A profession of a project manager has always been in demand and seems to be gaining momentum more and more. According to PMI’s Job Growth and Talent Gap in Project Management 2017-2027, organizations’ need for project talent has significantly increased since their previous investigation in 2008. Based on the current data, they predict that companies will need about 2.2 million project experts by 2027. Besides, about 88 million employees will be needed for project management jobs.
Regardless of your life journey, whether you’re a graduate or an expert willing to leave the current job and try something new, you may have some doubts and queries associated with the project management career.
Let’s simulate an interview. We’ll try to predict your questions and provide answers to them. And if you have any other questions, just let us know, and we’ll add them to the list with a comprehensive description.
How Can I Understand that a Career of Project Manager Fits Me?
If you’re a leader and a people person who is often followed by others and if you enjoy strict order and have everything organized, a project manager’s role is probably the best career choice for you.
Before reading further, check your project management skills in an entertaining way with our Project Management Game.
What Personal Qualities Does a Good Project Manager Need?
A project manager is responsible for communicating with stakeholders: team members, clients, and others engaged. This interaction is not always positive and enjoyable, and a PM should not only control himself/herself but also iron out difficulties and cut the tension to make everyone arrive at a consensus.
Besides, a PM has to make important decisions and very often act in ambiguous situations, which also requires certain personal traits.
Here is a set of personal qualities that will help you do well in PM:
- Optimism and enthusiasm,
- Stress resistance,
- Mindfulness, and a sense of responsibility .
Besides, emotional intelligence  is an absolute must for a good leader. Emotional quotient is a person’s ability to understand, use, and administer their and other people’s emotions, as well as to provide an adequate reaction to them. This quality can be gained and improved, and if you want to regulate your emotions and influence other people’s states, do your best to level up your emotional intelligence.
What Should a Project Manager Know and What Skills Should He/She Possess?
Every project manager should have a strong understanding of project theories and methodologies, and be able to apply them in his or her work:
- Critical Chain,
- Critical Path,
- Six Sigma,
- Waterfall .
They should know the peculiarities of program and portfolio management as well as the specificity of multi-project environments.
In view of the tendency towards digital transformation, a modern project manager should have knowledge in Cloud Technology, SAP Global Systems, SFDC, Gainsight, Pendo, and Tableau.
Besides, familiarity with CRM and accounting/finance ERP systems is a great plus.
The knowledge of the following software will significantly simplify PM’s work:
- MS Outlook, Excel, Word, PowerPoint, Visio, Teams, Project CCPM;
- Learning platforms and applications (MindTickle, Brainshark);
- GSuite, Sendgrid, LMS .
As for soft skills, leadership, decision-making and communication skills are an absolute requirement for project managers given their responsibilities. What’s interesting is that CEOs consider leadership skills as important as the technical ones. Indeed, according to PMI’s 2020 Pulse of the Profession, the in-demand skills priorities among the PM organizations who participated in the survey are as follows:
The participants emphasize the relevance of interpersonal communication for their business success, which is why leadership skills and the ability to communicate and emphasize play a pivotal role in a project manager’s job.
Project Management Institute has developed their Talent triangle showing what skills are the most important for a modern project manager. It consists of technical, leadership as well as strategic and business management areas. They cover knowledge and skills in project management itself, knowledge in the field of business, and of course knowledge and skills for leading teams and orchestrating projects.
What Does a Project Manager Do?
To put it simply, a project manager is responsible for the timely delivery of projects. That, in turn, involves having everything planned and everyone organized and supervised. Generally, a project manager is responsible for
- Project scheduling;
- Allocating resources;
- Tracking project and team performance;
- Managing uncertainties and constraints,
- Administering risks,
- Making project decisions,
- Analyzing team progress,
- Reporting .
What Are the Project Manager’s Duties?
PM’s responsibilities depend on a project life cycle stage (initiation, planning, execution, and closure).
- At the initiation stage, a project manager identifies the goals, milestones, deadlines, and budget of a project as well as predicts probable risks. He or she holds meetings with clients and stakeholders to discuss every detail and prepare everything to start working on the project.
- Then a project manager works on a project plan. It involves dividing the project into tasks, prioritizing them, and assigning them to project team members.
- During the execution stage, everything is dedicated to the work on the project itself. A PM monitors all the operations, resolves different types of conflicts if any, communicates with and reports to clients and stakeholders. This stage is the most difficult in terms of decision-making. As anything unpredicted may happen, a project manager should be ready to react immediately to save the project.
- At the closure stage, a project manager is in charge of analyzing project outcomes, discussing them with resources, and reporting to clients and stakeholders .
How Much Does a Project Manager Make?
A PM’s salary depends on the following factors:
According to our research , junior project managers make from $600 to $6,000 depending on the country. A middle PM earns from $1,500 to $9,500, while senior managers get from $2,500 to $12,000 monthly. The highest income worldwide is recorded in Switzerland while Indian and Russian PMs get the lowest salaries as compared to other countries.
In What Industries Project Managers Are Required Most?
Project managers can get a job in almost any sphere of business. Although the top industries where the profession of a project manager is in high demand are
- Pharmaceutical companies.
So, before starting your PM career journey, think about the field you’d like to work in. Apart from knowledge and skills in PM, you should also be familiar with the specificity of the industry your organization is operating in.
What’s the Best Major for Project Managers and What Universities Are Good for That?
An academic degree is not an absolute must for a project manager but is a great plus. And the advantage is not the diploma itself but the time and effort people spend on studying. Besides, project management can’t be referred to a single field, which is why you can select a college depending on the industry you’d like to work in.
Another way to start a career is to get a degree in a similar field, like business, and then take a PM course. For instance, having a degree in business administration will be suitable. Focus on the following universities that suggest programs in this major (based on The World University Rankings top list):
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
- Stanford University,
- University of Oxford,
- University of Cambridge,
- University of California, Berkeley,
- London School of Economics and Political Science,
- Duke University,
- University of Pennsylvania,
- Harvard University.
But if your career plan involves working on a Master’s degree in PM, consider the educational institutions listed below.
According to CollegeChoice expert ranking, one of the following universities in The United States will be great to study project management:
- Boston University,
- Georgetown University,
- Lehigh University,
- George Washington University,
- Northeastern University.
What Are the Best Certifications for a PM and How Much Do They Cost?
We recommend the following world-renowned certifications:
- Project Management Professional (PMP) (costs from $405 for members and $555 for non-members);
- Program Management Professional (PgMP) (costs from $800 for members and $1,000 for non-members);
- Portfolio Management Professional (PfMP) (costs from $800 for members and $1,000 for non-members);
- Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) (costs from $225 for members and $300 for non-members);
- PMI Professional in Business Analysis (PMI-PBA) (costs from $405 for members and $555 for non-members);
- PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP) (costs from $435 for members and $495 for non-members);
- PMI Risk Management Professional (PMI-RMP) (costs from $520 for members and $670 for non-members);
- PMI Scheduling Professional (PMI-SP) (costs from $620 for members and $670 for non-members);
- APM Project Fundamentals Qualification (PFQ) (for applicants with 0-2 years of experience in project management),
- APM Project Management Qualification (PMQ) (for applicants with 3-4 years of experience in PM),
- APM Project Professional Qualification (PPQ) (for experts with more than 5 years experience in PM).
- SCRUM certification with passing the Professional Scrum Master I certification exam (PSM I) .
Keep in mind that to pass almost any exam to get certified in PM you should have either some years of experience in the field or having a degree, or both. It depends on the certification. For example, PMP certification requires 4,500 hours of experience and a four-year degree, while Certified Associate in PM requires a 10-month job experience.
What Training Resources Are Best for Would-Be Project Managers?
There’s no doubt you can find millions of resources that you can use to learn but we recommend focusing on recognized platforms, such as PMI, LinkedIn, Coursera. Here is a shortlist of helpful resources you can use:
- PMI’s New Work Ecosystem (there you can also pass several exams and get certified)
- LinkedIn’s Learning Hub
- Coursera PM initiative .
In general, you can find thousands of useful online courses, articles, reports, news, and discussions at these platforms and improve your knowledge in project management.
Besides, don’t forget about boosting your soft skills. A good PM is not the one whose knowledge of project management is excellent but the one who combines profound industry knowledge, technical and soft skills. So, spare some time to regularly read leadership papers. For instance, visit the following resources:
- Business Management & Leadership at The Balance Careers;
- Leadership section on Forbes;
- Leadership section on HBR.
In addition, joining some LinkedIn groups will be useful:
- Project Manager (PM) Network,
- Project Manager Community,
- PMI Project, Program, and Portfolio Management .
There not only can you read some news in the PM field but also take part in discussions, ask questions and get answers from more experienced experts. And keep in mind that such groups provide a lot of job opportunities, so don’t miss a chance.
How Long Will It Take To Become a Project Manager?
If you start your PM journey by getting a degree, be ready to spend about 4-5 years studying. As you probably remember from the previous units, to get a PMI certification requires having experience in the field for at least several years. And for some certifications you will have to retake exams every 3-5 years to prove your level. Besides, gaining professional development units (PDU) may be required for maintaining your certification. For instance, for a PMP certification, you should get 60 PDUs annually. You can get them for participating in PM conferences, holding lectures, or taking courses. As you can see, you can’t just become a project manager once for all. This journey is lifelong as an expert should never ignore self-development.
What Position Should I Start My Career With?
Starting your career as a project manager is not the only way to reach success. You can select one of the similar jobs and get experience for your further journey as an expert in PM. First and foremost, you should learn and understand all processes that take place in project management, what obstacles there are on the way to project delivery, the way projects operate, the way people work for projects, the general scheme of functioning, and of course your role in it.
So, you can start your career with the role of
- project administrator or
- project coordinator,
- project assistant or
- project support officer.
The titles vary but the starting point is the same: you have to learn how to manage small teams and projects. Only then you can move further and get your junior project manager job, then develop to become a middle PM, and then for sure a senior project manager.
NB: Learn job titles you can come across when looking for your first job in project management.
What Are the Main Difficulties of a PM’s Job?
There are three main constraints in project management: budget, scope, and time limits. They are the main cause of project management problems that a project manager should prevent or resolve to save the project.
Let’s figuratively divide PM’s challenges into four categories:
- The ones associated with clients and stakeholders: undefined project goals, scope changes, misunderstandings;
- The ones connected with project teams: poor skills, lack of understanding, poor communication between team members;
- The issues related to risks and uncertainties: market changes, sick leaves and holidays, equipment damages.
- The ones that depend on a project manager himself/herself: knowledge gaps, lack of experience, poorly developed soft skills (lack of decision-making skills, lack of self-confidence, and so on), inadequate communication style with everyone engaged in the project (as a result, misunderstandings, and lack of collaboration).
Wellingtone experts suggest that the following issues are the most challenging for project managers (based on the survey results with 111 organizations engaged):
Therefore, the above-mentioned issues may result in project failure. To avoid it, a project manager should keep an ear to the ground because predicting is better than resolving. In fact, modern project management software can prevent a project from a lot of issues and ease a PM’s job.
What Are the Best and the Worst Project Management Tools?
We can’t name the best and the worst tool because it won’t be objective and fair as we’re the multi-project management software engineers. But we can name the most important things and functions you should pay attention to when looking for a PM instrument.
First off, dwell upon the tool’s functionality. The core features of any project management software are the ability to
- show and analyze real-time data (Pipeline, Kanban boards, etc.),
- prioritize tasks automatically,
- allocate resources and make automatic changes if necessary,
- plan project milestones and due dates,
- make reports automatically,
- provide project team communication.
Besides, focus on the following aspects that make a product more or less effective and convenient:
- The interface should be intuitive,
- Technical support has to be reliable,
- The mobile app is a good supplement to the solution,
- You should be confident in software security opportunities to keep your data safe,
- Integration opportunities can bring lots of benefits .
When looking for a software solution to orchestrate projects, analyze the company you’re working for and your job peculiarities:
- How many projects you’re in charge of,
- How many resources there are per each project.
If you’re facing the challenge of managing several projects with a shared resource pool due to the resource shortage, classic project management tools may appear inappropriate. Then you should consider multi-project management software and find the best one according to your needs and preferences .
To learn more about multi-project management software, ask our manager for a demo.
Conclusion: What It Takes to Become a PM
Therefore, if you’ve decided to become a project manager, you need to dedicate at least 4 years and be ready to spend $225 minimum to get certified. Don’t forget about your certification maintenance and gaining PDUs.
Besides, to build a career in project management and stay up to date, you should
- Have PM- and industry-oriented knowledge;
- Possess leadership, communication, and decision-making skills (be able to plan, organize, lead, supervise, communicate, persuade);
- Be stress-resistant, self-confident, and enthusiastic;
- Be ready to face challenges and address them;
- Have at least one certification;
- Preferably have experience in managing small teams;
- Preferably have a university degree in either PM or Business Administration or Consultancy;
- Understand the principles of PM software and know their most significant functions,
- Be ready for constant self-development.
So, what stage of your project management career journey are you on? What challenges are you facing at the moment and what other questions do you have?
- Key Personal Qualities of an Excellent Project Manager
- Work on Emotional Intelligence to Be a Great Leader of a High-Performing Team
- Multi-Project Management: All You Should Know About
- What Do Companies like Apple, Amazon and Google Look for in Project Managers?
- What Salary Do Project Managers Get Across Frontiers?
- Best 2020 Online Courses, Events, and Resources for Project Managers
- 9 LinkedIn Groups for Project Managers to Join
- How to Choose the Right SaaS Product: Project Management Tool Selection Guide (Part 1)
- Classic Project VS Multi-Project Management Software: Which Tool You Need to Run Projects Effectively
These resources may also be useful for you:
- 7 Tools for Multi-Project Management to Test in 2020
- Project Management Glossary: 200+ Terms PMs Frequently Use
- Best Productivity Applications, Extensions and Add-Ons for Project Managers
- How to Choose the Right SaaS Product: Multi-Project Management Tool Selection Guide (Part 2)