Definition, Roles and Guideline To Becoming a Scrum Master

By Tegan Griffiths

Updated October 5, 2021 | Published February 4, 2020

Updated October 5, 2021

Published February 4, 2020

Tegan Griffiths is a technical writer with a passion for everything from artificial learning to machine learning. Tegan currently writes content for an association magazine in the tech business.

Scrum is a project management methodology that many tech companies use to develop successful products. In this methodology, an appointed employee called a scrum master helps team members reach their project goals. Learning about what a scrum master does and how to become one can help you decide if this career is right for you. In this article, we define scrum, describe the roles of a scrum master and give insights into the specific steps you can follow when pursuing this career.

Related: Using the Agile Project Management Methodology

What is a scrum master?

A scrum master is a project professional who provides support during the scrum process in software development projects. Scrum masters guide team members and ensure they apply scrum techniques effectively. Scrum is a project management ideology that allows teams to handle complex tasks to deliver high-quality products.

A scrum master is a part of the agile development team. Agile development is a mechanism used to set realistic goals and flexibility during the execution of projects. With their knowledge, they can motivate users to handle new challenges and make independent decisions. This method is multifaceted and understandable when managing challenging projects. Scrum allows for readjustment to improve, remove and add parts of the software.

Related: How To Become a Scrum Master

What are the responsibilities of a scrum master?

Scrum masters are servant leaders who are responsible for maintaining product and software quality. As a scrum master, you're likely to welcome new ideas and encourage other team members. Some of the specific duties of a scrum master are:

  • Holding daily meetings called scrum ceremonies

  • Reviewing previous progress and decisions made to improve the software

  • Aiding the team in deciding the quantity of work they can complete within a specific time

  • Helping team members arrive at a consensus during a scrum meeting

  • Maintaining the team's focus toward adhering to rules and standards set by the company

  • Eliminating and handling different personal or professional issues barring the team's growth and progress

  • Removing external distractions that could slow the scrum process

  • Supervising employees every day and offering any guidance or assistance

  • Providing executives or higher management with the team's progress

It's only through collaboration that a scrum process can function. A scrum master is an intermediary between the product owner and consumer and a delegator of the roles that need to be carried out to achieve a high-quality product. Therefore, scrum masters rely on frequent feedback from the stakeholders, such as the consumers, product owner and the development team. The success of the software is used as an indicator of the proper application of the scrum methodology.

Related: Scrum vs. Sprint: What's the Difference?

What are some questions asked in scrum meetings?

A scrum master asks questions related to software development during every meeting. Their questions are focused on creating unity, tracking progress and monitoring roles among team members. They promote a sense of self-awareness and self-critique in these question-answer sessions. Some questions that a scrum master can ask include:

  • What task did you accomplish yesterday?

  • What do you plan to do today?

  • Do you face any obstacles?

  • What is your suggestion for making a delivery estimate for this software?

  • Is there any reservation for today's tasks?

  • Do you have any three options for solving today's problem?

  • In case a decision is made, are there any negative consequences you might face?

  • How might the overall quality of the product look after this task?

How to become a scrum master

Here are some steps you can take to be a scrum master:

1. Pursue formal education

Though not a requirement, having a bachelor's degree can give you a competitive advantage when applying for scrum master roles. For instance, if you have a degree in business administration, organizational communication, business management, software development or any other relatable field, you can easily integrate the concepts you learn when leading a team of developers.

Prospective scrum masters can also benefit from taking coursework in business communication, executive leadership, project management and various topics that revolve around management. Individuals with software design, computer science or application development can also excel in scrum master positions.

2. Study different scrum theories

You can learn scrum theories by completing an online course from one of the many foundations that offer an e-learning series. A typical scrum lesson comprises short videos that explain different basic principles that pertain to the scrum process. Some lessons include scrum planning, scrum roles and scrum principles.

You can gain more theories and knowledge by using the official Scrum Guide. It's a PDF file with guidelines on all information required to learn and understand the scrum process. As a prospective scrum master, you can study the guide and the video series before proceeding with subsequent steps.

3. Earn a certification

Many employers seek scrum masters with certifications to show they completed relevant training and have the required knowledge of the job. Scrum.org offers the Professional Scrum Master certification in three different levels, all of which you can earn after completing a course and passing an exam. You don't need to complete a recertification process to maintain your PSM certification.

The Scrum Alliance offers the following scrum master certifications:

  • Certified ScrumMaster

  • Advanced Certified ScrumMaster

  • Certified Scrum Professional ScrumMaster

You can earn these certifications by completing a course and passing an exam. To maintain your Scrum Alliance certification, you need to complete continuing education and apply for renewal.

4. Earn practical experience

Most job descriptions include details about the required experience for scrum masters. You can gain experience by seeking an entry-level job that helps you practice your scrum master skills. Consider jobs such as project coordinator to help learn about project requirements and scheduling. Furthermore, scrum masters often add to their experience by completing internships at software development companies.

5. Apply for jobs

You can usually qualify for scrum master jobs after gaining two to five years of experience in the industry. Look for jobs in the following places:

  • Job boards

  • Job search websites

  • Job sites dedicated to software development

  • Company websites

To connect with professionals directly, consider attending job fairs and networking events. Building a network of professionals in software development can help you gain reliable references and increase your chances of finding scrum master jobs.

Related: How To Write a Scrum Master Resume (With Templates and Examples)

What are some other scrum-related certifications?

You can pursue additional certifications to learn more about agile and scrum and increase your competitiveness as a candidate. Consider the following certifications:

  • Certified Scrum Developer: These professionals apply specialized agile engineering skills to projects.

  • Certified Agile Coach: You can earn this certification if you want to teach others about best practices in agile methodologies.

  • Certified Agile Leadership: This certification shows you know have in-depth knowledge in agile leadership.

  • Certified Scrum Product Owner: This leader decides which task to handle and defines how to complete those tasks to achieve high-quality software.

  • Certified Scaling Practitioner: These professionals are ambassadors of the Scrum Alliance who impart lifelong learning and education to scrum learners.

Please note that none of the organizations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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