Hiring for a Scrum Master – How Much Should You Pay?

Factors That Affect a Scrum Master Salary

According to Glassdoor, a scrum master is one of the 25 highest paying jobs in the United States. In the Agile environment, the role of a scrum master is key. He or she is a servant leader of a scrum team, ensuring the team works productively and delivers high-value products and outcomes. They also help people outside of the team understand what interactions are helpful and how best to interact with the scrum team.

It’s a critical role, but what salary should you pay to attract the most talented scrum master to your company?

What Factors Affect a Scrum Master Salary?

The major factors that affect a scrum master’s salary are:

  • Experience
  • Qualifications
  • Location
  • Seniority

The 2017 Age of Product Scrum Master Salary report found that the wage gap between male and female scrum masters is virtually non-existent. However, it did find that the proportion of women in scrum master roles that had come from a business rather than a technical background was almost double that of men.

How Does Experience Affect a Scrum Master’s Salary?

A business background is considered beneficial by many employers when employing scrum masters, though having experience in technology and project management can also be advantageous. This previous experience from outside a role as a scrum master positively affects salary, as does the number of years in a scrum master role.

The soft skills that a candidate brings to the role, along with organizational and commercial/business acumen are considered critical and therefore also positively affect salary level.

How Do Qualifications Affect a Scrum Master’s Salary?

Many strong candidates come from a business or project management background, though many have also specialized in technology or engineering. However, it is not necessarily the case that higher qualifications lead to higher salaries for scrum masters.

According to salary.com, the average salary paid to scrum masters with a bachelor’s degree is no different to that paid to a scrum master with a master’s degree. The 2017 Age of Product Scrum Master Salary report also found that an advanced Agile certification also plays no part in higher salaries – despite scrum certification increasingly progressing as a standard required to be considered for a role as a scrum master.

How Does Location Affect a Scrum Master’s Salary?

Where your business is located is one of the strongest determinants of a scrum master’s salary. Businesses located in states such as New York and California are likely to pay as much as 15% to 20% higher salaries for their scrum master jobs as those in, say, Atlanta or Tampa.

How Does Seniority Affect a Scrum Master’s Salary?

There is a strong correlation between salary and seniority for scrum masters. Those with four years and more experience and who lead teams in more complex project work are likely to earn appreciably higher salaries than less experienced scrum masters with fewer direct reports.

Employment Types of Scrum Masters

How scrum masters are employed also affects the salary that they receive. Typically, there are four employment types:

  • Those who work in startups
  • Those working in SMEs
  • Those working in large corporates
  • Freelancers

Salaries tend to reflect these employment types, with scrum masters at startups often paid the lowest salaries (though, of course, bonuses and share options offer potentially large compensation packages). Freelancers are generally (but not always) around 40 years old or older, with many years of direct and specialized experience. These are usually the highest-paid scrum masters.

How Much Should You Pay Your Next Scrum Master?

The adage that you get what you pay for is true for scrum masters. What you pay depends on all the above factors, but also the individual preferences of the candidate. For example, a freelancer may be prepared to accept a lower salary for an opportunity that enables them to improve their resume and widen their appeal to future potential employers.

This said, according to salary.com the average salary for a scrum master in the United States is around $113,000, with the 90th percentile earning an average of almost $137,000.

Is There Anything Else to Consider?

When hiring for scrum masters, it is essential that you consider their personality. Scrum masters never work alone. They are responsible for guiding and motivating scrum teams, and are likely to engage with many people internally and externally to your business. Therefore, you should always hire for cultural fit as well as the experience, skills, and expertise that a candidate brings to the table.

For your staffing needs across your technology and project management functions, connect with TotalTek now.

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