How to be a Scrum Master

In the dynamic world of IT software development, the Agile approaches have emerged as a game-changer. The have transformed the way teams operate and deliver value. One of the most popular frameworks within Agile is the Scrum framework. At the heart of this framework is a critical role – the Scrum Master. As an integral part of Agile teams, the Scrum Master ensures the team’s success in delivering value incrementally. The Scrum Master’s role is not just about managing the process, but also about guiding the team and organization towards Agile principles and the Scrum framework.

This article will cover the key points to becoming a Scrum Master:

  • Understanding the role, and that it is a servant leader / coach and not a manager
  • The essential skills for a Scrum Master (communication, agile principles, problem solving, coaching and mentoring)
  • Steps to becoming a Scrum Master (acquiring knowledge and experience, getting a certification, finding a mentor).

Understanding the Role of a Scrum Master

The Scrum Master’s responsibilities are varied. They are the servant leaders who guide their teams towards practicing Agile and Scrum principles effectively. They clear obstacles, foster an environment that enables effectiveness, address team dynamics, and protect the team from interruptions and distractions.

how to be a scrum master agile
Scrum Master is becoming an important part of software and product development

Unlike traditional project managers, Scrum Masters do not command and control. Instead, they lead from a position of influence, focusing on team empowerment and product delivery. They ensure that the Scrum team follows the Scrum events, artifacts, and roles. And that the team fully understands Scrum principles.

They also work closely with the Product Owner and the Development Team to facilitate communication and resolve any issues that may arise. Bridging the gap between technology and development is crucial for getting everyone on the same page and building valuable products.

This video explains what the Scrum Master role is and what they do.

Essential Skills for a Scrum Master

To excel in this role, a Scrum Master must possess:

  • Leadership and communication skills: They must guide the team and stakeholders through the Scrum framework, ensuring clear communication and understanding. They need to facilitate open communication among team members and stakeholders, and ensure that everyone is on the same page.
  • Knowledge of Agile and Scrum principles: A deep understanding of the Agile methodology and Scrum framework is essential for the team to work effectively. They need to be well-versed in Agile principles, Scrum Guide, and the Scrum framework to effectively guide the team and organization. It really helps if they have knowledge of other agile systems or frameworks, such as Lean, Kanban, and Systems Thinking.
  • Problem-solving and conflict resolution skills: They must be adept at resolving conflicts within the team and solving problems that hinder the team’s progress. They need to identify and remove obstacles that could derail the team’s progress, and help the team navigate through conflicts and challenges.
  • Ability to coach and mentor the team: They must be capable of coaching the team on Scrum principles and mentoring them to improve their practices. They need to foster a culture of continuous improvement and learning within the team.

Steps to Becoming a Scrum Master

Becoming a Scrum Master involves a series of steps:

  1. Acquiring knowledge about Agile and Scrum: Understand the Agile methodology and Scrum framework, including Scrum events, Scrum artifacts, and Scrum roles. (These are sometimes known as the “Three Five Three” – Three artifacts, five events, and three roles). This includes understanding the Scrum Guide, Agile principles, and the Scrum framework in detail.
  2. Gaining relevant experience in project or product management: Experience in project management, especially in an Agile team, is beneficial. This includes understanding the dynamics of team collaboration, the nuances of product delivery, and the principles of servant leadership.
  3. Obtaining Scrum Master certification: Certification from a recognized body like the Scrum Alliance validates your knowledge and skills. It provides a solid foundation of knowledge and credibility in the industry.
  4. Finding a mentor and learning from experienced Scrum Masters: Mentorship from experienced Scrum Masters can provide valuable insights and guidance. They can share their experiences, lessons learned, and provide guidance on navigating the challenges of the role.

Scrum Master Certification

Certification is a crucial step in becoming a Scrum Master. It not only validates your knowledge and skills but also enhances your credibility. There are different Scrum Master certifications available, each with its own benefits. The process of obtaining certification typically involves training, an examination, and agreement to uphold the Scrum principles.

scrum master certified product development
Certification is important but not sufficient to becoming a Scrum Master

Certifications like Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) from Scrum Alliance, Professional Scrum Master (PSM) from, and Advanced Certified ScrumMaster (A-CSM) from Scrum Alliance are widely recognized.

Each certification has its unique focus and benefits, and the choice depends on your career goals and the context of your work.

I wrote more about the different certifications here.

Challenges Faced by a Scrum Master

Despite the rewards, the role of a Scrum Master comes with its share of challenges. These include transitioning from traditional project management roles, working with teams new to Agile, and managing workload across multiple teams. However, with the right strategies, these challenges can be overcome.

One common pitfall is assuming that traditional project managers can easily transition into the Scrum Master role. The Scrum Master role requires a shift from a command-and-control mindset to a servant-leadership approach, which can be challenging.

Another challenge is working with teams that are new to Agile. Such teams may resist the change and cling to old ways of working. As a Scrum Master, you need to patiently guide the team through the transition. And help them understand the benefits of Agile and Scrum.

Another unusual skill that a lot of people miss out on is understanding the particular uses and limitations of Scrum. Sometimes, Scrum just isn’t right for the context you are in. Scrum isn’t a silver bullet and is not suited to all use cases. Scrum Masters need to make sure they are not zealots and are not trying to force Scrum on everyone and every team that they come across.

Sometimes Lean or Kanban is better. Sometimes traditional Waterfall project management is better.

Career Path and Opportunities for a Scrum Master

As a Scrum Master, there are numerous career progression opportunities, including roles like Agile Coach or Product Owner. Scrum Masters are in demand across various industries, making it a promising career path.

With experience and further certification, Scrum Masters can move into roles like Agile Coach, where they guide multiple teams and even the entire organization in Agile practices. They can also become Product Owners, who are responsible for maximizing the value of the product and the work of the Development Team.


The role of a Scrum Master is pivotal in the Agile and Scrum world. They are the driving force that helps the team navigate the Scrum framework and deliver value. Embarking on the journey to becoming a Scrum Master is a rewarding career choice that opens up numerous opportunities. People will need to understand Agile and Scrum, get some knowledge and skills and certifications, and take this role seriously. It is a challenging role and very different to traditional project management. So make sure you are ready to embark on that mindset shift before you make the move to a Scrum Master role.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the role of a Scrum Master in a Scrum Team? The Scrum Master is a servant leader who guides the team in practicing Agile and Scrum principles effectively. They ensure that the team adheres to the Scrum framework, facilitate communication, and remove obstacles that hinder the team’s progress.

How to become a certified Scrum Master? Becoming a certified Scrum Master typically involves undergoing training, passing an examination, and agreeing to uphold the Scrum principles. There are several recognized bodies like Scrum Alliance and that offer Scrum Master certification.

What are the career opportunities for a Scrum Master? Scrum Masters have opportunities across various industries. They can progress to roles like Agile Coach or Product Owner. With the increasing adoption of Agile and Scrum, the demand for Scrum Masters is on the rise.

What skills are required to be a Scrum Master? A Scrum Master needs leadership and communication skills, knowledge of Agile and Scrum principles, problem-solving and conflict resolution skills, and the ability to coach and mentor the team.

What is the difference between a Scrum Master and a Project Manager? Unlike traditional project managers who command and control, Scrum Masters lead from a position of influence, focusing on team empowerment and product delivery. They ensure that the team adheres to the Scrum framework and Agile principles.

In conclusion, the journey to becoming a Scrum Master is a rewarding one, filled with opportunities for growth and learning. With the right mindset and skills, anyone can embark on this journey and contribute to the success of Agile teams. As a Scrum Master, you will be at the forefront of Agile transformation, guiding your team towards improved performance and better product delivery. It’s a journey of continuous learning and improvement, where every day brings new challenges and opportunities.

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