What is a Scrum Master?

In the fast-paced world of project management, a new star player has emerged: the Scrum Master. Understanding the intricacies of this role is pivotal for both aspirants and businesses aiming to leverage the benefits of agile methodologies. A Scrum Master is a vital figure in the Agile project management framework, often described as a coach or facilitator for an Agile team. They are primarily responsible for promoting and supporting Scrum, helping everyone understand Scrum theory, practices, rules, and values. Unlike traditional project managers, Scrum Masters do not direct the team but rather serve as the guardian of the process, ensuring that the team abides by the principles and practices.

“The Scrum Master acts as a coach for the development team, helping them adhere to Scrum practices and guiding them towards continuous improvement. They also work closely with product owners to prioritize and manage the project backlog, ensuring that the team is working on the most valuable tasks at any given time.”.

Key Responsibilities!

scrum master project manager

Scrum Master VS. Project Manager: 10 Key Differences

Scrum Master Project Manager
Serves as a facilitator for the Agile team. Oversees the entire project and is responsible for its success or failure.
Ensures that the team adheres to Agile practices and principles. Drives project planning, schedule, and resource management.
Does not have authority over the team members. Often has direct authority over the team members.
Focuses on team dynamics and health. Focuses on meeting project deadlines and deliverables.
Acts as a servant leader to the development team. Acts as the leader and decision-maker for the project.
Is responsible for the Scrum process, its correct implementation, and the maximization of its benefits. Is responsible for the project budget, scope, and project risk management.
Is responsible for the Scrum process, its correct implementation, and the maximization of its benefits. Is responsible for the project budget, scope, and project risk management.
Is responsible for the Scrum process, its correct implementation, and the maximization of its benefits. Is responsible for the project budget, scope, and project risk management.
Helps the team organize themselves and encourages flexible and open workflow. Traditionally uses a fixed plan and controls the execution of the project.
Coaches the team members in self-management and cross-functionality. Directs team members on specific tasks and is often involved in performance reviews.
Addresses and removes impediments that obstruct the team’s progress. Manages issues as part of risk and contingency planning.
Is an expert in Scrum and Agile methodologies. May use a variety of project management methodologies, not limited to Agile.

What Are the Similarities Between a Scrum Master and a Project Manager?

Despite the distinct functions of Scrum Masters and Project Managers, there are several similarities in the skills and qualities that both roles require.

  • Both professionals are expected to have strong leadership abilities, excellent communication skills, and the capacity to guide their teams effectively.
  • Collaboration is a key aspect for both positions, as is the need for problem-solving capabilities when unexpected challenges arise.
  • Scrum Masters and Project Managers must have a shared commitment to achieving the end goals of the project, maintaining customer satisfaction, and ensuring that the project delivers value to its stakeholders.

Is a Scrum Master a Project Manager?

While Scrum Masters and Project Managers both share the common goal of successful project delivery, their roles within an organization significantly differ.

  • Project Managers traditionally lead projects from start to finish, handling everything from planning, and resource allocation, to execution and closure. They work with predefined processes and control metrics to ensure projects fulfill the desired scope, time, and budget constraints.
  • Scrum Masters facilitate agile project management and adaptability within a project team. They are not the project overseer; rather, they support the Scrum framework, ensuring that the team adheres to its values and practices. Their focus lies in empowering the team to self-organize, create swift responses to change, and produce incremental value rapidly through sprints. They do not ‘manage’ the project in a conventional sense but enable the team to manage itself effectively.

In short, a Scrum Master is not a Project Manager. The Scrum Master’s role is fundamentally centered around implementing and supporting the Scrum framework, focusing on team dynamics and efficacy, rather than managing the project’s entirety in terms of scope, timeline, and budget, as a Project Manager does.

what is a scrum master in project management

Key Responsibilities of a Scrum Master Project Manager:

The Scrum Master Project Manager plays a vital role in ensuring the smooth execution of the Scrum framework. Here are some key responsibilities of a Scrum Master Project Manager:

1. Facilitator for Agile Practices:

The Scrum Master ensures the Scrum team adheres to Agile principles and practices. For example, they might lead daily stand-up meetings, sprint planning, and sprint review meetings, fostering an atmosphere of clear and transparent communication.

2. Servant Leader:

As a servant leader, the Scrum Master puts the needs of the team first, helping them to develop and perform as highly as possible. For instance, they might remove barriers that are hindering team progress or provide tools and resources necessary for the team to perform their job effectively.

3. Impediment Remover:

The Scrum Master is responsible for eliminating any obstacles that might interrupt the team’s work. This could involve resolving conflicts, addressing team dynamics, or managing external interruptions to the team’s productivity.

4. Coach and Mentor:

The Scrum Master also acts as a coach to the team, helping them to self-organize and work cross-functionally. For example, they might provide training or one-on-one coaching to improve team members’ understanding of Agile and Scrum principles.

5. Guardian of Scrum Process:

The Scrum Master safeguards the Scrum process by ensuring everyone follows Scrum rules and practices. This could mean stepping in when the scope creep occurs during a sprint or ensuring that the team respects time-boxed events in Scrum.

6. Change Agent:

The Scrum Master facilitates change within the organization to maximize the value created by the Scrum Team. This might involve driving cultural change for greater adoption of Scrum or other Agile practices, or it could involve interfacing with other areas of the organization to better align them with the team’s Agile approach.

scrum master vs project manager salary

Scrum Master VS. Project Manager Salary

Scrum Master Project Manager
Average Base Salary Often has a higher average salary due to specialization in the Scrum framework. Generally has a slightly lower average salary, but this can vary depending on industry and project complexity.
Certifications Premium Can command a higher starting salary with Scrum certifications. May increase earning potential with PMP or Prince2 certifications, but the premium is not as high as with Scrum certifications.
Industry Impact Salaries can greatly increase in tech-focused industries with a heavy emphasis on agile practices. The variance in salary is broader across different industries, as traditional project management is universal.
Geographical Differences Salaries for Scrum Masters can be significantly higher in tech hubs and metropolitan areas. Salaries increase in urban regions but are also subject to the cost of living and local demand for project management professionals.
Average Base Salary $96,000 $90,000
Top 10% Earn Over $130,000 Up to $125,000
Bottom 10% Earn Around $70,000 Approximately $65,000
Salary Growth Over 5 Years +20% +18%
scrum master salary

Transitioning from a Project Manager to a Scrum Master:

Transitioning from a role as a Project Manager to a Scrum Master can be a rewarding career pathway, especially for those interested in adopting Agile methodologies and fostering team collaboration. This transition involves a paradigm shift, from a command-and-control style to a servant-leader approach.

  • As a Project Manager transitioning to a Scrum Master role, you would need to embrace the principles of Scrum and Agile methodologies.
  • It would involve shifting from a task-oriented approach to a process-oriented one, focusing on the team’s efficiency rather than simply meeting project deadlines.

Role of Education:

Continual learning and gaining certifications in Scrum can significantly smooth this transition. Certifications like Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) or Advanced Certified ScrumMaster (A-CSM) provide a solid foundation in Scrum principles and practices. An effective Scrum Master values education and is committed to continuous learning. Professionals might pursue a diploma in project management online to deepen their understanding of agile project planning, execution, and monitoring. In addition, an online MBA in project management could provide them with broader business and leadership knowledge, enabling them to drive strategic initiatives and improve performance within their agile organization. Hands-on experiences, such as participating in Scrum meetings or leading a Scrum team, can also be invaluable.

“The essence of being a successful Scrum Master lies in facilitating team collaboration and promoting a conducive work environment for the Scrum team, rather than managing the project and its resources. This change in perspective is crucial for Project Managers leaping to become Scrum Masters”.


In conclusion, transitioning from a Project Manager to a Scrum Master role requires a paradigm shift from a command and control style of leadership to a more servant-leadership approach. Leveraging Scrum principles, pursuing relevant certifications, and gaining hands-on experience are pivotal steps. Above all, it is the commitment to continuous learning, fostering team collaboration, and creating an enabling environment that truly defines a successful Scrum Master. A Scrum Master, in the realm of project management, plays a pivotal role in guiding teams to work collaboratively, utilize Scrum project management methodologies effectively, and achieve their project goals within set timelines, thus ensuring project success.

This journey, while challenging, offers immense rewards in terms of personal growth and organizational performance. Embracing this new role can actualize your potential to lead dynamic teams and drive transformative business outcomes in an ever-evolving Agile world. So, are you ready to take up the challenge and become a Scrum Master Project Manager?

Scrum Master project managers have a unique opportunity to bridge the gap between traditional project management practices and Agile methodologies. This role requires a combination of strategic thinking, leadership skills, and technical knowledge.