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, from information technology to construction.
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.
Interested in becoming a project manager? Here are five steps to jumpstart your career:
1. Enroll in a bachelor’s degree program in business or related field
Most project management roles require a bachelor’s degree or higher. You can start your project management career with a degree in business management, but some universities also offer specialized programs in project management.
A bachelor's degree in project management will provide you with a business background and help you begin to develop the professional project management skills that employers look for, such as project planning, budgeting and team development. Your courses will also help you develop essential soft skills, such as communication, leadership and problem solving that will help you to succeed in a project management role. Your career path in project management can point in many more directions and offer you more choice when you earn a bachelor’s degree.
2. Explore relevant internship opportunities
While you are earning your degree, seek out internship opportunities that will allow you to gain experience in project management and explore potential career paths.
Project managers are essential team members for a variety of companies across all industries, from marketing to healthcare. Through your internship experiences, you can explore different work environments and find the field that interests you the most.
3. Gain professional experience
At the entry level, you can expect to assist a lead project manager and eventually take ownership of small projects or specific tasks for larger projects, such as budgeting or client relations. As you gain experience and expertise, you may have the opportunity to lead entire project teams.
How much project managers make can vary widely based on the industry, experience level and state of employment.
4. Become certified
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.
If you specialize in a sector such as information technology, you can also pursue industry-specific project management certifications, such as the CompTIA Project +. Usually, you will need to gain work experience after graduation before you qualify to sit for this exam.
Frequently Asked Questions
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.
When doing your research for a project management degree, you’ll notice that there are MBA programs with project management specializations, and master’s degrees in project management alone. There are differences between MBA degrees vs. master's degrees, and they mainly come down to versatility.
A Master of Business Administration (MBA) offers a wider range of executive-level leadership skills compared to a master’s degree in project management. With an MBA, you’ll be equipped not just for advanced project management roles, but for leading project management teams at a high level. This can prepare you to compete for a broader range of jobs once you start your search.
Additionally, Herzing offers a dual concentration option for MBA students, so you can combine a concentration in project management with one in healthcare management, technology management, or data analytics—just to name a few. This offers added expertise for project management leadership roles in a specific industry that interests you.
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.
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.
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.
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 $101,610 per year ($48.85 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.