What Is an Agile Coach? And How to Become One

Written by Coursera • Updated on Sep 27, 2021

An Agile coach helps scale Agile project management processes across multiple teams or throughout an entire organization.

An Agile coach talks one-on-one with a manager in the office

What is an Agile coach?

An Agile coach is a project management professional that helps scale Agile practices across a team or organization. By aligning teams or organizations with Agile values and concepts, Agile coaches enable them to be more flexible, transparent, and efficient. Agile coaches do this both by introducing Agile methods and encouraging a culture and mentality shift in the workplace.

Read more: What is Agile? A Beginner’s Guide

What does an Agile coach do?

An Agile coach helps teams and organizations adopt Agile practices—but what does that actually look like? Here are the day-to-day tasks an Agile coach might find themselves doing:

  • Plan and design the adoption of Agile across multiple teams

  • Provide training sessions on Agile frameworks, like Scrum, Kanban, and SAFe

  • Foster a culture of openness and psychological safety

  • Coach leaders (like Scrum masters, product owners, and executives) on Agile leadership practices

  • Develop operating model or roadmap for future Agile practices

  • Lead as a role model for Agile values

Read more: What Is a Scrum Master (and How Do I Become One)?

Agile coach salary: How much Agile coaches make

An Agile coach makes an average annual salary of $137,881 in the US. Reported salaries begin at roughly $96,000 and go up to $197,000 [1].

Compare this with the average annual US salaries of similar roles:

  • Scrum master: $99,474

  • Senior Scrum master: $117,099

  • Senior Agile coach: $152,664

  • Enterprise Agile coach: $152,641

  • Agile project manager: $90,900

  • Project manager: $88,894

All salary data is from Glassdoor and accurate as of September 2021.

How to become an Agile coach

1. Build Agile coach skills.

There are a few key skills that are often requested of Agile coaches. These include:

  • Agile and Agile frameworks: Knowing the ins and outs of Agile, as well its various frameworks, will be critical in being an effective Agile coach. Common frameworks include Scrum, Kanban, and SAFe; knowledge of XP and Lean is also occasionally requested. Know what distinguishes one from the others, the values that drive each approach, and how to apply them in a real setting.

  • Communication: As an Agile coach, you’ll be training other leaders and encouraging entire teams or organizations to change their thinking and often entrenched work habits. Knowing how to communicate effectively as a coach doesn’t stop at being able to express yourself well—it means knowing how to persuade, negotiate, inspire, and resolve conflict.

  • Project management tools: You’ll need to know how to use project management tools and software enough to explain to others how to use them. These might include tools used broadly in project management, like RACI charts, burndown charts, and GANTT charts. You might use tools specific to Agile frameworks, like Kanban boards, wikis, or bug trackers.

There are several books, podcasts, and online resources to help you learn Agile and Agile scaling as well.

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2. Gain Agile project management experience.

Job descriptions often ask for experience in diverse Agile environments, and give preference to those with coaching experience. Building up your resume on these fronts will put you in a good position to compete for Agile coaching jobs. You can do this in a few different ways:

  • Work as a Scrum master. Many job descriptions count experience as a Scrum master as coaching experience. Because Scrum is the most commonly-used Agile framework—81 percent of Agile adopters use Scrum or a Scrum-based hybrid according to a 2021 survey—your work as an Agile coach will likely require some knowledge of Scrum methodology. Being a Scrum master can act as a natural stepping stone to Agile coaching. Need more clarity around how to get there? Read about what it takes to become a Scrum master.

  • Work on an Agile team. As an Agile coach, you should be as familiar as you can with how Agile works on different teams. Familiarity with Scrum will be crucial, but knowledge of other methodologies will be useful as well. Try gaining exposure to Kanban, XP, and Lean methodologies, and participate in scaling Scrum or Agile practices if you can.

3. Get an Agile coach certification.

Agile coach certifications can make you more competitive in the job market, and signal to employers that you have a baseline of knowledge expected of professionals. The process of studying for and getting the certification can also help you learn about Agile coaching and gain new skills. 

The following certifications are commonly requested in job descriptions: 

  • SAFe Practitioner (SP)

  • SAFe Practitioner Consultant (SPC)

  • SAFe Program Consultant Trainer (SPCT)

  • PMI-Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)

  • ICAgile Certified Professional in Agile Coaching Certification (ICP-ACC)

  • ICAgile Certified Expert in Agile Coaching Certification (ICE-AC)

You can also consider getting a Scrum master certification. Many Agile positions request that you have experience as a Scrum master or with scaling Scrum.

  • Certified ScrumMaster (CSM)

  • Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO)

  • Professional Scrum Master (PSM)

  • Certified Scrum Professional (CSP)

  • Large-Scale Scrum (LeSS)

  • Scrum Alliance Certified Enterprise Coach (CEC)

  • Scrum@Scale

Read through a few job descriptions to see which certifications are in demand for the type of job you want.

Getting started with Agile

Don’t know where to start? Consider a few courses on Coursera, like Google’s course on Agile Project Management, or Atlassian’s course on Agile. Or take a look at the Agile Leadership Specialization from the University of Colorado.

Related articles

Article sources

1. Glassdoor. "Agile Coach Salaries, https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/agile-coach-salary-SRCH_KO0,11.htm." Accessed September 22, 2021.

Written by Coursera • Updated on Sep 27, 2021

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.

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