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What is the benefit of Scrum Master certification to a Software Tester?

Recently, I passed the Professional Scrum Master I (PSM I) certification on Scrum.org. Reading the Scrum guide made me wonder: What is the benefit of doing the PSM I certification to a tester? Testers do not have a specified role in a Scrum team, they are just one of the guys/girls developing. But most functional testers like me do not have a lot of development skills. So, how can I be of value to the Scrum Team, apart from just being ‘The tester’?

What have I learned about it?
Starting from the beginning; what did I actually learn about Scrum? The main thing I learned is the shared responsibility between all the team members. Everybody is responsible delivering a releasable increment at the end of the sprint. To make sure this is going to happen, the development team is in the lead in about anything affecting the sprint scope. The Scrum Master and Product owner’s sole role is to help the development team create as much value as possible, by making sure nobody interrupts the team and the requirements are crystal clear.
What did I learn about my role as a tester? I learned that I need to stop thinking in distinct roles. Software Developers, Testers, Designers; we are all in this together. Together we make sure we create a releasable increment. We are all Developers, developing the increment. What Scrum does is breaking down the walls, sometimes existing between the different groups and making them work together as one team, with one goal. Developers can have a specialism, but that does not mean they should only focus on that sole specialism.
So, as a Developer with testing as my specialism, what should I do within the Scrum Team? Testing of course, but besides that, I think my value also lies in communicating with the Product Owner, helping him to refine the requirements. And together with the designers, I can make sure their designs fit the requirements (although it is perfectly valid to call that testing 😉 ).

Is it beneficial to testers to get the PSM I certification?
It is definitely beneficial to get this certification. It is especially beneficial to testers who work in a Scrum team, an agile team or an organization which wants to shift its development process to Scrum. Getting the certification helps you to really get what Scrum is and how it works. Seeing it in action in an organization helps you to see where the major difficulties lie. Based on that, as a tester, you can start to add value to the process and help the team progressing in becoming a more effective team, working towards one goal: building a releasable increment.

What level of tester should take it?
For a tester, it would be beneficial to first have some experience in working in a Scrum team. A substantial amount of the questions in the exam deal with real-life situations. You will recognize the situation more easily if you have worked within a Scrum team. I would recommend to get this certification after +/- 1 year of experience as it will show to potential customers that you have mastered the basics of Scrum and that you will be able to work within a Scrum team.

If it would be up to me, I would say every modern tester should get the PSM I certification. More and more companies are making the switch towards working agile and/or Scrum. To stay relevant as a tester, the PSM I certificate is a must-have.


  • Thinking in roles is still necessary for process purposes, though. That often gets lost in modern Scrum.

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