Project Managers are representatives of change. They employ their honed skills and expertise to design and execute projects in alignment with their organization's goals. The ability to work under pressure, cultivate team skills, and deal with changes are key project manager traits.
The average project manager salary is $81990 annually in the United States. Also, by 2027, the project management-oriented labor force is expected to grow by 33%, which is nearly 22 million new jobs. Never before has there been a better time to pursue a career path in project management. No matter what the industry, qualified project managers are undeniably always in demand to plan and provision the work.
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What Is Project Management?
According to PMI, Project Management is the use of specific skills, knowledge, techniques, and tools to deliver something of value to people. Developing software for improved business processes, constructing a building, the relief effort after a catastrophe or expanding sales into a new geographic market— are all examples of projects that must be efficiently managed.
The changing nature of work due to globalization, technological advances, and other factors demands an increased organization of work around projects with teams of people brought together based on the specific skills needed for a particular task. A project manager leads a project and ensures that a project team meets its goals.
Who Is a Project Manager?
A project manager is an individual in charge of planning and executing a project. This person may do any of the following:
- Develop scopes of work
- Define project goals
- Align internal and external teams
- Build project timelines and dependencies
- Manage internal and external stakeholder expectations
- Track key performance indicators (KPIs)
It’s common for people to “fall into” into the role of a project manager. This usually happens when motivated team members drive deliverables. And have strong communications skills, enabling them to take on project management duties—merely because they are capable of doing so.
Even if you don't have a project manager title, you might have experience driving and delivering project results within a team. Have you planned a cross-functional corporate event, launched a nationwide or global campaign to raise awareness for a cause, or supported and guided the development of an app or podcast and tracked performance? If you answered yes to any of these questions, or have a similar experience, you could have the skills to become an effective project manager.
What are the Project Manager Roles and Responsibilities?
Several variations occur in project management positions across industry lines. However, the general project manager's roles and responsibilities remain the same, including:
- Planning and developing the project idea
- Work with internal stakeholders and external clients to define the concept and create a process
- Defining the scope of the project
- Creating a team capable of meeting or exceeding client expectations
- Providing guidance, training or coaching to set up the team for success
- Keeping honest communication
- Monitoring project progress and set deadlines
- Anticipating delays that may occur on the client side
- Solving issues that arise during every project
- Mastering the art of cost efficiency to manage the budget
- Ensuring stakeholder satisfaction
- Evaluate project performance on its completion to highlight what went right and what went wrong
- Building camaraderie and rewarding team members who performed exceptionally during the project
How to Become a Project Manager?
Typically, there are two main paths to becoming a project manager. You can study project management principles and apply them directly to project management positions. The other option is to take up more responsibilities in your current roles and advance gradually to a leadership position by proving your mettle. Irrespective of the path, considering the following six steps will help you excel in the project management position:
Step 1: Acknowledge Your Project Management Skills
Have you ever planned, budgeted, led, scheduled, or documented the progress of a project? If yes, you have gained a sneak peek into some elements of project management. Organizing an event, finding ways to make your workplace more efficient, and coordinating with the team for desirable results are some other instances that you might not have thought of as project management at the time, but they added to your capabilities.
Those who find themselves efficient in any of the project manager responsibilities mentioned above can consider applying for project management positions. With a combined three years of experience, you will be eligible to apply for the Project Management Professional (PMP) — a doorway to the project management world.
Step 2: Build & Expand Your Project Management Experience
If you started in a non-managerial position on a team, your role might gradually expand when you gain industry expertise. It is the right time to take on managerial tasks, sharpen your organizational skills, and learn teamwork.
The best way to build project management skills is to look for opportunities in your current role. Whether you are working at an IT firm, a hospital, or a retail store, you will find several tasks that require planning, execution, and improvement when you dive into the culture. Make it a point to volunteer for such an effort. You can also approach your manager with ideas for your contribution, conveying your interest in developing project management experience.
Step 3: Sharpen Your Project Management Skills
Developing technical and soft skills involved in project management is a prerequisite to becoming a project manager. The most sought-after project management skills are:
- Clear Communication
- Risk management
- Waterfall project management
- Agile project management
- Strategic Thinking
- Problem Solving
- Stress Management
The best way to develop these skills is to take courses specific to a subject, enroll for a course, or practice them in your workplace. You must remember that possessing a certification is like bearing testimony to your proven skills.
Step 4: Polish Your Project Manager's Resume
You might possess the experience and skills in the project management industry, but a weak resume can hinder your career path.
Taking time out to enhance your resume and stating explicitly every relevant information is the key to getting shortlisted. Here are some tips for creating a stellar project manager resume:
- Review project manager job listings to discover what companies are looking for.
- Highlight the qualifications on your resume that match the job requirements.
- Add a strong summary statement with your core competencies towards the beginning of the resume to hook the reader and develop their interest in reading further.
- Use action verbs to describe the tasks you performed in previous roles.
- Emphasize and quantify the results to catch the reader's attention.
- Customize your resume every time you apply for a new position.
- Consider adding a customized cover letter to stand out from other candidates.
Step 5: Begin With Entry-level Positions
In addition to gradually working your way up the ladder from within a team, you can also apply for entry-level project management positions if you possess the right skills. Look out for job titles such as:
- Project Coordinator
- Administrative associate
- Operations Coordinator
- Junior project manager
- Associate project manager
- Operations Associate
Step 6: Get training To Outshine the Crowd
A certification can help you stand out amongst others competing for the project management job. Here are a few you can consider:
- Lean Six Sigma Green Belt: This course will teach you how to help organizations save money and become more efficient.
- Lean Six Sigma Certification Course [Online PGP with UMass Amherst]: Ranked #3 in the Best Online MBA Worldwide list, this certification can fast-track your career in quality management as you gain expertise by working on real-world business problems and capstone projects.
- PMP UMass PGP Project Management Boosts your digital-age project leader journey via live online interactive classes, Harvard Business Publishing case studies, masterclasses from UMass Amherst, and capstone projects.
You can also enroll for Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) if you are looking for an entry-level position. Project Management Professional (PMP) and Scrum Master certification (CSM) are popular credentials for those with 3+ years of project management experience.
Project Manager Job Description
When looking for project manager jobs, you will come across project manager job descriptions enlightening the eligibility criteria, roles and responsibilities, and the required core skills.
Here is a sample software project manager job description for an IT firm:
- Three years of experience in project/program management
- Possess a high-level understanding of computer programming languages
- Experience in the software development cycle or Agile methodology
Roles and Responsibilities
- Manage the software development projects
- Facilitate sprint releases
- Recommend upcoming software trends
- Check the software projects periodically.
- Evaluate performance and provide updates
- Work closely with Software Engineers, Product Managers, Quality Analysts, and other engineering teams to provide high-quality products and features through the software project lifecycle.
- Clear communication
- Ability to manage project schedules
- Identify possible issues
- Knowledge of Google Cloud
- Ability to analyze processes and identify opportunities for improvement
- Collaboration: cross-functionally and globally
- Ability to keep up a high velocity in a fast-paced environment
A project manager job description holds immense value in your job search and preparation. You must scan the project manager job description for the following:
- Keywords that you would include in your resume: These are the skills and qualities that the position seeks. Adding them to your resume makes it ATS-friendly and helps you catch the employer's attention.
- Qualifications: The qualifications section tells you whether you have a high or low chance of qualifying for the job.
- Areas that require preparation: The job description gives you a complete idea of what the project management position entails. You can prepare for your interview accordingly. It can also help you decide whether you require to upskill yourself to bag the opportunity.
Is Getting Certification Required?
While certification as a project manager can help you stand out in the crowd, it's not a requirement. However, according to results from the PMI Earning Power Salary Survey, those with a PMP certification earned 20% more on average than those who were not certified. Because two-thirds of the project manager workforce act as consultants, you have the option to choose the projects you want as well as the certification level you need to stay competitive.
How Do I Know Which Certification Is Right for Me?
There are two standard project manager training: the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) certification and the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification. As of March 2018, almost 29,000 project managers worldwide have earned CAPM certification, while more than 833,000 project managers hold a PMP certification.
The Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) certification is open to all experience levels and is designed to help entry- to mid-level professionals upskill in a field of work. As an applicant, you must have a high-school diploma and at least 1,500 hours of project management experience, or have completed 23 hours of project management coursework before the exam. The exam includes 150 multiple-choice questions you get three hours to complete it. To remain certified, you must pass the exam every five years.
The Project Management Professional (PMP) certification is for individuals who have more experience in a project manager role. Applicants must have a four-year degree and at least 4,500 hours of project management experience. This experience includes leading cross-functional teams to deliver projects on time, leveraging available resources, and maintaining a budget. The PMP certification test contains 200 multiple-choice questions that must be completed within four hours. Additionally, all certified individuals must earn at least 60 professional-development credits every three years.
Is Training Available to Help Me Prepare for Certification Exams?
If you’re ready to take the next step in your career, certification can give you the credentials top employers look for when hiring project management professionals.
Simplilearn provides both CAPM Certification Training and PMP Certification Training Course to help learners stay abreast of changes in the industry, better understand new and emerging trends, and gain business development and strategic acumen.
Simplilearn’s CAPM Certification Training provides 11 hours of high-quality learning and two simulation exams. It gives beginners an overview of core project management philosophies and a deeper understanding of the five process groups and ten knowledge areas prescribed by the PMI. PMP Certification Training goes one step further with an advanced 36-hour instructor-led training, as well as seven simulation tests and a series of industry-based case studies and scenarios.
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1. What qualifications do you need to be a project manager?
Typical requirements for a project manager role include at least three years of experience in a relevant position, formal training or a project management certification. You can acquire certification through a professional association, a college, or a specially focused online learning program.
2. How long does it take to become a project manager?
With previous managerial experience, you can become a project manager within a few months. However, if you are beginning your career as a project manager, building up your experience will take at least 2 to 3 years.
3. Is it hard to become a project manager?
The roles and responsibilities of a project manager can be challenging at times but becoming a project manager is not too hard. It requires a vigilant eye and keen mind, which is not necessarily hard once you have some experience and relevant soft skills.
4. How do I start a career in project management?
A project management degree makes it easier for project managers to advance to their roles, but they are not always required. You can also start your career in project management, working your way up from within a team. Earning a certification can accelerate your career path.
Do Employers Look for Certification When Selecting Candidates?
While most employers understand the value of hiring project managers, only 32 percent of organizations say they’re satisfied with their current project manager’s maturity on an organizational level. Because of this, almost 80 percent of project management offices offer onsite, classroom-based training.
PMI’s talent gap report shows that demand over the next ten years for project managers is growing faster than the demand for workers in many other occupations. By 2027, employers will need almost 88 million workers in project management-oriented roles. According to the report, talent shortages could potentially result in nearly $208 billion gross domestic product (GDP) losses in the 11 countries studied.
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