Program Management Career Path: What You Need to Know
A career path in project management can be advantageous and diverse. Here are some common steps that people follow in a project management career path:
Entry-level positions: The first step in a project management career is often an entry-level position, such as a project coordinator or project assistant.
You may be responsible for administrative tasks in these roles, such as scheduling meetings and preparing project reports.
- Project manager: As you gain experience, you can become a manager. In this role, you will oversee projects from start to finish, including managing the project team, setting timelines, and communicating with stakeholders.
- Senior project manager: Once you have several years of experience as a project manager, you can move up to a senior project manager position. In this role, you will manage more significant, more complex projects and may have more direct reports.
- Program manager: A program manager oversees multiple related projects and ensures they are aligned with organisational goals. This role requires strong leadership and communication skills.
- Portfolio manager: A portfolio manager oversees a group of related projects, such as all the projects for a particular business unit or product line. This role requires a deep understanding of the business and solid strategic skills.
- Project management office (PMO) director: A PMO director oversees an organisation's entire project management function. This role requires a deep understanding of project management methodologies and strong leadership skills.
There are also many specialised areas within project management, such as IT project management, construction project management, and agile project management.
By developing expertise in a particular area, you can increase your value to employers and advance your career.
Project management qualifications you need to have
Several capabilities can help you start or advance your career in project management. Here are some of the most common ones:
- Project Management Professional (PMP) certification: This is the most well-known certification in project management certification offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI). To earn the PMP certification, you must meet educational and professional requirements and pass a rigorous exam covering the PMI's Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK).
- Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) certification: This certification, also offered by PMI, is designed for entry-level project managers or those who want to demonstrate their knowledge of project management fundamentals. To earn the CAPM certification, you must pass an exam covering project management basics.
- Agile Certified Practitioner (ACP) certification: PMI also offers this certification for project managers who work in agile environments or want to demonstrate their knowledge of agile methodologies. To earn the ACP certification, you must pass an exam that covers agile practices, principles, and tools.
- Certified Scrum Master (CSM) certification: This certification, offered by the Scrum Alliance, is for project managers who work in agile environments that use the Scrum framework. To earn the CSM certification, you must attend a two-day training course and pass an online exam.
- Prince2 certification: This certification, offered by AXELOS, is a widely recognised project management methodology in Europe, particularly in the UK. To earn the Prince2 certification, you must pass two exams that cover the methodology's principles, themes, and processes.
- Six Sigma certification: This certification, offered by the Six Sigma Institute, is for project managers who want to demonstrate their knowledge of process improvement methodologies. To earn a Six Sigma certification, you must complete a training program and pass an exam that covers the Six Sigma methodology.
While these certifications are not mandatory, they can help you demonstrate your expertise in project management to potential employers and clients and increase your chances of landing a job or earning a promotion.
Skills needed in project management
Project management requires a combination of technical, interpersonal, and leadership skills. Here are some of the essential skills needed in project management:
- Communication: Project managers must be skilled communicators in written and verbal communication. They need to communicate effectively with team members, stakeholders, and clients.
- Leadership: Project managers must be strong leaders who motivate and inspire their teams to achieve project goals.
- Time management: Project managers must be able to manage their time effectively, set priorities, and meet project deadlines.
- Problem-solving: Project managers must be able to identify problems, come up with creative solutions, and make decisions quickly.
- Risk management: Project managers must be able to identify potential risks to the project, assess their impact, and develop strategies to mitigate them.
- Budgeting: Project managers must be able to manage project budgets, allocate resources, and monitor costs.
- Technical expertise: Project managers must have a solid understanding of the technical aspects of the project, whether it's software development, construction, or manufacturing.
- Adaptability: Project managers must adapt to changing circumstances, whether it's a change in project scope or unexpected obstacles.
- Team management: Project managers must be able to manage and motivate their team, provide feedback, and resolve conflicts.
- Stakeholder management: Project managers must be able to manage relationships with stakeholders, including clients, sponsors, and vendors.
Developing and mastering these skills can help you become a successful project manager and advance your career in project management.
Top industries that project Managers work in
Project managers work in various industries, as project management skills are essential to managing complex projects across sectors. Here are some of the top industries that employ project managers:
- Information Technology (IT): IT project managers oversee the development and implementation of software and technology projects.
- Construction: Construction project managers oversee building and infrastructure projects' planning, design, and construction.
- Healthcare: Healthcare project managers oversee developing and implementing healthcare initiatives, such as building new hospitals or implementing electronic health records.
- Manufacturing: Manufacturing project managers oversee the development and production of products, such as automobiles, electronics, and consumer goods.
- Engineering: Engineering project managers oversee the design and construction of engineering projects, such as bridges, tunnels, and highways.
- Finance: Finance project managers oversee the development and implementation of financial projects, such as mergers and acquisitions, financial software implementations, and new product development.
- Government: Project managers in government oversee a wide range of initiatives, such as infrastructure projects, military projects, and public works projects.
- Energy: Energy project managers oversee the planning and implementation of energy projects, such as wind farms, solar power plants, and oil and gas drilling projects.
- Aerospace: Project managers oversee the design and construction of aircraft, spacecraft, and other aerospace projects.
- Education: Education project managers oversee the development and implementation of educational initiatives, such as building new schools or implementing new teaching technologies.
These are just a few of the many industries that employ project managers. Project management skills are valuable in many fields, and opportunities for project managers are likely to continue growing in the coming years.
How to make a career in project management
If you're interested in a career in project management, here are some steps you can take to get started:
- Build your project management skills: Start by building your project management skills through training, certification programs, or online courses. Look for programs that cover project management methodologies, tools, and best practices.
- Gain practical experience: Look for opportunities to gain valuable experiences in project management, such as volunteering for a project, taking on project management responsibilities at work, or participating in internships or apprenticeships.
- Network: Join professional organisations, attend industry events, and connect with other project managers to expand your network and learn from others in the field.
- Identify your niche: Consider what industries or types of projects interest you, and develop specialised skills and knowledge in those areas.
- Develop your soft skills: Project management requires solid soft skills, such as communication, leadership, and problem-solving. Practice developing these skills through team-building activities, leadership training, and other personal development programs.
- Consider certification: Consider earning a certificate in project management, such as the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification or the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) certification. These certifications help you demonstrate your expertise to potential employers and clients.
- Look for job opportunities: Once you've built your skills and gained practical experience, start looking for job opportunities in project management. Look for entry-level positions or roles where you can earn additional experience and work your way up.
With dedication, hard work, and a commitment to continuous learning, you can build a successful career in project management.
Remember that project management requires a combination of technical and soft skills, so be sure to develop both as you build your career.
Job outlook and salary in project management
The job outlook for project managers is generally positive, as project management is an essential function across many industries. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of project managers is projected to grow 11 per cent from 2020 to 2030, which is faster than the average for all occupations. The demand for project managers is driven by the need to manage increasingly complex projects involving technology, infrastructure, and global supply chains.
Salary for project managers can vary widely depending on factors such as industry, location, experience, and certifications. According to the Project Management Institute's 2021 Salary Survey, the median salary for project managers in the United States was $120,000 annually. However, salaries can range from around $65,000 for entry-level positions to over $200,000 for experienced project managers in high-paying industries such as technology or finance.
The Project Management Professional (PMP) certification can also impact the salary. According to the same salary survey, PMP-certified project managers earn an average of 25% more than non-certified project managers. Experience and expertise in specialised areas such as Agile or risk management can also increase earning potential.
Overall, project management can be a rewarding and lucrative career path with solid job growth and opportunities for advancement.