Are you great at managing people? Do you make sure your projects get done? If so, you should learn how to become a project manager. Project management is a great career for anyone who enjoys leading teams.
Project managers perform a wide variety of tasks, so having skills in leadership and organization is vital to the job. Going into this field, you can expect a decent salary and high chances of employment with only a few years of preparation.
What Is a Project Manager?
We have all heard of project managers, but what exactly do they do? Project management is a versatile job, meaning you can find project managers employed pretty much everywhere. We often think of construction work as associated with this job, but industries such as engineering, healthcare, and non-profit organizations also hire these professionals.
Project managers are assigned to different projects they then design, plan, and manage. This means sticking to a budget, ensuring the project is completed on time, delegating tasks, and managing the team working on the project.
What Does a Project Manager Do?
Project managers are in charge of many aspects of managing a project. Some of their most important tasks include the following.
Organize Project Tasks
Organizing project tasks means working with a team to decide exactly what needs to be done to finish a project. These tasks are then delegated out to team members or small groups to ensure efficiency.
Project managers are put in charge of a team to complete a project, which means they need to lead the team. This involves managing team expectations, leading the team toward the end goal, and motivating team members.
Manage Money and Budget
Managing the money and budget of a project is an extremely important aspect of project management. Typically, a project manager will create the budget for a project and then spend time making sure their work stays within the budget constraints.
Essential Project Manager Skills
Being a good leader is essential to the completion of projects. As a project manager, it is your job to head the team and ensure members feel appreciated, motivated, and appropriately managed.
Working with numbers is a large part of the job. Primarily when it comes to budgeting, project managers will be expected to work with a lot of numbers and make no mistakes. Having decent mathematical skills is important for working within a budget.
When managing all aspects of a budget, being organized is key to success. As a project manager, you will need to be organized and able to help keep others organized as well. This helps keep the project flowing smoothly and ensures timely completion.
Project Manager Salaries and Job Outlook
Depending on what industry you go into, you can earn an annual salary of anywhere between $95,000 and $100,000. Construction workers are one of the most common project managers, and on average they earn around $95,000 per year. In other industries, you may earn less than that but you can also earn over $100,000 per year.
Most project managers work full-time, with many exceeding 40 hours of work every week. Especially in the construction industry, it is not uncommon for project managers to work overtime and be on call 24 hours a day.
Luckily, projects are always going to need to be completed and that means project managers will always be in demand. In fact, depending on the industry, it is predicted by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics that project management positions will experience growth of six to 10 percent by 2028, which is higher than most other occupations.
This means now is the perfect time to become a project manager. With the right education, specializations, and certification, you can easily find a job.
How Long Does it Take to Become a Project Manager?
People often become project managers because their employers ask them to. When this is the case, employers generally do not require them to obtain any additional education, making the process instant.
However, if you are going into the workforce intending to be a project manager, having earned an undergraduate project management degree is very desirable and often required. This often takes two to four years, though not all jobs will require a degree.
Depending on the path you take, it can take anywhere between a few days to over four years to become a project manager. Some people decide to pursue a graduate degree in the field, though this is generally seen as unnecessary. The best career move would be to earn a bachelor’s degree.
How to Become a Project Manager: A Step by Step Guide
Even though many people become project managers almost by accident, following these simple steps is the best way to become a project manager.
Step 1: Get a Project Manager Education
When people are dubbed project managers by their current employers, they often seek out some sort of education. The best education for anyone in this situation is to pursue a project management certificate, perhaps through an online school. This provides a basic education without years of schooling.
For those who are interested in becoming project managers as a career choice, it is wise to pursue an associate or bachelor’s degree. For construction managers, a bachelor’s degree is often the requirement, though other positions only require an associate degree. Either way, earning a bachelor’s degree is a great idea to help meet requirements for any job. Some even choose to pursue master’s or doctoral degrees to really impress employers.
Step 2: Choose a Specialization
While specialization isn’t exactly a necessity, project managers can benefit from having one. Since there are positions available in so many different industries, having a specialization can make finding employment a bit easier. Employers are typically more likely to hire someone who is specialized in the area than someone who is not.
There are specializations in every area of project management. Some of the most popular specializations you can choose from include construction, healthcare, engineering, information technology, and energy. Choosing to specialize in multiple areas will significantly boost your employability, though having just one will do a lot on its own.
Step 3: Decide on a Certification
To help build credibility and display expertise, project managers can earn certifications. There are quite a few different certifications you can earn from many different organizations. Some of the more popular choices include certified project management professional, certified associate in project management, and certified project manager. These are available through different organizations such as the Project Management Institute and the International Association of Project Managers.
Deciding which certifications, if any, you should earn depends on your career goals. Research your dream job and see if they require or highly recommend any certifications. If they do, you will know exactly where to start. Even if they don’t, they will often give you an idea of what you should pursue. Earning certifications from the International Association of Project Managers is a great decision if you plan to work internationally.
Step 4: Take Certifications Exams
Once you decide which certifications you want to earn, you will need to take the exams. Certification exams vary based upon the institute. Some institutes, like the Project Management Institute, require you to have completed 4,500 to 7,500 hours of practical experience and 35 hours of project management education.
Depending on your choice of certification, you may not need to complete any prerequisite hours or experience, and can just take the exam right away. The exam itself is typically around 200 multiple-choice questions. Some institutes require the exam to be taken in person while others have deemed online to be the best method.
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Should You Become a Project Manager?
Project management is a great field to go into, as it pays well and is in high demand. If you are interested in managing teams and working on a lot of projects, you should definitely become a project manager.
Project Manager FAQ
Some project management jobs do not require any qualifications. Others will require you to have earned an undergraduate degree and certain certifications.
As a project manager, your days will vary significantly between planning, budgeting, and actual hands-on work. Most project managers say there is no such thing as a typical day in this line of work.
The Project Management Institute has set the five stages of project management as initiation, planning, execution, monitoring, and project close.
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