CK Logo

How to Become a Project Manager

Are you great at managing people? Do you make sure your projects get done on time and to specifications? 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 Project Management?

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 that they then design, plan, and manage. This entails sticking to a budget, ensuring the project is completed on time, delegating tasks, and managing the team working on the project.

What is Project Management Used For?

Project management involves overseeing many aspects of a project. This includes the following:

  1. Organizing 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 to team members or small groups to ensure efficiency.

  2. Leading a Team.
    ⁠Project managers are put in charge of a team to complete a project. Their responsibilities involve managing team expectations, leading the team toward the end goal, and motivating team members.

  3. Creating a Budget and Managing Cash Flow.
    ⁠Managing the allocated financial resources for 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 project delivery stays within the budget constraints.

Types of Project Management

Agile Project Management

Agile project management is a style that lacks precision but makes up for it in speed. This style isn’t a methodology, but instead, it is a mindset. It’s commonly applied to other project management styles. It allows projects to be worked on in small sprints. Through this management style, projects can pivot when necessary.

Waterfall Project Management

is one of the oldest methods out there. It is still used by teams today. It involves teams working in waves, with each step relying on the one that came before it. Overall, this style demands precision. However, the downsides include various hangups and long wait times.

Scrum Project Management

This methodology takes agile project management to the next level. It uses sprints to accomplish a task in small pieces. Tasks are usually based on a one-month timetable. Scrum is great for smaller teams that want to move quickly.

Lean Project Management

Lean management is all about removing excess whenever possible. It focuses on a customer-first mindset and how to eliminate unnecessary processes. Lean project management is used to deliver an affordable, timely experience to the customer.

Kanban Project Management

Kanban is a variation of the agile project management style. It places a stronger focus on organization. To do this, Kanban management looks at the organization and how the process can be streamlined. This is a process for those that want a consistent, factory-like output.

PRINCE2 Project Management

The PRINCE2 form of project management is seen primarily in government organizations and private sectors. It focuses on minimizing risk and efficiency. This is a detail-focused method, meaning it takes projects and puts them in product-based steps so that no detail is missed.

Six Sigma Project Management

Six Sixma project management focuses on improving project output quality. This is particularly useful if you’ve used a different management style, but didn’t like the result. This style can be used with other management styles to refine the process.

Learning Project Management

Learning project management is a process. Some people find themselves thrust into a management role. Others spend years studying and learning to work in the field.

Project management involves learning how to effectively lead a team towards a particular goal. There are several skills, methodologies, and more you need to learn. Below is a guide on how to start down the path of becoming a project manager.

How Long Does it Take to Learn Project Management?

If you are going into the workforce intending to be a project manager, earning an undergraduate project management degree is 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 as long as four years to learn project management.

How to Learn Project Management: Step-by-Step

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 Management Education

When people are tapped for a project manager role by their 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, it is wise to pursue an associate or bachelor’s degree. For construction managers, a bachelor’s degree is often the requirement. Other positions only require an associate degree. Either way, earning a bachelor’s degree is a great idea to help meet the requirements for any job. Some even choose to pursue master’s or doctoral degrees to 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 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. Among the popular specializations are construction, healthcare, engineering, information technology, and energy industries. Choosing to specialize in multiple areas will significantly boost your employability, although 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 certifications you can earn from many 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 by the institute. Some institutes, like the Project Management Institute, require you to have completed 4,500 to 7,500 hours of practical experience. You’ll also need 35 hours of project management education.

Depending on your choice of certification, you may not need to complete any prerequisite hours or experience. Instead, you 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.

The Best Project Management Courses and Training

A capable project manager is someone who can execute the full spectrum of the project management cycle. Fortunately, there is no shortage of online project management courses that provide project management training.

Online Project Management Courses

Project managers who hold a Project Management Professional (PMP) certificate earn a higher salary than those who do not. Most of the paid courses listed below are designed to prepare students for the PMP Certification Exam.

Coursera: Project Management Principles and Practices Specialization

  • Skill Level: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced
  • Cost: $49/month after a seven-day free trial
  • Certificate of Completion: Available

Offered by the University of California, Irvine, this specialization teaches project management in theory and practice. During the program, students complete a series of projects that mimic the day-to-day tasks of project managers.

The specialization has four courses that provide a deeper look into the project management cycle. By the end of the program, students are expected to have a strong working knowledge of project management. This entails identifying and managing product scope to managing the project development and understanding the procurement process.

Completion of the program fulfills the 35 contact hours needed to meet the exam requirements of the Project Management Institute. The university-issued certificate also qualifies for 35 Professional Development Units (PDUs), which are necessary to maintain one’s PMP certification status.

Coursera: UCI Project Management Professional Certificate

  • Skill Level: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced
  • Cost: $777 per course
  • Certificate of Completion: Available with a $125 candidacy fee plus $35 for a hard copy

This program is recommended to be taken after the above-listed UCI specialization. Comprising four courses, each of which lasts six weeks, the program offers instructor-led virtual discussions and capstone projects that satisfy PMI’s PMP credentials requirement

The curriculum has four modules, each of which is worth three units. The modules cover current trends and practices highlighted in PMI’s A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide).

Lessons include defining the project scope with the use of a work breakdown structure, project planning, integration management, and project management techniques.

Udemy: PMP Exam Prep Seminar

  • Skill Level: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced
  • Cost: $129.99
  • Certificate of Completion: Available

This course covers over 24 hours of on-demand video in addition to other course materials that prepare students for the PMI PMP certification exam. Students receive 35 contact hours and 35 PDUs upon completion of the course. As a training course, the curriculum covers the full breadth of project management.

This includes a demonstration of the project management process as well as an exploration of the sixth edition of the PMBOK Guide. Practice questions are given along the way to test students’ mastery of the principles outlined in the PMBOK Guide.

Another Udemy offering, The Project Management Course, includes seven hours of on-demand video and 28 downloadable resources. The main goal is to turn a project management beginner into a pro. The course includes a comparison between Agile and Waterfall. These are the core methodologies used in project management.

Brain Sensei: Complete PMP Exam Prep Course

  • Skill Level: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced
  • Cost: $499.99
  • Certificate of Completion: Available

As the site says, this course evaluates students’ project management expertise and determines their blind spots to know which areas need improvement. The course has nine interactive story-based e-Learning modules with a summary of the key takeaways for each.

Students are expected to take four practice exams with 800 practice questions to sharpen their project management skills and knowledge. What’s distinct about this course is the support it provides to students. There’s the Facebook group where students can leave any questions when stuck. Follow-up emails about tricks and tips are also sent out to speed up the learning process.

PMI: Project Management Basics (An Official PMI Online Course)

  • Skill Level: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced
  • Cost: $400
  • Certificate of Completion: Available

Designed and created by PMI itself, this is a preparatory course for the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) Certification. The CAPM certification is one of the most recognized credentials in project management alongside the PMP certification.

The curriculum is developed by CAPM and PMP certification holders and based on the PMBOK Guide, which is the focus of the exam. Upon enrollment, students gain access to a free digital copy of the sixth edition of the PMBOK Guide.

Students then take a three-hour practice exam created by CAPM and PMP passers to solidify their grasp of project management principles and practices.

Free Project Management Courses

Despite zero costs, the following online project management courses should not be overlooked. If you want a comprehensive understanding of the core foundations of project management, then the free method is the way to go.

EdX: Introduction to Project Management

  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Certificate of Completion: Available for $199

Offered by the University of Adelaide, this course is one of the best starting points to project management. As the name suggests, the curriculum gives an overview of the full project management life cycle, with emphasis on initiation and planning.

Since communication is an integral part of project management, this course exposes you to essential communication skills to ensure a smoother workflow. The course lasts six weeks but can be accessed at your pace and availability.

Oxford Home Study College: Project Management (Short Course)

  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Certificate of Completion: Available for free

This course gives a glimpse into what project management is all about. The course is 20 hours long and consists of three sections. These include an introduction to project management, the role of a project manager, and the project life cycle.

Alison: Diploma in Project Management

  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Certificate of Completion: Available for free

This course will walk you through the core project management principles, including a detailed discussion of the four phases of project management. Students learn about project management methodologies, such as Agile and Scrum , while gaining knowledge on project management tools, such as Gantt and PERT charts.

After gaining significant knowledge of theoretical concepts, students move on to case studies. During this stage, students witness the full project management cycle being carried out. The course is six to 10 hours long. After this, students who hit the 80-percent passing rate for each module assessment earn a certificate of completion.

Project Management Certifications

Project management has several certifications associated with it. While you don't need every certification to work in the field, having one or two is useful. A certification demonstrates your skill in a particular area of management. These are some of the best certifications out there.

Associate in Project Management (APM)

This certification is offered by the Global Association for Quality Management. It covers a broad knowledge base and focuses on resource allocation, clear direction, effective communication, and adaptability to change. The certification is designed for entry-level project managers.

Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)

The Certified Associate in Project Management certification is administered by the Project Management Institute. It is taken before the Project Management Professional certification and designed for professionals who do not have a college degree or rudimentary experience. This is the stepping stone to more advanced certifications.

Certified ScrumMaster (CSM)

As mentioned before, agile scrum project management is used by organizations regularly. Having a certification in scrum management shows you’re capable of working in a high-demand field. This certification comes from the Scrum Alliance. It’s a great starting point for those starting as Scrum project managers.

Project Management Professional (PMP)

Project Management Professional is one of the highest-level certifications you can earn. This is a rigorous exam that covers everything related to project management. It focuses on the triple constraints—time, cost, and scope. The certification is organized by the Project Management Institute.

Online Project Management Resources

Project management is an involved and constantly growing field. Whether you're an experienced manager or just getting started, these resources are useful for you and your team.

Data Science Masters is a resource that helps you understand data science as a concept. There are several resources on the site, such as tutorials, books, and even study groups. You can learn anything from data design to math and computing.

Project management is an involved and constantly growing field. Whether you’re an experienced manager or just getting started, these resources are useful for you and your team.

The Project Management Institute has several resources on leadership and management. From featured topics to resources for exams, there is a lot to learn from PMI. If you’re studying for a certification or need up-to-date information, give this site a look. takes a unique approach as a project management resource. Not only does it provide helpful information, but it also has a glossary, crossword puzzle, and certification exam FAQs. There are also hubs, communities, and a news section to communicate with other managers. offers project management guides for beginners. If you’re new to project management, give this site a try. It has useful tips for you at each stage of the project.

Should You Study Project Management?

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, become a project manager today.

Get matched to top bootcamps