What Is an Agile Coach? And How to Become One

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

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

[Featured Image] An Agile coach in business casual clothing is standing next to a whiteboard filled with post-it notes.

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 by introducing Agile methods and encouraging a culture and mentality shift in the workplace.

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 an operating model or roadmap for future Agile practices.

  • Lead as a role model for Agile values.

Agile coach salary: How much Agile coaches make

In Canada, an Agile coach makes an average annual base salary of $120,447. Reported salaries begin at roughly $92,000 and go up to $131,000 [1].

Compare this with the average annual Canadian base salaries of similar roles:

  • Scrum Master: $96,946 [2]

  • Senior Scrum Master: $117,416 [3]

  • Senior Agile coach: $129,821 [4]

  • Enterprise Agile coach: $95,785 [5]

  • Agile project manager: $87,866 [6]

  • Project manager: $87,978 [7]

How to become an Agile coach

1. Build Agile coach skills.

Organizations often prefer that Agile coaches have a few key skills. These include:

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

  • Communication: As an Agile coach, you’ll train other leaders and encourage 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 well enough to explain them to others. These might include tools used broadly in project management, like RACI charts, burndown charts, and GANTT charts. You might also use tools specific to Agile frameworks, like Kanban boards, wikis, or bug trackers.

Various books, podcasts, and online resources can also help you learn Agile and Agile scaling.

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 per cent of Agile adopters use Scrum or a Scrum-based hybrid according to a 2021 survey [8] —your work as an Agile coach will likely require some knowledge of Scrum methodology. Being a Scrum Master can be 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 possible with how Agile works on different teams. Familiarity with Scrum will be crucial, but knowledge of other methodologies will also be helpful. Try gaining exposure to Kanban, XP, and Lean methodologies and participating in scaling Scrum or Agile practices if possible.

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. 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)

Many Agile positions request experience as a Scrum master or with scaling Scrum. You can also consider getting a Scrum master certification, such as:

  • Certified Scrum Master (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 a few job descriptions to see which certifications are in demand for your desired job.

Get 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.

Article sources


Glassdoor. "Agile Coach Salaries in Canada, https://www.glassdoor.ca/Salaries/canada-agile-coach-salary-SRCH_IL.0,6_IN3_KO7,18.htm?clickSource=searchBtn." Accessed February 10, 2023.

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