Scrum Master vs PMP: Which Has a Higher Salary Potential?
Scrum masters and project management professionals (PMP) guide teams to help them work more efficiently and productively. The work these positions do can overlap, but their approaches are distinct enough that professionals in these roles often find themselves choosing one over the other.
For some, one approach feels more natural or better suited for the industries or organizations where they work. Others want to boost their income potential by selecting the more lucrative certification. Understanding the differences between these project management professionals, job titles, and salaries can help you decide which one is right for you.
On this page:
- What is a Project Manager?
- Benefits of Upskilling With the PMP Certification
- PMP Certification Jobs & Salaries
- What is a Scrum Master?
- Benefits of Upskilling With a Scrum Master Certification
- Scrum Master Jobs & Salaries
- Which Role Should You Choose?
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What is a Project Manager?
Project managers or project management professionals are people who oversee a project through each phase, from planning to completion. They work in every corner of the globe and across all industries—anywhere an organization can benefit from their organization, problem-solving, and team management skills. Project managers lead marketing campaigns, oversee the construction of a new building, launch new products, and more.
Ultimately, the project manager is responsible for the success or failure of the project. Some of the tasks these professionals handle include the following:
- Communicate with stakeholders to understand the goals for the end product or service
- Define the project’s scope
- Create and manage budgets
- Manage teams and tangible resources
- Monitor progress toward goals and help teams meet deadlines
- Solve problems as they arise
- Ensure quality assurance through each phase of the project
Benefits of Upskilling With the PMP Certification
Anyone can say they are project managers, but only those who meet the requirements for PMP certification can call themselves project management professionals. Earning the PMP certification comes with a number of benefits for the project manager. First, and perhaps most important, certified project managers tend to be more attractive to potential employers and stand to earn more than others in similar leadership roles. In fact, some organizations require all their project managers to pursue or earn the certified project manager credential.
Earning the PMP credential boosts the project manager’s credibility with team members and the leadership team. It shows that you have successfully demonstrated your project management skills. Many project managers also find that pursuing the PMP helps them grow personally and professionally.
Scrum Master vs PMP: PMP Certification Jobs & Salary Information
The following list shows the range of job titles and salaries available for project management professionals.
- Project Coordinator – $52,173
- Portfolio and Program Manager $80,578
- Project Manager Consultant – $85,240
- Project Director – $98,843
- Engineering Project Manager – $99,579
- Product Owner – $107,439
What is a Scrum Master?
A scrum master is an integral part of an agile team. To understand what these people are and do, it helps to know how the scrum framework within the agile methodology works. A scrum team typically has no more than 10 people—ideally between five and seven members—who work together in cycles to design, develop, and test products. The scrum master is a trained facilitator whose primary job is to guide teams through the agile scrum process, encourage communication between team members, and help teams manage workloads.
Scrum masters may use leadership skills when working with teams, but they are not considered managers. Their responsibilities include the following:
- Facilitate communication
- Create reports
- Lead meetings, including daily scrum meetings and sprint planning meetings
- Coach and support team members
- Monitor progress and note areas for improvement for future work cycles
- Track and analyze work progress
- Identify and remove obstacles that slow down workflow
- Create an environment in which team members can work efficiently
Benefits of Upskilling With a Scrum Master Certification
Working as a scrum master can be personally rewarding and lucrative. The agile methodology remains a popular framework for product development. For those who want to serve in this role, becoming a certified scrum master (CSM) is a logical step. It shows potential employers that you have the knowledge and training in the agile framework and have committed to keeping up with project management standards.
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Scrum Master vs PMP: Scrum Master Jobs & Salary Information
Here are some of the job titles and salaries scrum masters have. Comparing these figures with the earning potential of a project management professional can be helpful as you explore the scrum master vs. PMP salary question.
- Agile Scrum Master – $116,126
- Certified Scrum Master – $121,005
- Scrum Master Consultant – $122,633
- Safe Scrum Master – $125,298
- Scrum Master II – $128,209
- Lead Scrum Master – $133,905
Scrum Master vs PMP Salary: Which Role Should You Choose?
The role that’s right for you is the one that best aligns with your skillset and helps you meet your personal and professional goals, whether that’s salary focused or something else. Factors to consider when making this decision include your experience, resources, industry, region, and salary.
- Experience: To qualify for PMP certification, you’ll need documented project management experience. On the other hand, you can take a CSM course and test even if you’ve never worked on a team.
- Resources: Plan on spending a few months preparing for the PMP, compared to a few days for the CSM. The fees for each exam are about the same.
- Industry: Agile methodology and the corresponding scrum master certification tend to be more popular in IT and engineering fields, while you can find project managers in just about every industry, including manufacturing, construction, healthcare, marketing, and more.
- Region: PMP is more common in the United States, Canada, India, Russia, and parts of Africa and the Middle East, while CSM shows up more in Europe, Central America, South America, and Australia.
- Salary: CSM salaries can vary, but they sometimes exceed those of a PMP. While the median salary for a certified Project Manager is around $99,579, the median salary for a Product Owner—the role with responsibilities similar to that of a scrum master—is about $107,439 depending on the area.
CSM is a good choice if you plan to work in a place that uses the Agile methodology. PMP may be a better credential if your career plans include working in an environment with complex projects. Whether you choose to pursue certification as a project management professional or certified scrum master, you’ll increase your knowledge of project management practices. Along the way, you’ll also develop tools you can use in your daily work.
If earning potential is your primary concern, a scrum master may be better than PMP. Scrum masters tend to work in IT and engineering fields and typically earn more than individuals with PMP certification.
A scrum master does not need a PMP certification to become a certified scrum master. To become a certified scrum master, complete a two-day training course, pass the CSM certification exam, and join the Scrum Alliance.
Many people find the PMP exam harder than the CSM exam. For the PMP exam, you have just under four hours to answer 180 questions. For the CSM exam, you have one hour to answer 50 questions. Earning PMP certification also takes longer because the courses take up to three months to complete.
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