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Scrum Master vs. Project Manager: Differences & Similarities

05th Sep, 2023
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Scrum Master vs. Project Manager: Differences & Similarities

For an entrant in the IT industry, the roles of Project Manager and Scrum Master look like two similar ones. But this is not an absolute fact. Both roles are very separate and distinct from each other. Both can be molded into different approaches to a project. While talking about the Scrum Master, don't forget to check out the article on Agile vs Scrum and Scrum Master tutorial.

While noting down the differences between the Project Manager and the Scrum Master, you will find out that the Project Manager plays the leadership role by leading the planning for the execution of the project. Scrum Master plays a support role for the team members, by working closely with the team and ensuring that they are following Agile principles properly.To get a deeper understanding of the roles and responsibilities, check out CSM certification.

Scrum Master vs Project Manager

It is important to know the differences between the Scrum Master and the Project Manager, to find how they complement each other in large-scale projects.

The Scrum Master is a coach and facilitator. The Project Manager is a leader, decision-maker and is responsible for managing the project, resources, and scope of business requirements. Sometimes, the Project Manager has to make sure whether the project is lined up with the necessary business requirements or not, whereas the Scrum Master has to look after one project team. Also, Scrum Master has to be a mediator between the project and the customer.

Let’s look at how the Project Manager and the Scrum Master roles differ from each other in discrete terms.

Project Manager
Scrum Master
GoalsHas defined goals like completing the project on time, planned budget, and scopeMakes sure that the team members are well trained to follow Agile practices appropriately. Also, SM coaches the Scrum teams and mentions the timeline to finish the project
Quality AssurancePM also knows the importance of quality, but doesn’t know how to achieve this. Usually, a consultant is hired to fix the errorsScrum Master assures the quality and very well knows the importance of it.
Team SizeProject Managers like to make things large. Project Manager works with more people and a huge budget. In this way, they improve to Program Manager.Scrum Master always tries to keep things smaller. They like to work in small teams irrespective of budget.
Average salary in the United States (2019)$77,000 per year$97,500 per year
Job Description
  • Planning, creating budget and the related documents
  • PM has to work with upper management to ensure a scope and direction of a project
  • PM has to work with another department also, in case of emergency
  • sometimes have to work themselves or instruct the team to finish a goal.


  • Resolves barriers and controls the Scrum processes.

  • Making a team aware of Agile and Scrum to deliver successfully

  • Facilitates the Scrum ceremonies

  • Ensures that a project is running smoothly with the help of the tools

  • Executes the Product Backlog as per the Product Owner prioritization

  • Solves team conflicts with good communication skills

  • Motivates the team

  • Monitors the Scrum processes to increase efficiency

Difference Between Scrum Master and Project Manager

A Project manager and scrum master can play crucial roles in the success of a project. Scrum Masters and project managers frequently collaborate on projects, yet there are main differences between Scrum Masters and project managers. 

Project manager and scrum master are fantastic job choices; however, it's good to consider a few things. This article will explain the scrum master vs. project manager with different parameters to make you an informed decision. 

1. Scrum Master vs Project Manager: Salaries  

There are a few of the roles that scrum masters and project managers plan in the organization, along with their salaries listed below. As you compare scrum master vs project manager salary, you will get a clear answer to your dilemma. 

Scrum Master Salary Details:

  • Agile Scrum master: $116,125 
  • Certified Scrum Master: $121,00 
  • Scrum Master Consultant: $122,600 
  • Safe scrum master: $125,000 
  • Lead Scrum Master: $133,900 
  • Project Manager Salary details 
  • Project coordinator: $52,100 
  • Project manager consultant: $85,200 
  • Project director: $98,800 
  • Product owner: $107,400 
  • Engineering Project manager: $99,500 

2. Scrum Master vs Project Manager: Certification  

Even though their jobs overlap, there are various certifications and professional paths that you can explore to advance your career as a Scrum Master or project manager. 

Scrum Master Certification: 

  • Certified Scrum Master (CSM): If you want to grow more agile with Scrum, this certification is the best to pursue. It familiarizes you with the Scrum structure, team responsibilities, events, artifacts, and how to lead your team in implementing Scrum. 

  • Professional Scrum Master (PSM): The Professional Scrum Master certification verifies the ability to use the Scrum framework, support Scrum Teams, and handle complex problems in the real world as a Scrum Master. When taking the PSM, you should have advanced Scrum understanding and extensive Scrum Master experience. 

Project Manager Certification: 

  • Project management Professional (PMP): Project managers with the Project Management Professional (PMP) credential belong to an exclusive group. It demonstrates experience and proficiency in project leadership in all modes of operation. 
  • Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM): To start a career as a project manager, obtaining the CAPM certification is crucial. It familiarizes you with every aspect of project handling, from project integration to cost, quality, and resource management. 

3. Scrum Master vs Project Manager: How to Become  

Getting an undergraduate degree in management is the best place to start if you want to work as a project manager or scrum master. This degree offers the candidate a foundation in crucial areas such as overall management and human resources abilities that immediately apply to the job. The courses required for this degree also improve communication and interaction skills, which are necessary to pursue a good career path in both fields. 

How to become a Scrum master vs. project manager 

  • Take a course: Enrol yourself online or offline course to learn and upgrade your skills 
  • Build Experience: Add your learnings to your current work to be efficient and gain experience. 
  • Get Certified: Certifications can help you with your application, and they communicate your degree of competence to potential employers. Take any of the courses mentioned above to become certified. 

4. Scrum Master vs Project Manager: Skills  

There are many common skills like communication, leadership, and organization that both scrum masters and project managers should have. However, there are some specific skills that a scrum master and project manager must have given below 

Scrum Manager Skills 

Project Manager Skills 

Agile Expert 

Time management 




Risk Management 

5. Scrum Master vs. Project Manager Roles and Responsibility 

Scrum master roles and responsibilities 

Project manager roles and responsibilities 

Sprint Planning 

Plan project goals, and requirements 

Daily scrum meeting 

Prioritize the project-related features 

Team assistance to follow the scrum process 

Risk mitigation 

Help and monitor the team to speed up the work 

Maintaining a healthy relationship with all stakeholders 

Product backlog removal 

Project completion at a set time 

6. Scrum Master vs Project Manager: Career Path  

After getting certification and acquiring skills in scrum master and project manager, many career paths open up to several lucrative careers and organizations. 

Scrum master Job roles 

Project Manager Job Roles 

Product Owner 

Project Coordinator 

Senior Scrum master 

Assistant project manager 

Agile Coach 

Technicl Project managwer 

Project Manager 

IT project manager 

Chief Informative Officer 

Senior project manager 

Relationship Between the Scrum Master and the Project Manager

Relationship between the Scrum Master and the Project Manager

Next, you might be wondering, what is the role of a Project Manager in Scrum? If you know the transition from Waterfall to Agile, you might think that the title ‘Project Manager’ is just shifted to the title ‘Scrum Master’. However, the Project Manager’s responsibilities cannot be directly converted to a Scrum Master role.

role of a Project Manager in Scrum

When you transit from traditional approach (Waterfall model) to Agile, the responsibilities of a Project Manager are distributed among the variety of team members. Some responsibilities go to the Program Manager, some to the Product Owner, some to the Scrum Master and some to the remaining team. On the other hand, switching from Waterfall to Agile is not an easy process.

Unlike Scrum Master, we can say a Product Owner’s role is closely aligned to the Project Manager’s role. The highly responsible entity in a project can be identified as Product Owner. They have to maintain the product backlog and ensure that the product fits with the business requirements. In case of any changes in the product, the Product Owner has to adjust and re-prioritize the current product backlog to fit these changes and maneuver the project. This is a tedious task for the Product Owner.

So, the Scrum Master is there to play a consultant role and take care of the project from all perspectives. The Scrum Master guides the Product Owner on how to manage the teamwork with the use of product backlog, sprint planning and meetings.

The Scrum Master supports the Product Owner in managing the teamwork, coaches the team and ensures that the team is properly aligned to the Scrum process. The Scrum Master manages the Scrum process, ensures its correct implementation and increasing the scope of its benefits throughout the project.


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Organizations that are new to Agile and Scrum commit some deadly blunders. The most common and overlooked one is the lack of clarity of the roles of the Scrum Master and the Project Manager. This is more often seen in smaller Scrum teams, where these two discrete roles overlap.

There are of course similarities between Scrum Master and Project Manager roles. But that does not give way to ignoring the distinct differences between an Agile Project Manager and Scrum Master.

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Similarities between the Scrum Master and the Project Manager:

  • Project Manager and Scrum Master both are humans and they both make mistakes. But they both debug and learn from the mistakes. They both can communicate, receive feedback, mitigate the risks, and enable a great bonding within a team.
  • Actually, neither the Project Manager nor the Scrum Master is the supreme authority. The Project Manager has to report to the client and the stakeholders, whereas the Scrum Master has to report to the Product Owner alongside the stakeholders and clients.
  • Both Project Manager and the Scrum Master fail when they ignore the basic principles that are supposed to be adhered to. They fail when they not only neglect being professionals, but also when they are any less than skilled professionals. Sometimes, they may also fail when they disrespect the team members’ opinions.

Let’s find out the roles and responsibilities of a Scrum Master and Project Manager.

The roles and responsibilities of a Scrum Master

Scrum Master is referred as a facilitator, who manages the teams that are implementing the Agile methodology. Scrum framework is the best framework for smaller teams of developers, who can break their work into a Sprint in order to get your project done at the end of every sprint.

Great teams rely on the Scrum Masters to get their work done within a time limit. You might as well say that being a Scrum Master is a kind of art. All depends on the sprint planning and release planning processes which give scientific clarity to SM in ensuring that the team is able to execute the amount of assigned work in the right way.

  • Sprint planning
  • Scheduling the daily Scrum meeting
  • Managing Scrum process responsibly
  • Helping the Scrum teams to follow Scrum practices
  • Removing barriers so the team can focus on their work
  • Assisting with the Product Backlog
  • Co-operating with Product Owner in designing Product Backlog items for the next Sprint
  • Protecting the team from external distractions
  • Recording and assisting to improve team dynamics

  • Guides the Product Owner on the project
  • Helps teams to speed up the processes
  • Monitors the sprint progress
  • Promotes team discussions
  • Motivates the team
  • Scrum Master acts as a cement to bind the team together

The roles and responsibilities of a Project Manager

Project Manager’s role is to manage the projects and ensure that the project meets the requirements. There is a time or place for a Project Manager in the large projects. The Project Manager can cover multiple teams and can work with other dependent teams as well. PM can coordinate with multiple teams, help them to meet project timelines and collaborate when resources are required. The roles and responsibilities of the Project Manager are as follows.

  • Defining project scope to the team
  • Planning project target
  • Preparing the work schedule for the team members
  • Gathering requirements
  • Defining the resource requirements for the project
  • Preparing the budget for a project
  • Assuring quality
  • Mitigating the risks
  • Monitoring the plans
  • Getting user feedback
  • Managing relationships with the client and the stakeholders
  • Ending the project

  • Managing the finance related issues budget
  • Reporting to business leaders on the project progress
  • Task allocation
  • Risk management
  • Focusing on processes
  • Prioritizing the project related features
  • Coordinating with other teams if required

What Should You Choose Between Scrum Master or Project Manager? 

There are many things to consider when deciding if you want to become a Scrum Master or project manager because the tasks that Scrum Masters and project managers fill are different. A position as a Scrum Master may be the perfect fit for you if you enjoy the idea of leading teams through distinct project phases to a successful conclusion. Project management may be a better fit for you if you prefer to oversee all logistical aspects of a project, from planning and implementation to conclusion.


The Project Manager and the Scrum Master both have varied roles. Deciding between the Scrum Master certification and Project Management certification is indeed a tough choice and entails a careful consideration of the prospects of each. It is important for you to pursue a Project Management Professional certification as a project manager. Eventually, the role of a Scrum Master is proved as a ‘deciding factor’ of the successful projects. The Scrum Master and the Project Manager both have distinct roles. Both need particular skill-sets and a right person to make the work happen.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1Can scrum masters become project managers?

Whereas a project manager focuses on projects and oversees related timelines, a scrum master mentors and leads their team. A CSM shows that you are an expert in the various activities, roles, and artifacts. A scrum master specializing in agile project management can become a project manager. 

2Is Being a Scrum Master an Integral Role of Program Management?

In most cases, being a Scrum Master becomes an integrated program management role. Scrum is an agile project management paradigm that enables teams to create valuable products iteratively and progressively while continuously inspecting and changing the process. 

3How does a project manager approach project planning and execution?

There are five-step processes for project planning and execution 

  1. Identify the project 
  2. Determined the desired outcome 
  3. Identify the team and their responsibilities for them 
  4. Determine the timeline 
  5. Review, revise and reallocate 
4Is a scrum master the same as a project manager?

Project managers oversee all project aspects, including budget, timing, and risk, while Scrum masters ensure that their teams adhere to Scrum standards. Scrum masters and project managers can both be Scrum masters, but they are not the same thing. 

5Is Scrum Master a good career?‎

A Scrum Master certification is valuable if you wish to work as a Scrum Master or in an agile project management setting. It demonstrates your expertise and grasp of the Scrum framework, which can help you advance in your profession and earn more money. 


Lindy Quick

Blog Author

Lindy Quick, SPCT, is a dynamic Transformation Architect and Senior Business Agility Consultant with a proven track record of success in driving agile transformations. With expertise in multiple agile frameworks, including SAFe, Scrum, and Kanban, Lindy has led impactful transformations across diverse industries such as manufacturing, defense, insurance/financial, and federal government. Lindy's exceptional communication, leadership, and problem-solving skills have earned her a reputation as a trusted advisor. Currently associated with KnowledgeHut and upGrad, Lindy fosters Lean-Agile principles and mindset through coaching, training, and successful execution of transformations. With a passion for effective value delivery, Lindy is a sought-after expert in the field.

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