If you’ve been intrigued by the concept of ‘Scrum’, you’ve probably heard about, and been a bit confused by, the role of a Certified Scrum Master (CSM). It’s not a well-named job title, let’s just get that out of the way. By common definition, “master” suggests that you’re the boss, or authority, over others. Or, at the very least, an expert who no longer has anything to learn or improve. Both interpretations are grossly inaccurate and, frequently, dangerous. It would be far more appropriate to say “Scrum Servant Leader”, but we’ll work with the title the Scrum Guide gives and elaborate to correct misconceptions.
Who is the Scrum Master?
The Scrum Master is a key figure in the Scrum team. Focusing on their team’s well-being and needs, they guide other team members (Product Owner and Developers) with Scrum principles and practices, to assist and encourage autonomy, self-organization, efficiency, and growth. They don’t assign, prioritize, judge, or blame. Nor do they martyr themselves to solve all the problems alone. They are more of a coach than a master and, done well, they keep the system moving.
Responsibilities of the Certified Scrum Master
The responsibilities of a Scrum Master are numerous. A Scrum Master facilitates the various Scrum events and works with their team to identify obstacles, then helps the team resolve them so they can perform effectively. They encourage team growth and well-being with things such as Sprint Retrospectives (meetings that review past events and plan improvements) and cross-skilling, and they act as a firewall between the team and potential distractions.
Requirements to become a Certified Scrum Master
If you’re nodding along and thinking, “I could be a Scrum Master,” here’s what you need to do. First, you need a good understanding of Scrum and Agile approaches. Some experience in project management or a related field is also beneficial, though not a requirement. Many believe that Scrum is used only in software development, which isn’t true. Scrum is also used successfully in many industries outside of that, including education, healthcare, and aviation, to name only a few. If you’re going to be a Scrum Master in an IT-related field, some programming knowledge will make communication easier, but the Scrum Master does not have to be a programmer/developer. Their role is to be the coach for the team, not the coder.
You can be a Scrum Master without any training, sadly to say. It’s a tough position to throw anyone into without support and resources, but it’s not an uncommon occurrence. Many of our alumni came to us for training because they had no idea what was expected of them or how to do a good job.
To be a Certified ScrumMaster®, the Scrum Alliance requires that you attend and participate in at least 14 hours of CSM training delivered by a Certified Scrum Trainer and pass the test.
None of that, including certification, guarantees that you’ll be an effective Scrum Master, which should be the goal far more than just holding the title.
Certified Scrum Master Exam and Certification Information
Throughout our two-day workshops, you will learn – and practice – all that is required for Scrum Master certification from instructor Mark Levison, one of the oldest Scrum/Agile practitioners in Canada (he’s been practicing since 2001, before Scrum was popular).
At the end of the course there will be an in-class, open-book exam that everyone passes. It’s not really an exam so much as a tool to help identify any remaining questions or misunderstandings about Scrum, which Mark can address before you leave. After the end of the course, you will receive an email directly from Scrum Alliance that will contain a link allowing you to take the multiple-choice Scrum Master Certification exam online at your convenience and anywhere you have an internet connection, within 90 days of completing the course. (Note: ScrumAlliance clearly prohibits writing the exam during the training course. If other trainers offer this, please be aware that they are doing so in violation of ScrumAlliance.) This is included in your registration fee.
After completing the training and becoming a Certified ScrumMaster®, it’s important to understand that your learning has only begun. Continuous education and support will make the difference on whether you are successful in your new role or not.
Why Become a Certified Scrum Master?
Now that you’ve gotten a fair idea of what it takes to become a Certified Scrum Master, let’s ponder on the “why” of it.
Firstly, obtaining a CSM certification can significantly boost your career prospects. In the bustling world of software development, a CSM certification can set you apart from the crowd, making you an attractive prospect for top companies. It’s the equivalent of having an extra, shiny feather in your cap when you’re stepping into the job market. And as other industries continue to adopt Agile and Scrum, you will be an essential voice and asset, early in the transition of their organization and beyond, to help them understand potential benefits and challenges of Scrum done properly.
Next, CSMs typically enjoy a higher salary compared to their non-certified counterparts. According to the annual Scrum Master Salary Report, CSMs are in the top salary percentile. So, if your ambitions involve a healthy bank balance (and let’s be honest, whose don’t?), this certification is a strategic move.
Expand Your Knowledge
CSM certification equips you with a baseline understanding of your role in Scrum, which is one of the most popular Agile methodologies used worldwide. We can’t emphasize enough that it will be the insights that you gain as an active CSM that will help you not only execute projects efficiently, but also make you an effective leader within your team. There is no “mastery” in being a Scrum Master, because there is always room for learning and improvement. But as you grow and become more effective, so too will your team.
Increase Your Influence
As a CSM, you play a pivotal role in promoting an Agile mindset in your organization. You’ll influence not only your team but also other stakeholders to adopt Scrum practices for more efficient project delivery. In essence, you’re the agent of change, a transformer, helping your team to ‘roll out’ Scrum methodologies.
Finally, being a CSM is deeply rewarding. You’ll enjoy the satisfaction of helping to resolve complex issues, fostering a collaborative environment, and leading your team to victory, project after project. Each day brings a new challenge and an opportunity to learn and grow.
So, if you’re seeking a career path that offers growth, challenge, reward, and the chance to be a part of something exciting and meaningful, becoming a Certified Scrum Master might be the perfect fit for you. After all, who wouldn’t want to be a master of Scrum, the magical world where projects become successful products?
Who Should Be a Certified Scrum Master?
If you’re someone who enjoys being a servant-leader, likes the idea of wearing many metaphorical hats at work, and loves coaching others while navigating project development, this role might just have your name on it. The role is perfect for those who thrive in a dynamic, continuous learning environment and have an aptitude for fostering teamwork and collaboration.