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Is the journey from Scrum Master to agile coach a natural progression

Stacey Ackerman

Is the journey from Scrum Master to agile coach a natural progression

Many agilists began their careers by taking a Certified Scrum Master Course (CSM) and working at a company as a Scrum Master. However, many Scrum Masters wonder, what's next? How do I move into an agile coaching role?

A recent question posed to the Agile Mentors Community (AMC) was, "Is the journey from Scrum Master to agile coach a natural progression?"

Most of the community members agreed that the progression is natural, but not without a lot of hard work!

Some of the new challenges of coaching include learning to ask the right questions instead of providing the answer and working with all levels of the organization---especially senior leadership.

The community agreed that both roles require great interpersonal skills and that you need to be able to lead people and influence change. Both a Scrum Master and an agile coach are coaches. Someone with the title "agile coach" may just have to do this on a broader scale.

There are a couple of different coaching paths you can take as well---enterprise or team coach. An enterprise coach works in a large organization and may work more with the company's leaders. A team coach serves one or many teams and typically influences the people doing the work.

Several members pointed out that there are a lot of really excellent Scrum Masters that have no desire to become an agile coach---and that's okay. We need great Scrum Masters to continue in that role.

An AMC team member shared a great graphic of different paths you can take to becoming an agile coach; these three paths stem from 1) a Scrum Master; 2) a developer or 3) a project manager.

After a lively discussion, the community agreed that a natural career progression from Scrum Master is to agile coach. A Scrum Master may handle one or two teams and have limited authority to coach the larger organization. An agile coach often is perceived as an 'expert' and can better influence the larger organization or multiple clients.

Reasons why you might want to become an agile coach

According to, a Scrum Master earns a median salary of $88,000 US compared to an agile coach, which earns a median salary of $122,000 US.

Besides a potentially larger paycheck, most agile practitioners are learners by nature and therefore have a desire to keep learning and progressing in their career.

"Autonomy, mastery and purpose" are intrinsic motivators for knowledge workers according to Daniel Pink, author of the 2009 book Drive.

His theory goes on to state that once people have enough money to satisfy their basic human needs, money isn't what leads to job satisfaction.

For those that are looking at becoming a coach, here are some great resources that our members provided to get you started:




For more great conversations like this one, consider joining the Agile Mentors Community (AMC) at

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