How to Become a Scrum Master – Ultimate Guide for 2021

Last Updated on June 9, 2021 by Mandy Schmitz

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The journey to becoming a Scrum Master is undoubtedly not an easy one. You need to learn and understand the correct utilization of the tools, processes, and principles. The idea of being a complete advocate of the concept itself must be the initial reason for wanting to be a Scrum Master.

Apart from possessing the personal characteristic to complement the role, it would help if you became wholly immersed in the underlying potential benefits and philosophy of Agile to achieve success as a Scrum Master.

Getting a Scrum Master role may be challenging even with your certification if you don’t have Agile experience. You must decide if you like being an expert at Scrum by working in a Scrum environment first. You will then discover several Scrum rules with the expectation to adapt profoundly in the Scrum methodology as a Scrum Master.

What is Scrum?

agile scrum framework
scrum.org

As a project management framework, Scrum emphasizes accountability, teamwork, and iterative advancement toward a distinct objective. Scrum starts with a straightforward premise: advance with known and seen goals. Next is the required goal tracking and tweaking. Thus, adaption, inspection, and transparency are Scrum’s three pillars.

Industry experts use Scrum as one of the most widely-used Agile frameworks to develop complex systems and products.

Scrum got its name from a rugby term; it is similar to players coming closely together with heads down and attempting to possess the ball. In the project management field, professionals refer to Scrum as a meeting that the team executes daily to answer pertinent questions, such as what the team did yesterday, what it is doing today, and what is in its way. Thus, the core of an efficient Scrum meeting is to answer these questions.

It is crucial to understand how the Agile development process works if you want to appreciate its importance. While Agile is not a framework, it is also not a specific means of developing software. As a set of principles, Agile protects the software development techniques’ continuous evolution. For software development created on iterative development, Agile development accommodates a few methodologies.

Professionals develop software using specific tools and following various methods, with one of them being Scrum.

Complex systems and products are Scrum’s primary application, with an empirical approach of the “do, check, and adapt” standard. While the process results in higher control over any potential risks, it also ensures optimum productivity using incrementation and iteration.

There are three roles you may need to understand if you want to work in an Agile environment. These roles are:

  • The Scrum Team
  • The Scrum Master
  • The Product Owner

What is a Scrum Master?

A Scrum Master is someone who uses the Scrum framework to facilitate an Agile development team. Based on the Agile methodology, it is a framework that proposes an incremental and iterative approach to executing a project. This approach will allow change implementations and flexibility without incurring added expenses. Projects associated with software development tasks will find this methodology perfect, even when they are entirely software system development.

Scrum is the daily meeting of team members where they determine future endeavors after reviewing projects’ progress. A Scrum Master leads the discussion, facilitates tasks the team has done before, tasks they need to handle, and the challenges they are facing.

It is critical not to confuse a Scrum Master with a traditional project manager. In most cases, the Scrum Master holds the role of a leader and servant for their team. By discussing pertinent issues in their daily meetings, this person encourages the team to reach a consensus, eliminates any obstacles the team may face, and keeps them focused.

The leadership style in the Scrum framework encourages accountability and teamwork. There are the Scrum Team and the Scrum Product Owner, apart from the Scrum Master. Therefore, this framework does not consist of any project manager, so the team uses self-organization and effective communication to operate while sharing responsibilities.

agile sticky notes

What Does a Scrum Master Do?

As a servant leader, the Scrum Master encourages the team to self-manage, self-organize, and deliver effective Agile practices. The individual also helps the team coordinate with other members using the Agile Release Train required to release, deploy, test, and implement to deliver firmware, hardware, software, or others.

The individual has a unique role as they spend much of their time helping their team members cooperate, coordinate, and communicate. The Scrum Master generally assists their crew in meeting their delivery goals.

The Scrum Master also works to assist the self-managing and self-organizing team in achieving its goals. The individual accomplishes this through coaching and teaching the Scrum methodology, supporting and implementing Scrum procedures and principles, facilitating flow, and identifying and eliminating impediments.

Scrum Masters are coaches for an Agile team, ensuring the team follows the specific Agile process and educating them in SAFe, Kanban, Extreme Programming, and Scrum. While fostering an environment for relentless improvement, continuous flow, and high-performing team dynamics, the Scrum Master also removes obstacles.

Establishing the Scrum Process

The Scrum Master’s first task is to establish the Scrum process, which includes:

  • Assist the development team in agreeing on their collective quality standards.
  • Help the product owner to develop a product backlog.
  • Organize the materials and schedule necessary for the sprint retrospective, the sprint review, the daily Scrum, and sprint planning.
  • Teach or coach the Scrum team about the Scrum framework and Agile principles.

Scrum Master Responsibilities

The Scrum Master serves the development team, including resolving blockers, problems, or issues outside of their control. Some of the responsibilities of an effective Scrum Master include:

  • Supporting estimating – the individual helps their team understand how they can estimate capabilities and features while also guiding them in establishing normalized estimates.
  • Facilitating readiness and preparation for ART events – this master helps their team prepare for ART events like the Inspect and Adapt program, System Demos, and PI Planning.
  • Aids organizational efficiency – this person collaborates with stakeholders and other Scrum Masters to help their team improve the whole development Value Stream.
  • Champions Scrum adoption – by supporting the company’s SPCs, participating in the Scrum Master Community of Practice, and coaching non-Agile teams and stakeholders on effective interactions with Agile teams, the individual shows support for the general adoption of SAFe across the enterprise.
  • Coordinates with other teams – through the continuous improvement of relationships and communications with other groups, the Scrum Masters support the team’s efforts. The individual also helps the team remain aware of opportunities to improve and engage program effectiveness while also representing the team in the Scrum of Scrums, SoS. The SM also has the responsibility to help their team build efficient relationships with Shared Services, Architecture, User Experience, and the System Team.
  • Accountabilities on the train – allow their team to operate adequately on the train while coordinating inter-team cooperation.
  • Builds a highperforming team – part of this master’s responsibility is to dedicate their time to improving the team’s performance and dynamics and train them in self-management. The individual also identifies opportunities for growth while resolving interpersonal challenges and conflicts. If the internal team processes cannot help the situation, the Scrum Master will also escalate the team problems to management.
  • Promotes Scrum quality practices – the team can meet the Definition of Done and improve their deliverables’ quality through the practical guidance of SAFe. Since the efficient Agile team’s hallmark is craftsmanship and technical discipline, the Scrum Master ensures the team fosters this culture.
  • Facilitates the removal of impediments – there will always be various blocking problems that the team may not handle and need other teams’ support. It is the Scrum Master’s responsibility to address and eliminate these problems with the hope of achieving the iteration’s objectives.
  • Supports the Product Owner – the Product Owner gets the support of this individual when they want to manage the backlog. With regards to scope and priorities, the Scrum Master facilitates a healthy team dynamic by guiding them.
  • Facilitates events – the individual promotes team events, such as Iteration Review, Iteration Planning, the Daily Stand-up, and ensures the team is within the timebox and productive through Iteration Retrospective.
  • Leads team effort in relentless improvement – takes responsibility for the team’s actions and helps them improve. The individual also facilitates their team retrospective. This master assists their team to become better problem-solvers while teaching them problem-solving techniques.
  • Expediting the team’s development toward team goals – as a trained facilitator, the Scrum Master will continue to engage their team against the outdated development standards. The individual will prepare the team to improve performance in aspects of velocity, flow, predictability, and quality. For each iteration, these masters train the team to focus on developing increments. The current Program Increment Objectives’ context also encourages the team to achieve daily and Iteration Goals.
  • Supports the team rules – an Agile team’s rules tend to be lightweight. However, rules are rules. Part of the Scrum Master’s responsibilities is to reinforce these rules, including Kanban work in Process limits, Extreme Programming Built-In Quality practices, Scrum rules, and any other agreed rules by the team.

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Scrum Master Salary

Many factors can determine how much you can expect to earn as a Scrum Master. When it comes to making money in the United States, you can make about $118,353 annually. That is around $43.4 per hour. That average range can be from $71,000 to $114,000. This case indicates that as a Scrum Master, you stand the chance of earning more when you are above the entry-level roles.

Most of these people work for finance, telecommunication, and media companies to augment their incomes, and others choose to work with finance and technology companies. You can still earn a higher paycheck as a Scrum Master in other places. In the US, the top states that pay Scrum masters the highest salaries are Washington, California, and Alaska.

Different Cities and Scrum Masters’ Salaries

If you prefer money and location, it would be ideal for moving to Washington, California, or Alaska since they pay Scrum Master’s highest salary. On the opposite side with the lowest salary are Montana, South Dakota, and Oklahoma.

The highest paying cities are:

  • Hartford, CT $98,834
  • McLean, VA $99,195
  • Hillsboro, OR $99,687
  • Wilmington, DE $103,972
  • Bellevue, WA $110,169
  • San Francisco, CA $122,641

Different Industries and Scrum Masters’ Salaries

The industry determines the salaries of a Scrum Master, and these masters can enjoy higher incomes in finance, telecommunication, and media companies. The average salary of a Scrum Master working for media companies is $105,639, with finance companies paying $99,946 and telecommunication companies pay $103,728. You may want to avoid the manufacturing industry as it delivers the lowest, which is $86,627.

Some of the highest paying industries are:

  • Technology $87,409
  • Insurance $90,978
  • Health Care $91,748
  • Finance $99,946
  • Telecommunication $103,728
  • Media $105,639

How to Become a Scrum Master

Regardless of your education and background, you can become a Scrum Master if that is what you want. Some of the steps you will need to take include:

Understand the Scrum Framework

Familiarizing yourself with the Scrum framework is the first step you must take to become a Scrum Master. Knowing the framework’s basic concepts is vital. It is also essential to see the approach behind the Agile methodology.

Apply for a Scrum Course

Next, apply for a CSM training course. It is a Certified ScrumMaster course that will give you an in-depth understanding of Scrum. You can apply for these programs in some provinces and cities. These courses take about two days, and you will spend from $1,000 to $2,000. The Certified ScrumMaster courses will teach you:

  • How to encourage teamwork and collaboration
  • How you can improve transparency in the Scrum events
  • How to respond to change while facilitating the organization, the product owner, and the development team
  • The Scrum ceremonies, such as sprint backlog, product backlog, sprint retrospective, sprint review, and the daily Scrum
  • Scrum’s various roles and some of the Scrum Master’s duties
  • The Scrum terminologies, Scrum framework, and the Agile methodology’s fundamental concepts

Make the CSM Exam Grades

Ensure you have a score of 74 percent to pass the CSM exam when you have completed the CSM courses. You will become a Certified Scrum Master after passing this exam. This certification will give you a two-year membership which you will need to renew every two years.

Scrum Master Certification

Apart from managing large teams across many departments, employers will use certification to determine what you have regarding skills and experience to lead Agile teams. While it can increase the earning potentials, the certificate also provides the individual an edge over their counterparts.

Scaled Agile

Scaled Agile is the perfect Scrum Master certification because it offers a framework geared toward Scrum, Lean, and Agile practices for enterprises. When searching for placement in an enterprise-level organization, an individual can enhance their certification through Scales Agile. The certification focuses on developing high-performing Agile teams and team-level Scrum fundamentals – the program’s online and onsite starts at $799, including the exam cost.

Project Management Institute

Serving more than 2.9 million experts worldwide, people have recognized Project Management Institute as a leader in certifying project management professions. With PMI, you can get PMI-ACP certification, which covers many Scrum and Agile principles and practices. The institute’s Scrum Master certification includes Agile certification, test-driven development, Lean, extreme programming, and Kanban. PMI members will pay $435 for the PMI-ACP certification, and non-members will pay $495. Renewing the certification includes earning 30 professional development units.

Scrum Inc.

People can get leadership workshops, consulting services, and other enterprise coachings from Scrum Inc. Therefore, the certification focuses on training certification with hands-on, interactive, and dynamic exercises, making it the best interactive class. Participants can experience the first-hand Scrum Master role through Scrum Inc.’s various activities and games. Courses and exam fees start at $1,995, with the program taking place three hours a day over four days.

Scrum.org

Scrum.org requires completing Scrum training before taking on the certification exam since the focus is on the exam. This certification centers on the knowledge Scrum masters develop and not the activity or class they receive. Therefore, participants will go through three PSM certification levels, including PSM I, PSM II, and PSM III. PSM I has a 60-minute length and costs $150 per participant. PSM II has 90-minute and costs $250, while each participant will pay $500 for a 120-minute duration.

Scrum Alliance

As the first organization to offer a scrum certification program, Scrum Alliance tends to be people’s preferred certification program since professionals recognize it as the best. The program will take participants through a structured exam after interactions with certified coaches and trainers. Participants must also take the certification exam to complete the CSM training program. Online courses start at $795 for about two to three days.

What Does a Scrum Master Certification Include?

PSM and CSM certifications are not the same concerning how they deliver the program. However, the two certificates use rigorous exams to see if the participants have mastery and knowledge of Scrum practical applications and principles.

There is a difference between a Scrum Master exam and Scrum master training. People can access training online or onsite and have eight hours of two to three days for the CSM training. Participants also have no obligation to take the PSM certification exam even when they need Scrum training to take the CSM exam. The Scaled Agile and Project Management Institute have reviews of the SAFe and Agile Scrum certification prerequisites.

Scrum Master Certification Cost

The cost of CSM training and certification is from $800 to $1,500, including exam cost. There is also a $100 recertification fee for people to recertify every two years. Individuals will have to pay the CSM recertification fee of 20 SEUs by Scrum Alliance, apart from the payment. The Scaled Agile and Project Management Institute review the requirements and renewal costs for the SAFe Scrum Master certification and the PMI-ACP.

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Scrum Master vs. Project Manager

If you want to know how the Scrum Master and Project Manager complement each other in large-scale projects, it is critical to understand the differences between them. The Scrum Master is the facilitator and coach between the two. The Project Manager is the decision-maker, leader, and individually responsible for managing the scope, resources, and project of business requirements. While the Scrum Master’s responsibility is to look after one project team, the Project Manager needs to ensure necessary business requirements are in place for a project.

Let’s see the differences between the Scrum Master and the Project Manager:

Parameter Scrum Master Project Manager
 

 

 

 

 

 

Job Description

  • Increases efficiency by monitoring the Scrum processes
  • Motivates the team
  • Resolves team conflicts with excellent communication skills
  • Ensures that a project functions smoothly using the required tools
  • Facilitates the Scrum ceremonies
  • Making the team aware of Scrum and Agile deliver successfully
  • Resolves barriers and controls the Scrum processes
  • Gets into the work themselves or instructs the team to finish a goal
  • Works in collaboration with other departments when there is an emergency
  • Ensures a project’s direction and scope by working with upper management
  • Creating and planning budget and the related documents
Average salary in the United States $97,500 per year $77,000 per year
 

 

 

Team Size

Scrum Masters work with two to three teams effectively, irrespective of the budget. Project Managers can work/manage large project teams; projects typically come with considerable budget responsibility.
 

Quality Assurance

Scrum Masters assure the quality and also understand the importance of it. Project Managers understand the importance of quality but may need an expert to validate and document a project’s quality deliverable.
 

 

 

Goals

According to the Agile principle, a Scrum Master’s goal is to enable his team to follow, understand, embrace, and execute their work. The Project Manager executes a project according to the preset scope, time, and budget.

Scrum Master vs. Product Owner

The Product Owner and Scrum Master functions are pretty different, yet the two work diligently together. While managing the product backlog is the Product Owner’s responsibility, the Scrum Master enables the Agile development team to perform the best.

Product Owner Role

A Product Owner, for example:

  • Will evaluate progress throughout the development process.
  • Prioritizes tasks for the Scrum Master while working across departments based on stakeholder requirements.
  • Will ensure the updates of the product backlogs and available to the whole development crew.
  • Works with Scrum Master to guarantee the alignment of product’s development with its creative idea.
  • Creates a product roadmap and vision by collaborating with the Project Manager.
  • Maintains and develops the product backlog.

Scrum Master Responsibilities

On the contrary, the Scrum Master has the following responsibilities, and some of them are:

  • Reporting on the sprint success.
  • Motivating the development team.
  • Collaborating with the Product Owner and ensuring the product backlog is up to date.
  • Removing any roadblocks impeding the product’s development and monitoring the sprint’s progress.
  • Working with the Scrum development team.

Conclusion

Working as a Scrum Master doesn’t end with finding a job after getting the certification or training. It is the beginning. As with any profession, becoming a professional is not about learning but applying it in practice because the responsibilities that come with each job will vary from one company to another.

You must fully understand that, as a Scrum Master, you are a servant leader and not the boss who calls the shots. You are helping the team to self-organize themselves and not a team member. While dealing with Agile methodology development, it is crucial to continue improving yourself, responding to changes, and being flexible to overcome any potential obstacles.

Contact us today if you need help setting up or running your projects.

 

Mandy Schmitzhttps://mandyschmitz.com
Mandy Schmitz is a freelance consultant and project management expert with 10+ years of experience working internationally for big brands in fintech, consumer goods and more. Join me here on Changeaholic.com to learn how to optimize your business operations and find the latest software reviews.

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Mandy Schmitz is a freelance consultant and project management expert with 10+ years of experience working internationally for big brands in fintech, consumer goods and more. Join me here on Changeaholic.com to learn how to optimize your business operations and find the latest software reviews.

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