Scrum Master Career Growth

Many software development companies employ ScrumMasters to lead their teams in using Scrum principles. After becoming comfortable with this role, some ScrumMasters may wish to move into other leadership positions on development teams.

Career Growth Opportunities for a ScrumMaster

Scrum is a set of principles which many companies and teams, particularly those focused on software development, have adopted. Scrum typically involves a small team of professionals who are assigned a task and work together in an agile manner to best solve problems that arise in carrying out that task. These teams are led by a ScrumMaster, who works to help the members of the team understand scrum principles, develop the product, and remain agile in their work.

After working as a ScrumMaster, some professionals may wish to seek out other roles on Scrum teams. They may choose to become certified, to become an agile coach, or to become a product owner. Certification allows a ScrumMaster to demonstrate to a new employer that he or she has the skills that that employer may be looking for. One such certification is the Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) designation. Agile coaches may act as technical advisers working with developers, trainers providing process and leadership assistance, or they may coach individuals (rather than teams) in how to solve problems. The product owner works with stakeholders and manages the product development team.

Job Title Median Salary (2018)* Job Growth (2016-2026)** Education or Experience
Certified ScrumMaster $87,876 24% (all software developers) Scrum certification
Agile Coach $122,426 19% (all software training and development managers) Experience with agile and certification
Product Owner $81,369 24% (all software developers) Bachelor's degree

Sources: *PayScale, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Career Information

Certified ScrumMaster

One way a ScrumMaster could grow their career is to earn certification to become a certified ScrumMaster. Certified ScrumMasters play many of the same roles as a ScrumMaster, such as leading the team of product developers and ensuring the team is collaborating and following an agile approach. This professional facilitates team meetings called a daily Scrum, sprint review, and sprint retrospective. The Certified ScrumMaster works with other team leads to set the goals for the project overall, and monitors progress to see if these goals will be met. Becoming a Certified ScrumMaster requires several years of experience with Scrum, at least 10 years' management experience and undertaking a certification program.

Agile Coach

ScrumMasters who wish to move to the next level in terms of leading teams may consider becoming an agile coach. Agile coaches create teams with software developers to use agile practices in their work. They assist the team to apply these practices to specific difficulties they might encounter. Agile coaches, particularly technical coaches, must be very skilled at what they do in terms of software development and coding as well as be eager to work with a team in applying agile principles. Agile coaches may also work with entire organizations to move agile principles company-wide, rather than only on individual teams. To become an agile coach, it is imperative to have extensive, demonstrated experience applying agile and lean principles to organizational work. Certification can also be helpful and can allow a potential agile coach to make connections in the field as well.

Product Owner

Some ScrumMasters may become very invested in a particular product a software team is creating. These individuals may wish to consider a role as product owner. Product owners are akin to the project manager of a team developing a specific piece of software. They interact with customers who have asked for the product to be developed and lead the team of developers to ensure the client's goals are met. The product owner also manages the day-to-day work of the team. They identify the backlog, which are the tasks to be completed, and prioritize those items. They may also be involved with coding and testing the product. Product managers typically have a bachelor's degree, and many employers prefer a Master of Business Administration. Extensive experience working with software teams is necessary to move into this role.


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