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How to Become a Scrum Master 

 May 13, 2021

Becoming a Scrum Master can open up new doors for you, both when it comes to professional and personal development.

But before you decide to become a Scrum Master, you need to familiarize yourself with the role and its main responsibilities. 

Once you develop a better understanding of the role, which is exactly what this post is going to help you with, you can start your journey of becoming a Scrum Master. 

What Is a Scrum Master and What Are Their Responsibilities?

A Scrum Master is a professional who uses the Scrum framework to make the Agile development team operate more smoothly. The framework got its name from the sport rugby, where the two competing teams huddle together to restart the match. 

This is pretty much how a typical Scrum meeting goes: the Scrum Master discusses critical points with the team and follows up with the progress by asking the right questions and understanding the current challenges that may hinder the project’s progress. The team reports what was done yesterday and discusses what they’re going to do today, in addition to making plans for the future. 

However, it’s worth noting that a Scrum Master isn’t a manager in the traditional sense. The Scrum Master is more of a leader who helps the team achieve its goals as efficiently as possible by keeping team members focused and ensuring that there aren’t any obstacles that affect their performance. 

The Scrum framework consists of a Scrum Master, a Scrum product owner, and a Scrum team. In such a scenario, there isn’t a single project manager who’s fully responsible for everything. Each member of the team is accountable, which encourages teamwork and promotes more effective communication.

One of the most powerful features of the framework is that it allows for incremental progress in the project’s life cycle. It also makes it easier to make changes without increasing the costs significantly. 

The Scrum Master’s Involvement in the Development of the Product

There are several schools of thinking that discuss whether the Scrum Master should be involved in the development of the product with the rest of the team. 

Some people argue that the Scrum Master should be involved to some extent to be able to understand the obstacles that the team faces more effectively. The problem with this approach is that the Scrum Master may find themselves overloaded with work to the point that they ditch their main responsibilities as Scrum Masters. 

On the other hand, many professionals believe that the Scrum Master should only focus on their role and not overwhelm themselves with day-to-day technicalities, deadlines, and constraints that other team members deal with full-time. 

The cost of such an approach is that the company may need to hire a bigger team for technical expertise. 

Who Should Become a Scrum Master?

A Scrum Master needs to possess great leadership skills. So, if you work in the software development industry and think that you’re a naturally born leader, then becoming a Scrum Master might just be the right step in your career. 

Other competencies that a Scrum Master should have include:

  • Strong Agile and Scrum background
  • Technical background (a bachelor’s in computer science is preferred)
  • Organizational skills
  • Communication skills
  • Effective handling of conflicts
  • Problem-solving skills

What Do You Need to Become a Scrum Master?

To officially become a Scrum Master, you need to get certified, and a good place to start is the Certified Scrum Master (CSM) certification from Scrum Alliance. The best thing about this certification is that you don’t need a specific background to earn it. 

The requirements aren’t strict, either. You can prepare for the certification and take the test within a week. Here’s a step-by-step on how you can acquire this certification:

Read About Scrum and Its Applications

The first step to becoming a Scrum Master is to start familiarizing yourself with its theory and why it even matters. There are countless free resources on the web that can help you with that. Read about it as much as you can until you feel confident that you’re ready to take a full-blown course in it.

Attend and Complete a Scrum Master Course

Completing a Scrum Master course is the most critical step in becoming a CSM. The course is an in-person training that lasts a maximum of two days. The instructor must be a certified Scrum trainer for the course to count as Scrum training.

At this stage, it’s crucial that you take notes and pay attention to every detail in the class because the exam will cover all the concepts you learn, so make sure that you don’t skip anything.

Some of the key concepts that you’ll learn include Scrum Artifacts, Agile, Scrum Events, and Scrum Roles. These concepts will help you organize and support a Scrum team in an Agile environment.

Practice with Mock Tests

While many people skip this step, we don’t really encourage you to take the CSM exam without practicing with some mock tests first to get acquainted with the type of questions in the exam.

The exam isn’t that hard, but practicing will definitely increase your chances of passing it from the first attempt. You don’t get many attempts until you have to pay a fee. 

Take the Exam

Attempting and passing the CSM exam is your last step in getting certified. The exam consists of 50 multiple choice questions, and you need to get 37 of them right to pass, which translates to about 74%. 

The exam is available in several languages, including English, Danish, Spanish (Castilian), French, Italian, Latin American Spanish, German, Portuguese, Japanese, Simplified Chinese, Czech, Russian, and Polish.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Anyone Become a Scrum Master?

Yes, anyone can become a Scrum Master, provided that they dedicate enough time and effort to it. However, it’s worth noting that becoming a Scrum Master isn’t just about getting certified; you need to get some relevant experience, too.

How Hard Is the Certified Scrum Master Exam?

The Scrum Master exam has a pretty decent passing rate. It’s not hard to pass, provided that you paid attention in the course, took notes, and tested the waters with some mock tests. 

Thankfully, you get two free attempts, so you can get another shot if you couldn’t pass from the first attempt.

Does the CSM Certification Expire?

Yes, your CSM certification will expire after two years if you don’t renew it. You can maintain your certification by acquiring SEUs (Scrum Education Units) through attending courses, seminars, and events related to Scrum and Agile. You’ll also have to pay a fee of $100 every two years. 

How Much Does a Scrum Master Make?

According to payscale.com, the mean annual salary of a certified Scrum Master in the United States is $89,041. Of course, this number can change based on multiple variables, like your experience, location, and skills. 

How Much Does It Cost to Become a Scrum Master?

Generally speaking, becoming a Scrum Master will initially cost you anywhere from $1000 up to $2000. The bulk of these costs is dedicated to training. However, it largely depends on the type of certifications you want to get and their level. 

You could only take two Scrum Master certifications, but if you want to advance your skills even further, you may want to consider more advanced certifications later in your career.

The certification body that you choose can also influence the overall costs of becoming a Scrum Master. Some of the most reputable certification bodies that grant Scrum certifications include Scrum Alliance, Project Management Institute (PMI), International Consortium for Agile (ICAgile), and Scrum.org. 

Final Thoughts

Becoming a Scrum Master can be challenging, but it’s definitely not that hard. Certification is your first step to becoming a Scrum Master, but it’s only a part of the journey. You need to work on several real-world projects until you become an effective Scrum Master.

On top of that, you need to work on your soft skills, especially leadership. Remember, anyone can understand how the Scrum framework works, but not everyone can use it effectively.

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