Would you like to help others reveal their potential?
Can you guide people through thick and thin? No rest for the wicked until a project is completed…
Do you like being in charge?
It’s a good sign if you do, because you will be.
You’d make a fine Scrum Master, you know!
Here you’ll find all about Scrum Master jobs. We’ll answer questions like “What will your normal day look like?” Or: “What salary can I expect?”, “What skills do I need in order to become the Master of the Ring?”
Stuff like that?
Is it worth investing your time into a Scrum job?
Let’s find out together!
Now you’re probably even more curious. Let’s explore the Scrum Master job in depth!
Scrum Master Jobs In a Nutshell
A Scrum Master:
- Guides and helps the team behind the project.
- Teaches and enforces proven Scrum practices for maximum efficiency.
- Works out how to adapt to the changes that any project inevitably faces.
- Mediates between the development team and the product owner.
- Good communication skills
- A good understanding of Scrum
- Organizational skills
- Servant leadership style
Median annual salary: $106,791
Now, before you go looking for Scrum jobs, let’s figure out what Scrum actually is.
What is Scrum?
Scrum is a simple framework that helps address complex problems. It is an especially good fit for those projects where you expect twists and turns along the road. (Which is almost any project, really.)
Scrum is fundamentally a framework for effective team collaboration. It helps the team be productive and creative – and to swiftly deliver products of great value.
Here is how Scrum works:
As with any project, there’s a product owner that represents customers and other stakeholders. The product owner provides a list of all the work the project involves, divided into prioritized tasks. That list can get updated frequently too.
Naturally, a development team works on the project. Following the Scrum framework, their work process is comprised of several time chunks (1 to 4 weeks each) called “sprints.” Each one is a stepping stone toward the goal.
After each stage, the Scrum master’s team evaluates how the nature of the project may have changed. Getting closer to the end goal gives the team greater clarity on how it can be achieved – this may require course corrections, which can take place at the end of any sprint.
There are also miniature course corrections within every sprint. Once a day, the development team meets for 15 minutes for a daily Scrum meeting to evaluate their progress toward the sprint goal. This is when they can identify impediments and decide on smaller-scale changes in their approach.
The Scrum Master is a key person in that process. They’re the one to ensure communication takes place – and to help the team apply Scrum principles to navigate the project’s development.
At the end of a sprint, the Scrum team invites the stakeholders to the sprint review, where they inspect the results. After that, the team runs a sprint retrospective to evaluate their work and devise a plan on how to improve.
In short, Scrum helps teams deliver smaller chunks of the project more frequently. This increases the amount of feedback and learning opportunities they get. The end result is a team that grows faster professionally, and a higher quality product for the stakeholders.
Scrum is often mentioned together with Agile.
In fact, Scrum is a subset of Agile.
What is Agile?
The Agile framework, then, can give you a broader and deeper understanding of Scrum. This can make you more competent and at ease when you start your new Scrum job.
Agile refers to software development methodologies, centered around the idea of iterative development. This allows teams to address changes in requirements on the go – without having to start from scratch.
Agile promotes a process with frequent evaluation and adaptation, teamwork, and self-organization. The process has to follow the Agile Manifesto.
Scrum and Kanban are the most widely used Agile methodologies.
How to Become a Scrum Master [For Beginners]
If you’ve read this far, chances are you’re interested in becoming a Scrum Master. As with any other endeavor, you have to start at the beginning.
How do you do that?
First, let’s see in greater detail what the job involves.
What is a Scrum Master?
The Scrum practice has been proven to increase productivity and improve results. This makes the Scrum Master partly responsible for how the team is doing on that front.
To achieve results, the Scrum Master has to ensure proper execution of the Scrum process in the project at hand. For that purpose, they need to be able to communicate effectively with team members and find the right approach for everyone.
Creating an environment that is safe and supportive, encouraging others to be creative – all that leads to better collaboration and greater efficiency. This is the crucial role of every Scrum Master.
They help the product owner plan, understand, and adhere to Scrum techniques and practices. They also provide guidance, support, coaching, and facilitation to the team members, helping to remove any encountered obstacles. The Scrum Master also supports individual efforts, addresses any issues that arise, and deals with obstacles so that individuals can remain focused and productive.
In short, the Scrum Master is a challenging position dealing with the team’s performance. They are responsible for monitoring the Scrum processes and meetings – though that’s just the surface explanation. Greater productivity and higher quality of the output are what the Scrum Master’s boss really cares about.
Becoming a Scrum Master
When you take that path, at first you’ll probably start small. You’ll assist just one team to deliver a quality product. In the best case scenario, this will be a team that already gets along well. With time, you’ll get to be in charge of multiple teams and face more challenging situations.
Challenges force you to find new ways to approach a situation – that’s how experience works. The greater your flexibility, the more effective you get at managing your team effortlessly and effectively.
How to be a Certified Scrum Master?
Most employers require you to have a Scrum Master certification. That one you’d probably expect.
How about some “formal” education, though? Well, a relevant Bachelor’s degree can be a plus, though you still have great chances of landing a Master job without one.
In other words, having a certificate is key here. Since that’s the case, you’re probably wondering how you can get one.
The whole process of becoming a Certified Scrum Master (CSM) boils down to 3 steps:
- Get a basic understanding of Scrum.
- Attend an in-person CSM course taught by a Certified Scrum Trainer.
- Pass the CSM exam by correctly answering at least 24 out of 35 questions.
Knowing Scrum’s theory and principles is vital to get the most out of the course. Fortunately, you get a series of videos that provide you with that foundation. Reading the official Scrum Guide and being familiar with the Agile Manifesto can also help.
Once you have that covered, you’re good to go. The actual course starts with a short quiz to ensure you’re well prepared for the journey ahead. If you’ve done your homework, you’ll breeze through the quiz without batting an eye.
Entry-level Scrum Master Jobs Requirements
When you search for entry-level Scrum Master jobs, here are the most common requirements of employers for that position:
Some employers accept a High School Diploma or GED, while others require a Bachelor’s degree, often a technical one.
They also prefer you to have 0-2 years of experience (especially with Scrum and Agile) and a Scrum Master certification such as CSM or PSM.
Non-technical skills like strong mediation and negotiation skills, excellent organizational and communication skills, problem-solving, and people skills are also desired.
But before you google “entry-level Scrum Master jobs near me,” let’s dig deeper into the essence of the Scrum Master role.
Scrum Master: Job Description
Keep in mind that this is a general job description of the position and its requirements. Every employer will have different criteria for hiring.
Scrum Master Jobs: THE Description
A Scrum Master is that one person on the team, who is responsible for managing the scrum process over the course of a project. They are not involved in decision-making. Their role is simply to guide the team through the process with their experience and expertise. (They are basically project managers.)
Even organizations that don’t necessarily follow Scrum can employ a Scrum Master. Rarely, it’s also called iteration manager, team coach, or agile coach.
The Scrum Master is one of the three key roles within Scrum. The other two are the product owner and the Scrum team members.
Being a successful Scrum Master is about improving the way the team works. This optimization happens when you do retrospective analysis of processes and procedures. The Scrum Master is the one to remind the team to step back from time to time and identify any obstacles and issues that need to be dealt with.
Meanwhile, the Scrum Master lacks the authority of a true manager. That’s why they must be able to naturally command the respect of the team and influence them.
Moreover, the Scrum Master needs to mediate between the product owner and the team members. While the product owner’s job is to push the team, the Scrum Master’s is to protect them. If they can strike the perfect balance between the two, the best possible results will follow.
This feels like the job for you?
Read on to find out more about the day-to-day tasks.
Scrum Master: Daily Activities
So what does a Scrum Master do exactly?
Listen carefully now:
The Scrum Master’s role is never to tell the team what to do.
That’s the manager’s job.
Instead, he’s the one observing the process. Another set of eyes always helps, especially if it’s the trained eye of a Scrum Master. They support team members by identifying any impediments to the work flow and providing a solution.
That way, the development process speeds up, the quality of the end product rises – and team members learn to become more efficient in real time.
The job is a mixture of administrative tasks, leadership, and coaching. Let’s see some of the specific daily Scrum Master responsibilities:
- Facilitating (but not participating in) the daily standup.
- Helping the team maintain their to-do chart.
- Setting up retrospectives, sprint reviews, and sprint planning sessions.
- Preventing interruptions during the team’s sprint.
- Dealing with obstacles that affect the team.
- Walking the product owner through more technical user stories.
- Enabling collaboration between the product owner and the Scrum team.
- Working with other Scrum Masters to improve the effectiveness of Scrum in the organization.
- Leading and coaching the organization in its Scrum adoption.
In short, the Scrum Master guides the team and the organization as a whole on how to use Agile and Scrum practices and values. This includes teaching the team how to get the most out of self-organization and assessing their progress with Scrum practices.
Moreover, they remove the impediments to the process. These can be illnesses of team members, scarcity of skills, or issues with the product owner or management – among others.
All this works well only if the Scrum Master manages to build a safe and trusting environment, where problems can be raised without fear of blame or judgment. The emphasis has to be on problem-solving and healing. Working toward better discussion, decision making, and conflict resolution is key.
The crucial part is facilitating getting the work done without coercion, assigning, or dictating the work. Instead, the Master focuses on assisting with internal and external communication, improving transparency, and sharing information.
The Scrum Master provides all kinds of support to the team – leading by example and using a servant leadership style when possible. But that’s not all – the Master also supports and educates the Product Owner, especially on grooming and maintaining the product backlog.
All these activities suggest that the Scrum Master plays the role of the wise one who provides guidance. While the Master is concerned with Scrum, the rest of the team can focus more on completing the project.
A key part of executing Scrum is to place the immediate reality of the situation above the Scrum dogma. Starting with the principle and trying to have change reality accordingly – usually doesn’t work. The team needs to find a balance between the nuances of their situation and Scrum’s recommendations – that’s what the Scrum Master is for.
Key Areas of Expertise of Scrum Masters
Scrum Masters need to be knowledgeable about their products, markets, and development processes. The more that’s true, the easier it will be to diagnose subtle technical issues and suggest solutions. This will allow the team to stay the course while pursuing a specific goal.
In short, the Scrum Master needs to be good at removing impediments, guiding the team members in Scrum practices, and protecting them against outer interferences to ensure a sustainable project.
The Master has to be a skillful organizer of Scrum events whenever needed and a practical planner of Scrum implementation. That way, he or she will improve the skills of the team members, which then will increase productivity.
Suitability for Freelance
Is Scrum Master on the list with remote jobs?
Yes, but it’s rather rare that you’ll see it there.
Since communication is key, the job of a Scrum Master is best done on-site.
Some job offers include two home office days, which sounds like a good compromise.
Nevertheless, if you are prevented from doing the job in-house right now, you can still find a position as a freelancer. Just have in mind that competition might be higher.
What’s more, you absolutely need to be an already experienced Scrum Master in order to work remotely because it would be difficult for a novice to manage from a distance. Once you know how everything works, you can be as efficient in a remote Scrum Master job.
However, those roles usually suggest you’ll be in charge of a limited number of teams at a time and the teams will be small. Otherwise, it will still be difficult to manage one or several large teams from afar.
Scrum Master Salary Range
Naturally, the salaries for Scrum Master jobs vary according to your experience.
Here are the highest paying cities and states in the US based on the average annual Scrum Master salary there:
But if you don’t live in one of those places, don’t despair yet! Let’s see if you can work remotely for a company that’s based there.
Freelance Scrum Master Jobs
So, are you looking for remote Scrum Master jobs?
Generally, there aren’t many such offers, and for a reason. This is a role that requires a lot of communication and being present is the best way to do it. You will connect better with the team members if you are physically in the same office.
However, you can find some offers to suit your preferences. At the time of writing, there are even a few in Denver, where, as we already know, you can expect a higher salary.
Now, let’s see the pros and cons of being a freelance Scrum Master.
- Freedom to choose your clients and projects
- Getting experience with a wider variety of projects
- No commuting
- Ability to travel and work
- Flexible schedule (depends)*
- Poor/slower communication
- No feeling of connectedness
- Harder to offer moral support to the team
- Harder to keep track of everything
- Against the Agile principles that “the most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face communication”
Generally, it’s a bit harder to do your job as a Scrum Master if you’re not there. Humans are just more easily influenced when you’re around physically. Since that’s a big part of your responsibilities – a remote job is not the best fit.
Still, plenty of companies offer one, and apparently they’re willing to take the risk. Whether such a job would be fulfilling to you, though – that’s your call to make.
Scrum Master Education
As we mentioned, there are specific courses you can take to enhance your Scrum expertise. These courses are tailor-made to help you navigate a Scrum Master job, and you get a valuable certificate on completion too. That will certainly give you an advantage when applying for a job (or asking for a raise), and they are highly recommended.
Scrum Alliance offers the Certified Scrum Master certification (CSM) where you learn how to help the rest of the team work together and learn the Scrum framework. Similar ones are the Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO), Certified Scrum Developer (CSD), and Certified Scrum Professional (CSP).
Scrum.org provides Professional Scrum Master (PSM) certifications at three levels:
- PSM I: certificate holders need to prove they understand Scrum as it is described in the Scrum Guide – and they have theoretical knowledge of how to apply Scrum.
- PSM II: certificate holders need to prove they understand the underlying principles of Scrum and can use them in real-world situations.
- PSM III: certificate holders finally understand Scrum practices and values at a deep level – and can apply them at a wide variety of situations.
According to the last survey, the most common certification gained by participants was PSM I.
However, there is a difference between the types of Scrum Master certifications. Let’s talk about them more.
Scrum Master Certifications
Certifications give you greater credibility and better salary. They also help you keep up with the current market trend.
Since CSM and PSM are the most popular and widely recognized ones, we’ll start there.
Here are the differences between the two:
CSM: 35 multiple-choice questions
PSM: 80 multiple-choice questions, multiple-choice answer questions, and True/False questions
CSM: No time limit
PSM: 60 minutes
PSM: $150 for the exam; $350 for training
CSM: Renew every 2 years (cost: $100)
PSM: Valid for a lifetime
While these two are the most popular options – there are many others as well, when it comes to Scrum Master certification. In the top 10 are also SAFe® Scrum Master, EXIN Agile Scrum Master, Scrum Master Certified, and Scrum Master Accredited Certification.
SAFe® costs between $995 and $1,295, which includes the mandatory course fee as well as the exam fee. After the first attempt, each retake costs $50. The good thing about this one is it has a lifetime validity.
Scrum Master Accredited Certification is also valid for a lifetime and costs only $69.
Meanwhile, the Scrum Master Certified examination cost comes around $450, and you have to maintain a minimum of 40 Recertification Units (RCUs) every three years.
EXIN Agile Scrum Master costs around $260 and $100 for a renewal every year.
Similarly, there are related certifications such as ones for Scrum Product Owners and Scrum Developers, Scaled Agilist, etc. There are different levels depending on where your abilities are.
Having a strong tech aptitude and being familiar with the business and IT industry are common requirements as well. And it’s good to have some experience with Agile management tools when looking for Scrum Master jobs (e.g., JIRA, Rally, and Pivotal Tracker).
Scrum Master Technical Skills
Before you google Scrum Master jobs, let’s see what skills you need.
The Scrum Master is expected to possess the following skills and abilities (depending on the industry and projects):
- Excellent knowledge of Scrum and Agile
- Facilitating the daily standup
- Helping the team maintain their to-do tasks
- Setting up retrospectives, sprint reviews, and sprint planning sessions
- Dealing with tech and non-tech obstacles that affect the team
- Walking the product owner through more technical user stories
- Introducing engineering practices
- Managing application development teams
- Strong technical aptitude
- Business and IT familiarity
- Working with Agile management tools like JIRA, Rally, and Pivotal Tracker
This means the Scrum Master has to reduce time and effort expended in the project development by using automated builds, automated development, pair programming, simple designs, and multi-level testing. And more – they should be capable of introducing best practices and procedures to help with the faster completion of the project.
And of course, at least one relevant certification is needed to ensure the Scrum Master is well prepared. The more experience you have, the better.
Technical skills are not enough though. Let’s see the soft skills that need to go with them.
Scrum Master Non-Technical Skills
Projects are pesky things. They rarely, if ever, unfold in the way you’ve planned them initially. Every unexpected turn sends tremors throughout the team and the project schedule.
A good Scrum Master navigates the storm, creating a safe environment for his team(s) to work. Which is kind of the definition of a servant leader. Curiosity can help them find new, elegant solutions to arising issues. Flexibility and persistence can help them adapt to changes, while still keeping the course. Finally – empathy and mindfulness can allow them to inspire their team and bring the most out of them.
All these character traits become useful when the Scrum Master has developed their communication skills. By design, they deal with people every day and need to be both good listeners and persuasive talkers. They need to engage, motivate, and inspire people through a meaningful conversation.
A rhetorical Scrum Master is a successful one because of their skills to persuade, teach, mentor, and coach a wide variety of personality types.
Not only that, but the Scrum Master has to have good organizational skills to keep the team and the project on track.
He or she is expected to remove any obstacles out of the way while maintaining an optimistic and friendly tone.
It might seem a lot, but don’t worry – with time, it gets easier and even natural to work with people and communicate in the best possible way in each situation.
You’ve now caught a glimpse of what it means to be a Scrum Master. Jobs like that work well for people that can fuse technical and soft skills seamlessly. As a Scrum Master, you need to be a capable servant leader, flexible, persistent, and of course, skilled at Scrum and Agile practices.
And now you’ve probably realized whether that might be the job for you.
You can now become a qualified Scrum Master with just a certification or two. Then, you’ll be ready to go out there and apply for jobs.
Alternatively – you may already be a certified Scrum Master. If that’s the case, you can check out Leftronic’s jobs database too.
Go get them!
And good luck!
Q: What is a scrum master job?
A: The Scrum Master plays the role of a facilitator in a development team and focuses completely on the process. They provide guidance to the team members and the product owner and ensures all agile and Scrum practices are followed by the team.
Facilitating communication and collaboration between everyone and identifying and removing obstacles is what the job is mainly about.
Q: How do you become a scrum master?
A: First, you need to take a course to earn a Scrum Master certification. The most common ones are the CSM (Certified Scrum Master) or the PSM (Professional Scrum Master) certifications.
In addition, you need good communication skills to be suitable for this position.
Once you have the certification, simply search for Scrum Master jobs and apply. Vacancies are advertised online by employers, on job boards, by recruitment agencies, and career services. We have a job board here on Leftronic as well.
Q: Do I need a degree to be a Scrum Master?
A: A degree is not a must, but some employers require you to have a relevant Bachelor’s degree. For others, having a Scrum certification (like the CSM or the PSM) and preferably some experience is enough.
Q: How much does CSM certification cost?
A: The CSM certification takes 2 days and costs around $1000-$1400. However, you need to renew it every two years, which costs $100 each time. Meanwhile, other certifications are valid for a lifetime, for example the PSM certification and the SAFe® Scrum Master.
Q: Which Scrum certification is best?
A: In order to qualify for Scrum Master jobs and beat the competition, a reputable Scrum certification can go a long way. There are several excellent official certifications you can choose from. CSM and PSM are the most popular ones and are widely acknowledged. Then, there are also the SAFe® Scrum Master, EXIN Agile Scrum Master, Scrum Master Certified, and Scrum Master Accredited Certification. You can earn several to give you more experience and greater advantage, but it’s best to start with CSM or PSM.