I have been a .NET software developer for the last 5 years, at the moment dealing with azure cloud technologies. I am certified scrum master and soon to be certified scrum professional. I have the opportunity to become a scrum master for my team. I haven't been a full time scrum master however I have been supporting the scrum masters in various teams whenever needed (holidays, sick days etc). Am I right to think that once I progress(?) to a SM role, I'll have to quit my developer's tasks (as we all know, being a dev and a SM is a highly hoped but infeasible plan) and thus stop keeping up with latest technologies, and eventually leaving behind me the dev career?

I want to go to higher management sooner rather than later (I'm nearly 30), but what if I don't like it and decide to go back, and then it's too late?

Please don't start enumerating the "scrum master is not a project manager, is barely a manager" story, I'm very well aware of what the role includes.

To put this in different words: Is SM a stepping stone to higher management, or once you're a SM, you're stack there without being a PM (or PO), but also with degraded dev skills?

  • How big is your company? Have you spoken to HR about the desired career path? They should be able to give you examples of where people went after being a SM. Commented May 15, 2013 at 17:20
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    help center discourages questions about career advice and subjective questions. This is probably an important, good question, but I'm not sure that PM.SE is the right venue.
    – MCW
    Commented Oct 20, 2020 at 12:27

3 Answers 3


Once you become a real Scrum Master, you shift your career focus from development to people management. Most of the organisations don't fully understand the role of the Scrum Master, and they function as a Technical Lead, so there is still place for doing development time to time in this scenario.

The real Scrum Master has hardly any time to do development. First of all, he is responsible for the Scrum adaption, therefore he spends most of the time with mentoring the PO and the Scrum Team. You cannot do this kind of work, in 50% of your time, because it requires 100%. Additionally, in reality the SM needs to work with the other SMs, and line management to ensure that the whole organisation wide transformation is really moving forward.

If you do good for your company, you can be anybody there. If you did the SM work for a while and you are looking for a change, your company might be able to give it to you. However, I haven't seen any Scrum Master who become a PM or a PO. The level above the Scrum Master is the Agile Coach or a change agent. There is a good chance that you'll lose your technical and domain knowledge on this career path, but you'll learn new things like, effective mentoring, systems thinking and other good stuff.


The answer to this is really going to vary depending on your team and organisation.

If your remit as Scrum Master is to cover only one fairly small team I can see you'd easily have time to do your Scrum Masterly duties while still doing some dev.

In fact, I would argue that the more effective you are as a Scrum Master, removing impediments and ensuring your process works, the more dev time you should be able to devote to the team.

Company culture is another factor. While you may fully understand the difference between a Project Manager and a Scrum Master, does your organisation? Will you be expected to perform elements of a PM role in addition to the Scrum Master duties? How good are your Product Owners and how much time do they have to devote to the team? Is your team cross functional or will you be the only person who undertakes Scrum Master duties?


I completely disagree with the first line from Zsolt's answer. Scrum Mastering has nothing to do with people management whatsoever.

A SM is a servant leader, not a manager, a team sherpa if you like.

Principally, the SM is the guardian of the agile process.

The SM "oils the team" towards high performance.

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    I checked out the ref. author, because I wanted to know whether his terms are theoretical or practical. It seems that he didn't work as a SM, but told SMs how to work, so his ideas are theoretical to me. Moreover, the terms such as "servant leader", "team sherpa", and "guardian" are nice, but useless and controversial (typical consultant BS). If you think about a sherpa. It does leg-work so that the novice climbers can tell at home that they've climbed a mountain. In SW world a "sherpa" would do a lot of unrecognised work on the product without recognition. No guardianship, no oiling.
    – Zsolt
    Commented May 15, 2013 at 14:21
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    Another aspect. If one person, or a group of persons are responsible for the agile process, what happens if you take away those persons for some time? Most probably the rest of the organisation will fall back to the previous state. My point is that there is no such thing as guardian of the agile process. The point is that the whole organisation owns and is responsible for the agile process and not a single point of contact.
    – Zsolt
    Commented May 15, 2013 at 14:40
  • I am not sure why you chose to base your comment only on the link I gave for a team sherpa, that was not the point of my post. My comments come as someone who has worked as SM for a number of years and continues to do the job. @Zsolt have you worked as a SM? Based on your answers in this forum I am wondering how familiar you are with the Scrum process.
    – boardtc
    Commented May 15, 2013 at 14:49
  • @Zsolt I see from your profile you are more familiar with Kanban that SCRUM
    – boardtc
    Commented May 15, 2013 at 14:55
  • I was an SM for years...
    – Zsolt
    Commented May 15, 2013 at 15:37

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