- Highly organized,
- a disciple of the Agile methodology,
- the kind of leader who wants to help their team grow and succeed, and
- skilled at conflict resolution?
If so, becoming a scrum master might be the perfect path for you. Read on to learn more about what a scrum master is and how to become one. It’s your step-by-step guide!
What Is A Scrum Master?
Many companies have switched to the Agile methodology because it allows teams to deliver complex, high-value products quickly through collaboration, self-organization, and continuous feedback. A scrum master is an integral part of an Agile project, because they facilitate the team’s organization and success by helping to maximize productivity and problem solve.
A scrum master
- Makes sure the scrum framework is maintained
- Arranges daily meetings
- Assist with maximizing communication
- Promotes productivity by problem-solving and removing roadblocks
- Is a servant leader that facilitates community and team decision-making
- Maintain the team’s burndown chart
- Sets up retrospectives, sprint reviews and sprint planning sessions.
What Is A Scrum Master’s Role?
The scrum master’s role is fairly unique. It is a leadership position, but you do not have any more authority than anyone else on the team. You are not a manager, because a scrum team will organize themselves. A scrum master is a facilitator and a helper. They are the glue that holds the whole project together.
A scrum master has to make sure that the team clearly understands the goals and scope of the project. In this, they serve as a source of communication and collaboration between the project manager and the product owner. They should provide the team with techniques and tools to improve communication, work productively, and problem-solve effectively.
How Much Is A Scrum Master’s Salary?
In the United States, the national average for a scrum master’s salary is $97,319. This varies by region, and salaries can range between $78,000 and $132,000. Scrum masters with certifications are more likely to have a higher salary, as they can prove that their skills were deemed worthy by an unbiased test.
How To Become A Scrum Master
To be a scrum master, you have to become an expert in scrum and implementing scrum theories into real-life scenarios. All of this begins with some homework.
If you’re new to scrum or Agile, you should study up and learn more about these methodologies. The Agile Manifesto is a good place to start, but there are countless resources on the internet to help you learn more.
After you have familiarized yourself with the scrum method and think it sounds like a good fit for you, you have to decide on which certification you wish to take. Of course, a certification isn’t absolutely necessary to get a job as a scrum master, but most organizations will look for one on your resume as proof of your skills.
There are a few different places to receive your scrum certification online, but you can also take an in-person class with a certified scrum teacher. Scrum.org offers three levels of scrum certification exams (PSM I-III), the Scrum Alliance provides Certified Scrum Master (CSM) training and certification, and the Project Management Institute (PMI) offers an Agile Certified Practitioner Scrum Master certification. Each certification has different requirements and tests, so you need to decide which one is right for you.
During these certification processes, you’ll learn more about the scrum framework, events, artifacts, rules, and other phrases and methods of scrum.
Now that you have completed all the requirements for your program’s course, you need to take the exam and earn your certification. If you can, try to schedule your exam close to the end of your course so the information is fresh in your mind. Before your exam, study every day and continue your independent scrum education. Not only will this prepare you for your exam, but all that knowledge will make you a better scrum manager.
Each exam is different, but some topics to be familiar with are:
- Project management
- Team building
- Release planning
- Progress reporting
Depending on the exam, you may also be asked about the history and development of scrum. The exams are multiple choice.
Scrum.org’s PSM exams are known for being more complex than Scrum Alliance’s exam. The PSM exam has 80 questions and a 60 minute time limit. It is open-note, but because you need to answer more than one question a minute you might not have time to check your study guide. You can take this exam anywhere you want if you have a computer and an internet connection.
To take the Scrum Alliance’s CSM exam you have to take a 2-day mandatory class before your test. You can take the 35 question multiple choice exam at home. Breaks are allowed, and the exam usually takes an hour. You need 24 or more correct answers to pass.
You must take PMI’s Agile Certified Practitioner certification exam on-site at a PMI partner’s location. Over the course of 3 hours, you must answer more than 70% of the exam’s 120 multiple-choice questions to pass.
After you take your exam, you won’t need to wait to hear back about your results. Because they are multiple choice exams, you should receive your results a few minutes after your test. Then you will receive your scrum master certification by email. Congratulations!
If you made a few too many mistakes on your exam and did not pass, you will be emailed the questions you got wrong (although without the answers). Usually, you can take the exam one more time for free.
Of course, having a certification isn’t going to necessarily land you a job as a scrum master. But if your resume has real-life work experience and an impressive certification, you’ll see an uptick in your job opportunities. And even if you eventually decide to move beyond being a scrum master, your training and experience in the role will give you a solid understanding of the scrum framework, relevant and marketable skills, and the ability to work with any group of teammates to produce a superior product.