What is a Release Train Engineer (RTE), and How Do You Become One?

June 3, 2022 - Reading time: 7 minutes

Since the introduction of SAFe, a new group of super scrum masters have emerged: the RTE. The RTE becomes a considerably more efficient scrum master of the team and a mentor for the organization after completing the SAFe Release Train Engineer (RTE) test and attaining SAFe RTE certification. The role of a Release Train Engineer is complex and challenging, with a variety of responsibilities for the entire company.

Who is a Release Train Engineer RTE?

The RTE is a role in a SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework)-implemented business, a prominent model for achieving business agility by combining Lean, Agile, and DevOps methods. It is a program-level position frequently referred to as the "Chief Scrum Master" for an Agile Release Train. A Release Train Engineer makes ART processes and implementation smoother. Although Agile Release Trains (ARTs) are made up of self-organizing and self-managing teams, they do not drive or steer themselves. This is the RTE's role, as they are experts in scaling Lean and Agile principles and are conscious of the opportunities and challenges of supporting and synchronizing a large development program. To guarantee that they are designing strong technological solutions that fulfill client demands, the RTE works closely with Product Management and System Architect/Engineering. The RTE is in charge of assuring strategy and execution alignment, fostering cross-team cooperation, managing risks and dependencies, training leaders and teams in Lean-Agile techniques and mindsets, and driving continuous improvement. The RTE's ultimate goal is to manage and optimize the flow of value via the ART.

What is an ART?

An Agile Release Train is a virtual team consisting of several sub-teams that work simultaneously, starting from five and more. ARTs are cross-functional and can constantly deliver value throughout all product areas. Work is bundled as 'Features' at the ART level, encapsulating an experiment with a hypothesis that specifies some advantage to the end-user/customer. These functions are timed to a specific Program Increment (PI) frequency (usually eight to twelve weeks). This method avoids teams being divided into isolation. Working harmoniously according to the functions performed by the teams is part of Agile Release Train. A Scrum Master, a Product Owner, and team members make up each agile team. In a Program Increment (PI) (typically an eight to twelve-week period ), the teams work on their Agile Release Train with other teams, to produce a continual flow of value.

Roles and Responsibilities of an RTE

Some of the main roles and responsibilities of a Release Train Engineer are: Collaborate with the ART teams to determine which features should be prioritized for each PI planning cycle. SAFe RTE duties include organizing and leading SAFe events such as team meetings to plan short-term development cycles collaboratively, ART sync at every phase, Demos, seminars, and Backlog Refinement.

  • Work with the Product Manager to maintain a healthy Product Backlog for the program.
  • Support the ART in maintaining cooperation and interaction with customers and partners during the product's feature specification and delivery.
  • Manage modifications to the ART's PI plan and assess how such changes affect the value chain.
  • To promote transparency and understanding of progress and impediments, encourage open communication between team members and stakeholders.
  • Establish an environment that allows teams to work independently on their tasks while establishing trust for enhanced coordination.
  • To address contingencies and complicated issues, give direction to project team members and act as a consultant or coach to management. They must also be vigilant and watch out for any potential hazards or roadblocks that impede growth.
  • Encourage team members to communicate openly. Ascertain that the program's total cost, deadlines, and performance are within predetermined limits. They must also monitor any irregularities and act quickly to correct them.
  • Assist management and teams in defining and upgrading SAFe operating policies and procedures by acting as a subject-matter expert.
  • Encourage people to use Agile and SAFe best practices and methods. This is one of the most important roles of the Release Train Engineer.
  • Continuously refine and stay involved with growing issues and discussions in the broader community of Agile adopters.
  • Support the implementation of SAFe practices suited to the organization's requirements. However, this would require the standardization of operations and paperwork.

Who Can Be a Release Train Engineer?

Although people come from various backgrounds to work as RTE Scrum Masters, Program and Project Managers and Lean-Agile coaches are the most widespread. The right mentality and a thorough understanding of Lean-Agile are critical to becoming a Release Train Engineer.

How Can You Become a SAFe Release Train Engineer?

You must first complete a 3-day course in which you will learn about the position and how to design and execute a PI to become a Certified SAFe Release Train Engineer.

After completing the course, you will be invited to attend the SAFe Community Platform, which will provide you with access to the SAFe RTE test and associated preparation tools, including a practice exam.

You may also obtain SAFe toolkits and templates to assist you to facilitate SAFe events, online SAFe evaluations to track your portfolios' development towards business agility, training videos, a forum, and other useful tools through the Community Platform you choose. This training is advanced level and requires a basic understanding of SAFe.

This three-day SAFe RTE training program is a crucial step toward obtaining the RTE certification. The RTE certification exam necessitates extensive study, and this program will provide you with the necessary information, course materials, and assistance to pass the RTE examination. You must have a minimum of one relevant SAFe certification and have delivered or engaged in one Agile Release Train (ART) and one Program Increment (PI) to attempt the

SAFe RTE certification test. This will help you engage more in the activities and community conversations that encourage you to comment on your own SAFe and RTE accomplishments.

The RTE Exam

The SAFe RTE online examination is a multiple-choice exam. Within 120 minutes, the applicant must respond to 60 questions (2 hours). The exam must be taken in one sitting, with a passing score of 75%. If the exam is performed within 30 days of the SAFe RTE course completion, the initial course registration price will include the first SAFe RTE exam attempt charge. Each retake will cost you at least $50. The first retake (second attempt) can be performed right after the first attempt. A 10-day delay is required for the third try, and a 30-day delay is required for the fourth try.

What Should a New RTE do?

New RTEs must learn organizational skills and embrace a Lean-Agile mentality to fulfill their duties. When detecting problems and making decisions, servant leaders must instill principles such as listening and supporting the team. New Release Train Engineers need to foster collective empathy. They must foster the personal growth of unit members and build a systemic thinking approach to gain a perfect view of product development and provide an open-minded observation into the discussion. One of the most important SAFe RTE tasks and duties would be the need to let go of existing notions, encourage team members to disagree and steer talks toward a solution-oriented approach.


Organizations must adapt to an Agile transition if they are to thrive in the face of globalization, uncertain markets, and technological advancements. Over 70% of Fortune 100 businesses prefer to use Scaled Agile, Inc's SAFe framework for their enterprise-wide Agility transformation.

As a SAFe Release Train Engineer, you'll be part of a select group of SAFe professionals in high demand across various industries. Release Train Engineers are valued for maintaining priorities straight, managing stakeholder expectations, and coordinating teams towards value delivery. SAFe Release Train Engineer Certification from KnowledgHut can assist aspirants in achieving their ideal RTE job.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is RTE in SAFe agile? The Release Train Engineer (RTE) is the Agile Release Trains, servant leader, and coach. The RTE's primary tasks are to help the teams deliver results by facilitating ART events and processes.

How difficult is the SAFe RTE exam?

The SAFe Release Train Engineer certification exam is difficult, requiring a thorough understanding of the Scaled Agile Framework's fundamentals and a passing score of 75%. How does an RTE and scrum master differ from each other? While the scrum master coaches the product owner and development team, RTE coaches the entire ART and its immediate surroundings.


[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scaled_agile_framework

[2] Edinburghagile.com (agile-training and RTE-certification)