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What is a Scrum Master?

Dec. 09, 2019
Global Knowledge

Scrum serves as a framework for the development of software and other products. It helps teams collaborate and provides a way to address challenges and changes in order to deliver a high value product.

The Scrum Master promotes and supports the framework (Scrum). A Certified Scrum Master (CSM) helps everyone understand Scrum theory, practices, rules, and values.

You might say the CSM is a coach, ensuring that Scrum methodologies are executed and that the final product is delivered on time and with the expected quality.


Certified Scrum Masters tackle many challenges, including:

  • Failing to finish tasks (sprints) on time
  • Spillover from one sprint to the next
  • Resistance to change within an organization
  • Handling urgent change requests
  • Managing distributed (remote) teams

You can also learn more about the Role of Scrum Master.


Why become a Certified Scrum Master?

Becoming a Certified Scrum Master prepares you to be a coach. You will be able to manage a team, mitigate challenges, and enable team members to solve problems on their own.

You will also play a crucial role in facilitating communication and cohesiveness between the team, your company and the product owner.

Certification makes you a valuable member of any organization, increasing your job prospects and elevating your career as an in-demand team leader.

Learn more about SAFe 4.5 Scrum Master with SSM Certification


Scrum Master training

If you are looking to increase your value as a software developer or IT professional, it is crucial to acquire the right skills and training. You must demonstrate your knowledge of Scrum and Agile methodologies.

The demand for Certified Scrum Masters is on the rise. Becoming certified will give you more opportunities to advance your career and command a higher salary.

To learn more, review these Global Knowledge Scrum Master certification prep courses:

SAFe Advanced Scrum Master (SASM)

SAFe 4.5 Scrum Master with SSM Certification

SAFe 4.5 Scrum Master


Scrum Master and Agile methodologies

There are two main methodologies at work in software and product development: Scrum and Agile.

Scrum is a scientific method that uses a heuristic approach to product development. A heuristic approach is a practical method that enables people to learn and solve problems through self-discovery. It stands in contrast to an algorithmic approach, which uses a clearly defined set of instructions to solve problems.

Scrum methodology allows teams to self-organize and deal with unexpected problems in the development of software and other products.

Agile methodology is a product management process that breaks down tasks into stages called “sprints”. It involves constant collaboration with the team, the business, and product owners throughout every sprint. It also demands continuous improvements and iterations at every stage.

How do the two methodologies work together? Essentially, Scrum provides the framework for implementing Agile.


Example of Scrum framework:

Product Backlog < Sprint Planning < Sprint Backlog < Scrum Team (Daily Scrum) < Sprint Review < Increment


Agile (and Scrum) is popular in today’s tech market for many reasons:

  • Encourages collaboration
  • Allows for frequent delivery of software
  • Allows for consistent development
  • Accommodates frequent changes
  • Enhances attention to detail and design
  • Allows for self-organization among team members
  • Constant awareness of how to be more effective

The Scrum Master serves as a facilitator for Agile development teams. The CSM, manages the processes and supports the framework so high quality products can be delivered every time.

Learn more about these methodologies with the Global Knowledge Agile and Scrum Foundation course.


The role of a Scrum Master

The Scrum Master is not the star of the team, but rather an autonomous supporting player and servant leader within a team. Scrum and Agile methodologies encourage individuals to take ownership of their work and make decisions. It also enhances collaboration between the team, project managers, and product owners.


These are the general responsibilities of a Scrum Master:

  • Ensure the team understands the goals, scope and product domain
  • Develop effective Product Backlog management techniques
  • Understand product planning in the environment
  • Ensure Product Owner can arrange Product Backlog for maximum product value
  • Understand and practice Agile methodology
  • Facilitate Scrum events


What skills do Scrum Masters need?

The skills required of a Scrum Master range from hard to soft skills.


Hard skills

Hard skills include the necessary training, education, and experience in order to qualify as a Scrum Master and be considered for more advanced, leadership positions.

#1. Scrum and Agile training

Your main role as a CSM is ensuring the team follows Scrum/Agile methodologies, rules, and values. You must have a strong understanding of how to structure the frameworks in order to be an effective Coach.

Learn more by taking the Global Knowledge Agile Boot Camp, which teaches you how to be an Agile Coach.

#2. Knowledge of iteration and incremental processes

Agile methodology is based on iteration and incremental processes. You need to understand both in order to guide a team through each stage.

#3. Organization

You must be able to develop and implement an organizational system in order to keep everyone on track.

#4. Technical familiarity

As a Scrum Master you will be working with software development teams, so, you must have a solid understanding of the technical terms and processes involved.

#5. Servant leader mindset

A Scrum Master doesn’t run the team. They enable the team to function effectively. You create the infrastructure that can help build a stronger team in order to meet goals and handle challenges.


Soft skills

Softs skills are a more difficult to define. These are personal qualities and strengths, which can help make you an effective Scrum Master.

#1. Teaching and coaching ability

A CSM must be able to teach and guide team members, project managers, senior management, and product owners. It’s not enough to explain what to do. You have to explain how and why you’re doing it.

#2. Conflict resolution

Team members have different personalities, ideas, and methods of working. A CSM needs to be able to solve conflicts so the team can progress.

#3. Communication

As with every facet of business, communication skills are essential for effective team leadership and Scrum/Agile framework management.


Responsibilities of a Scrum Master

CSMs wear many hats. They are coaches and teachers, leaders and facilitators, organizers and communicators. They play a crucial role with all of the key players in the development ecosphere.



Create and implement:

  • Create and onboard project teams
  • Ensure team members are integrated into the organization
  • Facilitate communication between team, project managers and product owner
  • Ensure team members understand the vision and goals of the project
  • Monitor project progress
  • Provide ongoing feedback
  • Form a culture of agility and learning

Resolve problems:

  • Solve challenges and roadblocks
  • Handle urgent changes and requests
  • Resolve internal conflicts
  • Resolve issues between team, managers and product owner
  • Teach team how to self-discover and problem solve using Scrum methodology

Improve outcomes:

  • Introduce Agile Engineering practices
  • Facilitate continuous integration and iteration
  • Develop repeatable test methods to reduce time and effort
  • Advocate for “pair programming” with two developers working together in real time


How a Scrum Master serves other teams/groups

Scrum Masters are often different things for different groups of people.

Scrum Master and product owner:

  • Manage product backlog
  • Arrange and optimize backlog
  • Liaison between owners and product team
  • Organize Scrum coaching events for stakeholders

Scrum Master and the organization:

  • Lead and coach Scrum adoption
  • Plan scrum implementation
  • Make changes that enhance the team’s productivity
  • Work with other CSMs to improve methodologies
  • Organize Scrum coaching events for employees and senior management

Scrum Master and team:

  • Coach team to organize and determine functionality
  • Ensure the team creates high-value products
  • Remove challenges to progress
  • Organize Scrum coaching events


Scrum Master vs. Project Manager

There is often confusion when it comes to differentiating between Scrum Masters and Project Managers. Some believe they are essentially the same, but there is a distinct difference.

- Project Managers focus on the product.

- Scrum Masters focus on the scrum team and other members (organization/product owner).


- Project Managers ensure the product is successful.

- Scrum Masters ensure the team is successful.


- Project Managers deal with multiple aspects of a project (timelines, budget, scope, risks, communication and resources).

- Scrum Masters focus on the team creating the project.


The ultimate role of the Scrum Master is to serve the TEAM. The Project Manager’s role is to serve the PRODUCT.

To be clear, both roles are necessary for the successful outcome of a product. However, they require different skills, training, and experience.


Scrum Master vs. Product Owner

Another key role in product development is the product owner. These individuals help maintain a product backlog, which describes the product and ensures it works with changing requirements.

The development process always entails changes to the product based on market forces or customer insights. These changes require adjustments to the backlog in order to keep the project on task.


How can you become a Certified Scrum Master?

Four steps to become a CSM:

  1. Become familiar with Scrum
  2. Complete pre-requisites for attending a CSM course
  3. Attend an in-person CSM course taught by a Certified Scrum Trainer
  4. Pass the 35-question CSM exam (at least 24 questions correct)


You will need to learn the following:

  • Scrum and Agile methodologies
  • The roles of Scrum Masters
  • How to organize Scrum events
  • How to coach a Scrum team, organization and product owner
  • How to teach outside members about Scrum values

Also, be sure to download the Official Scrum Guide and

review the Scrum Master Checklist for an overview of the roles, tasks, and jobs of a CSM.


Job prospects of a Certified Scrum Master

The job prospects for CSMs are varied. No matter your level of experience, there are plenty of career opportunities.

Here is a sampling of job postings gathered from,, and


These are the job titles that Certified Scrum Masters can get:

  • Certified Scrum Master
  • Entry Level Scrum Master
  • Associate Scrum Master
  • Scrum Master / Agile Coach
  • Scrum Master – Operations
  • Senior Scrum Master
  • Senior Scrum Master / Program Manager
  • Scrum Master II
  • Consultant II
  • SAFe AGILIST / Scrum Master
  • Agile Delivery Manager / Scrum Master
  • Agile Scrum Master
  • Project Manager (Scrum Master)
  • Senior Product Manager


Scrum Master average salary:

According to the Global Knowledge 2019 IT Skills and Salary Report, North American professionals who have earned the Certified Scrum Master certification have an average annual salary of $132,903.


Become a Certified Scrum Master to master your future

The future is wide open when you become a Certified Scrum Master, and so are your job prospects. The skills you’ll learn will enable you to coach a team, product owner, and organization; promote Scrum and Agile methodologies and values; and increase efficiency and product quality.


Start working on your future now with Scrum Master Certification courses :

SAFe Advanced Scrum Master (SASM)

Training in how to build a high-performing enterprise and take on leadership roles in facilitating Agile teams, programs, and SAFe implementation.

SAFe 4.5 Scrum Master with SSM Certification

This course will prepare you to take the Scrum Master exam in order to receive the SAFe Scrum Master (SSM) certification.

SAFe 4.5 Scrum Master

This course validates your knowledge of team-level Scrum, the role of Scrum Master in regards to the organization, and the key components of Agile scale development.


Learn about additional Scrum Master and Agile courses