As Agile has grown in popularity, many people want to learn how to become an Agile coach. Indeed, “Agile coach” was ranked one of the most acceptable occupations on Indeed.com in 2019, with an average base income of $161,377. Meanwhile, there is an unprecedented need for committed, experienced Agile coaches. If you’re enthusiastic about Agile, love working in groups, and want to make a career as an agile coach, here are some pointers and tools to get you started.
How to Become an Agile Coach
So you want to be an Agile Coach, right? Like many other modern jobs, the road to becoming an Agile coach is not well defined. You could get 50 different replies if you ask 50 different Agile coaches about their route to becoming Agile coaches.
This is because Agile Coaching as a discipline is still in its infancy. It has developed in recent decades alongside the emergence of Agile (and similar approaches such as Scrum, Kanban, and Lean). Agile will continue to evolve into new sectors, team kinds, and work settings.
However, those interested in learning how to become an Agile Coach today have the advantage of formal training programmes, as opposed to the initial batch of Agile coaches.
Having the necessary experience working in and with Agile teams is maybe even more crucial than formal training in Agile coaching. Here are some informal (but essential in our opinion) criteria for becoming an Agile coach.
Start by Learning Scrum
Although many coaches specialise in eXtreme Programming (XP), Kanban, and other specialised Agile approaches, it’s a safe bet that the Scrum framework is where most Agile coaches began. Why?
If you wish to become an Agile coach, you need to get experience working on a Scrum or Agile team. It would help if you ideally got expertise in each of the three core Scrum roles:
- Product Owner
- Development Team
- Member Scrum Master
Start there if you don’t already have experience working as part of an Agile or Scrum team. Make sure you’re not just completing these positions to “check boxes” on your road to becoming an Agile coach. The more prosperous and significant your experiences as a member of an Agile team, the more value you’ll be able to provide as an Agile coach.
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Pursue Scrum Master Certification
Training and certification will increase your credibility and, in the end, position you for success as an Agile coach.
Learning the Scrum framework will provide you with a fundamental grasp of Agile, but becoming certified as a Scrum Master will help you learn how to manage Agile teams – whether you’re coaching a group that uses Scrum, Kanban, Scrumban, Disciplined Agile Delivery (DAD), Disciplined Agile Senior Scrum Master Certification (DASSM )or another Agile approach.
As a first step toward becoming an Agile coach, we recommend looking into one of the entry-level Scrum Master certificates (either Professional Scrum Master from Scrum.org or Certified ScrumMaster from the Scrum Alliance).
Continue Learning about Agile
Kanban is an integral component of both Agile Program Management and Lean Portfolio Management. It is useful for adopting Agile at the team level as well as scaling Agile throughout a company. Both of these Agile scaling models make use of Kanban to plan and visualise work at the portfolio level and across Agile teams of teams.
Even if you intend to work primarily with individual teams, gaining proficiency in scaled Agile frameworks and coaching business units outside of IT (particularly with Kanban, which many business teams prefer to help them balance both operational and project work) will help you round out your Agile coaching credentials.
Agile coaches are critical to the success of an Agile transition. It is essential to remember that the goal of transformation is to improve business performance. You will encounter opposition along the road, but recognise that this is all part of the process.