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Career Path: How to Become a Project Manager

Project Management is a diverse and dynamic field that continues to grow in popularity, particularly within tech companies that develop and release software. Project Managers oversee projects from inception to completion, guiding various teams and ensuring tasks, both large and small, are being fulfilled and contribute to the overall project. Project Managers can work in many different industries, meaning precise duties will vary, but many similar skills are used and comparable experiences are gained throughout all.

Getting Through the Door

There are many fields...more

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Career Path: How to Become a Project Manager

Project Management is a diverse and dynamic field that continues to grow in popularity, particularly within tech companies that develop and release software. Project Managers oversee projects from inception to completion, guiding various teams and ensuring tasks, both large and small, are being fulfilled and contribute to the overall project. Project Managers can work in many different industries, meaning precise duties will vary, but many similar skills are used and comparable experiences are gained throughout all.

Getting Through the Door

There are many fields Project Manager work in, including marketing and advertising, construction, information technology and finance. Depending on the aspiring Project Managers field of interest, the requirements for gaining an entry-level role as a Project Manager in that industry varies. Many professionals get a bachelor’s degree in a field they are interested in and may even obtain professional certification. Along with these possible accomplishments, a hiring manager in search of an entry-level Project Manager may look for these traits:

  • Someone with demonstrated proficiency in their field.
  • Strong leadership skills that can guide a team from point A to B.
  • Most fields, especially in IT, will require a basic if not thorough amount of high-tech skills, including the ability to code, develop software and more.
  • A knack for communication and expressing clear and concise directions.
  • Understanding the business needs and how projects fit into business goals.

Degrees and Experience

Education and experience are areas again in which Project Management is different for all. For the most part, obtaining a college degree in fields including business administration, computer science and marketing, or even receiving globally-recognized certification through the Project Management Professional (PMP) examination is seen as a plus by potential employers.

When looking for entry-level work as a Project Manager, the experience is key. This can be achieved in many ways. Internships working for a company similar to the one you want to work for is an excellent way to start building your skills and networking. Keeping an eye out for large-scale companies that have many different projects going at once is a great way to gain work at an entry-level.

Working as a Junior Level Project Manager

Project Managers at the junior level likely work for a company that does the type of work they are interested in pursuing. Junior Project Managers may be entrusted with running their own team of colleagues who work on a particular sector of a project, or the main project as a whole. The Project Manager will be tasked with initially explaining the project and its goals, assigning individual tasks within the project as needed and ensure a successful project is submitted within a given deadline and budget.

Moving up the Ranks

With hard work and dedication, Project Managers can undoubtedly move up the ranks of their profession. This is especially true for larger companies with many projects to undertake. As the Project Manager moves up the career ladder, they must also ensure they are keeping their skills finely-tuned, which may include attending conferences related to your field, obtaining additional certification through an online program and keeping apprised of trends in your field.

Advance Your Career: How to Become a Senior Level Project Manager

To become a senior-level Project Manager takes an immense amount of experience – not only learning things through experience but knowing when to pull these rabbits from your hat. Being keen to take on new responsibilities will look good to upper management as it demonstrates a desire to challenge yourself. Additionally, going the extra mile assist a colleague when they are not a part of your assigned team is a step toward senior-level, as it shows the Project Manager understands the big picture and that success for one is a success for all.

Study the Core Fields

There are several areas of study of which it benefits a Project Manager to be knowledgeable. For those in the IT field, keeping an eye on emerging tech trends can give you a glimpse at what future projects you may be managing, such as those pertaining to deep learning and VR/AR. Professionals in marketing may be more inclined to network to learn what cultural movements are likely to impact advertising. While it is important to consider the future, being observant and taking note of the present is just as crucial. Be sure to have an understanding of what colleagues in other departments do to help foster a more collaborative environment.

Invest in Yourself

To stand out as a Project Manager, be sure to take the time to make yourself indispensable in your company. For example, going out of your way to receiving additional training on an aspect of your job benefits both you and your business, giving you a competitive edge. Attending seminars about the future of Project Management can help keep your eye on the future and demonstrate to your employers your level of dedication. By investing in yourself, it communicates to your company that you are invested in it as well.

Don’t Stop at Project Management

Managing projects is what Project Managers are expected to do understandably, but for those who wish to stand out and move forward in their career must be strategic. Consider the work of those in similar but different roles and how they relate to your role. Program managers, for example, have similar roles and goals but generally manage several team projects in larger companies, being something a Project Manager may aspire to. For those in more high-tech fields, Project Managers need to have an excellent understanding of the high-tech professions around them and often do in order to work on tech projects. Examining the work of those around you can make you more passionate about your career and clearer in your goals. It can also make you pause and wonder if a career move may be best, either now or in the future.

Project Manager Job Description

Project Managers guide assigned projects to a successful finish and ensure they are submitted on time and within budget. They layout the project outline to the team or teams whose work will be the backbone of the project itself and strive to ensure the team stays motivated. Project Managers also look for ways for the company’s objectives to be best met, making sure opportunities to work more efficiently and effectively are never neglected. They have many common managerial duties, including scheduling, budgeting and training. Being able to communicate often-complex concepts to others who may have less training and experience than you is key, as Project Managers must explain the intricacies of a project to different team members on a regular basis.

Project Managers may work in the healthcare, information tech, marketing and insurance sectors and at any company within these industries and others that develop projects with internal and external strategies. Though the daily roles may vary based on the industry and company, for the most part, the overall goals of Project Management stay the same.

What We Need Your Help With

  • Guiding your team to effectively submit assigned projects.
  • Working within a stated budget and timeframe.
  • Developing a collegial and hardworking environment with team members.
  • Conveying brand messages and business goals to teams.
  • Helping to mentor and train team members as needed.
  • Thriving under pressure to ensure goals met in a timely fashion.

We Look For

  • An excellent communicator
  • Someone with a logical and creative mindset.
  • An aptitude for crunching numbers
  • Natural leadership skills
  • Proven results in management
  • Quick thinkers who solve problems
  • Excellent time-management skills

These Would Also Be Nice

  • Being adept with current technologies
  • Having a proficiency with business strategies
  • Forecasting issues and nipping them in the bud
  • The desire to grow to lead the company to new heights

Senior Project Manager Career Paths: Where to Go from Here

A senior-level Project Manager has spent years in the role and is a trusted and respected member of their company by employees at all levels. These Project Managers not only often oversee various teams and their assigned projects but also has a hand in designing projects that will lead to the release of products or the introduction of new services that increase a company’s visibility. Senior Project Managers are fluent with the tools needed to complete daily tasks and thrives at supervising junior staff members.

Senior Project Managers who decide to move on to another career have been known to transition to the role of program manager, who manages the various projects in large companies, HR managers, helping to select the best and brightest to staff the company and more, as well as taking an executive position, since they understand the many facets of what makes their company great and are adept at leading.

It is just as likely that Senior Project Managers will be content to stay just where they are, continuing to manage teams and guide them on the path to success. They can spend many years until retirement using and improving their skills and gaining yet more experience for much personal and professional satisfaction.

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