Question: Path to — Trainer or Coach?

Question from Nameless4Now: (By the way, I called her that, because I did not have time to ask her about privacy.)

Hi Joe! …I thought I’d ask you for your thoughts on the next step on my Agile path. I’m currently a Scrum Master. Ultimately I’d love to pursue the Trainer path and train other Scrum Masters. I have my CSM (originally from Jeff in 2004), PSM and SSM. I am considering the A-CSM but am wondering, if I want to get to the Coaching role and/or Trainer role, is that my best bet at this time? Or should I start looking at coaching trainings instead? A bit of a wide question perhaps, but – I would love your thoughts on that. Thank you!


There is a high demand for agile.  And there is lots of competition.  Still, I think demand exceeds supply. So, there’s that.

As you know, one gets paid more for being “higher” and one can have more influence over “success”, which feels good.

There are plenty of “agile trainers” and “agile coaches” and many are not “as good as we would like”.  They are somewhat more experienced than a SM, for example.  But the range is wide.

We must say this: certification (eg, as a coach or trainer) does not guarantee anything for the buyer, but it does improve the odds.  Just by going through that process, one learns.

If you want to stay within Scrum Alliance, the choice is simple for now.  To become either a CTC or CEC or CST one must get a CSP (probably CSP-SM).

To get to CSP one must first take the A-CSM course (or get it via coaching).  Then take the CSP course.  Adding the two together, one also needs a total of 24 months of experience as a SM in a team.  Over the last 5 years.

BTW, the A-CSM and CSP=SM are very much oriented towards coaching (in my opinion too much so…another discussion).

Once you have the CSP, then you can decide whether to go for coach or trainer (in the Scrum Alliance certifications).  They are both hard. But the ones who succeed — well, they are always annoyed during the process, but happy once it is completed.  There is a certain satisfaction in completing a difficult task.

There are other certifications. and ICAgile.  I have some opinions about those.

Which would I recommend?  Per Howard Sublett (of Scrum Alliance) at the ScrumGathering today, there is a huge need for coaches.  (I think his data is good.)  So, he intends to increase that a lot with Scrum Alliance.  He wants to get to 5,000 certified coaches quickly.  Hmm.  I do not recall his date — that might be in 5 years???

What does that mean for you?

Hmm.  I think good (if you want to be a coach).  That is, it means that there will soon be a critical mass of SA certified coaches.  The SA path to coach will become better known. The SA coaching certifications will become better known, and more in demand.

Is there roughly equal demand for training?  I think so, at least equal in a sense.  And I think most companies will adopt the “train and coach” model.

There is another role that is not well defined yet, that I think will be increasing important.  Let’s call is “Advisor”.   This person has coaching skills, but is mainly an advisor or consultant or change agent for executives and managers.  The exact need varies by company and by where you are at the company (at this moment).  I think it is very needed, and being fulfilled by many types of people now, but not well.  Maybe you want to go for that?

Does that start your answer?

Good luck on your journey.  We can talk more later.



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