How to become a Project Manager

Firstly what does a Project Manager do?

They are responsible for ensuring a project is delivered successfully by actively planning and managing their project. That’s the very short version.  In truth, the role can be complex and challenging.



What demand is there for their skills today and in future?

Project Managers are in increasing demand, and in general, project management skills are considered highly valuable by businesses across the globe today. Surveys have predicted the demand to grow for many years to come.  We predict that you can call it what you wish, but skilled project managers will always be highly valued by all businesses.

What qualifications do they normally have?

Most have at least a first Degree, sometimes but not always in the discipline within which they work. In recent years post-graduate qualifications in project management have emerged, including MBAs and MSCs.

There are also professional qualifications (Certifications) such as PMQ (from the UK’s APM) and PMP (from the USA’s PMI) and others.

Who employs them?

The role is used in every sector now, including Private, Public and not-for-profit sectors.  It started mainly in Engineering, but over the past few decades they are now routinely employed in:

  • IT, Telecommunications, Transportation, Infrastructure and Construction, Banking and Financial Services, Retail and in every sector of the Economy.

Who does the role best suit?

It’s a challenging role and does not suit everyone. If you:

  • enjoy resolving issues and taking responsibility for solving problems (often under time pressures);
  • are good at developing inter-personal relationships;
  • have highly developed organisational skills;
  • understand communication (risks) in development environments;
  • like taking responsibility

then you might have the qualities to do very well in this role.  In reality, great project managers are not found in large numbers.

What might my earnings be?

Earnings vary according to industry and experience, but in general, they receive salaries at least comparable with mainstream professionals.  This is not just in the UK as this survey also proves. The most successful and experienced Project Managers can command even higher salaries.

So how do you become a Project Manager?

The role is not usually given to Graduates fresh into Business.  This is because you need experience of working on projects, for example, to be able to make successful decisions – and there will be many to make. So, if the role appeals to you try to get experience of working on projects as a team member.

Virtually all businesses these days value project management skills and most employ them, for example around product development or any initiative bringing something new. Watch carefully what the Project Manager does, and if you can, spend some time with them.

At some stage, you will have to face the question of whether you have the right skills.  The number one question is whether you really want to take on this role. If elements of it genuinely don’t appeal to you, you are better off doing something else.

Assuming the role does appeal, here are a few ideas you could try:

Join a Professional Association:

The most obvious examples are: PMI and APM, join as an Associate and work your way up.  There are others too around the globe. Most associations have chapters and special interest groups that have periodic events on specialist topics of project management.  These can be useful to help develop knowledge and potentially network.

Online Forums and Professional (Social) Networks

There are many professional (social) networks that have active forums, the most obvious of which may be Linkedin. Again these can be used to develop knowledge and contacts.

Develop Skills via Formal Training:

Find yourself a really worthwhile training course and it can be a really useful investment of time and money.  Don’t just find the cheapest – talk to potential training firms to make sure your course will meet your expectations fully.

What can I expect from the role?

If you seek real job satisfaction, challenge, good reward and perhaps most valuable of all, recognition for your skills, being a project manager could be a very successful stage of your career.

The skills you will learn will be hugely valuable all through your career, especially to future employers.

As already mentioned, great project managers are not huge in number, but those who excel in this role tend to get noticed for all the right reasons.

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