Program managers manage large, complex programs. This typically involves overseeing multiple projects at a time that are all connected by a shared mission. If you want to pursue a career in program management, this guide can help. We’ll cover how to get a job in program management, the skills and education needed, and job outlook.
What Is Program Management?
Program management experts oversee multiple individual projects that are linked together by a shared goal or common impact. Grouping these projects provides consistency in management, approach, and greater visibility to the organization’s key stakeholders, as opposed to managing projects individually.
Program management professionals need to maintain a strategic plan and schedule for the program. Their responsibilities might include things like holding project status meetings with each project team, reviewing each project plan, and checking on progress. These professionals safeguard the quality of the program plan and often mentor project managers.
Program Management Job Outlook
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment in management professions is expected to grow by nine percent from 2020 to 2030, making it a secure career path. The growth in this sector is predicted to result in 906,800 new jobs and will be driven by the increase of new organizations that require workers to manage the operations.
What Education Do I Need to Become a Program Manager?
The education requirements differ depending on the job and location. Most employers prefer candidates with a formal education, such as a bachelor’s degree in business management or similar disciplines. However, it is possible to enter the field without a degree.
Can I Get a Program Management Job Without a Degree?
It is possible to get a program management job without a degree. Program managers tend to start at a more junior level as project managers. There are training programs that help you to become a project manager such as coding bootcamps. Through these bootcamps you can get a job in project management and grow into the program management field.
Can a Coding Bootcamp Help Me Get a Job in Program Management?
Yes, a coding bootcamp can help you to get into program management. Since program management is closely linked to project management, you can start by attending a project management bootcamp. These programs will teach you the foundations of project management, They take a few weeks to complete and are much cheaper than a traditional university education.
Students learn everything from the basics to more advanced techniques in project management. The training features hands-on projects, which allows you to gain real-world experience before you enter the workforce. After a short period of working as a project manager, you can start looking to take up a role in program management.
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The average bootcamp grad spent less than six months in career transition, from starting a bootcamp to finding their first job.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Job in Program Management?
It can take a few months or years to get onto this career path, depending on the path you choose. You can become a project manager first with some work experience or training from a project management bootcamp. If you choose this option, you can be ready for the workforce within three months or less.
However, if you choose to pursue a university degree, you will spend at least four years as a full-time student. Some of these professionals earn an advanced degree in business administration or finance, depending on the field they want to break into. This will add more time to your education.
Common Program Management Education Paths
There are a few program management education paths you can choose to take. This is because there aren’t a lot of specialized training programs for this occupation. Most program managers start off as project managers and advance from there.
Program Management Bootcamps
You can enroll in bootcamps to gain job-specific skills in a short amount of time. It’s more common to find bootcamps in project management, rather than program management specifically. Bootcamps teach the practical and soft skills you need to enter the project management space and progress to program management.
These programs give you the opportunity to work on hands-on projects. Many people prefer bootcamps because of their affordability and quick, intensive training. You’ll also gain access to career resources such as hiring schemes and mock interviews.
Training from a community college can prepare you for a career in program management. These schools offer associate degrees in management disciplines, so you can learn the foundations of project management.
Students that attend these programs also have a solid foundation for business fields so they can decide to expand the application of their knowledge. On average, the programs are completed in two years and are much cheaper than a four-year degree.
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Program Management Degrees
Universities can also provide the necessary training needed to thrive in the field. The programs take four years for most full-time students and are more expensive than other educational paths listed. You can study business management since program management is not available as a specialized course in most schools.
As a student, you will learn to build teams, assess risks, resolve conflicts, and make managerial decisions. The courses may be applicable to different industries such as technology, operations, human resources, and marketing.
Key Program Management Skills to List on Your Resume
As well as having the right educational training, certain skills are essential to succeeding as a program manager. The main skill sets required are in leadership, analysis, communication, time management, and conflict resolution. These soft and hard skills will make it easier to lead programs and be successful in the role.
Program managers lead teams. You should be able to inspire and motivate your team. Good leadership and organizational skills will help you coordinate team members, oversee complex projects, and make decisions for the continuous progress of the program.
Programs often generate large volumes of statistical, financial, or metric data. A program manager should be able to gather and integrate this data quickly. They must also be able to report on current projects and use data to find better ways of executing projects in the future.
For instance, this could be a way to reduce costs or be more efficient.
Conflict Resolution Skills
Conflict is bound to arise within projects. Team members may disagree on things such as prioritization or stakeholder requirements. It is the job of the program manager to resolve all conflicts through effective communication. This avoids conflict causing a break in communication between team members and affecting the project outcome.
Where to Find Program Management Jobs
You can find program management jobs on top job sites, forums, or directly on company websites. You can also set alerts to be one of the first to apply for such jobs. Below we have listed common places to find jobs.
You can find program management jobs directly on company websites. These openings are often more up to date and applying directly may increase your chances of getting an interview.
Job boards and websites are useful for finding a job. Look at websites like Indeed, Glassdoor, and Ziprecruiter. Social networks like LinkedIn also list openings for program manager roles. Some job sites also give you access to career resources and advice.
Job forums can also help you land a role in program management. All you need to do is find one and join the community. Recruiters can post job vacancies on the forum and you can apply to suitable roles.
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How to Prepare for Your Program Management Interview
Leave plenty of time to prepare for your program manager interview beforehand. You can start by researching the organization and practicing answers to potential interview questions. It can also help to do mock interviews with a career coach. We have listed some sample questions below.
Program Management Interview Questions
- Describe your dream job.
- What are the differences between project management and program management?
- How do you resolve conflict between team members?
- How do you measure the success of a program?
- What technology tools are useful to you as a program manager?
- What are your long-term career goals?
The Five Highest-Paying Program Management Jobs
|Program Management Jobs||Average Salary||Projected Growth*|
|Senior Technical Program Manager||$164,170||9%|
|Director of Program Management||$162,212||9%|
|Director of Technical Program Management||$149,109||9%|
|Senior Technical Manager||$141,578||9%|
|IT Program Manager||$137,475||9%|
Senior Technical Program Manager
Senior technical program managers identify, plan, and carry out large product development projects. These experts engage cross-disciplinary staff as they conceive and develop innovative consumer products. Good tech knowledge is essential for this role.
Director of Program Management
This is a director role that oversees the program management team. They are also responsible for coordinating related projects and coming up with solutions to enhance the overall program performance.
Director of Technical Program Management
This professional also oversees a program management team. They will typically focus on technical product development. As a director role, they are responsible for staffing, strategy, risk analysis, scheduling, allocation of resources, and contingency planning.
Senior Technical Manager
The senior technical manager is responsible for managing technical programs. These experts also ensure that different kinds of projects and initiatives are aligned with the priorities of the wider program and organization.
IT Program Manager
The IT program manager is responsible for managing multiple IT-related projects. Their programs are typically a collection of IT projects geared towards a common objective or goal. They oversee these projects to ensure that they meet the company’s needs and objectives.
Program Management Career Path
Program management professionals experience career growth as they gain experience in the field. They often start in an entry-level job in project management, before moving onto mid and senior-level jobs. Below are some of the most popular jobs in each of these levels.
Entry-Level Program Management Jobs
- Program Coordinator – Program coordinators manage and facilitate different processes within the worker lifecycle from onboarding to offboarding.
- Program Planning and Control Specialist – This expert collates, maintains, and develops program schedules. They are also responsible for critical path analysis and variance analysis.
- Project Coordinator – This professional manages information flow among teams, leaders, and external organizations to ensure that complex projects are executed on time.
Mid-Level Program Management Jobs
- Mid-level Program Manager – Professionals in this role are responsible for managing strategic tasks and projects for an organization. At this level, the professional works and makes decisions independently to advance the projects.
Senior-Level Program Management Jobs
- Senior Program Manager – Senior program managers are responsible for planning, designing, and overseeing the completion of complex programs. They may oversee other project teams.
Program Management Certifications
To increase your chances of getting a job, you can earn program management certifications. It is not usually a requirement but can set you apart from other candidates. Certifications validate your skills and typically involve a certification exam. We’ve listed some common certifications in project and program management below.
Program Management Professional (PgMP)
The Project Management Institute (PMI) provides some of the most well-known certifications in project and program management. Candidates who earn this certificate are recognized as professionals with significant experience, along with the ability to make important decisions and implement strategic objectives.
Project Management Professional (PMP)
The PMI project management certification demonstrates that you have a solid foundation in project management and that you are qualified to take on roles in the field. The certification expires after a few years so you may need to renew it when necessary.
Six Sigma Black Belt Certification (SSBB)
This certification shows that candidates have learned to demonstrate team leadership and understand responsibilities, dynamics, and roles. It also shows that they understand key processes that make the program management process run smoothly.
Tips on How to Get a Job in Program Management
Getting a job in program management is easy if you prepare well and know where to look. There are many pathways to becoming a program manager. Below we have listed a few key steps to help you be successful.
Pursue higher education
Earning a degree or attending a bootcamp in program management or a similar field can help you get started in this industry. Most employers prefer traditional university degrees, but bootcamp education is becoming more accepted as it provides you with more hands-on experience.
Get a certification
Certifications make it possible for you to learn fundamental concepts and demonstrate these to your employer. If you are new to the program management field, earning a certification is a good way to showcase your skills because they show that you have learned the necessary skills.
Build your experience
Earning real-world experience is a great way to boost your resume and help you succeed in this field. You can start by volunteering or applying for an internship. Internships don’t usually require you to have previous experience.
Networking is an excellent way to find jobs. This can help you to get information about job openings before others. You can also network by attending seminars, webinars, meetings, and similar programs with professionals in your field.
Apply for entry-level positions
Entry-level positions are a great way to start your career and boost your resume. Look for jobs at a junior level to start building your experience. Be sure to read the job description to see if you are qualified for the position.
Prepare for interviews
It is best to prepare for your interview. Researching the company and practicing questions can help. The interview is your opportunity to make a good impression on the hiring manager and help yourself stand out among other candidates.
Should You Get a Job in Program Management in 2021?
Yes. If you want to work on all kinds of projects and coordinate a team, this career is an excellent option for you. The field has many job opportunities in different industries from tech to healthcare and engineering.
The demand for program managers is good, with a projected employment growth of nine percent. The training also makes it easier to branch out in other management roles, making it a secure field full of opportunities.
Project Manager FAQ
Can You Become a Program Manager Without a Degree?
You can become a program manager without a degree if you attend a coding bootcamp. However, some employers require candidates to have a bachelor’s degree in business management or similar disciplines.
Is It Hard to Get Into Program Management?
Program management is a rewarding career path but it can be challenging. If you want more practical training in this field, a bootcamp can help. Bootcamps teach all the essential skills employers are looking for.
What Is the role of a Program Manager?
Program managers are responsible for creating a program plan and oversee the achievement of organizational goals. They coordinate efforts between individual projects. They lead the program management team with delegation, implementation, and attention to strategy.
How Much Does A Program Manager Make?
According to Ziprecruiter, program managers make an average yearly salary of $89,504. This means their salary range is around $43 per hour. As they gain more experience, their earning potential increases.
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