If you are looking to start your career in project management, you should be wondering which will be the best option: Scrum Master, Product Owner or Project Manager?

Unfortunately, you are comparing three different functions here. Although many companies advertise job openings such as “Project Manager with Scrum Master and Product Owner specialization”, each of these roles has very different characteristics and different strategies to start a career.

I will try to explain each one of these options.

First: Are you working in an Agile or Traditional environment?

The first question is: what is the environment in which you will work the project? Agile or Traditional?

Let me be very clear. In an Agile environment, you will not be very successful as a project manager.

But Rogerio, there are many jobs asking project managers to “manage” agile projects, and most jobs require scrum master or product owner certification. What should I do?

You are right. Many companies are in the ‘transition phase’ from the traditional model to the agile mode and still do not have a fully agile culture. I usually say that the company is working in ‘hybrid’ mode.

I would say that this is the worst situation for a person to start their professional career.

You will work in the middle of the hurricane. People resistant to agile and demanding controls and traditional planning and others eager to get the results of agile practices.

You will be a hostage of the organization.

The good news is that there are many companies in the traditional mode who are ready to adopt agile, and these companies are always looking for people with agile skills.

Second: Scrum Master or Product Owner

So, I’m assuming you’ve decided to go down the agile management path. The question now is: scrum master or product owner?

There is no right or wrong answer to this question, and it depends on the company and the project. In general, scrum master is a role that manages the scrum process, while product owner is a role that owns the product.

And this is very important!

The Scrum Master is someone who ‘masters’ the scrum framework. Don’t be confused with ‘mastering’ agile.
But, Rogerio… it is not the same? ABSOLUTELY NOT.

Scrum is an agile framework. Agil goes far beyond the use of scrum.

Becoming agile involves a major change in culture, while adopting scrum is a matter of following the scrum rules. ‘Someone’ already said that Scrum It’s simple to understand, but difficult to master.

Product Owner is yet another history.

A product owner is a person who ‘master’ the product and its consumer market.  You must have a deeply knowledge about  customers and users of your product.

You will be responsible for the success or failure of the product and need to interact with users to understand their needs.

Therefore, the question you should ask yourself is: Do I know a product very well to understand customer needs and add value to that product?

Third: What about the project manager?

Project managers are still needed in almost every company. But, that is changing.

Today’s project manager no longer manages projects like they used to. So what has changed?

In general terms, he still continues to do the traditional tasks of planning, controlling and executing the project. But now, he needs to ‘add value’ to the project.

What does this all mean? Companies are looking for more than just one person to deliver the project on time and on cost. They want someone to ‘lead’ the project.

But Rogerio, isn’t managing and leading the same thing? ABSOLUTELY NOT!

A leader has a strategic view of the business, while the manager follows organizational policies and procedures.

A leader is someone who privileges influence over hierarchical power.

The modern project manager is a leader and a visionary.

So, what is the best strategy to start a career in project management?

Let me try to explain with a table the main differences between these three options.

  Project Manager Scrum Master Product Owner
Organizational project environment Traditional or hybrid Agile or hybrid Agile or hybrid
Strategic Vision Organisational Business Scrum framework

Product and Organisational business,

Scrum framework

Focused on

Deliver according to project constraints

Emphasis on project plan.

Implementing scrum and productivity of the team Product value and quality.
What you need to know

Will work with people

Will work under pressure

Need to have a strategic vision

Need to be a good manager

Need to learn about business

Will work with people

Need to know deeply scrum framework

Will work relaxed (??)

Need to avoid being a project manager or product owner

Will work with people

Need to be a good negotiator

Need to know deeply the product

Need to know deeply the customer and the market

Need to prioritise requirements

Key skills Leadership, risk management, planning, communication Scrum and agile Knowledge

Product, market and customer knowledge.

Negotiation and communication skills

Certifications CAPM, PMP Agile and Scrum Master certifications Agile and Product Owner
Previous experience Low to medium Medium to high Medium to high
Job market demand Medium to high High High


If you’re just starting out in your career, you need a strategy that gives you a long-term view of your profession.

Organizations are constantly changing and demanding that professionals do the same.

Don’t think that be qualified as a project manager or scrum master today will guarantee you a job in the future.

You need to constantly update yourself, learn new techniques and knowledge.

Change your way of seeing your work, change your way of seeing companies, change your way of seeing people.

But the most important – change the way you see yourself as a professional.

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