Scrum masters are in demand across the world. It is one of the top 15 emerging roles in 2020, and was one of the most promising jobs in 2019, according to LinkedIn.
A Study.com report suggests that the role will see an annual growth of about 24 percent till 2026, as companies are steamlining their software development process and adopting what is called the Agile method.
According to UpGrad, an online learning platform, this is resulting in a huge demand for scrum masters and an increased pay scale.
In India, the average salary for a scrum master is Rs 14 lakh per annum, according to UpGrad. A beginner could start with a salary of Rs 6 lakh per annum and it could up to Rs 22 lakh per annum.
So, what is Scrum?
To understand this, let us go back a bit to understand software development. The software development process used to follow the Waterfall method, where development and testing happened in separate phases.
Over the years, this has given way to the Agile method, where testing and development happens in tandem. While Waterfall continues to exist, Agile is becoming a norm in the industry.
Agile has its advantages. For instance, the process is faster, and changes to the system can be made earlier rather than at the end of the software development process. That also makes the project cost- efficient.
The Agile methodology has different frameworks such as Scrum and Kanban. Scrum is most widely adopted.
Shankar*, a scrum master working in an IT firm, explained that if a large, complex project is divided into different modules/functionalities/sprints, each of them could be called a scrum. A sprint is a short, time-boxed period when a scrum team works to complete a set amount of work.
This technically means that each scrum will behave just like an individual project, led by a scrum master, who works with the developers and the testers to finish that particular product within a particular period of time, he added.
In case of Kanban, delivery dates are flexible and products are developed on a need-basis. While scrum is used for projects that have defined deliverables, Kanban is used for projects where requirements are volatile.
Scrum master’s responsibilities
Scrum master plays more of a managerial role than a technical one. But not every manager could become a scrum master, as he/she needs to have an understanding of the scrum methodology and how to implement it.
Janaki*, a scrum master for a banking client in Chennai, explained that their capabilities include both domain and technical knowledge of the project. He/she works with different stakeholders such as clients, developers and testing team to ensure that the final product meets all criteria and is delivered on time.
“So, your day starts with client calls, updating them about what is done/not done and where the project is positioned. In a way, a scrum master is critical for project completion as he/she alone is aware of the criticalities and the need to guide the team based on Agile principles,” she added.
Who is hiring?
Job portal Naukri.com has listed more than 10,000 jobs for scrum masters across India as of August 11. Companies that are hiring include Tech Mahindra and Capgemini.
“Actually, any company with complex projects that need to be executed in Agile will need a scrum master. It would be a significant number since newer projects are all being done in Agile,” said Shankar.
How can you become a scrum master?
Shankar said that there are three organisations that offer scrum certifications -- Scrum Alliance, Scrum.org and ScrumStudy. “Of the three, Scrum Alliance is the oldest and most widely accepted certification,” he added.
The certification costs about Rs 30,000, and it has to be renewed every 2-3 years, Shankar said. He got his certification from ScrumStudy.
“All certifications have an expiry date and you need to get re-certified. It makes sense since technology keeps changing and certification needs to reflect that as well,” he explained.
*Shankar’s and Janaki's full names are not disclosed since they are not authorised to speak to media.