If you want to join a growing field, you may want to learn how to become a project manager. This can be a great career choice as employers are always looking for good project managers. The Project Management Institute estimates about 2 million new roles will open up by 2027.
Entering the project management field will require the right skills. In addition, you will need to take the necessary steps to become a project manager. Let’s look at the steps and what this type of career includes.
What is a Project Manager?
As a project manager, you will lead teams, plan projects, and keep things running on time. You will also be in charge of keeping things on a budget. Finally, as a project manager, you will be responsible for the project’s success or failure.
How to Become a Project Manager One Step at a Time
Step #1 – Gain Experience and/or Education
The first step to becoming a project manager is to choose your path. There are two basic paths you can take to become a project manager.
The Education Path
Gaining a degree or certification in project management will allow you to enter into this career path. This is the most common path to becoming a project manager. However, you will need to have an idea that you want to enter this career when you choose your major. A degree in business or project management will help.
The Experience Path
You don’t need a degree to become a project manager. However, without a degree, you will need to gain experience in project management. Developing your hands-on project management experience will be necessary to gain this position without a degree.
Any experience you can gain in the following will help you build a strong resume:
- Resource management
- Risk management
- Integration management
- Scope management
- Schedule management
- Cost management
- Resource management
- Stakeholder management
- Communications management
- Procurement management
Sometimes, you can gain experience while you gain education in these areas. Without a degree, you can gain professional certifications to help you along the path towards becoming a project manager.
You can get the PMI (Project Management Institute) certification known as CAPM (Certified Associate in Project Management). This certification can help you move forward towards a career in project management. Before getting this certification, you will need a high school diploma and at least 1,500 hours of work experience.
There are many other courses you can take to learn about project management. Several options are offered online from Udemy, Coursera, Alison, Simplilearn, and edX.
Step #2 – Work on the Necessary Skills
As a project manager, you’ll need to develop specific skills. There are many essential skills you need, some of the common skills you want to work on include:
- Negotiation Skills – You will need to negotiate to gain the right team for your project. Terms will need to be negotiated with vendors, users, clients, sponsors, and stakeholders. This may include negotiating deadlines, commitments, the budget, and the scope of the project.
- Technical/Business Writing – Corresponding through email is rather common as a project manager. You will need to learn business writing skills for this career.
- Organizational Skills – Great organization skills are vital for every project. You will need to take a larger project and turn it into smaller, manageable tasks for your team.
- Cost Control – Learning how to track costs, estimate the project expenses, and manage the financial aspects of a project is necessary.
- Time Management Skills – Projects need to be completed on time. This means you will need to manage timelines, due dates, and schedules for your team.
- Expertise in the Subject Matter – Depending on the industry you’re in or want to go into, you will need to gain expertise. A good background in the type of work the project will include is necessary.
Along with these skills, it’s necessary to be a good communicator and have leadership skills. You will need to manage a team throughout the process, as well.
Step #3 – Learn the Necessary Tools of Project Management
While your skills can get you pretty far in project management, you will need the right tools. There are several common tools used for managing projects. In addition, you can learn how to use popular tools, such as Basecamp, Microsoft Project, Atlassian, and many others.
It’s also a good idea to become familiar with using Microsoft Excel, QuickBooks, and Freshbooks. With the right knowledge of specific project management tools, you can easily learn other tools when necessary.
Step #4 – Gain Work Experience
While the right education can help you become a project manager, the experience can go much further. There are many ways to gain experience, even if you have a degree. Maybe an internship can be helpful. It can also be helpful to work on a team under a project manager.
With the right experience, certifications, and other types of training, you’ll be able to become a project manager.
Tasks a Project Manager Handles
As a project manager, you will be in charge of a specific project. Some of the common duties you will be in charge of include:
- Oversee the entire project
- Manage expectations for the project
- Coordinate the entire lifecycle of the project
- Track the project throughout
- Mentor, supervise, and motivate team members
- Define the entire scope of the project
- Develop relationships with vendors, stakeholders, and others involved
- Track work times for your team and maintain accurate timesheets
- Effectively communicate with all departments
- Manage billing and budgets
- Manage training and workshops
- Obtain customer input and feedback
- Provide incredible customer satisfaction
- Evaluate the performance of your team
All of these tasks and many others may be a part of any project you manage.
Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming a Project Manager
How much does a project manager make each year?
The average salary of a project manager is about $140K per year. However, the salary can range from $110K to about $170K, depending on your experience. Your salary will depend on the actual position, industry, and location of your job.
Which certifications are the best choices for project managers?
The right certificate will depend on the industry you’re in. There are many certifications to consider, including:
- PMP (Project Management Professional) Certification – Known as one of the best certifications to get, you will need to pass a 200-question multiple-choice test to gain this certification. You will also need work experience as a project manager or a four-year degree. After 4,500 hours of work experience, or 7,500 if you don’t have a degree, you will gain access to this certification program.
- PRINCE2 (PRojects IN Controlled Environments) Certification – This certification program is specific to the UK but can be helpful, no matter where you work. You can gain the Foundation or Practitioner certification through this program.
- Scrum Certification – Another type of project manager certification, Scrum.org offers several options for your certification.
These are just a few of the top certifications to consider if you want to become a project manager.
What type of positions are common for project managers?
Since this type of career cuts across many industries, it can take on many different titles. Some of the common job titles include:
- Program manager
- Project coordinator
- Scrum master
- Product owner
- Project engineer
- Construction project manager
- Operations manager
- Senior project manager
Several other job titles are also possible.
Are jobs as project managers growing?
The job growth for project managers is rather high. It’s expected that many new project managers will be needed over the next decade. These positions are found across many industries, including:
- Healthcare – expected to grow the fastest by about 17% by 2027
- Finance and insurance
- Manufacturing and construction
- Management and professional services
- Information services and publishing
- Utilities, oil, and gas
This is a fast-growing career option and covers so many different industries.
Do I need a degree to become a project manager?
No, but it becomes much easier with the right degree. Getting a degree can help you advance faster and cut down the experience you need to gain certifications. With a degree, you will be able to find an entry-level position much easier.
Which tools are most common for project managers to use?
Several project management tools can be used for product development. Some of the most common include:
- Extreme Programming
- Six Sigma
- Critical Path
- PMI’s PMBOK
If you want to become a project manager, getting to know some of these programs will help you. Adding these to your resume will help you land the project manager position of your dreams.
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