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Must you be an expert in Scrum to become a Scrum Master?

It depends on how you define ‘expert’.

There are different stages of career development and deep, expert level knowledge of Scrum comes only with time and experience. You cannot build mastery in a 2-day Certified course.

Driver’s License

It is useful to think about Scrum in the same way as you would think about your Driver’s license.

In the beginning, being awarded a driver’s license does not mean that you are an expert driver. It means that you have been taught everything you need to ensure that you are safe on the road and do not put anyone else at risk whilst driving.

The real learning only starts when you have your driver’s license and start to drive regularly.

In the beginning, you feel nervous and potentially make it to the shops and back without too much of a sweat. You know the rules of the road. You have a strong foundation in how the car operates. And you have enough knowledge to understand that everybody else on the road gets the rules too.

It isn’t all on you.

As you progress, you learn more, become more comfortable and learn to handle yourself in tough or unexpected situations. It happens with focused effort, time, and practice.

Becoming a

Becoming a is much the same. In the beginning, you have a strong enough foundation in Scrum to understand how the rules work and how to go about working within a Scrum team without doing any damage to others or yourself.

You know enough about the environment to ensure that whilst the first few days may be a touch uncomfortable, you will quickly respond and adapt to your environment and learn from others who are far more experienced than what you are.

The Certified course is a solid foundation in Scrum and will give you everything you need to join a Scrum Team and operate reasonably well as a . More often than not, your team will be experienced in Scrum and as such, it isn’t all on you from the word go.

There will be support. There will be others who are experienced in their roles. And you will be stepping into an environment where others get that you are still in the learning phase of your role. It will take time to progress and for the most part, those around you understand that.

Intermediate level

At this stage, you are going to have a strong foundation in Scrum and have a year or more worth of experience in Scrum environments.

At this stage, you have more than simply mechanical knowledge of the scrum rules, roles, events, and artefacts. You have a deep understanding of these elements, and you have a solid understanding of your team.

At this stage, you are ready to progress to the Advanced Certified level with an eye to developing your career as a professional Scrum practitioner that straddles the realms of practitioner and coach.

A good progression would be Advanced Certified followed by a Certified Scrum Professional course.

You will have developed a strong understanding of the complexities involved in the roles you support, such as the Product Owner as well as the Development team itself. You would also have branched outside of the team to seek support and assistance from others in the organisation.

In working with others outside of the Scrum team to remove impediments and other obstacles to progress, you will have developed a number of interpersonal skills and learned the value of co-operation with other departments regardless of whether they practice scrum or not.

You would also have developed experience as a Scrum coach within your team and organisation.

Your team would be looking to you to assist them in creating an environment where the team can excel, to aggressively remove impediments to the team’s progression, and to coach them in both Scrum as well as in overcoming obstacles and barriers that may arise.

Agile Coach

At this stage, you are on your journey to becoming an expert in Scrum and coaching.

Just as a professional footballer must rebadge and apprentice before coaching a football team, you need to do the same.

Being the best simply isn’t enough.

You need to rebadge as a coach and begin an apprenticeship in coaching as well as Agile coaching despite having near expert knowledge of your role in Scrum. Read ‘Journey to Mastery’ for some insights into this process.

At this stage you are going to be looking at doing courses and certification to help you on your Agile coaching journey. Agile Centre offer both the Agile Coaching Academy as well as the IC Agile Team Coaching Course to help with the transition from practitioner to coach.

After several years of experience working with teams as both a practitioner and coach, you would enter the phase of Mastery where you begin to work with others as they embark on their career journey.

It would only be at this stage that you would be considered an ‘expert’ in the field of Scrum and Agile Coaching within the Agile industry. You would have great opportunities to transition into Agile leadership roles or embark on an Agile Entrepreneurship journey.

If you’re thinking of becoming a , visit our Certified course page as well as the Advanced Certified course page.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently asked Training and Certification questions

author avatar
John McFadyen Managing Partner
John McFadyen is an Executive and Enterprise Agile Coach with proven experience working on some of the UK and Europe’s largest, most complex Agile Transformations. As a Certified Scrum Trainer, John brings a wealth of experience as an Agile coach, Agile practitioner and software developer into each of the four core courses he provides. The war stories, the insights into successful Agile transformations and everything he has learned from coaching high-performance Agile teams combine to provide course delegates with a unique, compelling training experience that transforms as much as it empowers.

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