How to Become a Project Manager
A project manager is not just a single job. It actually consists of several roles.
A project manager is the individual responsible for every aspect of a project from planning to completion.
They work to ensure that budget and time constraints are met, and they delegate tasks to appropriate people.
Project managers are in charge of leading teams of employees, coordinating any relevant outside agencies, communicating with shareholders or senior managers and overseeing a project from start to finish.
The exact wage will vary due to the extremely far-reaching nature of project management.
Depending on the industry that an individual works in, a project manager can typically earn between $90,000 to $140,000.
Because of the varied nature of the role, a project manager needs to possess several skills.
These help to ensure that the initiation, planning, execution and closing of a project can happen smoothly and on schedule.
A large part of project management involves ensuring that a task is able to be completed on budget.
Being aware of costs is an important factor in ensuring that this can happen.
If a project manager is unaware of potential costs, then projects can spiral out of control.
Every project will come with an element of risk. The project manager's job is to identify and understand the risks relating to a project and manage them effectively.
A good project manager will be able to recognise possible risks before they occur to prevent them from happening.
The ability to consider a problem critically means an individual can analyze and assess a situation by looking at the facts to make a decision.
This means looking at a problem or potential issue in an unbiased way, considering only the facts to form a plan.
Critical analysis can be useful in identifying and avoiding potential issues before they happen.
Lateral thinking is the ability to think innovatively.
This means that an individual should be able to look at a problem and consider all of the options, even if these are not obvious.
Someone with lateral thinking skills can use a creative approach to find solutions that may not be possible when only logic is used.
When working on a project, there can be times when the stress and pressure can be difficult to manage.
As a project manager, it is important to be able to handle unexpected pressure with resilience.
Possessing the ability to be resilient under pressure will help an individual to cope when things go wrong and instill confidence in the individual’s abilities among employees and other team members.
As a project manager, the individual will need to work with a variety of people with different areas of expertise and experience levels.
It is important to be able to communicate and build rapport with them.
Good interpersonal skills will help to ensure that your team stays happy and works well together.
Almost every company will use a project manager at one time or another.
There will be large projects which need to be taken, and they will need to be overseen by someone who can dedicate themselves solely to the project.
Using a project manager means that the owners of a company can be confident that their project is being looked after by a specialist.
It gives them assurance that issues will be taken care of and results will be achieved.
There are many routes into project management; therefore, it is important to find the appropriate route suited to you.
For some, that may mean working their way through the ranks of a company, building on-the-job experience as they go.
For others, this can mean studying a specific project management degree, which gives them all of the tools that they need.
It is also possible to become a project manager through a combination of studying and experience.
If you are considering a career in project management, then it can help to understand some of the processes involved.
You probably have some of the skills required to be a project manager without even realizing it.
These could be skills that you have learned through work or talents you naturally possess.
Understanding the skills and abilities you already have can make it easier to see the aspects you need to work on.
This can help you to gain perspective and direction when planning how to go about becoming a project manager.
If there are skills you need but would be difficult for you to learn in your present job, then it might be a good idea to consider taking a course.
For example, if you need to learn analytic skills, it can be difficult to do this unless your job specifically deals in analytic data. Taking a course that teaches the basics will give you the skills you need.
By taking the time to learn basic analytics, you will be able to volunteer for related roles at work to build on your experience.
It is possible to gain experience in a variety of ways through work. Working on existing projects and adopting additional responsibilities are both ways to gain experience while working.
Gaining additional experience could mean assisting with administrative tasks relating to current projects, taking responsibility for an aspect of a larger project or working as a team leader.
Other ways of gaining knowledge and experience would be to attend networking events and conferences.
This way, you can learn from others who have more experience than you and gain useful contacts for the future for when you will be running projects yourself.
If there are projects happening at work, consider volunteering for them. If possible, request to be allocated leadership responsibilities.
It doesn’t have to be a big project. Volunteering to manage a small project will still help you gain knowledge and experience, and the opportunity to provide evidence of your newly gained skills.
Some businesses feel that there is more weight with formal qualifications rather than on-the-job training.
This means that it can sometimes be a good idea to consider formal management training.
By completing an appropriate management course, you will learn all of the skills that you need to be a project manager.
These qualifications will stay with you and can be transferred from one job to another.
Software changes all of the time. It is important to stay up-to-date with current trends and the latest software options available for project managers to use.
Technology is there to help make managing a project easier. It can help you to keep track of spending, deadlines, staff and every other aspect of a project.
It can be used to plan the steps required through each phase until a project is completed and track invoices and schedules.
Once you have been able to sharpen your skills, gain experience and familiarize yourself with the latest data options, you are ready to apply for project management positions.
If you are still learning, then it might be a good idea to look for entry-level roles, such as project coordinator, assistant project manager or junior project manager.
These positions will help you to gain the confidence and experience that you need to be able to apply for bigger projects and more responsible roles.
There are various ways in which you can become a project manager. First, the degree route is a good way to ensure you have expert knowlege of what it takes to be a successful project manager.
Bachelor’s programs in project management or any other management course will open up careers for you in this field.
You can also take the vocational route. The best project managers have a wealth of experience as project coordinators and project officers. Gaining the right work experience will help you in your search to become a project manager.
You can also take a Project Management Professional (PMP) course that will reward you with a certificate showing how qualified you are to take this role.
How long it takes to become a project manager is dependent on your qualifications and your experience. If you have the relevant bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree and experience as a project assistant then you can expect to be in the running to become part of the project management team.
It is also dependent upon what career field you are in. For example, to become a project manager for a small IT company may be quicker than becoming a project manager for a corporate investment firm.
With all things considered you can expect it to take five to seven years at a minimum.
If you have the right qualifications and training then there is no reason why you cannot become a project manager. However, to become one of the best project managers, you do need to have the personality traits that will aid you in this role.
Great project managers have strong leadership qualities, can envision the results of a project and are decisive when it comes to making hard decisions.
Becoming a project manager is a great career choice. The work is exciting and stimulating, and you can work for some of the biggest companies around.
It also pays very well. The average project manager in the US earns around $75,000. Project managers can also earn commission and extrinsic rewards for their successful projects.
Becoming a project manager can be a lengthy process; however, many of the skills involved can be learned through on-the-job experience.
There are some aspects of the role which you are probably already doing without realizing.
Taking the time to make sure that you can build on your skills before applying for project manager roles can ensure that you are able to stay on schedule and under budget, eventually delivering a successful result.