In the spheres of project management, a project manager would move from practitioner to manager and from manager to director level over the course of a career.
In scrum, it works a little differently. In my opinion, it is more rewarding than progression to management because you pass through an apprenticeship to mastery, and then embark on a new apprenticeship to mastery journey as an Agile coach and Agile leader/entrepreneur.
In the 90s Scrum was developed in response to 21st century challenges experienced by software developers and software development teams.
The information age had created volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity which traditional project management simply couldn’t handle. Something needed to be created and developed that would help teams function and excel in this new normal.
Fast forward to 2021 and pretty much every industry is experiencing the same thing. It is no longer simply the domain of software engineering and development.
This evolution has led to the widespread adoption of Scrum as well as other Agile frameworks and created numerous opportunities for Scrum Masters. As both practitioners as well as coaches.
A scrum master works with a small team of intelligent, creative and competent professionals to solve problems which have never been solved before and to create products, features and services which have never existed before.
It is a super dynamic role and as the Scrum Master, you are on a journey that includes heaps of discovery, learning and creativity. It takes time to master and lead in this environment and so for the first few years, you are simply looking to deepen your mastery of this environment and skillset.
Scrum Professional Scrum Master
Over time, you are going to progress from apprenticeship to journeyman. The role where you have mastered the basics and are growing your skillset to the point where you could be considered a master of your domain.
At the same time, you will find that you are already straddling the line between practitioner and coach.
In your role as a Scrum Professional Scrum Master, you would be helping other Scrum Masters move through their apprenticeship stage, you would also likely be leading in the Scrum Master community through talks, writing and or vlogging. Effectively sharing your knowledge with the community.
At the same time, you would be starting your career as an Agile coach.
Your mastery of the practitioner environment would create opportunities for you within a company as the resident expert and apprentice Agile coach, or within the contractor community as a power Scrum master working on complex Agile transformations.
At this stage of your career, you have the option to progress into coaching, specifically Agile coaching or you can choose to embed yourself as a professional Scrum Master that is deployed as the lead Scrum Master in complex, valuable product development environments.
Many people choose to embed themselves in careers where they deepen their level of expertise and mastery in the sphere of Scrum Mastery, and it is a great choice for those who enjoy the challenge of building self-organising, high-performance teams that are creative and collaborative.
For those who find that they enjoy helping others solve complex problems, the journey will take you into the sphere of coaching as well as Agile coaching.
IC Agile have a Certified Agile Team Coaching course whilst Scrum Alliance have the Certified Team Coach and Certified Enterprise Agile Coach credentials that you can apply for. You would simply need to demonstrate capability and expertise in this sphere to be awarded the certifications.
As an Agile coach, you have numerous career prospects.
The growth and rapid adoption of both Scrum and Agile in a multitude of industries has opened doors in a myriad of environments inside and outside of software engineering.
You can explore these opportunities as a deeply embedded Agile coach within an organization or you can pursue opportunities as a contracted Agile coach that works on short to medium-term projects around the world.
Agile coaches are paid more than Scrum Masters because their role requires them to be an expert in their field and because they are responsible for the propagation of mastery within the environment. In other words, leading others through their apprenticeship and journeyman experiences.
Agile coaches also have the choice of working with a team or choosing enterprise-level coaching which includes coaching C-suite and senior leadership of organisations. To do this, you would need to include professional coaching certifications in addition to your Agile coaching certifications.
In the 21st Century economy, coaching equals leadership.
You simply cannot be a great leader, or Agile leader, without being a great coach. This is where your progression from Scrum Master to Agile Coach really comes in handy.
All that experience working with teams, cultivating and nurturing high-performance teams, and being someone that knows how to remove impediments to progress whilst coaching others in how to overcome obstacles really comes into play and sets you up super well for Agile leadership.
You can do a Certified Agile Leadership course at any stage of your career, from Scrum Master through to Agile Coach, and it is something I would definitely advise you to do. It gives you some great insights into how to grow high-performing, Agile organisations.
Agile leadership and Agile entrepreneurship open a myriad of doors and opportunities for you. The world truly is your oyster. You can choose where to invest your time, passion and creativity at this stage and whether you join a corporation or start one, you will be super well prepared.
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?