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Certified Scrum Product Owner Career Guide

How to Become a Certified Scrum Product Owner

There are plenty of good reasons to become a Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO): For starters, the job is exciting, in demand, and pays well. It’s a role well-suited for those who can handle the challenges of managing complex development cycles while maintaining clear communication among internal teams and stakeholders.

But first, you may be wondering, “What is Scrum?”

Scrum is a framework used to help teams work together to produce and deliver pieces of software. A Scrum team needs three specific roles: product owner, Scrum master, and the development team.

The demand for skilled product owners who can work effectively within this framework and ensure project outcomes for a scrum team is on the rise. In fact, LinkedIn’s 2020 Emerging Jobs Report listed product owners as the #15 job in the U.S. with a 24% annual growth rate.

If you’re interested in working within Scrum to ensure products provide maximum value to customers, read on to learn more about this up-and-coming career field.

IT professionals using scrum

What’s a Certified Scrum Product Owner?

A Scrum product owner is a leader of Agile teams who decides what the team will create next to deliver more value to their customers. For reference, Agile is a project management method that breaks a full project into development cycles and an Agile team is typically a small, high-performing group of five to 10 people with complementary skills.

The Scrum product owner manages the framework, principles, and values that make Scrum work, including the skills and tools needed for it to be effective. They’re also accountable for effective product backing management. To do all this, Scrum product owners must possess a deep understanding of their customers, the marketplace, competitors, and trends.

What Does a Certified Scrum Product Owner Do?

In general, product owners wear a lot of hats and are responsible for the success of a product in market. They may do anything from market research to customer relationship management.

Scrum product owners are the ones ensuring the product they create reaches its maximum value by representing the stakeholders in the project, communicating the project goals to the team, and making sure the project backlog is sufficiently organized. The product owner role also encompasses translating and communicating the product vision to development teams utilizing the Scrum framework.

Some of their day-to-day responsibilities are to:

  • Define the vision and communicate it to customers, business managers, and the development team.
  • Provide a product road map to the team, including all goals related to the vision.
  • Create the product backlog and prioritize items according to business objectives and overall strategy.
  • Be accountable for project dependencies that can affect the sequence of development.
  • Oversee the product development through all its stages, including the planning, refinement, and review for each event.
  • Work with stakeholders to set the steps required for the next iteration.
  • Meet with the team to refine the process, answer questions, and define areas for improvement.
  • Handle communication between stakeholders and development teams.
  • Understand client requirements to better manage the development process.
  • Evaluate the product progress through each iteration.

How Do I Become a Certified Scrum Product Owner?

Step One: Get a bachelor’s degree.

A bachelor’s degree in computer science, IT, or IT management is a first step to becoming a CSPO. These types of degrees will give you fundamental computer and IT skills that will be valuable as you prepare to help lead teams. You’ll learn computer terminology, applications, systems, and languages that are all important in preparing you for a role as a product owner.

Step Two: Get a master’s degree.

Because a CSPO is a more senior role, most jobs will require an advanced degree, like a master’s degree in IT management or a master’s of business administration in IT management. You’ll learn how to lead a team, make strategic decisions based on data, and gain the confidence to solve whatever project snags might come your way.

Step Three: Become certified.

The CSPO is an ideal Scrum certification for anyone looking to become familiar with Scrum foundations and the community. Given by the Scrum Alliance, the CSPO teaches product owner-hopefuls how to own an idea, execute it, and bring it to the relevant audience. The CSPO has continuing education credit requirements every three years and is renewable.

Step Four: Keep learning.

To be a Scrum product owner typically requires five years’ experience in the related area as an individual contributor. It’s ideal to use this time to gain additional knowledge and stay on top of your professional development through attending Scrum conferences, taking online courses, or completing additional training.

CSPO Degree Options

Computer Science – B.S.

Problem solvers and math lovers needed! Your task: ...

Problem solvers and math lovers needed! Your...

Problem solvers and math lovers needed! Your task:

Lay the groundwork for the computing breakthroughs that will enable tomorrow's technologies. 

  • Time: 70% of graduates in similar programs finish within 23 months.
  • Tuition and fees: $3,920 per 6-month term.
  • Transfer: Your previous college coursework and existing certifications may waive course requirements, helping you finish even faster.

You'll have the opportunity to earn these certifications:

  • CompTIA Project+
  • Axelos ITIL Foundation

Professionals who need the skills a computer science degree provides include computer systems analysts, computer programmers, artificial intelligence specialists, software engineers, machine learning engineers, and more.

Information Technology – B.S.

Award-winning coursework and value-add certifications make this...

Award-winning coursework and value-add...

Award-winning coursework and value-add certifications make this online program a top choice.

  • Time: 71% of graduates finish within 30 months.
  • Tuition and fees: $3,920 per 6-month term.
  • Certifications: Includes AWS, ITIL, LPI and CompTIA.

The LPI Linux Essentials and ITIL® Foundation Certification are central to this program. Included CompTIA certifications are A+, Network+, Security+, and Project+.

Information Technology Management – M.S.

A degree for experienced IT professionals ready to lead:...

A degree for experienced IT professionals ready...

A degree for experienced IT professionals ready to lead:

  • Time: 89% of graduates finish within 24 months.
  • Tuition and fees: $4,235 per 6-month term.

Included in your program—at no extra cost—is the opportunity to earn the valuable PMI Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) certification.

Maximize the opportunities that your IT career path has afforded you—earn your master's and keep moving up. 

MBA Information Technology Management

Earn the online college degree that can move your career into IT...

Earn the online college degree that can move your...

Earn the online college degree that can move your career into IT upper management:

  • Time: Graduates can finish in 12 months
  • Tuition and fees: $4,675 per 6-month term.

Sample careers and jobs this business degree will prepare you for:

  • Chief technology officer
  • Director of IT services
  • Senior systems administrator
  • Management information systems director
  • Computer and information systems manager

Learn to navigate emergencies, execute strategies, and optimize systems with the competencies within this specialty MBA.

Compare with M.S. IT Management

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What Skills Does a Certified Scrum Product Owner Need?

IT professionals using scrum

Excellent technical abilities are key for Scrum product owners. You’ll also need strong interpersonal skills to collaborate with team members and solid organizational skills to effectively manage multiple projects at once.

Other essential skills include:

  • Scrum knowledge
  • Agile software development
  • Experience in business analytics
  • Excellent project management skills
  • Proven success in releasing products and meeting business objectives
  • Subject expertise in certain product or market
  • Proven record of successfully managing cross-functional teams

How Much Does a Certified Scrum Product Owner Make?

$133,867

According to Salary.com, Certified Scrum Product Owners make an average of $133,867 per year, but the range typically falls between $122,068 and $149,670. Salaries can vary widely depending on factors such as education, certifications, additional skills, and the number of years you’ve spent in your profession.

What’s the Job Outlook for a Certified Scrum Product Owner?

11%

Now more than ever, companies are turning to Agile frameworks, like Scrum, to help them adapt and evolve more quickly. Because of this, Certified Scrum Product Owners are in high demand. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of computer and information systems managers is projected to grow 11% from now until 2030.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Certified Scrum Product Owner?

6 Years

Overall, it takes about six years to become a Scrum product owner. You need to have a bachelor’s degree in a computer science-related field, which takes about four years to complete, and have a minimum of two years of relevant experience.

Frequently Asked Questions About CSPO

Many CSPOs work in larger organizations as one of the key stakeholders responsible for product development or development teams, or in product development companies.

Yes, you need to have a bachelor’s degree in a computer science-related field. A degree in marketing, business, or leadership is also recommended.

Certifications aren’t mandatory for product owner positions. However, if you want the title of Certified Scrum Product Owner, you’ll need to earn a certification (CSPO) from the Scrum Alliance. Many employers look for this certification as proof of a quality candidate. 

Interested in Becoming a Certified Scrum Product Owner?

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