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Become a Project Manager:
What You Need to Know

Discover if project management is right for you—and what you need to know to pursue a career

Project managers help businesses keep track of and oversee multiple teams, assignments, deliverables, and deadlines. Project managers can work in a variety of different industries and environments given their transferrable and valuable skills.

In today's fast-paced and competitive business landscape, the value of a competent, diligent project manager cannot be overstated. Project managers play a pivotal role in the success and sustainability of businesses across all industries. It serves as the guiding force that enables organizations to effectively plan, execute, and deliver projects on time, within budget, and according to predefined quality standards. By employing structured methodologies, efficient resource allocation, and strategic risk management, a good project manager facilitates the optimization of processes, enhances productivity, and fosters innovation within an organization.

Looking for a career path demanding an organized, disciplined, people-oriented coordinator with a penchant for getting things done? A career in project management could be best for you.

Project manager and team members coordinating project with documents on desktop

Skills needed for success in a project management role

Regardless of where they work, all project managers must have a few skills in common.

They are team-and detail-oriented and understand how to communicate and motivate others effectively. As a project manager, much of your time will be spent managing multiple people and details simultaneously. It’s important for project managers to have strong critical thinking and organizational skills, as well as the ability to stay calm under pressure.

Some common skills needed for success as a project manager include:

  • Communication skills. Good project managers are in regular communication with individual contributors and managers to ensure projects are kept on track. An effective project manager makes sure all parties are in the loop and nothing is lost in translation.
  • Time Management. Project managers play a crucial role in ensuring the successful completion of projects within the allocated time frame. Effective time management is essential for project managers to juggle various tasks, meet deadlines, and keep the project on track.
  • Attention to detail. While project managers should not get completely bogged down in the details of every aspect of the project (that’s what individual contributors are responsible for), there are boxes that must be checked to keep teams moving. Losing track of the details specifically regarding who is responsible for what on set deadlines can cause delays, backtracking, and inefficient use of time and resources.
  • Stakeholder management. Project managers must be aware of the stakeholders involved, recognizing their goals, and project planning accordingly.
  • Emotional intelligence. Project managers need to be able to read a room and detect when certain team members need to discuss or resolve an issue. Keep in mind some people won’t speak up! PMs must bring positive, collaborative energy and empathize with all team members.
  • Conflict resolution. When disagreements occur between members of a project, project managers must be able to facilitate a solution and keep the project moving forward. Learning effective conflict resolution techniques can really help maintain a positive working environment and make a project manager indispensable.

Pierre Le Manh, current CEO of the Project Management Institute (PMI), identifies 10 key skills needed for success as a project manager:

  • Communication
  • Leadership
  • Risk management
  • Visualization
  • Data literacy
  • Intellectual curiosity
  • Stress management
  • Objectivity
  • Adaptability
  • Low-code/no-code proficiency

The last item on Manh’s list, “low-code/no-code proficiency,” speaks to a project manager’s ability to utilize apps and software to solve daily business problems. Day-to-day business in 2024 often involves a flurry of tech platforms which come and go based on several different factors.

Project managers aren’t usually expected to get their hands dirty in how apps and software are actually built or how they technically function—but they must be technologically inclined enough to comfortably navigate the apps/software relevant to daily business operations.

While every project management job comes with its own unique set of roles and responsibilities, all project managers share a similar set of core skills—the people-focused, detail-oriented abilities necessary to guide teams toward achieving business goals

Denise Greaves - EdD, J.D., MBA/HRM, Ed.S., SHRM-CP

"Becoming a project manager is about mastering the art of organizing chaos and transforming it into a structured success. It requires not just technical skills, but also the ability to communicate effectively, lead with empathy, and adapt swiftly to change, ensuring that every project not only meets its goals but also enhances team cohesion and stakeholder satisfaction."

Dr. Denise Greaves is Lead Faculty for the Herzing University Online Business Program where she mentors program faculty in curriculum and assessment. She has over 17 years’ experience in tertiary education, curriculum development, and instructional technology. Dr. Greaves is admitted to the practice of law in the Superior Court of the State of Georgia, the U.S. District Court Northern District of Georgia, and the Supreme Court of the State of Georgia. She also holds professional designations from the Society for Human Resource Management as a SHRM-CP, the Talent Acquisition specialty, as well as the Certificate in Workplace Investigations. This experience recommended her as an editor of a text book for McGraw-Hill Education of a business law edition. Dr. Greaves has presented at conferences and published in scholarly journals on various topics in human resources management. She lectures in the Undergraduate and Graduate online business programs in courses related to human resources management, law, the capstone project, and the internship experience.

Denise E. Greaves EdD, J.D., MBA/HRM, Ed.S, SHRM-CP

Denise Greaves

Program Chair
Undergraduate Business Programs

"As a 20+ year Project Management veteran, your success as a project manager is not just about managing tasks; it's about solid time management, attention to detail, leading teams, navigating challenges, and delivering results that exceed expectations. If you think that you have the resilience to become a project manager, make that investment in your career. Overtime, you'll will enjoy the financial rewards that come with leading successful projects and teams."

Walter Isley, PMP, CSM

Software Engineering Director - Top U.S. Bank
Associate Professor - Herzing University

Education and experience requirements

Earning a bachelor’s degree in project management can really help ensure you can get a foot in the door in your first entry-level position, while advancing to a master’s degree can potentially help you qualify for managerial or leadership positions in the future.

Among those who have earned a degree, approximately 61% of project management specialists hold a bachelor’s degree, while 39% hold a master’s or professional degree, according to Lightcast.1

The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates project management specialists typically need a bachelor’s degree, which may be focused in a variety of potential fields. Some employers may prefer PMs who have a more technical degree, or direct experience, relevant to their industry.

However, if you have yet to earn a bachelor’s degree, a bachelor’s degree curriculum in project management emphasizes the hard skills required for a wide variety of potential jobs in project management. Some employers may prefer a master’s-level education for senior-level project management roles.

Our bachelor’s degree curriculum contains many courses geared specifically for a career in project management, including:

  • Introduction to Human Resource Management
  • Organizational Change
  • Business Law
  • Managing Project Teams
  • Managing Information Systems
  • Managing Project Risks
  • Project Planning
  • Operations Management
  • Strategic Management

Can I become a project manager without a degree?

While it’s possible to find a job in project management without first earning a degree, those opportunities may be slim—especially if you have no prior experience in project management. There’s a good chance other applicants will have already earned a bachelor’s degree (or higher).

The best preparation for your first job is a career-focused education reflecting modern approaches to project management. Our school exists to help you develop the skills you need to not only find a job, but grow a long, lasting career in the field.

Certifications can help your resume stand out from the rest

The next step in establishing your career in project management is to earn an industry-recognized certification, such as the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) or Project Management Professional (PMP) from the Project Management Institute. These certifications prove that you have the knowledge and expertise to succeed in a project management role and can help you differentiate yourself in the workforce.

The Project Management Institute’s Earning Power: Project Management Salary Survey – Thirteenth Edition (2023) reports those who earn PMP certification earn more than those who are not certified. PMP-certified project managers earn a 33% higher median salary than those without certification, according to respondents across 21 surveyed countries.

The Herzing University project management bachelor’s degree program prepares students with no project management experience to enter the workforce as an associate project manager. 

We offer graduates vouchers for either the CAPM or PMP exam prep course—gaining one of these certifications can give you a competitive advantage in the job market.

Discover your potential

Get in touch to learn more about our school and how we can help you reach your highest career goals.

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The diverse array of industries demanding project managers

One of the advantages of working in project management is the utility of your abilities to be highly valuable to many different types of companies.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics provides employment estimates based on industry. The industry which employs the most project management specialists is Architectural, Engineering, and Related Services, followed up by several unique industries in different focus areas:

Percent of total occupational employment in industry, May 2023i

IndustryEmployment% of total
Architectural, Engineering, and Related Services86,3609.1%
Computer Systems Design and Related Services70,5907.5%
Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services65,5406.9%
Nonresidential Building Construction62,2606.6%
Management of Companies and Enterprises48,1805.1%
Building Equipment Contractors45,4804.8%
Residential Building Construction36,3303.8%
Employment Services32,8403.5%
Scientific Research and Development Services24,0302.5%
Local Government, excluding Schools and Hospitals (OEWS Designation)19,7102.1%

i. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2022). Occupational employment and wage statistics, May 2022: All data. United States Department of Labor. https://www.bls.gov/oes/tables.htm. This table includes a selection of the top industries for each occupation. That’s why there are only 10 industries listed and percentages do not add to 100%.

Employment is not heavily concentrated in any single industry. Your skills developed as a project manager are applicable to jobs in all sorts of different industries, including construction, information technology, engineering, consulting, and much more.

As someone responsible for getting things done, your expertise in the subject matter itself is less important than your ability to facilitate the cooperation and coordination of the subject matter experts needed to achieve business goals. 

Salary potential: how much you can potentially make as a project manager

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, project management specialists earn an average salary of $104,920 per year ($50.44 per hour). Pay depends on many factors, including your location, what company you work for and your level of experience.*

Employment outlook: demand for project managers in different industry sectors

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of project management specialists is expected to grow 6% from 2022-2032, faster than the average across all U.S. occupations. This translates to an additional 54,700 jobs added over that time period.*

Frequently Asked Questions

Project managers run projects and project teams. They help businesses keep track of multiple assignments and meet important deadlines. A project manager needs to excel as a communicator, keep up with multiple tasks and remain cool when the pressure is on.

Entry-level project managers usually assist with a specific aspect of managing projects, while mid and upper-level project managers will run teams, working directly for organizations or in a consulting role.

The average salary for project managers varies widely based on the state in which you work, experience level, and certifications earned.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, project management specialists earn an average annual salary of $104,920 per year ($50.44 per hour).*

Earn PMP certification to increase your potential. The Project Management Institute reports project professionals who earn PMP certification earn a 16% higher median salary.

Project management is incredibly important to keep businesses functioning properly. Without clear expectations underpinning the many types of everyday tasks, project executors don’t know who needs to do what by when.

Project managers are crucial to set priorities, manage processes, audit workflows, guard against scope creep, reduce costs and keep the big picture in mind so everyone involved in a project can feel free to perfectly execute the details.

Businesses must work persistently towards organizing and solidifying their processes for prioritizing and completing projects. Project managers are on the front lines helping to keep business running smoothly.

Project management is not a profession that’s perfect for every personality type. Project managers often wind up wearing many hats and are accountable to complete tasks on time and on budget. People will look to you to deliver the final word and set expectations for what needs to be done, who needs to do it and when they need to do it.

As with any goal-oriented position in a supervisory role, project management can be stressful.

However, it’s a highly enriching career in that you are constantly learning and honing your skills. Every day will be a little different and there will always be new little “fires” to put out. If you thrive in that sort of environment, you are a great fit for a role in project management.

Requirements to become a project manager will vary by employer. There is always a balance of formal education vs. experience.

Holding a bachelor’s degree in project management signals to hiring managers you have invested the time to build the fundamental skills necessary to succeed in the role. With a degree and a proven track record in real-life project management, you can become qualified for more and more positions and earn more choice in your career path.

Yes! You will learn skills adaptable across many industries and possess abilities sought after by employers everywhere. Get educated, better yourself, and build yourself a new career with all sorts of potential.

Take the first step towards a new career path in project management

Regardless of your current experience or educational background, the best step you can take to prepare for a career as a project manager is to get educated. 

Our online degree program offers the career-focused study you need to excel in a project management career from day 1. You don’t have to go it alone!

Herzing University can be your lifelong learning partner dedicated to your career success. Like-minded students and experienced faculty support you every step of the way. 

Invest in yourself and begin reaching towards your highest career goals. We know you are possible.

Learn more about the Herzing's project management program options

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* Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics 2023 / Occupational Outlook Handbook 2022. BLS estimates do not represent entry-level wages and/or salaries. Multiple factors, including prior experience, age, geography market in which you want to work and degree field, will affect career outcomes and earnings. Herzing neither represents that its graduates will earn the average salaries calculated by BLS for a particular job nor guarantees that graduation from its program will result in a job, promotion, salary increase or other career growth.

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