Becoming a project manager is one of the best moves you can make for your career. Though different types of project managers do exist, the job is typically defined the same way; it requires a manager to allocate resources, set goals, establish priorities, and work with a team to meet objectives. The exact type of objectives will depend on the specific field.
So why is project management such a lucrative and rewarding field, and what steps can you take to get involved?
Becoming a Project Manager
There are a few different paths to becoming a project manager, but a good first step is to get project management professional (PMP) certified through an organization like EdWel. A project management course will teach you all the fundamentals of project management, including key processes and principles necessary to be successful. Having a formal certification will also make it easier for you to find work in the field.
You can also pursue project management in a specific field by working directly in that field. For example, if you want to be a project manager for app development, working as an app developer for several years could help you get the experience necessary to oversee a team with high-level objectives. Shadowing an existing project manager, or being an assistant to a project manager (like a project coordinator) could also be a good first step.
The Long-Term Benefits
Let’s look at why project management is such a valuable field for your career:
- High demand. There’s significant demand for project managers, and in practically every industry. It’s unlikely that this demand will waver anytime soon. Even good employees need someone holding the reins, providing them with high-level perspective and setting a course for success. Established companies recognize this, and are constantly looking for a project manager who can coordinate a team, keep employees happy, and push them to achieve their best at the same time.
- High salary cap. The salary range for project managers will vary based on your industry, experience level, and the nature of your work. If you’re new to the job and you’re working for a small business, you might not make much, but the upper end of the spectrum has practically no ceiling. As long as you keep improving your skills, looking for strong opportunities, and doing your best work, you can climb as high as you’d like.
- High applicability. Project management isn’t confined to any single industry or any one niche. That means if you start burning out in one area, you can likely switch to another—without fundamentally changing your career goals or approach. For example, you could easily switch from being a project manager for a marketing firm to being one for a software development firm—as long as you’re willing to prepare for that transition.
- Universally useful principles. Project management teaches you sound fundamental principles, which you could feasibly apply in any job—and even in your personal life. For example, you’ll learn how to manage limited resources and how to communicate effectively with a group of people. You’ll also learn how to set clear goals and work to achieve them efficiently. If you ever decide to change jobs or careers, you can likely use these skills in your new role as well. This is especially true if you enter a leadership position, such as if you attempt to start your own business.
- Team values. Project managers need to work with other people. Sometimes that means coordinating a team of employees to collaborate on a project. Other times it means recruiting contractors and vendors to accomplish goals on your behalf. Of course, you’ll also likely be in communication with clients and/or bosses to ensure you and your team stay on track. This career path isn’t for everyone, but if you enjoy the idea of seeing things through from start to finish, or if you love communicating and collaborating with others, this is a massive perk.
- Low susceptibility to automation. Project management requires high-level insight, creative thinking, and people skills. In other words, it’s highly unlikely to be replaced or changed significantly with the onset of artificial intelligence (AI) and automation. Considering the majority of careers will be at least slightly vulnerable to automation in the future, this is a major advantage if you’re concerned about the longevity of your next career choice.
If you like the idea of leading a team, or if you’re looking for a career with enormous long-term potential, project management is likely a good fit—no matter what kind of background you’ve had up until now. You can get PMP certified in a matter of weeks (or even faster, depending on your situation), though as an effective project manager, you’ll never stop finding new opportunities to learn.
Image Credits: Project Manager from SFIO CRACHO/Shutterstock