One of the most frequent questions faced by professionals who want to pursue certification in project management is selecting the certification that is right for them. To this end somewhere along the line they are confronted on the crossroad with a choice of whether to choose PMP or Scrum Master. While both certifications have certain similarities there also exists a wide gulf of differences between both certifications, this combined with the fact that both improve the credibility of professionals and opening up of new opportunities makes answering the question even more challenging.
To answer this question, we must first be aware of the background context of both certifications to gain clarity on their end goal. PMP or the Project Management Professional certification is awarded by PMI or Project Management Institute as a recognition of an individual’s ability to manage projects according to international best-practices and deliver performance by directing the entire project, thus the individual here acts as the leader and planner with a wide scope of authority to make decisions. Scrum Master emerged from the agile implementation of software projects and trains one mostly as a facilitator of their scrum teams, it is awarded by the Scrum Alliance.
PMP is considered the world’s best certification in project management and makes the professional aware of various agile frameworks including Scrum but Scrum master certification is deeply linked with the Scrum framework and aims to implement the project only within the scope of Scrum framework. PMP training requires an individual to fulfill certain prerequisites to be eligible for the certification but no such criteria exist for Scrum Master certification while this does increase the pool of candidates applying for the exam but it also strengthens the credibility of PMP over Scrum Master as a professional with PMP certification has real world experience to match his knowledge.
The roles that both train for are also different, while PMP readies an individual for leadership and goal directed positions on the other hand Scrum Master develops an individual’s social skills where they can communicate effectively with their Scrum teams as facilitators that help them get over the challenges faced by them. Usually Scrum masters are people who have prior experience in project management and are more concerned with the team’s performance and the overall efficiency. PMP certified project manager on the other hand is concerned with the overall execution of the deliverables of the project while being cognizant of the stakeholders involved.
Project managers have a wider degree of freedom in customizing their approaches in order to achieve their desired project objectives while the Scrum Master are limited in their scope of operations by adhering to the Scrum framework and work with relatively smaller teams in order to maximize the value offering of the product. PMP professionals may work with several teams at a time in order to deliver the project outcomes as per the client’s requirements. Scrum Master works mainly as the coach and guide who helps the teams to achieve their peak performance in a highly adaptive environment.
The comparison is also done between the types of industry the professionals seek to work in as PMP trains an individual to work in project management in a wide array of industries be it manufacturing, venture capital or any other while Scrum master predominantly is used in projects requiring adaptive and agile execution in a highly volatile environment thus more suitable to software firms and startups. Training in PMP one can also specialize in agile implementation framework to be able to deliver in any industry while the choice of a Scrum Master is limited in the sense that not all industry projects are suitable to be implemented under the aegis of Scrum framework.
Coming back to our initial question of the choice between PMP and Scrum Master, we have to determine the desired outcomes an individual hopes to achieve from the certification. If they lack the necessary experience the eligibility criteria for PMP then their only choice at that point is to apply for Scrum Master as it doesn’t have any restrictions based on experience. On the other hand, if the individual already fulfills the conditions as laid down by PMI for the PMP certification they are better served to do this certification due the wide scope of roles that PMP prepares them for as well as the option to do the Scrum Master certification in the future if they are inclined to do so in the future.
In conclusion both PMP and Scrum Master are really valuable certifications that improve an individual’s capacity to improve the performance of their projects and deliver results, there are certain differences that exist between both, only after an individual knows the role, they are looking for along with the industry they are looking to work in and their educational & professional qualifications they can determine the correct course of choice. There exists a wider employment scope for an individual who has PMP certification as opposed only Scrum Master so for an individual it is better to choose PMP at the outset and then specialize in any agile framework such as Scrum as per their needs in the future.
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