How much should a North Carolina Scrum Master be paid
January 30, 2010 8:49 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a job as a Scrum Master in North Carolina--specifically, in the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area--but I am having trouble finding salary data for how much Scrum Masters are currently paid. Got any data points for me?

The position of Scrum Master is a relatively new one in this old, old world of ours. A somewhat circular definition of "Scrum Master" is that a Scrum Master supports the software development methodology of Scrum, which is an Agile software development method.

The duties of a Scrum Master include being a process coach for the software team, solving problems that are inhibiting the team's progress, facilitating several types of meetings, and maintaining some of the metrics that the team uses to plan and to monitor the status of the project.

This isn't a management role--the ideal Scrum Master helps the team to manage itself. He or she has no formal authority over the team. Indeed, formal authority would be a disadvantage, at least to the degree that it would cause the team to stop relying on itself for direction.

Often, a Scrum Master position is listed as a project management role in an org chart. That characterization isn't a good fit, however, since a Scrum Master rarely does many of the things you would see a typical project manager doing.

Technical knowledge is a plus for a Scrum Master, but not required. There is, however, a strong benefit from having experience with how software is made in the real world.

While the number of Scrum Masters is literally increasing exponentially, it's a big world out there, and the number of working Scrum Masters is small by comparison. So I have been having a really hard time trying to find salary data. I have been using "project manager, technical" as a synonym for Scrum Master, but the salary numbers I have been finding differ by so much that I'm convinced I'm on the wrong track.

When salary negotiation time comes, it would be a huge help for me to have a range of actual Scrum Master salaries I can use for comparison.

If you are currently working as a Scrum Master--and don't mind telling me--could you please let me know:

1. Where you live
2. How much you make per year
3. Your level of experience (briefly!)

Feel free to MeMail me if you don't want the world to know how much you specifically make. I will remove identifying info from all the data I receive privately and will post it later in a response to this question.

Looking forward to hearing from you all. Thanks very much for your help.
posted by springo to Work & Money (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You could look for data on project leaders, that's basically the same job description.
posted by torquemaniac at 9:22 AM on January 30, 2010

Yeah, at my workplace the scrum master is an just a manager or senior to mid-level engineer, and being scrum master is simply part of their duties, not a full-time job.
posted by phoenixy at 9:59 AM on January 30, 2010

SO of springo here - he actually has an interview on Tuesday for a full-time scrum master position, in which he would replace a guy who a) was a programmer; b) wants to go back to being a programmer; and c) has been a scrum master full-time in the interim.

Maybe an unusual situation, but there it is. He would be coming from a full-time engineer position himself, but loves the idea of being a scrum master.

The interviewing company is growing but small.

He's already researched salaries in various venues, looking at project manager stats because that was the closest fit. However, as detailed above, it's not really the same thing (apparently) - hence the post here.

Any other thoughts on interviewing/negotiating for this relatively new job type would be cool, too.
posted by amtho at 10:16 AM on January 30, 2010

Best answer: Depending on the company, being considered part of the PM job family would be to your detriment. We have several job grades of PM. If you have relatively few years of PM experience, no PMP, no P&L experience, then you'd be ranked as our most junior PM level. Of course, those skills aren't relevant to your role as a scrum master, but they are the criteria of the job category. You can't skip to the top of job structure without opening the door to HR and equity problems.

If I put you into the consulting job family then your skills and experience might put you in the most senior role. That would probably up your salary by 50% and triple your bonus. Basically, you're looking for a boss who can go to bat for you on how the job should be posted.

We have agile development groups and we don't have anyone with the scrum master job title.
posted by 26.2 at 10:21 AM on January 30, 2010

Seconding Phoenixy in that when I worked on a software development team that was really big into Scrum the Scrum Master was just one of the project managers and it was one of his normal duties. He was specially trained and all to be the master, but he wasn't brought in to be a dedicated Scrum master but rather adopted the position.

This was at a large and fairly well-known company and it was just my specific team that I know worked this way but I've asked others who worked on different teams for said company and they confirmed it was a similar situation on their team.
posted by kthxbi at 10:46 AM on January 30, 2010

That link to Phoenixy's actual comment didn't seem to carry through ... oh well
posted by kthxbi at 10:47 AM on January 30, 2010

I have never heard of a scrum master being a full time job. I think that it being so would be detrimental to the process -- good luck with it I guess, I just can't envision it working well.

Not only is there not that much to do (it's a lightweight process framework, not micromanagement) but I don't see how could you be fully engaged with the team and product when your sole interaction is that of running meetings/reffing.

I think you should be looking for either technical or management jobs that involve scrumming/scrum master role.
posted by wrok at 11:20 AM on January 30, 2010

kthxbi and others - are there any disadvantages to the company, or developers, in having a scrum master who is a project manager rather than having an engineering background?
posted by amtho at 11:23 AM on January 30, 2010

Best answer: My company uses dedicated full time scrum masters. I don't know how much they are paid, but the ones we've hired lately are comparatively young and non-technical, just past entry level. The product owners are comparatively technical, which leaves the scrum masters with a scheduling, coordinating, and burn-down monitoring role.
posted by Jasper Fnorde at 11:47 AM on January 30, 2010

Best answer: It really depends on what you expect the scrum master to do outside of the scrum meetings.

If the expectation is that the scrum master is also in charge of making funding requests, then I'd like a PM to have that job. A PM is more likely to know how to present the business case and current development status to keep the funds flowing. It's the same thing for staffing. A developer may not have experience in hiring, managing matrix staff, etc. If someone else is handling funding, staffing and administrative functions, then a technical lead can shine as scrum master.

Now I'm going to read the tea leaves. That the current scrum master wants to return to development is an indicator that his time outside of the scrum meetings was PM work. Otherwise, he's still be developing for the bulk of his work time.

Here's the deal. Agile is cool and fun. However, someone needs to continue to take care of staffing, funding, scheduling the sprints. If the scrum master is supposed to be doing that, then it's in everyone's best interest to have someone with PM/management skills. If the scrum master is really the technical alpha dog, then someone else needs to be the PM.
posted by 26.2 at 12:04 PM on January 30, 2010 [2 favorites]

Best answer: From my experience as a business PM working for a number of large companies -only some of which used Agile- is that the scrum master's official job title has been in the PM job family. Working closely with them, I know that their job has been much more than stand-ups and sprint planning. They have to do the same PM heavy lifting of P&L, artifact writing, staffing, etc that I do.
posted by bluejayway at 12:28 PM on January 30, 2010

FWIW, it looks like the scrum master position for which springo is interviewing will be doing scrum mastering for two different teams.
posted by amtho at 12:32 PM on January 30, 2010

Response by poster: It's great to hear all these different perspectives on the role.

I haven't received any data privately, so I'm going to negotiate salary based on things other than "the going rate." No problem, just a different approach needed.

Thanks to all of you for your feedback!
posted by springo at 7:29 AM on February 1, 2010

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