candidates are invited to a formal face-to-face interview with the Interview and Certification Panel

The process to become a Professional Scrum Trainer (PST) is predominantly theory and assessment based:

  • Have 4+ years’ experience as a Scrum Master
  • Pass the Professional ScrumMaster (PSM I) assessment with 95%
  • Complete and submit an application
  • Pass the Professional ScrumMaster – Level II (PSM II) assessment with 95%
  • If the application is successful, then attend the 3-day Train the Trainer (TTT) course (which includes a 2-Day PSM class)
  • Pass the Professional ScrumMaster – Level III (PSM III) assessment with 95%
  • Final interview; 1 hour online interview with staff
  • Final Review: 1 hour online peer-review by a panel of existing PSTs

With the exception of attending the 3-day Train the Trainer (TTT) course – there are no explicit prior training experience requirements.

Courseware and
Training Materials

Trainers develop their own materials to support centrally specified learning objectives. These course materials are reviewed and approved as part of the CST approval process (above).

Trainers review, tweak and improve their materials on a regular basis.

Standard course materials are created centrally by and used by all trainers. These are maintained collaboratively when needed.

There are no trainer requirements to improve the centrally managed materials.

Example of Certification
(CSM / PSM1)

Delegates must attend the mandatory 2 days of face-to-face Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) training – delivered by a CST.

The online CSM exam is then completed post-course to achieve the certification.

Test has a pass mark of 74%.

Delegates have the option to take the PSM assessment without attending the 2-day training course. However, attending the training prior to taking the PSM assessment is highly recommended.

The PSM test / assessment can be taken alone for $150.

Test has a pass mark of 85%.

Renewal fees 

Fees per two-year term:

  • Foundation: CSM, CSPO, CSD – $100
  • Advanced: A-CSM, A-CSPO – $175
  • Professional: CSP-SM, CSP-PO – $250


No renewal fees.