5 Lessons Learned From My 5th CSM Anniversary

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5 years ago today I passed my Certified Scrum Master certification exam. This was my first (but certainly not my last) online proctored exam. Here are my 5 lessons learned from my fifth Certified Scrum Master anniversary!


Be Open To Change

Originally I embarked on getting my CSM because recruiters oftentimes asked if my Project Management Professional (PMP) certification was my only certification? I started researching job descriptions that I liked for other certifications that were listed. CSM and ITIL 3 (at the time, now it is ITILv4 as of 2021). I decided to pursue my CSM since I was already in project management. You can read all about my passing my CSM exam on my blog or my video.

Be Ready To Self-Finance Your Certification

You must also be ready to come out of your pocket for some of these certifications. In my case, I had to use my credit card to finance my CC Pace scrum training that I saw on Eventbrite. If you want a certification that’s outside of my current job and/or industry, you probably would have to pay for it.

Another reason why I self-financed my CSM is because I wanted to control my career trajectory. Some companies have clauses that you must stay and work at the company for X amount of years. That was not going to be me.

Was it hard paying out of pocket? Yes but it was worth it. I would recommend it because you would have more skin in the game. When it is your money, you will take it more seriously.


Don’t Overlook The Small Things

The CSM was my first online proctored exam. In 2016, that was virtually unheard of because everyone went to the physical testing center. The Internet was still clunky and people had real questions about cybersecurity and surviving online hacks.

Fast forward 5 years and a worldwide pandemic later: All of my professional certifications exam are online proctored. Had I not had that CSM experience then I would not had the skillset to be able to pass these ITILv4, cloud and second scrum certification exams now.

The Importance of LinkedIn When Researching Certifications

Once I decided to take the CSM, I tapped my LinkedIn network. At the time, I had 4 CSM in mine. I emailed them about why they pursued their CSM, how hard it was, which training provider they went with and were they currently using their CSM on their jobs. Retrieving this information helped me better understand how to market myself once I got my CSM.

Pro Tip: Research LinkedIn whenever you’re interested in getting a new certification and/or pivoting your career. LinkedIn is the business social media and its search results showcase the viability of a certification and/or new industry.

I answered a question on my Projectized show Are There Too Many Project Management Certifications? This video addressed professional certifications and career management but it is useful to people outside of the project management industry. You can watch it here.

Stay On Top Of Your Certification and Industry Changes

The CSM landscape has changed a lot since 2016. Take the renewal process for example. In 2018, all I had to do was pay the $100 to renew for 2 more years. Now starting in 2020, I had to accrue 20 scrum education units (20 hours of scrum) every 2 years plus the $100 to maintain my CSM credential.

I have met those SEU requirements through the Scrum Alliance website and writing for my PM.Project project management newsletter. My newsletter discusses all things project management. Staying on top of your industry changes also keep you relevant.

That’s it for right now. I hope that my 5 lessons learned helps guide you through your CSM journey and/or whatever professional certification you pursue.


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