They are chalk and cheese.
The Certified Scrum Master (CSM) course is designed as an entry level certification that introduces delegates to Scrum and primarily, the role of the Scrum Master in Scrum.
The Scrum Alliance presume that you have no experience with Scrum and that you have never been a Scrum Master before so the curriculum is designed to take you from zero knowledge and skills to an entry-level skillset that would empower you to be a Scrum Master.
Because you have no experience with Scrum, a large part of the course is designed around simulations that empower you to witness how Scrum works in a group dynamic and how each of the various scrum roles integrate into a Scrum Team.
It is a balance of theory and practical but always from a teaching perspective.
For many people, the Certified Scrum Master course is their first encounter with Agile and the course focuses on demonstrating the difference between traditional waterfall style project management versus Agile and Scrum.
It is often an eye-opener for people as to how powerful Scrum can be in creating and building new products and services that truly delight customers.
Over the 2-day Certified Scrum Master course, delegates will receive enough knowledge, skills and tools to enable them to work as an apprentice Scrum Master within a Scrum environment.
The Advanced Certified Scrum Master course is aimed at Certified Scrum Masters with a year or more worth of experience in the field.
It presumes that you have knowledge of Scrum and that you have actively been working as a Scrum Master.
As such, the course is designed very differently.
It isn’t so much about teaching you Scrum as it is about empowering you to be a far more effective Scrum Master.
You also will learn coaching and facilitation in the ACSM course that helps you straddle the roles of Scrum Master and Agile coach.
The Advanced Certified Scrum Master course involves a lot of simulations that will empower you to practice the more advanced tools and techniques that you will learn on the course but if you don’t have the context of being a Scrum Master, very little will make sense to you.
Throughout the ACSM course, you are also having your skills and knowledge validated by the Certified Scrum Trainer.
Their role is to certify you as a skilled Scrum Master, and provide you with the advanced skills, knowledge, and insights necessary to move you from apprentice to journeyman.
The stage of your career where you actively experiment and build on the foundation knowledge to become a powerful Scrum Master that has significant impact on teams and organisations.
Your next step after the Advanced Certified Scrum Master course is the Certified Scrum Professional Scrum Master course and as such, the ACSM is preparing the way for you to practice what you have learned over the next year and then be ready for the Certified Scrum Professional Scrum Master course.
The ACSM course focuses on 5 specific areas:
- Service to the Scrum Team
- Service to the Product Owner
- Service beyond the team, with an emphasis on scaling and organisational change.
As you can see, these are advanced roles within a Scrum Team and presume that you have the base knowledge and skills necessary to contribute, learn and grow from the experience.
The Scrum Guide is only 14 pages long and as such, we don’t focus too much on Scrum knowledge because the assumption is that you know that element inside out already.
We do focus on the history of Agile and provide greater insights into how Agile came into existence and under which applications it has proven most successful.
Understanding the history of Agile and the context of Business Agility empowers you to speak with more credibility and have a deeper understanding of when and how Agile methodologies can best be applied within your organisation or circumstances.
Agile is a great answer but it isn’t the answer to every problem.
Knowing where and how Agile methodologies are best designed to solve problems and unleash people’s creativity and passion is an important part of becoming an Agile coach and professional Scrum Master.
The ACSM course will help you with those elements and empower you to make great decisions based on the knowledge and skills you have. It will also provide you with more tools and techniques necessary to take your career and Scrum Team to the next level.
So, in summary, the Certified Scrum Master and Advanced Certified Scrum Master courses are completely different in structure, format, and content.
You would need to have experience as a Scrum Master, actively working in Scrum environments, to fully participate and derive value from the experience.
If you like the idea of coaching and mentoring as part of your skills development progression, visit our Agile Coaching Academy course page.
We have also just launched an on-demand Introduction to Agile Coaching course that will provide you with the foundation knowledge to start your career progression into coaching.