Scrum Master: Job Description, Key Skills, and Salary in 2022


A scrum master is defined as a member of an agile team that has adopted scrum principles and takes on a leadership role involving the management, advocacy, orchestration, and support of scrum theory, values, events, and artifacts. This article explains the roles and responsibilities of a scrum master, along with its salary figures in 2022. 

What Is a Scrum Master?

A scrum master is a member of an agile team that has adopted scrum principles and takes on a leadership role involving the management, advocacy, orchestration, and support of scrum theory, values, events, and artifacts. 

To understand what a scrum master is, we must first discuss the meaning of scrum in agile development. In agile software development, the team prioritizes continuous development and delivery of minimum viable products through close collaboration between different functions and customers.  

Scrum is a foundational unit of agile methodology. It implements agile principles as a concrete set of practices, deliverables, and roles. Typically, scrum has three roles – the product owner, the scrum master, and development team members, who operate following a set of scrum rules. These rules can include guidelines on meeting frequency, rules for prioritizing sprint goals, best practices for collaboration, and cultural values. 

The scrum master is in charge of knowing these rules, enforcing them across the software development lifecycle, and embodying the value of “good” scrum development. Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland, co-creators of scrum in the context of agile development, define the role as that of a “servant leader” who never directly tells the team what to do. Instead, they build and establish the scrum framework of workplace collaboration and task management to motivate everyone to work in line with agile principles. 

Scrum masters can be of different types, depending on an individual’s leadership approach and the needs of a particular situation or project. 

  • Servant leader: This is the most common type of scrum master, where the scrum master serves and supports the needs of the other team members and helps them achieve optimal results in terms of customer requirements and organizational goals. 
  • Coach or guru: This type of scrum master focuses on the individual development of each team member. They help improve the developers’ mindset or behavior to bring out their full potential. 
  • Mentor and teacher: Slightly different from the coach, a teacher-type scrum master educates team members on agile principles and how to follow scrum rules. They train teams new to agile development in the nuances of the model. 
  • Facilitator or impediment remover: This scrum master identifies and removes roadblocks to the team’s daily progress. They also encourage and facilitate collaboration, which is a cornerstone of agile development. 
  • Manager: The manager-type scrum master looks after the process-oriented aspects of scrum, such as task board administration, meetings, reviews, etc. They also try to reduce waste and optimize processes where possible. 
  • Change advocate: The scrum master may use the scrum model and agile principles as a launchpad for a cultural revolution. They foster workplaces where the team can flourish, often crucial to startup environments. 

Organizations can look for a specific type of scrum master based on the leadership approaches and roles discussed above. For example, a sizable agile team may simultaneously have a manager scrum master and a servant leader during a project. Or, the same professional may have to wear multiple hats to meet the requirements. 

See More: DevOps vs. Agile Methodology: Key Differences and Similarities 

Scrum Master Job Description: Roles and Responsibilities

The scrum master is essentially a leadership role. Most job descriptions in this category will look for someone who can align their software development practices with agile principles and the scrum framework, coordinating between the product owner and developers. This involves the following roles and responsibilities:

Roles of a Scrum Master

1. Scheduling and conducting meetings 

Meetings are central to agile software development, as they ensure everyone is on the same page while they engage in short bursts of productive work. An agile software development lifecycle is typically broken down into multiple sprints, where the team develops a viable piece of software or product component at the end of every sprint. Throughout the sprint, the scrum master conducts different types of meetings per the scrum rulebook, each with a different purpose. This includes: 

  • Daily scrum: Also known as standups or huddle meetings, the daily scrum is a scheduled meeting that involves the core development team. It is a short session that typically lasts for 15 minutes, held simultaneously and in the same location. The objective is to evaluate the previous day’s progress and adjust the sprint backlog accordingly. 
  • Retrospectives: As the name suggests, a retrospective is an opportunity to look back at past experiences and learn from them to improve plans. Scrum masters typically conduct a retrospective at the end of every sprint to facilitate a more effective sprint plan for the next development cycle. 
  • Sprint planning: A sprint planning meeting typically commences every sprint. The scrum master, the product owner, and the developers will set sprint timelines as per the production backlog. The scrum master must use techniques like voting poker to ensure consensus about timelines and commitments. 
  • One-on-ones: The scrum master meets each team member individually to learn about their work experience, discusses the hurdles they may have faced, and any other technical or interpersonal issues. Since agile work environments can be high-pressure, these meetings facilitate two-way feedback and keep developers engaged. 

2. Scrum board administration

Agile teams work in time-bound iterations called sprints, and the scrum board is the visual representation of sprint progress. It details all the tasks currently at hand and those already completed across the sprint. Every task has an owner, and task items directly align with the different technical features required for a product. A standard scrum board has three columns, also known as swim lanes – to do, doing, and done. 

The scrum master may add new columns to introduce more structure and visibility. For example, there can be a column for backlog (i.e., tasks that were not completed within the deadline), another column for review, etc. Most agile teams work with online scrum boards and project management solutions that facilitate board administration and make it more complex. 

The scrum master has to configure and manage all the board elements, ensure that tasks are up-to-date, investigate functions that are not moving, and optimize the board’s structure and layout for the best possible team performance. 

3. Supporting and motivating teams 

According to the scrum framework, the scrum master’s most important job is to develop self-organizing teams that do not need to be told what to do. They operate in the background, identifying and anticipating blockers that may get in the way of productive work. Therefore, the scrum master must bring excellent interpersonal communication skills that help them support and motivate developers daily. 

This responsibility has several facets. 

  • First, the scrum master needs to conduct scheduled and impromptu meetings to address disengagement among team members and any interpersonal conflicts that may arise due to long periods of close collaboration. 
  • Second, the scrum master should ensure that the workplace is conducive to productive and efficient efforts. This is a broad responsibility and may include a variety of tasks, from replacing creaky chairs to fetching coffee and arranging for breaks. 
  • Finally, the scrum master is a conduit between developers and the product owner and the larger organization. They will convey organizational objectives and values to the team and nudge them towards positive behavior. They will also relay team requirements to senior leadership to meet developer needs. 

4. Having a bird’s eye view of software development 

While scrum master is not a technical role like a developer or a quality assurance engineer, it requires a person to oversee software development. Therefore, they must have a working knowledge of the software development process, including its various steps like code building, unit testing, quality assurance, functional and nonfunctional requirement development, etc. They must know about the organization’s expectations from developers so they can better negotiate the team’s productivity patterns as per scrum guidelines. 

As a result, the scrum master role is a cross between leadership and development planning. Understanding software development also makes it easier for the individual to empathize with developers and their issues. That is why scrum masters often have prior experience in development roles to connect with developers in a more meaningful way and understand and resolve their problems. 

5. Being proficient in agile methodologies and scrum management 

This is possibly the most essential part of the scrum master’s job description. They must be experts in agile software development methodologies, focusing on scrum management. The framework’s co-creators, Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland, regularly update the guiding principles that a scrum master must follow, called the “Scrum Guide.” 

The most recent scrum guide was published in November 2020. It lays down the following elements that a scrum master must know: 

  • Scrum theory: The model is built on empiricism and lean thinking so that teams make decisions from what they observe and minimize both waste and risk. 
  • Scrum values: Developers and scrum masters must embrace five values to maximize the potential of scrum – commitment, focus, openness, respect, and courage.
  • Scrum events: These are specific milestones that enable scrum success, including sprint, daily scrums, sprint reviews, and sprint retrospectives. 
  • Scrum artifacts: These deliverables enable transparency and drive the work forward.

The scrum master must know these rules like the back of their hand, and preferably, they should have some experience of having worked in an agile work environment, at least in a developer role. 

See More: Cloud Computing Careers: Job Roles and Key Skills Needed for 2021

10 Must-Have Skills to Acquire as a Scrum Master

For a successful career as a scrum master, an individual should bring the following skills to the table: 

Must-Have Skills for a Scrum Master

1. Training in agile development 

The scrum master should have prior training in agile development practices and all its processes. Agile development is distinct from regular software development skills, which fall into the technical category. 

Instead, agile is a set of strategic techniques like scrum, Kanban-based project planning, and the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) that helps meet development objectives on time. One can opt for an agile development certification to demonstrate one’s strategic planning skills as per agile and scrum principles. 

2. Planning and organizational skills 

A scrum master must have excellent organizational skill sets with or without agile training. He should be able to answer questions like:

  • What are the tasks that require immediate attention? 
  • How can X number of tasks fit into Y amount of time? 
  • How do we achieve goals with a limited set of resources? 

The scrum master should be able to envision and enforce a clear sprint plan based on the scrum rulebook. Different companies may use various tools and technologies for project planning. One’s inherent planning and organizational capabilities will help quickly adapt to whichever tool is being used. 

3. Familiarity with cloud technologies 

Today, the cloud forms the foundation of most software development projects. Therefore, familiarity with cloud technologies can be indispensable for those looking at a career as a scrum master. It allows a person to understand the technical nuances of development at different sprint stages. 

It makes it easier to empathize with cloud-based software developers on a one-on-one level so that they feel heard and valued. This particular skill can make it easier for a scrum master to quickly ramp up the total productivity after joining a new organization building cloud products. 

4. Conflict resolution skills 

In an agile work environment, there is always a risk of latent interpersonal grievances and dissatisfaction due to three reasons:

  • Close collaboration between people with different work approaches and personalities
  • A high-pressure workplace, operating under strict timelines and delivery expectations
  • Competition among team members in a bid to achieve efficiency and demonstrate excellence

Scrum masters must be equipped with sufficient conflict resolution skills to deal with interpersonal issues. Even better, they should be able to anticipate conflicts and proactively intervene so that productivity isn’t hampered.

5. Coaching and mentorship capabilities

In most organizations, the scrum master is not a person involved in day-to-day development tasks. Instead, they must offer strategic support as and when required, coaching team members to become their best selves. 

Ultimately, the scrum master’s job is to build a self-organizing and self-sustaining development team that functions like a well-oiled machine. Through coaching, the scrum master boosts individual developers’ confidence to meet targets. This skill also helps foster the right values and priorities needed for long-term success, such as self-esteem, work-life balance, calmness, patience, focus, etc.

6. Communication and listening skills 

The scrum master should be able to listen to others and also make themselves heard when the situation demands. For example, if a developer is falling back on their task list in the middle of a sprint, the scrum master should conduct a one-on-one session to understand the blockers holding back productivity. 

By listening to the developer, they can identify and remove the blockers and make the team member feel valued in the process. Further, the scrum master should have an assertive personality to clarify rules effectively when needed and correct errors. 

7. Negotiation and expectation management 

An essential part of the scrum master’s job is to speak with different stakeholders and enforce a sprint plan that is suitable for all. It must healthily drive developer productivity while meeting the expectations of the product owner and the business at the same time. 

This requires excellent negotiation skills so that the scrum master can advocate for everyone’s needs. Also, they should be able to manage organizational expectations to keep the pressure on developers in check. 

Agile workplaces are incredibly fast-paced, and it is the scrum master’s job to ensure that the work environment is nurturing and non-toxic despite its inherent high-pressure nature. 

8. Estimation and forecasting 

To be a successful scrum master, one needs strong forecasting capabilities. They should estimate which plans and task permutations or combinations have the highest chance of working out. 

They should also have the foresight to anticipate problems before they emerge — be it a workplace conflict, a scheduling error, or a technical blocker. The efficacy of the agile model relies on incremental and continuous improvement. This means that a scrum master must be agile and ready to change directions based on forecasting capabilities.

9. Problem-solving capabilities 

Most developers in agile roles have the skills they need to do the job, but various extraneous circumstances get in the way. Most of these challenges are easy to solve with a slight reshuffling of resources, realignment of sprint schedules, or employee engagement interventions. 

Therefore, the scrum master must be able to think outside the box if such a scenario occurs and come up with innovative ways to solve a problem. To support this capability, it is preferable if a person is an avid reader, communicates with others, and regularly upskills themselves – to strengthen their knowledge base to inform problem resolution. 

10. Adaptability to rules and processes 

Finally, a person must bring genuine respect for rules and processes, coupled with their understanding of the rationale behind scrum. The job role involves daily outlining tasks and procedures based on a well-defined guidebook and set of values. 

They should have the personality and soft skills necessary to embody these rules and enforce them meaningfully throughout a sprint. 

See More: Why Agile DevOps Is Now the Default Standard for Software Development

Scrum Master Salary in 2022

Scrum master is among the most well-paid roles among IT professionals. Scrum is among the most commonly applied agile approaches in software development. Its derivatives like Scrumban or scrum with extreme programming (Scrum+XP) offer further opportunities to upskill and make a mark in this field. 

In addition to a good salary, scrum masters often earn an additional amount through profit-sharing when working in a startup environment. U.S. data from Built In suggests that a scrum master may earn $9,493 in cash compensation per year over and above their regular salary. 

Scrum master salaries also witness a steady rise through different seniority levels: 

According to March 2022 data from, which curates salary information from nearly 8,000 scrum masters in the U.S.: 

  • The starting salary in this field is $95,349.
  • A mid-level professional can expect to earn $112,125 per year. 
  • The most experienced professionals with 15+ years of working in the field bring in an annual salary of approximately $139,997. 
  • Interestingly, scrum master salaries can differ significantly from one region to another, even in the U.S. In California, for instance, the average salary for this role is $125,000. In Colorado (which employs an equally large number of agile professionals), the average salary is $100,977. 

Scrum master salaries will also vary depending on the country. According to PayScale, the average salary for this role in the U.K. is £45,284 per year or approximately $60,000. IT professionals should keep all of these considerations in mind when planning their career as a scrum master. 

See More: Top 11 In-Demand IT Skills In 2022: The Experts’ Edit


In 2021, the 15th State of Agile Report by found that scrum is an extremely popular agile approach adopted by 66% of organizations. Another 15% follow scrum derivatives, further increasing employment opportunities for those with the right skills and experience. 

A scrum master is a cross between a team leader, a problem solver, a collaboration facilitator, and a hands-on manager. Therefore, these skills are highly transferable and will set up an individual for a successful career in most senior management and leadership roles. 

What makes you interested in a career as a scrum master? Let us know on LinkedInOpens a new window , TwitterOpens a new window , or FacebookOpens a new window . We would love to hear from you!