Do Scrum Masters Have to Be Technical?

I get this question sometimes from Scrum Masters who are just starting their journey or want to get into this role. They are worried that they don’t have any technical background or don’t have a Computer Science degree.

I definitely know where the confusion comes from: quite a lot of companies ask for a Computer Science degree in their job descriptions when hiring Scrum Masters. 

In this video, I will be talking about my take on this.

Do you actually have to be an ex-developer to become a Scrum Master? ​

This is a question that I often get from Scrum Masters who are just starting in the field. And it is a really good question because Scrum Masters usually work with development teams, a lot of them are infrastructure teams, that work with some very difficult technical concepts.

So do you actually need to understand all the nitty gritty details of what these teams are working on?

One of the reasons there is confusion around it is that a lot of the companies who hire Scrum Masters, especially the companies who are still kind of in transition, trying to figure things out, put in their job description that a potential candidate needs to have a degree in computer science.

And to be honest, I don’t think that it is required.

Understanding how the whole cycle works, how development works, and the different stages of development of a product makes sense. However, it doesn’t mean that you have to be a developer to be a Scrum Master.

You don’t have to be a developer to be a Scrum Master

One of the reasons why you don’t need to have a computer science degree or be very, very technical to be a great Scrum Master is the fact that as a Scrum Master, you work with people and processes, not technology.

While a lot of the practices that you might want to implement are related to technology, it doesn’t mean that you need to know how it all works. Because at the end of the day, when you work with people, you work with the communication aspects of that, you work with the people’s behaviors, and that’s what it all is about.

There are some advantages for a Scrum Master to be technical

For example, when you join a new team, it is much easier to build relationships with the team when you are more technical because they will know that you understand their technical process and you will understand what kind of challenges they’re facing.

In this case, it will be easier for you as a Scrum Master to suggest and implement different techniques, especially on the technical side, because they will know that you understand the way they work. They will be more open and acceptable for new practices to be implemented by you.

At the same time, there are some disadvantages

For example, when you have a technical background when you join a new team, you might start having some ideas of implementations the team is making on the technical side, not actually in the process or practices.

Sometimes when there is a discussion going on and people are discussing their solutions for implementing different work items, you might want to jump in and start sharing your solutions or your ideas on how to implement this item of work. And it’s not good if a Scrum Master helps the team to figure out technical implementations, because Scrum Master’s focus then is taken away from the processes, the people, and communication.

You should be able to step away from the details to help your team grow. With the technical background, it might be more difficult for you to do.

Growing your technical knowledge

I don’t have a computer science degree and I don’t really come from a technical background. I was a content manager before I became a Scrum Master. So I was able to figure out how the teams work when I was working with them. I was able to understand what kind of challenges they face and what kind of processes they need to go through to do their work.

You can figure it out too, even if you don’t come from a technical background.

Even if you do not have a technical background, you still can be a great Scrum Master. Do not get scared by the job descriptions that say that you have to have a computer science degree to be a scrum master.

You don’t, but be sure to actually understand how the whole development process works because it will be much easier for you to understand your team if you understand their work process.

Learn more about what kind of technical knowledge and skills you need to have as a Scrum Master in my newer blog posts

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Technical skills Scrum Masters need

Do Scrum Masters have to be technical? That’s a question that I get all the time. Some people believe the answer is an absolute “YES!”.

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About the author

Hi, my name is Daria Bagina. I’m a Professional Scrum Trainer with and a experience Agile leader. I help teams and organizations to get the most out of the Scrum and Agile implementation by sharing my personal stories and practical advice.

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