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The Scrum Master: A Retrospective

To Be a Scrum Master is Rewarding

26 January 2019

SCRUM.ORG Released it’s annual report on the global state of Scrum Masters. Here’s a summary and a copy of the full report.


The role of the Scrum Master according to Glassdoor and LinkedIn has made both the most promising job list and is in the top 20 highest paying jobs.

It is interesting to note that 45% of the respondents are European based, while 32% are North American based and 10% from Asia.

Male and females in the 30-39 year age group were equally represented in the survey. Read on to fin our more about the interesting twist to pay scales.

One could easily surmise that of the respondents surveyed, nearly 50% of them were from the software, finance and insurance industries with telecommunications and consulting services only representing 15% of the total respondents.

Interesting to note that overwhelmingly 72% of respondents were full time employees compared to contract workers. This makes me wonder who internally is being recruited to take on these roles and what challenges do they face in the transition?


There can be inference made of the results indicating that 58% of Scrum Masters surveyed had been directly involved and launched an agile transition. Is this a sign of their critical role to remove impediments or perhaps that servant leadership is in mid stride for the next wave of a culture shift?

I certainly appreciate the noted trend of SAFe and Nexus having a 33% representation in data collected for the implementation of scaling frameworks. It does however concern me that organisations that choose to take this path don’t consider laying down a solid bedrock of scrum principles and practices prior to charging in headlong. From experience I can confidently profess, “Haste Makes Waste“.

It makes perfect sense to me that 68% of respondents had between 2 and 5 years experience with only 5% representing 10+ years. Organisations would do well to be diligent about coaching and mentoring these new entrants and ensure that retrospectives are at the heart of development practices to achieve high performing team and organizational success.

I’m not sure what to make of the data that suggests that of all the respondents 50% of them have worked on more than 10 projects. Does this mean the Scrum Master is juggling multiple projects? Are projects being delivered more quickly? Are projects smaller in nature, or is a combination of the above. It would be most interesting to collect those data points and draw inferences about number of projects and effectiveness of the Scrum Master and implementation of Scrum Practices as a whole.

At the present time medium scale projects with 3-5 teams represent 35% of the respondents while 25% are working on small scale projects with 1-2 teams. This may be an indication that we are on the high end of early adopters in the “Jumping the Chasm” model noted below.

IT or Engineering is leading the charge on Agile Practices and implementations to the tune of 65%, while PMO’s only account for 14% of ownership when it comes to these transformations. For me this is a concern, for me Scrum, SAFe and any other Agile practices are all approaches to project management. Will there be a collision? Will there be animosity? Why aren’t groups working together. Who is the keeper of the much coveted governance practices, are they being disregarded, are they being imposed and constraining Agile practices. Watch this space as PMO’s continue to transition from a command and control style to a servant leadership approach.

Kanban and DevOps are leading the charge in complimentary Agile practices. I’m glad to see this although I have a sneaking suspicion that folks from the DevOps group had no choice but to keep up! As for Kanban I sure hope most teams are clear that there is a huge difference between a Kanban Board and a Scrum board!

11% of respondents lay claim that they have a mature agile practice while 81% are either in early stages, growing or stalled out. Waterfall practices were represented by 7% of the respondents.

Earning Potential

The rise in Scrum Master compensation is promising with more than 55% of respondents suggesting that they are earning more than $75,000 USD Annually. With participants in Oceania having more earning power at a medium income of $149,507.

It is a sign of the times to report that while there are a lower number of female respondents that represent the Scrum Master role, those females that did respond there are a larger percentage of them in the earning bracket of %75,000 to $149,000.

Twenty percent of respondents that present a certification have median earning potential of between $75,000 and $100,000, with a trend indicating that 8% of respondents are increasing in the $150,000 bracket.

Overall the landscape for growth and development of Agile practices Scrum Masters is bright!

Why not pursue your Scrum Certification Today and enjoy the pursuit of a profession that clearly is being embraced worldwide.

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