What is a Scrum Master?

By Jordan Fabel •  Updated: November 3, 2021  •  8 min read  •  Business
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Scrum Masters are facilitators for a development team. They fill a role without much authority. Therefore, you will need to be an expert at Scrum to enter this career. Scrum masters are also responsible for improving interactions between the organization and the Scrum team.

If you’re wondering what a career as a Scrum Master might include, you probably need to know what Scrum is first. So let’s look at what Scrum is, what a Scrum master is, and how to enter this career.

What is a Scrum Master

What is Scrum?

A type of framework allowing teams to work on projects and deliver products with an adaptive approach is what Scrum is. It’s basically a straightforward project planning program. With Scrum, it’s easy to provide feedback continuously throughout the project.

The person on the Scrum team in charge of managing the process is the Scrum Master. They will likely not be involved in the decision-making, however. Instead, they guide the team to ensure they know how to get through the process together.

Scrum Masters are used to helping ensure the team understands Scrum. This is especially important for those that are new to the framework. A Scrum Master has a deep understanding of Scrum and knows how to support and help team members.

Job Duties of a Scrum Master

The main duties of a Scrum Master include:

These are the main job duties you will take on when you become a Scrum Master.

Requirements to Becoming a Scrum Master

There is no formal education requirement to become a Scrum Master. You don’t need a degree. However, you will need to attend a Scrum Master course to get a certification. In addition, you will likely need to get your certification through the Scrum Alliance. Mountain Goat Software also offers a certification for Scrum Masters.

The certification will require 16 hours of training from a Certified Scrum Trainer. This training is completed over two days. Therefore, it’s necessary to understand the basic Scrum theory before you attend this course. Without an understanding of the basic principles, you might be lost during this course.

A short quiz will start the course to ensure you’re ready for the training. The Scrum Foundations eLearning Series can help you prepare for this quiz.

As you take the course, you will be introduced to every aspect of the Scrum framework. This includes the roles, events, and artifacts assisting with supporting and organizing the SCRUM team.

After completing the course, you will still need to pass the exam. It’s also necessary to accept the license agreement. Once you pass the exam and accept the agreement, you will be a Certified Scrum Master. This gives you a two-year membership in the Scrum Alliance.

How to Become a Scrum Master

Become Familiar with Scrum Framework

The first thing you need to do becomes familiar with the Scrum framework. Once you have gained a basic understanding of the framework, you’ll be better prepared to take the Scrum course. Use the Scrum Alliance as a resource to help you learn the framework.

Sign Up and Complete the Scrum Course

You will need to take the quiz to ensure you’re ready for the course. Then, pay the $1,000 to $2,000 fee for the CSM (Certified Scrum Master) course. During the course, you will go through the following topics:

These topics will help to prepare you for the CSM exam.

Pass the CSM Exam

You will need to score at least a 74% on the CSM exam to pass. As long as you pass, you will gain a two-year membership as a Certified Scrum Master. This membership has to be renewed every two years.

Common Skills for a Scrum Master

If you want to become a Scrum Master, there are specific skills you should have. These include:

Along with Scrum and Agile knowledge, these skills will go a long way if you want to become a Scrum Master.

Frequently Asked Questions About Scrum Masters

How much can I earn as a scrum master?

According to ZipRecruiter, a scrum master earns an average salary of about $113K per year or $55 per hour. The range goes from about $54K to $159K per year.

Salary.com, however, has an average salary of about $80K per year. So the range from this site is about $61K to about $105K per year.

Payscale.com is similar to Salary.com, with an average salary of about $90K per year. Again, the range is about the same with a bottom salary of $61K, but a higher top salary of about $123K per year.

The biggest factors in your actual salary will be your experience level and your location. Those with five or more years of experience can earn far more than those just starting as a Scrum Master.

How many questions are on the CSM exam?

The CSM exam includes 50 total questions. Therefore, you have to answer at least 37 questions correctly to pass the exam.

How long do I have to complete the CSM exam?

The exam takes 60 minutes to complete. You will also have up to 90 days to take the exam after completing the course.

Can I retake the CSM exam if I don’t pass?

Yes, you get two chances to pass the CSM exam. If you fail it two times, you can take it again, but you will have to pay an additional fee.

Will I get to see the questions I missed if I fail the exam?

Yes. If you fail the exam, you get to see the questions you missed. This can help you with studying for the exam again. When you pass the CSM exam, you get to see both the questions you got right and those you missed.

Are there different levels of Scrum Master certification?

Yes. Scrum.org offers three levels of Scrum Master certification. Level one is the fundamental level. Level two is the advanced level. Finally, level three is the distinguished level.

The Scrum Alliance also offers different levels. For example, you can work through the following levels:

All of these levels allow you to advance your skills and your career a bit further.

What type of person commonly becomes a Scrum Master?

There are a few specific types of careers that lead a person to become a Scrum Master. It’s usually a career someone transitions to, from one of the following backgrounds:

While it’s not required that you have any specific background, these are the common backgrounds for those becoming Scrum Masters.

Do I need experience to work as a Scrum Master?

No. It’s helpful to have some experience in project management, but not necessary. If you want to be a Scrum Master, starting without any experience is possible. However, you will likely need to highlight your transferable skills and how they can help.

You might want to look at any work, hobbies, or education that will help you fit into the role. Communication skills are obviously transferrable, but some skills may not be so obvious. Take this into consideration when creating your resume for a Scrum Master position.

What’s necessary to maintain my CSM certification?

After you become certified as a CSM, you will need to earn Scrum Education Units. These are earned by volunteering your services for free, attending events, and gaining ongoing education. Commonly, Scrum Masters will provide free services in the community to earn Scrum Education Units.

Is Becoming a Scrum Master Right For You?

A unique career with a high salary, becoming a Scrum Master might be a good choice for you. A deeper understanding of the Scrum framework and this role will likely help you make the best decision. If you work well with others and know how to help a team, this might be the perfect career choice.

Jordan Fabel

Jordan Fabel

Covering different 'paths' that people's lives can take. Creative, foster parent, ticket dismissal, you get the idea. Exploring the requirements, certifications, exams, and obviously, approved courses along each path. I, personally, am the high school dropout son of two teacher parents. So how did I get here? That story is coming soon!