How to Get Started
as a Project Manager
Refine Your Skills and Remain Relevant
Being a project manager requires more than just organizational skills. You must set milestones and timeframes for projects, delegate tasks to your team, write and analyze reports, and more. If you’re eyeing this lucrative career, here are the skills and educational background necessary to land your first job.
What Is a Project Manager?
A project manager is responsible for managing a project from the beginning concepts to its final delivery. They handle all the project’s components, including initiation, planning, execution, monitoring, controlling, and finally closing the project.
They need excellent interpersonal skills, conflict resolution capabilities, time management skills, prioritization, and organization skills. Having some data science and coding experience can set you apart from other applicants.
How Does Project Management Relate to Data Science?
Part of your project management job may include more than simply overseeing company projects and colleagues. While you may use elements of data science in specific projects, you may also use data science to identify the company’s strengths and weaknesses in workflow, employee contribution, and overall company growth.
Part of your project management job is analyzing data and assisting in crucial decisions that impact not only the project you’re working on, but the company at large. Therefore, learning data science can make you an effective and efficient project manager.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Project Manager?
Becoming a project manager will take you anywhere between three months to five years, depending on your education level, years of experience, and career goals. If you’re jumping into the job market straight from high school, enrolling in college is the most common pathway. A standard bachelor’s degree program takes four years to complete.
If you have a decent amount of work experience, you can opt for a project management certificate. These certificates take about 10 weeks to complete, depending on which institution you attend. If you are already established at a specific company or in a position to become a project manager soon, a certification is the best way to advance your career.
Where to Study Project Management
Where you study for a project management course will largely depend on your career goals. If you’re already employed or simply want to strengthen your resume, an online course or certification would be an excellent option for you. However, if you have the time, money, and resources for college, a degree is your best bet.
Project Management Community Colleges
Community college is an affordable option for anyone looking to get a degree relevant to project management. It will typically take two years to finish an associate degree and four years to finish a bachelor’s degree. If you know you want to become a project manager, major in a relevant field like marketing, communications, or business.
A community college is an ideal option for students who need to balance a career, family, and studies. It’s also an excellent option for high school students wanting to ease into higher education’s financial commitments.
Project Manager Universities
Most universities offer a Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree in Project Management or fields relating to project management like business or communications. Most undergraduate degrees take around four years to complete. A master’s degree takes two years but requires a bachelor’s for enrollment.
For both a master’s or bachelor’s, the university typically requires engagement in various on-campus classes and projects. However, some universities are flexible and offer online courses for people studying off-campus.
Project Management Coding Bootcamps
Coding bootcamps are a fantastic option if you want to break into a project management career, especially within the tech field. Coding bootcamps are relatively quick to complete, with most taking about 18 months to finish.
Technology has changed how companies operate. Nearly every project includes a tech component, so an effective project manager must understand the basics behind all software utilized for projects. Ultimately, coding bootcamps allow aspiring project managers to heighten their skillset and set themselves apart from the competition in the job market.
Project Management Online Courses
One of the best perks of online classes is the convenience they offer busy students. They’re also an excellent way to gain certificates. You can find many free project management courses online, with most only taking a couple of hours to complete. Online courses provide you with the flexibility of learning at your own pace while still advancing your skills and career.
You will learn the fundamentals of project management for a fraction of the cost that other project management education options on this list offer. It’s also a great way to enhance your skills if you are an accidental project manager or looking to test the waters.
How to Become a Project Manager: A Step-by-Step Guide
Learn as much as you can
Understand what project management skills you already have
Get an education
Build your experience
Look for entry-level jobs
Entry-Level Project Management Job Requirements
A degree in project management is vital if you want to land an entry-level job. Although it’s not necessary to have a college degree, it will give you an advantage if you do. Besides education, building a portfolio of projects you have participated in and details regarding your role can be a great way to showcase your talents to potential employers.
Entry-level project managers should understand project management processes and the basics of project management. Additionally, companies often provide entry-level project managers with relevant job training.
Project Manager Salary and Job Outlook
According to Payscale, the average salary for a general project manager is $75,167. The top 10 percent of earners in this position make $114,000 per year. Information technology project managers have an average annual salary of $898,494 and a top 10 percent salary of $128,000. Salary can differ depending on factors like education, skills, and experience.
Example Project Manager Job Interview Questions
- What is your leadership style?
- Have you ever worked on a project that didn’t meet the deadline or budget? How did you handle it?
- Have you ever had a project where your stakeholders disagreed on an aspect of the project? How did you proceed?
- Which project management software, tools, and methods do you use?
- What are the fundamental elements of project management?
What Does a Project Manager Do?
Project management is a diverse field of responsibilities. However, most duties center around managing a project and all people involved. Common responsibilities are listed below.
During this stage, you will do some groundwork to help determine if the project is worth pursuing. You will read the client requirements, come up with the project management process, write the common goal, and come up with a feasibility study. You will also make a case to justify the project’s need and highlight the value it offers to the company or client.
This is where you will draft the full scope of a project and prepare all project documentation. You will take an in-depth analysis of the project, noting its objectives, deliverables, and any potential risks. At this stage, you’ll communicate with stakeholders. You will also outline the individual and team tasks of the entire project, delegating appropriate tasks to the appropriate team member.
The execution stage involves completing the tasks outlined in the planning stage. You’ll check on colleagues while they’re working, ask them questions about their progress, and help out wherever needed. You must hit the project’s key milestones quickly while setting realistic goals for your team members. If applicable, you must also stay within the project’s pre-defined budget.
As an aspiring project manager, you will be expected to monitor and control the project and ensure your team meets critical milestones. In addition, you will maintain regular communication between the group and stakeholders, evaluate the project performance, check if project goals are being met, and ensure quality control.
Closing a project means viewing the results of the project and comparing them to the initial objectives. You’ll check over documents and presentations to ensure that everything is optimal before closing out your project. You will also complete all remaining administrative tasks, such as reallocating internal resources and archiving records.
Essential Project Management Skills and Certifications
Project management involves managing people and resources, making it crucial that you have the right skills. To be a successful project manager, you need both soft and hard skills.
Project Management Skills
Soft skills combine interpersonal skills and communication skills. They are vital in helping you navigate projects and work well with team members and stakeholders. Some of the soft skills you need include effective communication, leadership skills, time management, decisiveness, interpersonal skills, social intelligence, emotional intelligence, and critical thinking.
Effective project management requires that you have hard skills, which are teachable and measurable abilities such as budgeting skills, risk management, and familiarity with data interpretation. You must also have technical expertise in your chosen industry. For instance, if you are in the tech industry, you will need to know how to use coding languages.
Project Management Certifications
A project management certification is granted by a third-party institution, not a school. Having a certification shows prospective employers that you know how to use project management tools and project management methodologies.
Project Management Professional (PMP)
According to the Project Management Institution (PMI), project managers with this certification earn a 23 percent higher salary than those who don’t. You need to have at least 4,500 hours of project management experience and 35 hours of project management education to get the certification. You also qualify if you have a CAMP certification.
Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)
Also offered by the PMI, the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) certification is an entry-level certification best suited for those who don’t have a ton of project management experience. It provides foundational knowledge and helps you progress to getting a PMP certification.
Reasons to Become a Project Manager in 2022
Project management is a rewarding career that allows you to make a difference in a company. According to Project Management Institute’s projections, the project management industry should increase 33 percent by 2027, resulting in 22 million new project management jobs.
Project Management FAQ
Can you become a project manager with no experience?
Most project management jobs require that you have relevant experience. However, you can become a project manager without experience, especially if you have the required skills. Once you show you have the necessary skills, consider getting a project management certification.
Are project managers in high demand?
Yes. According to Harrisburg University of Science and Technology, 88 million individuals will be hired in project management roles by 2027. As long as a company is functional, they’ll have projects and people that require organization. Project managers will continue to be in high demand.
Can anyone be a project manager?
Anyone can become a project manager, but not everyone is suited for the job. To be a good project manager, you must be collaborative, organized, and pay close attention to detail. If these skills naturally come to you, you might be an ideal project manager. You can test the water by taking an online course or getting an internship.
How do I start a career as a project manager?
Start by learning as much as you can about the profession. Practice the skills needed to be a project manager. For instance, in your current role, practice working with others, staying organized, and maintaining effective communication. Build your project management experience through leadership roles and keep all your certifications up to date.