3 Lessons Learned From Passing My SAFe Scrum Master Exam

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I passed my scaled agile framework (SAFe) Scrum Master exam retake on May 31, 2021. Here are my 3 key takeaways from passing this exam.

Scaled Agile Is Drastically Different From Traditional Scrum

As a Certified Scrum Master (CSM), scaled agile has had me confused more than once. It is more than going from calling things iteration vs. scrum (ex. Scrum planning vs. iteration planning).

Scrum has one level: the team. Scaled agile has four levels: team, program, solutions and portfolio. Also there are SAFe core values, 7 core competencies, and 10 lean-agile principles. These are just the basics! Then we will get into iteration demo, system demo, program increment (PI) system demo, and solution demo. Whew! As you can see if you are going from scrum to scaled agile, this is a lot to process!


SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework) Is NOT An Entry-Level Scrum Certification

SAFe is NOT an entry-level certification. I am saying this because it technically says that there is no prerequisite to sit for the Scrum Master exam.


I recommend that you sit for the Scrum Alliance Certified Scrum Master exam first.


Because CSM deals with traditional scrum. It will give you the foundation plus the understanding of how the Product Owner, Scrum Master and development team (collectively called the Agile Team in SAFe) interacts with each other. Furthermore, working in scrum will prepare you for scaled agile framework.

SAFe Will Expand Your Job Opportunities But…

I get it. You read the Indeed, Monster, and LinkedIn scrum master job descriptions and you are constantly seeing SAFe. Yes, while it is true that being SAFe certified will open doors, most applicants already have CSM or Professional Scrum Master (PSM) tied to their titles.

Also see #2 where I’ve discussed SAFe not being an entry-level certification. Your potential employer is expecting you to have some scrum master work experience not just certification.

So play it safe by getting your CSM first and then your SAFe.

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