What Is The Career Path Of A Scrum Master?

What Is The Career Path Of A Scrum Master

If you search for a ‘Scrum Master job’ on LinkedIn, you will get over 129,000 results for the United States alone. This is not surprising given that the role of Scrum Master is one of the most in-demand jobs in the tech industry.

It is one of those positions that didn’t exist or was very rare just a decade ago but is now essential for almost any company that wants to be agile and move quickly in their product development and/or software development.

So, what exactly is a Scrum Master, and what is the career path for someone in this role?

In this blog post, we aim to answer both of those questions and help you understand if there is a Scrum Master career path that could be right for you.

What is a scrum master?

In the simplest terms, a Scrum Master is responsible for ensuring that a Scrum team adheres to the Scrum framework processes. This includes facilitating sprint planning and retrospectives, helping the team to remove impediments, and protecting the team from outside interference.

The Scrum Master is not a project manager in the traditional sense but more of a servant leader who helps the team to self-organize and stay focused on delivering value.

One of the key differences between a Scrum Master and a project manager is that a Scrum Master does not have any direct authority over the team members. Instead, they need to use their facilitation skills to help the team reach a consensus on how to best achieve their goals.

Top responsibilities of a Scrum Master

What does a Scrum Master do?

A professional Scrum Master serves the Scrum team and the organization they work for in several different ways. Let’s break down the main responsibilities of a Scrum Master.

Remove impediments

The Scrum Master is responsible for removing any impediments that are preventing the team from being productive. This includes both external factors such as arranging cover for someone who is out sick and internal factors such as resolving conflict within the team.

Facilitate sprint planning, retrospectives, and other meetings

The Scrum Master is responsible for ensuring that sprint planning, retrospectives, and other Scrum ceremonies are conducted effectively. This includes helping the team to stay focused on the task at hand and ensuring that everyone has an opportunity to contribute.

Protect the team

The Scrum Master is responsible for protecting the team from outside interference and ensuring that the team has everything they need to be successful. This includes shielding the team from unrealistic deadlines and scope creep. (Scope creep is when the scope or goals of a project change or expand after development has already begun.)

Coaching

The Scrum Master is responsible for coaching the team in Scrum values and Scrum practices. This includes helping the team to self-organize and empowering them to make decisions.

Keep in mind that these are just the main responsibilities of a Scrum Master. In practice, the role is likely to involve other tasks and activities that are not listed here. Likewise, the role of a Scrum Master can vary from organization to organization.

For example, in a startup company, the Scrum Master might also be responsible for recruiting new team members and setting up the development environment. Whereas in a large enterprise organization, the Scrum Master is likely to have a more traditional focus on facilitation and coaching.

Career paths for Scrum Masters

There are several different career paths that a Scrum Master can take. Even though the position of a Scrum Master doesn’t have to be an entry-level one, it can still be a good starting point for someone who is interested in a career in project management or coaching.

Here are the most commonly recommended career paths for Scrum Masters:

Project manager

We already mentioned how the role of a project manager is similar to that of a Scrum Master. As a project manager, you will be responsible for leading and coordinating a team of developers to deliver a software project. This will include tasks such as developing the project schedule, assigning tasks to team members, and monitoring the progress of the project.

The position of a project manager is a good option for someone who wants to move into a more traditional management role. The key differences between a project manager and a Scrum Master are that a project manager can be more focused on the planning and execution of the project, while a Scrum Master is more focused on the team and the agile process.

According to Glassdoor, the average total pay for a project manager in the United States is $93,019.

Product owner

A Scrum product owner is responsible for defining the features and requirements of a product based on the stakeholders’ vision. In many organizations, the product owner is also responsible for prioritizing the product backlog and deciding what work should be done in each sprint. They communicate with both the stakeholders and the development team to ensure that the product meets the needs of the stakeholders and can be delivered within the timeframe and budget.

The position of Scrum product owner is often seen as a natural next step for a Scrum Master who wants to move into a more strategic role. In general, many Scrum Masters have product knowledge and team facilitator skills. These two categories open many opportunities for scrum masters to become product owners.  According to Glassdoor, the average pay for a product owner in the United States is $109,274.

Chief Scrum Master

Compared to a junior Scrum Master, a senior Scrum Master will have more experience in both the role and the industry. They are likely to be responsible for leading multiple Scrum teams and may also have a mentoring or coaching role within the organization. Their duties will also include more strategic tasks, such as working with the product owner to set the product vision and roadmap.

The position of senior Scrum Master is a good option for someone who wants to stay in a hands-on role but also have more responsibility and autonomy. According to Glassdoor, the average total pay for a senior Scrum Master in the United States is $122,070.

Agile coach

If you are interested in helping other teams adopt Scrum and other agile methods, then a career as an agile coach could be a good option for you. Agile coaches work with organizations to help them improve their agility and delivery. This includes providing training, mentoring, and agile coaching to teams and individuals.

On a daily basis, agile coaches typically spend most of their time working with teams, helping them identify and solve problems, and developing new agile techniques. They also work with stakeholders to help them understand the benefits of agile and how it can be used to achieve their business goals.

The role of an agile coach is a good option for someone who wants to move into a more consultative role. According to Glassdoor, the average pay for an agile coach in the United States is $129,010.

Chief information officer (CIO)

A C-suite position such as chief information officer (CIO) is a natural next step for a Chief Scrum Master or agile coach. In this role, you will be responsible for the overall strategy and delivery of information technology within the organization. This includes developing and implementing IT plans, managing budgets, and leading teams of IT professionals.

As with most C-suite positions, the role of CIO is very demanding and requires a high level of experience. It takes years, if not decades, to reach this level. But if you are looking for a challenge and want to take your career to the next level, then this could be the role for you.

The average pay for a CIO in the United States is $200,696, according to Glassdoor.

Which path is best for you?

Unfortunately, there is no universal answer to this question. The best career progression for you will depend on your experience, skills, and goals.

Would you prefer to stay in a more hands-on role or move into a more strategic position? Do you want to work with multiple teams or focus on one team? Do you want to stay within Scrum or move into a related field such as product management?

The best way to figure out which career path is right for you is to experiment and try out different roles. There is no harm in trying something new, and you may find that you enjoy a position that you never thought you would. Whichever path you choose, make sure it is aligned with your goals and gives you the challenge and satisfaction that you are looking for.

Conclusion

The beauty of a Scrum Master career is that there is no one-size-fits-all career path. From an entry-level role to an executive-level position, the sky’s the limit for those passionate about servant leadership and continuous improvement. With the right mix of training, experience, and soft skills, anyone can become a Scrum Master.

Whether you’re just starting out or you’re looking to take your career to the next level, consider becoming a Scrum Master. You can help organizations achieve agility and reach their goals, all while enjoying a rewarding and challenging career.

For more information on how to become a Scrum Master, don’t hesitate to contact us at The I4 Group. We offer Scrum Master training and certification, as well as other coaching and services to help organizations achieve agility. Visit our website to learn more.