How To Become a Certified Scrum Product Owner
There is no real academic way to become a Certified Scrum Product Owner as this role is quite new within IT organizations.
Nowadays, all Certified Scrum Product Owners have a different career path. In fact, the vast majority of them became Product Owners by career opportunity.
A Product Owner must be able to understand and analyze customers and business problems and translate that into product solutions.
To summarize, a Product Owner is a translator, and to become a Product Owner, you must either:
- Speak the technical language
- Speak the business language
Or better yet, speak both!
What is scrum?
In the context of a volatile, uncertain, complicated, and ambiguous environment (VUCA), scrum is an agile framework. It aims to develop a product iteratively in order to offer the best solution by adapting all the possible changes that can occur during the creation process.
Last Updated September 2023
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The scrum values
- Transparency. Important aspects of the process must be visible. Transparency implies that a common standard is defined.
- Inspection. Scrum users regularly review artifacts and progress against objectives to detect and correct undesirable deviations.
- Adaptation. During a control, if one or more aspects of a process exceed acceptable boundaries, the process or development in progress must be adjusted.
The components of scrum
- Scrum Team
- Product Owner
- Scrum Master
- Scrum Events are used to have regularity and minimize time spent in meetings. Those events are timeboxed.
- They represent work or value in a variety of ways so that they provide transparency and opportunities for inspection and adaptation.
If you want to know more about the scrum framework and how to complete a training course, you can read this article from my fellow Udemy Instructor, Umer Waqar, along with the Agile Manifesto, Agile Scrum, and the Scrum Guide.
Why should you become a Certified Scrum Product Owner?
The top-growing industries in the U.S., according to Indeed:
1. Information technology
3. Drink manufacturing
4. Personal services
5. Direct retail
The best high-paying jobs of the future, according to Business Insider:
1. Software developers and software quality assurance analysts and testers.
2. Registered nurses.
3. General and operations managers.
4. Financial managers.
Top courses in Scrum
What are the necessary skills to become a Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO)?
Beyond a minimum technical background and/or business expertise, the product owner is most of all defined by his or her soft skills.
It’s impossible to list all the necessary soft skills, but when an employer recruits a product owner, these are the three main qualities required:
The product owner is a profile with multiple competences that is in constant contact with various important stakeholders within the organization.
Your ability to communicate – to avoid and resolve conflicts and to convince and be understood – by your colleagues with completely different profiles/skills/personalities is a MUST.
The best way to develop your interpersonal and communication skills and project management skills is to read books about these topics.
2. An analytical mind
The other important soft skill to have is a solid analytical ability.
As a product owner, you will receive an enormous amount of information during your workday. You will have to be able to prioritize the Product Backlog Items. That is, you’ll have to analyze what is urgent and what can wait, what is important and what is non-essential, along with the dependencies between these items.
This spirit of analysis allows you to quickly evaluate the impact of new information on your schedule and your goals.
3. Decision-making capacity
It’s not enough to know how to analyze a situation. The role also involves making decisions quickly and often. After all, that’s what being agile is all about.
During a single sprint, you will have to make dozens of decisions; some of them will be brilliant, and some of them won’t. Anyway, the purpose of being agile is to minimize the risks and consequences of wrong choices.
Also, keep in mind that in some cases, you must be able to make decisions that go against certain opinions (customers, superiors, team members, marketing and sales departments, etc.).
And the very hardest thing to do in the product owner’s role is to say “no.” Sometimes, you will have to say “no” and frustrate people… Again, this is why your empathy and communication skills are so important.
As a product owner, you are the only person in the organization who has a complete vision of the product (business vision, technical challenges, customer needs…). Your role is to decide what is the best path to follow for the product’s strategy while handling all the requests and pressure that you will receive from the hierarchy and stakeholders.
Having a background in classic team management experience is an excellent foundation for becoming a product owner.
Why become certified as a Product Owner?
Product owner certification will attest that you have a solid knowledge of the scrum framework and the product owners’ accountancies.
After having conducted a survey among some of my students who passed their product owner certification, I have narrowed down on these four benefits:
1. It develops your scrum knowledge.
It takes about three weeks of hard studies to prepare for your product owner certification, during which you will read the Scrum Guide several times until you know it by heart. You will seek to learn and understand every principle of the agile culture, every rule/accountability/event/artifact of the scrum framework.
2. It demonstrates your knowledge.
The recognized Scrum Certifications are the best ways to prove your knowledge since they are comprehensive, precise, and hard to obtain (for example, the PSPO certification requires a score of 85% of correct answers at the exam).
When awarding your certification, the organization provides you with a diploma that has your name on it along with a badge, which you can add to your resume or Linkedin profile.
3. It can boost your career within a long-term developing industry.
IT is the future, and scrum/agile will continue to grow.
According to Study.com, “The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a 10% growth for computer and information systems managers during 2019-2029. This job growth is much faster than average for all occupations. In December 2020, PayScale.com reported an average annual salary of US$105,507 in the U.S. for Certified Product Owners.”
The product owner certification is proof of your scrum knowledge and makes you a better competitor on the job market. It offers opportunities to get a higher salary in comparison to the other scrum professionals who are not certified.
4. You can be proud of your skills and will gain confidence.
Earning your CSPO certification is an achievement you can be proud of as it is a long and hard path to take.
It is very common for fresh graduates to proudly post their PSPO/PSM/CSM/CSPO or other Scrum Certifications on LinkedIn and instantly get likes and comments, which draws the attention of recruiters.
These are six testimonials from Certified Professional Scrum Product Owners who have followed my Udemy courses:
– Product Owner Certification Mock Exams 2022 – 800 questions
– Scrum Master Certification Mock Exams 2022 – 800 questions
I passed my PSPO certification during the last week of January 2020, and I immediately posted it on LinkedIn. After having received about 50 likes and 10 comments, I have been approached by 5 different IT consulting companies that wanted to hire me.
I eventually accepted to join one of these five companies as a Product Owner (I have been invited for lunch at a restaurant for the first interview!), and I got a salary increase of +50% compared to my previous IT support job. That certification changed my life. My wife and I could welcome our second child with serenity. 🙂
In this journey, the PSPO and PSM certifications turned out to be the hook for IT recruiters when reviewing my job application. They attracted top IT employers, and I quickly got several job offers with higher salaries than my current one.
Obtaining the Scrum Certificate allowed me to change my career path. Until now, I was a tester, and thanks to the certification, I became a Product Owner. I would describe my Product Owner certification as a Passport for career development.
Studying for and succeeding at PSPO certification helped me improve our working method within our team. It inspired me to suggest numerous improvement points to implement during retrospectives, and the team took me more seriously. In other words, it helped me to gain more credibility!
How to pass your Product Owner certification on the first attempt
- Prepare for the certification. Product Owner certifications are accessible while being pretty tough, so my first advice is to plan at least three weeks for preparation.
- Read the Scrum Guide in English. Make sure you understand and remember all its subtleties. The devil is in the details! You must understand the differences between the role of a Product Owner and a classic Project Manager.
All the Scrum concepts of roles, events, and artifacts must be crystal clear. Print out the Scrum Guide, highlight the most important parts and add notes/drawings or anything that helps.
- Read all the Product Owner Learning Path. It’s an important add-on to the Scrum Guide that you need to be familiar with.
- And finally, practice taking the test. Do a lot of Product Owner certification mock tests in the conditions of the real exam.
On the day of the test…
- Do it on a day you feel great! 🙂
- Take the exam in a quiet place with a good internet connection and enough charge for your computer. No distractions, no interruptions! Turn off your phone notifications.
- Have an online translator open before you start the exam if you aren’t a native English speaker.
- Have a bottle of water and a snack with you.
- Pay very close attention to the wording. You must distinguish the words “may” / “must” / “can” / “should” as well as “and”/“or”… Keep in mind that every question is very precise, so don’t get misled.
- Be careful with multiple answer questions not to give only one answer.
- Be careful with questions containing “not.” It is common to miss the point when not paying enough attention.
- Have your printed Scrum Guide + notes. Some spare time will be necessary to sort out your questions and double-check your answers.
Interested in becoming a Certified Scrum Product Owner? Take the next steps in learning with Udemy Scrum Courses and start preparing to earn your CSPO!