Being a Scrum Master is a fascinating job as it provides confidence, freedom, and satisfaction by helping other people to grow. The most recent poll in Glassdoor reports Scrum Master salaries in the range of $90k to $149k. And when asked about job projections for Scrum Masters, Google AI’s reports that it is predicted that employment for Scrum Master roles will increase at a rate of 24% every year through 2026. There are currently 44,670 Scrum Masters in the United States. That is expected to grow 9% from 2018 to 2028.
All this to say that a Scrum Master job can open the door to a flourishing career. So, how to get one? I get this question all the times in my Certified Scrum Master classes. Many people come to the training because they are seeking a career change, or want to learn how to embrace Scrum in their workplace.
That is why I created Truly Scrum. This is a place where people can go to learn about Scrum, learn about the Scrum Master role, and prepare to find a job as Scrum Master. It is a community effort where Agile Coaches and Scrum Masters are offering their expertise and insights to help others grow in their career.
Becoming a Scrum Master starts from following a few steps:
1 — Learn Scrum
If you are new to Agile methodologies and in particular to Scrum, you may want to learn the basics. This can be done in different ways as there are many resources available out there. There are a few books on the topic, and a quick search on Amazon may provide some good results.
Youtube also offers plenty of videos that explain the basics of the framework and even offer tips to apply properly.
Finally, you could take a professional class and earn a certification. While there are many options in the space, the two most recognized are the Certified Scrum Master certification from Scrum Alliance (for transparency, that’s the one I teach) and the Professional Scrum Master certification from Scrum.org. Both come with an exam at the end and are taught by experienced trainers.
If you are curious about resources to learn Scrum, hop to https://www.trulyscrum.com/learn-scrum/ for a list of resources and class dates.
2 — Practice Scrum
Just reading a book or attending a professional certification class does not make you an expert. Bruce Lee used to say “Practice makes perfect. After a long time of practicing, our work will become natural, skillfull, swift, and steady.” Practice is key.
You may ask, “How do I practice Scrum if I don’t have a job as Scrum Master?” Fair enough, and I get it. Here are some ideas:
Adopt Scrum at home. You can do this for your house chores (I know an Agile Coach who manages the kids’ chores in 1-week Sprints using Scrum), or for other projects you may have going on. Create a Product Backlog with all the activities. Then every week, establish a list of tasks that you will complete within the week (the Sprint Backlog). At the end of the week, review what you have accomplished and share with other people in your house to get their feedback (the Sprint Review). Then do a Retrospective and decide what to improve in the process before you start the next Sprint.
For example, I’m always doing some projects at home. In fact, it seems like I have more projects in my Product Backlog than what I could possibly complete in a lifetime! Every weekend, I select one or two work items and I focus on getting them done.
If you have an opportunity at work to run a project using Scrum, take the opportunity and suggest to use it to experiment with a new process. Or you could offer to do this for a community project you do outside of work. Either way, if you can do it with a few people, working as a Scrum team and practicing with them, it will be extremely valuable.
Finally, join a Scrum user group. It could be in your city (you get the advantage of meeting in person from time to time) or it could be anywhere in the world remotely. You can find user groups almost everywhere by searching on Meetup.com or checking organizations like Scrum Alliance. This will give you access to other people’s experiences and knowledge, and will give you an opportunity to join a community.
3 — Prepare for interviews
The key to a good interview is to practice. Interview questions typically follow in two categories: knowledge and behavior.
The knowledge questions test your understanding of core Scrum concepts. The interviewer wants to know how much you really know Scrum. If you have taken a professional certification class or attentively studied other materials, you should be able to answer these questions.
However, sometimes knowledge questions can be tricky. There are many concepts and theories about Scrum out there, and understanding what is really Scrum, and what are theories added by other people, may be confusing. A typical example is the Daily Scrum format. Scrum does not say how to do the Daily Scrum, as long as the Developers achieve its purpose. However, many people think that asking 3 questions to everyone is the right way to do it. In reality, it’s one possible way to do it, but there are many other ways to conduct the Daily Scrum, and one that works for one team may not work for another.
On the other hand, the behavioral questions test your experience in dealing with Scrum teams and helping them solve issues. These can take the form of a use case, or an hypothetical scenario. The interviewer is looking to see how you think, what decisions you make, and how you help the team address the situation.
While there may not be a right or wrong answer for this type of questions — as every situation is different and Scrum Masters need to use their judgement to decide how to address each one specifically — the interviewer may be looking for red flags. For example, the candidate struggles to come up with an idea to help the team, or may be too directive, or maybe makes decisions on behalf of the team.
Regardless of the situation, the goal of the Scrum Master should always be to guide the team to find a possible solution to the issue, empower the team to make decisions, and facilitate conflict resolution between team members. By doing this, the Scrum Master helps remove barriers that may impact the ability of the team to do good work, and coaches the team on how to address similar situations in the future.
Even people that never had a Scrum Master job before can share their experience in helping teams address conflicts and remove impediments. You may have been a Project Manager, a Business Analyst, or a Nurse (or any other jobs) and you may have worked with teams. Bring this experience into the conversation and share how you have helped your team improve — improve its processes and the relationships between team members.
These Scrum Master interview questions can help you to prepare for your next job interview, and to become a Scrum Master: