Can You Get Certified in Scrum as an Academic?
The answer is “yes, kind of.” Two primary organizations offer credentialing in Scrum: Scrum co-creator Jeff Sutherland’s Scrum Alliance and Scrum co-creator Ken Schwaber’s Scrum.org. These organizations set the standards and oversee testing for those teaching and pursuing certifications as Scrum Masters, product owners, Scrum professionals, and Scrum trainers. Scrum coach has become a increasingly popular certification route as well, combining executive coaching and Scrum training for those interested in enterprise-level Scrum leadership. This certification is overseen by the Agile Coaching Institute. Scrum Alliance also oversees certifications for Scrum Team Coaches and Scrum Enterprise Coaches.
However, there is no special Agile or Scrum certification training for academics – but, maybe, in the future… Most of the more advanced certifications and anything connected to Scrum coaching really demands hours in the field in technical organizations, so these are not yet realistic options for faculty in general. Regardless, if you are a faculty member interested in earning certifications and becoming an Agile leader on your campus, you have a few different options to explore.
Take an Agile or Scrum certification class for professional development. Trainers and coaches all over the US, Canada, Europe, and Asia offer a variety of courses to familiarize attendees with the mindset and practices of Agile and Scrum, ranging from Scrum basics to Agile coaching, with the most useful for faculty most likely being Scrum Master and product owner training. Regardless of if you are interested, or really even eligible, for certification, these two-day training sessions are great for learning more in-depth about how Scrum works in organizations. Look for a training session near you. I have personally taken the Scrum Master, product owner, and Agile coach training courses as research for Agile Faculty.
Become a certified Scrum Master. I have been practicing Scrum for nine years, and to complement my extensive reading and research, I have taken two Scrum Master training courses, one online and one face-to-face, and recently passed the test to become a certified Scrum Master Level I with Scrum.org. Scrum Masters are really facilitators, team supporters, and process leaders in Agile organizations, so this certification is most closely aligned with faculty work. With Scrum.org, you do not have to take a training course to gain access to the test, as you would with Scrum Alliance. The Scrum.org test is reasonably priced and based almost solely in content found in the Scrum Guide, but to gain access to the Scrum Alliance test, you must take one of their training courses which are somewhat expensive.
What’s the Scrum Guide? Sutherland and Schwaber have collaborated on the official Scrum Guide since 2010. In the most recent 2017 revisions of the Guide, Sutherland and Schwaber added a section that explains that while Scrum originated in software development organizations, the Scrum framework can be and has been used in many other types of organizations for many different purposes and that although the Guide continues to use the words “develop” and “development,” these terms refer to any type of complex work, not just software. I hope we will continue to see more attention to non-technology organizations in the future. You can find a discussion of the four revisions of the Scrum Guide between 2010 and 2017 here.
Reach out to local Agile and Scrum experts in your area. Unless your campus is relatively rural, you will likely be able to find experts within an hour of your location. I have found that many of them, especially coaches and trainers, are enthusiastic about spreading Agile and Scrum into other fields and are happy to talk over coffee or lunch about how Scrum might apply in higher education. Also, most cities or regions will have local Agile and Scrum meet-up groups which offer the opportunity to network with professionals and attend talks given by local practitioners. Look for meetups an even local Agile conferences in your area online.