This is a bit of a loaded question because of the tension between the Scrum Guide’s definition of a Scrum Master and the tendency for organisations to give titles of seniority to people who have excelled in a role.
Titles like Enterprise Scrum Master, Principal Scrum Master, etc.
So how do we reward people within Scrum for being genuinely great at their job if it is a flat structure and a Scrum Master is a Scrum Master, regardless of how long they may have been in the role or how good they are at their role?
The answer is that there will always be levels of seniority within an organization.
A recent Certified Scrum Master graduate is not equal to a Scrum Master with 10 years of experience working with Scrum Teams. It makes sense that there are also people with specialist expertise in certain areas that would be far more effective leaders in those spheres.
So, yes, there are levels of seniority within Scrum, but they do not necessarily need to differentiate with titles such as Principal Scrum Master for example.
Scrum does encourage people to excel at what they do and seek to acquire skills, expertise, and certifications over time to transition from one stage of their career to another. The emphasis, however, is on people excelling in their role as a Scrum Master and serving others.
In any organisation, you would actively want the senior, more experienced individuals to take the inexperienced individuals under their wing. You would actively want them to work closely with those individuals and help cultivate and nurture their capabilities from the word go.
Scrum is no different. Scrum Masters are no different. We want the same thing to happen.
It is easy enough to identify strengths, expertise and experience within the Scrum Master job title and reward those who are excellent, experienced and highly skilled with a higher salary or day rate.
You do not need to create a Chief Executive Scrum Master title or role to do that.
Certification Paths for Scrum Master Seniority
That said, it is natural to want to progress within your career as a Scrum Master and evolve from practitioner to experienced coach. Scrum Alliance make provision for that and have designed a clear, valuable certification path to help you in your career progression.
You start with the Certified Scrum Master certification. After a year within the role of a Scrum Master you progress to the Advanced Certified Scrum Master certification followed by the Certified Scrum Professional Scrum Master after approximately another year in the role.
At this stage you are an advanced Scrum Master with a hybrid role of a coach within the organisation. You can prepare for the Certified Team Coach certification as well as the Certified Enterprise Coach certification from here.
Scrum Alliance are not the only path to advanced Scrum Mastery and Agile coaching.
IC Agile don’t follow the same stringent path as the Scrum Alliance and offer a faster progression to Agile Coaching by offering the IC Agile Certified Agile Team Coaching course and credential.
Scrum Career Progression
The Agile Industry have a bit of a problem when it comes to making distinctions between different levels of seniority, capability and competence.
In many cases, a Scrum Master with a year or two worth of experience will simply change their title to Agile Coach in order to benefit from increased day rates and earning potential. If those individuals are not skilled enough to do the job, it becomes a problem for both clients as well as the industry.
For that reason, we have developed the Agile Coaching Academy. A coached, mentored journey from Scrum Master to Agile Coach that includes coaching sessions, workshops, and mentoring from deeply experienced Agile coaches and Agile practitioners.
The Agile Coaching Academy also offers a 50% discount on one of the Scrum Alliance certifications to help you grow your credential base in alignment with your growing expertise and skillset.
If you are interested in getting certified for your Scrum Master skills, visit our Certified Scrum Master, Advanced Certified Scrum Master and Certified Scrum Professional Scrum Master pages.
Frequently Asked Scrum Master Questions
- What is Scrum?
- What is a Scrum Team?
- Do Scrum Masters work outside of Software environments?
- Do I need project management experience to become a Scrum Master?
- How does a Scrum Master differ from a Project Manager?
- Is the Scrum Master a member of the development team?
- What is the difference between a Scrum Master and a Product Owner?
- What is the Agile Manifesto?
- What are 3 traits of a good Scrum Master?
- Are there different levels of seniority amongst Scrum Masters?
- Can you create a Scrum environment in a company that isn’t Agile?
- Do I need to be a developer to be a Scrum Master for a software development team?
- How will I know if a Scrum Master role is a good fit for me?
- Must you be an expert in Scrum to become a Scrum Master?
- What are career opportunities for a Scrum Master?
- What do Scrum Masters do?
- What is a daily scrum and do Scrum Masters lead them?
Frequently asked Training and Certification questions
- Do you get course materials and textbooks on the CSM course?
- How well does a CSM course prepare you to be a Scrum Master?
- How well recognised and respected is the Certified Scrum Master course?
- What do I need to know before signing up on the CSM course?
- What is a Certified Scrum Master?
- What is a good certification path for a Scrum Master?
- What will you learn on a CSM course?
- Will I be able to lead a scrum team after doing a CSM course?
- Are there different Scrum Master certifications and how do they differ?
- Do companies invest in CSM courses or is it predominantly individuals?
- How long is the CSM course and how is it configured?
- Is the CSM course theoretical or practical?
- Is there an alumni group for CSM graduates?
- Is there an exam I need to pass to become a Certified Scrum Master?
- What can I do with a CSM credential?
- What is my earning potential as a Certified Scrum Master?