Scrum, a type of project management methodology, has many fans. It’s the most commonly used Agile methodology with 81 percent of Agile adopters using Scrum or a Scrum-related hybrid, according to a Digital.ai survey . According to data from Burning Glass, Scrum was also among the most in-demand tech skills—project management was the first . So what exactly does it look like to work with Scrum? Here are the three roles you can expect to find on a Scrum team.
A Scrum team consists of three roles: the Scrum Master, the product owner, and the development team. While there is only one Scrum Master and one product owner, there are generally several development team members.
Scrum teams are small. The Scrum Guide recommends 10 or fewer total members to ensure optimal communication and productivity . Let’s take a closer look at the responsibilities of each of these roles.
All salary data is sourced from Glassdoor as of October 2022.
A Scrum Master is responsible for ensuring a Scrum team is operating as effectively as possible with Scrum values. This means they keep the team on track, plan and lead meetings, and work out any obstacles the team might face. Scrum Masters might also work in a larger role within an organization to help it incorporate Scrum concepts into their work. Because they are both a leader and a behind-the-scenes supporter, they are often described as the “servant leader” of the Scrum team.
Scrum can look different from organization to organization and team to team, making the specific tasks of a Scrum Master varied. Broadly, however, a Scrum Master might have the following responsibilities:
Facilitate daily Scrum meetings (also called “daily standups”).
Lead sprint planning meetings.
Conduct “retrospective” reviews to see what went well and what can be improved for the following sprint.
Keep a pulse on team members, through individual meetings or other means of communication.
Manage obstacles that arise for the team by communicating with stakeholders outside of the team.
Average annual salary (US): $118,768
Read more: 7 In-Demand Scrum Master Certifications
A product owner ensures the Scrum team aligns with overall product goals. They understand the business needs of the product, like customer expectations and market trends. Because they have to understand how the Scrum team fits into bigger picture goals, product owners usually stay in touch with product managers and other stakeholders outside the team.
Product owners might find themselves with the following responsibilities:
Manage the product backlog by ordering work by priority
Set the product vision for the team
Communicate with external stakeholders and translate their needs to the team
Make sure the team is focused on hitting product needs through communication and evaluating progress
Average annual salary (US): $115,880
A development team is composed of professionals who do the hands-on work of completing the tasks in a Scrum sprint. This means development team members can be computer engineers, designers, writers, data analysts, or any other role needed to reach sprint goals. The development team doesn’t just wait for orders; they usually collaborate to map out goals and plans for achieving them.
Not all development team members will always have the same responsibilities. For example, if you’re updating a website, you might have a front-end engineer, UX designer, copywriter, and marketing professional all working on the same Scrum team. The responsibilities of a development team will also depend on the end goals of the Scrum team. Broadly speaking, however, you might find that a development team can be tasked with the following:
Help in sprint planning and goal setting
Lend expertise to program, design, or improve products
Use data to find best practices for development
Test products and prototypes, plus other forms of quality assurance
Whether you’re an aspiring Scrum Master or trying to incorporate Scrum principles into your team, learning more about the project management methodology is the first step to getting started. If you’re looking for a place to start, check out the Google Project Management: Professional Certificate. A course dedicated to Agile and Scrum concepts can provide a solid foundation to begin.
Start your path to a career in project management. In this program, you’ll learn in-demand skills that will have you job-ready in less than six months. No degree or experience is required.
956,160 already enrolled
Average time: 6 month(s)
Learn at your own pace
Skills you'll build:
Organizational Culture, Career Development, Strategic Thinking, Change Management, Project Management, Stakeholder Management, Business Writing, Project Charter, Project Planning, Risk Management, Task Estimation, Procurement, Quality Management, Project Execution, Coaching, Influencing, Agile Management, Problem Solving, Scrum, Effective Communication
Distinguishing the three roles in Scrum—Scrum Master, product owner, and development team—is meant to heighten the transparency, efficiency, and adaptability of a team. In classic Scrum teams, the three roles are considered vital to success.
However, many organizations adapt Scrum principles to best fit their needs. For example, seasoned developers might find that they can distribute the management of a project amongst themselves and operate without a Scrum Master. If you’re considering merging roles, make sure to have processes in place to make sure product priorities are considered, and Scrum principles upheld.
Scrum Masters can be considered a type of project manager, but their definitions differ in some basic ways. While a Scrum Master keeps a Scrum team on track and in sync with Scrum principles, a project manager is more concerned with elements of a project’s success—things like staying within budget, meeting timelines, and hitting goals. Keep in mind that Scrum is a specific type of project management. So if you’re a project manager, you might be asked to take on Scrum Master roles.
If you want to stick to Scrum as it’s spelled out in the Scrum Guide, you’ll want to have a Scrum Master. Scrum Masters can be especially crucial if no other team members have practiced Scrum before. That said, many teams might practice Scrum without a Scrum Master if they have a good amount of experience with Scrum already.
Some companies hire a Scrum Master specifically for this role. Others tap project managers within their organization to help a Scrum team get started.
A bachelor's degree is typically the minimum requirement to become a Scrum Master with 66 percent of professionals having a bachelor's and 26 percent having a master's degree . Many Scrum Masters have a degree in computer science, business, or industry-related field.
Digital.ai. “15th State of Agile Report, https://stateofagile.com/.” Accessed October 28, 2022.
Dice. “Project Management: Biggest Tech Skill in Demand, https://insights.dice.com/2021/07/08/project-management-biggest-tech-skill-in-demand/.” Accessed October 28, 2022.
Scrum Guides. “The Scrum Guide, https://scrumguides.org/docs/scrumguide/v2020/2020-Scrum-Guide-US.pdf.” Accessed October 28, 2022.
Zippia. "Scrum master education requirements, https://www.zippia.com/scrum-master-jobs/education/." Accessed October 28, 2022.
This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.