How does a PSM-1 certified individual with no scrum experience get that first Scrum Master job

Last post 09:39 am April 3, 2021
by Franklin Brian Apea Bah
7 replies
08:42 pm March 8, 2021

Dear All,

For an individual with no prior scrum experience and having completed the PSM-1, how does he get that first scrum role? Are there opportunities for internships or job referrals in this group? Thanks.



01:55 am March 9, 2021

All the Scrum Masters I've worked with were either experienced Project Managers who applied for Scrum Master jobs, or were development team members who volunteered to step into the Scrum Master role within their team. There are a lot of Scrum Master certifications out there from different certification organizations and if you have the ability to, you should get those as well so that you can be more marketable. You should also attend instructor-led classes through here and other organizations.

08:27 am March 9, 2021

Hello Franklin,

May I inquire how you came to the decision to go for your PSM I?
With that I mean: How did you come into contact with Scrum? Only heard and read about it? Or did you work as a developer in a Scrum team? Or did you came in another way into contact with Scrum team(s)?

The reason that I asked the above questions is that there isn't one codified manner to become a Scrum Master, but it all depends how you can create for yourself the opportunity in which a company will take a chance on you to be a Scrum Master.

Some people are become Scrum Master or Product Owner just because their company decides that these are the new roles used in their work environment. This mostly happens to Project Managers and Business Analysts and if those people do not re-educate themselves on the tasks and duties of these new roles you end up with only a cosmetic change (only in name) and dysfunctional Scrum.

Some people take up a role in a Scrum Team (Tester, Analyst, Programmer, DB Specialist, and so on...a.k.a. Developer) and get experience in working under the Scrum framework, learning from their Scrum Master.
Later combining the experience with obtaining valid certifications (and if possible extra training) and when an opportunity arises just take a hold of that opportunity and go with it.

The difficulty is to see that opportunity when it appears: it could be a job opening for a Scrum Master in your present company, but it could also mean that you have to quit your present company for another company, which could be a consultancy firm.  A lot of people are afraid to take that plunge into the unknown and hope that sooner or later a job opportunity appears in the company where they are already working (most of the time it's later than sooner or not even at all).

In the end it all depends solely on you! Are you someone who can make an opportunity for themself or are you someone who just let life happen?

01:12 pm March 9, 2021

Hi Franklin.

It's the 'how to get a job without experience but how to get experience without a job' question.

Getting the proverbial foot in the door is really challenging, especially when the market for Scrum Masters seems to be quiet saturated. Once the market requirement catches up I hope it will become easier.

I would advise that there are a few options:

1. Reach out to start-ups on LI/other social media. A few I've spoken to in the past are low-cost, high-risk organisations. They want people to work for them, and Scrum is often chosen as a framework as it is so well known for being product driven. Even if you can get a few months experience it looks good on a CV.

2. Get together some friends/colleagues to develop your own product using Scrum. Experience doesn't have to be in a paid corporate environment. Building a website, UI, physical item are all good examples of things you can work with people on.

3. Speak to recruiters. There are so many technical recruiters around and they often have vacancies. Connect with a few to see what they have available. In my experience, ignore the role profile and get to a point where you can talk to the organisation about what you can offer and steer the conversation. You may find someone who will take a risk on you.

4. The final option is to reach out to experienced Scrum Masters who would be willing to coach you. I use coach in a loose sense, with a sprinkling of teaching too. You are lucky to be joining a very welcoming community, and lots of people will gladly give up their time to help.

I know these are all speculative. My preference would be number 2 as the 'easiest' to achieve. Lots of us in this community were lucky to fall into a vacancy initially and therefore haven't been in your situation, but I wish you all the best. 

06:04 am March 11, 2021

Many thanks to Mark, Rene and Ryan for your thought-provoking insights. My take-home message is to develop competence in a particular domain, get my foot in the door, and while there, look for opportunities to transition into a scrum role when possible and available.

@Ryan: Another way to gain experience is to venture into entrepreneurship by partnering with like-minded people to create products using the scrum framework. 

@Rene: I am a food scientist and exploring ways to transition into the business domain. A friend introduced Business Analysis to me, and through taking a BA coaching course, I was introduced to predictive (waterfall) and adaptive (agile) methodologies for SDLC. Then I got to know about scrum as the most popular agile framework. This is how I got to know about scrum and then thought that, a PSM certification would make me more marketable. 

I guess a synthesis of the comments would suggest that I go ahead to obtain certification in BA (CBAP), work in that capacity for a while, and look around for an opportunity in Scrum or Agile in general.

Also, I gather from Mark that a PMP as a follow up to CBAP may be worthwhile, just to get my hands on a PM role, and then probably transition into Scrum Master role if I want. 

I hope this is a fair summary of the viewpoints? I'll welcome your corrections. Thanks very much to you all again.


03:44 am March 12, 2021

hi Franklin,

you may also need to ask yourself whether you want to be practitioner or lecturer/consultant in your domain. For practitioner, someone can be involved in a certain practice first and then later on obtaining the professional certification (or do it in parallel), while for lecturer/consultant a professional certification is almost mandatory.

If you want to have knowledge in project management and agile (i.e scrum), then you may consider PMI-ACP (Agile Certified Practitioner) certification from Project Management Institute as well.

Several of my colleagues also made a career journey their from previous education background to become business analyst (and taking CBAP certification as well). Some of them who loved the work in interacting more with stakeholders then also become project manager and/or scrum master.

Wish you all the best in your journey.

04:21 am March 15, 2021

I guess a synthesis of the comments would suggest that I go ahead to obtain certification in BA (CBAP), work in that capacity for a while, and look around for an opportunity in Scrum or Agile in general.

Typically BA's sit within the development team - often "closely allied" with the Product Owner - and the path is more toward product owner than scrum master.

If you're an IIBA member, have a look at the Product Ownership Analysis document which was just released. I am a bit sad, it is a "very big book" for people who think BABOK is not big enough, to get BA's to understand the type of analysis a Product Owner might want them to do - it is not the "analysis ready reckoner for product owners" which I would have thought would have a stronger market need.

09:39 am April 3, 2021

Thanks to you, Agus and Garrie, for the insights. 

@Garrie Irons: Yes, I understand and agree with you and IIBA that the transferable skills which BAs possess, easily align them with a PO role. However, that is not to say that BAs won't be good SMs as well. The Guide to POA seems like a good reference material. Thanks for pointing it out.

@Agus: Yes, I've thought through an academic career and have been there awhile. I think it's about time I explore the world of a practitioner, while having consultancy at the back of my mind. Many thanks for the perspective and good wishes.