Are you preparing to be a project manager (PM) but need help knowing where to start?
We’ve put together an extensive guide to serve as a beginning point and reference for your future career as a project manager. You can start being part of this line of work immediately by reading the basics of each aspect of a project manager’s career growth.
Things to Consider before Starting your Journey
Here are the things that you should consider before starting a project management career:
- What does being a PM mean?
- What skills are required to be a PM?
- What are the duties of a PM?
- Where should you start your education to become a PM?
- Do I need a project management certification?
- What are the most important project management certificates?
- What is the average salary of a PM?
- What problems does a PM face?
- What are the different ways of managing projects?
What does being a project manager mean?
Is there a leader within you who leads people and keeps everything organized?
If your answer is yes, this can be the first step on your project manager career path.
- Project management is one of the most difficult professions to master. Prepare yourself for a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. In my line of work, there is no room for mediocrity. A project manager oversees the entire project from start to finish, including planning, execution, control, and reporting.
- Project managers are always part of a group. They are usually friendly and excellent team players. As a project manager, you’ll have to adjust to various individuals, cultures, environments, and situations. Because you’ll be the team’s builder and controller, flexibility is essential for team communication.
- You must be a team leader, coworker, and supervisor simultaneously to be a great PM. It is one of the most difficult jobs because no two days are alike, and you’ll need to use all of your project management talents to tackle every problem. You’ll also be the first person your team turns to whenever an issue arises. They may expect you to have all of the answers to their questions. However, this is what makes project management a fascinating professional path.
- Both formal and informal contacts will be dealt with. It may be the appropriate career route for you if you can recognize individuals from the moment you meet them. Project managers are the same as psychologists. They are well-versed in employees’ and clients’ issues, aspirations, and expectations. Despite being a people person, a PM will not become emotionally invested in their initiatives.
- Participating in the creation process, executing the project, preparing communication methods, finding solutions to recurring issues, monitoring the project’s progress from start to finish, ensuring your team is getting things done, and many other responsibilities will be part of your job as a project manager. Put another way, you’ll be in charge of linking each initiative to the commercial world and its clients.
- You must understand that you will bear responsibility for the project’s success. Any errors made by your team, as well as any client complaints, will be held against you. You’ll be responsible for your and your team’s accuracy in this job.
It is a job that is constantly evolving and encountering new challenges. If you enjoy a wide range of experiences, this is the type of job for you. To make your work easier, you can always change the project you’re working on, the team you deal with, the industry you operate in, and even the processes and tools you use. Every project is unique. However, your knowledge in this sector will come in handy if you run across similar scenarios or challenges in the future. Similarly, having a lot of experience will help you solve problems rapidly.
What skills are required to be a project manager?
Knowing how to manage projects is sometimes enough to make you an excellent project manager. Soft abilities, as previously said, are also required. More than a skilled communicator and an open leader is required. Accountability, adaptability, analytical and strategic thinking, and decisiveness. A stress-resistant mentality and even a little enthusiasm for risk-taking are all required to meet everyday project management problems. Being a multitasker with excellent written and spoken communication abilities might propel you to the top of your industry’s project management ranks.
When it comes to hard talents, you should be aware that project management is not one of them. Depending on the assignment, you’ll need to know a little about everything. A broad understanding of business is highly desirable. But don’t worry; you don’t need to be an expert in technical abilities like coding to participate. It is, nevertheless, critical to be able to provide your developers with precise and clear instructions. Leading a project ensures that your team members have all the information they need to complete a task and produce the end product.
Another crucial ability is understanding resource allocation and establishing the right time for the resources required within the project plan. Choosing the best online resource management software, whether you run a small or large organization, may make your life much easier.
You should have sufficient expertise to recognize a problem and provide potential remedies. At the same time, you should be aware that many project managers have previously worked as software developers, marketing managers, accountants, designers, and other similar positions. It means they have the necessary foundational knowledge for initiatives in their former fields of interest.
You might be one step ahead of the competition if you’re one of these folks, but remember that you’ll need to expand your understanding of project management methods, frameworks, and people management. Although you may be accustomed to working alone, project management is about collaboration. Be encouraged if you discover that working as a project manager isn’t the best fit for you. This profession creates many new chances and paths for future jobs.
Take a look at the skills of the most successful project managers and find out if you have what it takes to become like them and what you have to improve:
• Solid understanding of business cases and risk management processes
• Expert knowledge to meet specific circumstances
• Proven project management and self-management skills
• Strong leadership skills
• Ability to monitor and control budgets
• Critical thinking
• Good communication and negotiation skills
• Capability to make decisions under pressure
• Strong interpersonal skills necessary to lead a team
• Ability to define situations, document data, and draw conclusions
• Strong business acumen
• Ability to interpret instructions regardless of their form
• Strong organizational and multitasking skills
• Creative mindset
• Analytical skills
• Accuracy and attention to detail
• Excellent time management skills
• Capacity to maintain schedules and meet deadlines
• Problem-solving skills
• Work ethic
• Working knowledge of project management tools
What are the duties of a project manager?
Your responsibilities may vary depending on the industry you work in.
We looked at over 200 LinkedIn job posts from around the world and came up with this list of the most common project manager responsibilities:
• Direct all project management phases
• Set and manage project expectations with external and internal stakeholders
• Coordinate and track various projects through an entire project lifecycle
• Develop a detailed project management plan to track project progress
• Mentor, motivate and supervise project team members
• Develop professional business relationships
• Define the overall scope of the project
• Prioritize the tasks of the project
• Create and continuously update the project documentation
• Create accurate forecasts for revenue and resource requirements
• Partner with all departments to ensure work is done according to demands
• Establish effective communication
• Ensure team members have all the necessary information
• Track work times and maintain accurate daily timesheets
• Ensure project tasks are executed and reviewed within the predefined scope
• Align various teams to maintain the quality of deliverables
• Report and escalate issues to management when necessary
• Conduct project status meetings, daily stand-ups, and retrospective meetings
• Continuously follow up on the progress, risks, and opportunities of the project
• Focus on customer satisfaction
• Manage projects through KPIs
• Manage budgets and billings
• Act as the main customer contact for project activities
• Make recommendations for project improvements
• Conduct workshops and training
• Obtain customer input
• Measure project performance using appropriate systems, tools, and techniques
• Evaluate team performance
Where should you start your education to become a project manager?
Before starting your project management job, ensure it’s the appropriate fit for you. Read about other project managers’ experiences, contact them, ask questions, or apply for a project management internship. You can also take some beginner online courses to obtain a better understanding of the subject. These courses usually include tasks and assignments that aim to get you to interact with this company branch and see if you can handle its obligations.
Here are some websites where you can learn more about project management online: Udemy, edX, Coursera, and Simplilearn.
You can begin your project management profession by earning a project manager or business administration degree. But not having a project management diploma is not a disadvantage; however, if you study it regularly in an academic setting, you will have a leg up. It’s always possible to change careers and pursue your passions. PM is not limited to a single industry. Projects are typically associated with different areas of industry, such as software, art, logistics, economics, linguistics, etc. For a better grasp of the profession, a design agency may demand you to have a degree in Arts or Design. In this instance, project management education solely depends on your willingness to advance professionally.
Do I need a project management certification?
Yes, of course! As your project management career progresses, you’ll either feel the need to certify your project management knowledge or your company will request that you do so. Although certifications may lose their value to recruiters over time, the experience you’ll gain during training and tests is invaluable.
A PM qualification is advantageous, but comprehensive knowledge and expertise in the sector are more important for project success. It’s important to realize that certifications aren’t everything. Even if you have all of the qualifications in the world, no one will want to work with you if you don’t have any genuine project management experience.
What are the most important project management certificates?
Here’s a list of project management certifications that you should consider:
The Project Management Professional certification, offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI®), is perhaps one of the most well-known project management credentials. It establishes project management standards. The PMBOK Guide and Standards cover the most significant project management guidelines and characteristics. The PMBOK® Guide is the primary study resource, although you can use any additional PMP® exam-related publications.
Only some people can sit this test. The exam consists of 180 multiple-choice questions, and it requires A four-year degree, 36 months of leading projects,35 hours of project management education/training or CAPM® Certification — OR — A high school diploma or an associate’s degree (or global equivalent), 60 months leading projects, 35 hours of project management education/training or CAPM® Certification.
The PMP® program offers generally established standards that will help you achieve project success if you’re seeking a complete course. Remember that this certificate needs to be renewed every three years due to the ever-changing nature of project management requirements.
Take a few minutes to learn about some of the PMP® exam’s secrets.
The PRINCE2 Certification:
PRINCE2 (PRojects IN Controlled Environments) is a project management method. The UK government developed PRINCE2, so if you’re planning on working in the UK, you should give this certificate a go.
This Certification has two main learning paths you can choose to pursue:
• PRINCE2 Foundation
This initial level might help you confirm your understanding of the method. There are no requirements for this exam, but you should have prior project management experience. This credential does not qualify you to be a project manager, but it does allow you to work in a team that uses PRINCE2 as a project management method.
• PRINCE2 Practitioner
This level determines whether or not the candidate can apply the PRINCE2 technique in real-world situations. If you wish to work with PRINCE2 in the future, this is the most significant one you can get. The qualification qualifies you to work as a project manager who can implement PRINCE2 concepts.
Scrum is an Agile framework for product management and software development projects. Scrum.org offers assignments that l can be used to demonstrate your understanding of Scrum. You have the option of taking one of the following tests:
• Professional Scrum Master™
• Professional Scrum Product Owner™
• Professional Scrum Developer™
• Scaled Professional Scrum™
• Professional Agile Leadership™
• Professional Scrum With Kanban™
What is the average salary of a project manager?
The wage of a project manager varies depending on the country in which they work and their experience. Given this, a PM’s yearly salary can range from $51,000 to $111,000 per year. The average project manager pays in the United States is $75,474, according to Glassdoor, with additional cash compensation ranging from $1,541 to $19,755. This project lead compensation, however, can be significantly lower or higher depending on your talents, experience, and knowledge. Project management jobs are still in high demand, and annual pay for project managers at all levels is likely to rise over the next 10 years.
If you need to find out whether project management will be in demand, check out this report on job growth in the field. Companies are shifting their focus away from regular tasks and toward actual projects. More positions will be created, and there need to be more qualified people to fill them all.
What problems a project manager faces?
Project management jobs are with flaws. It has drawbacks, just like any other employment. The reality is that it is demanding work, and you must be the ideal person for the position and be able to deal with all project management issues. Some project managers will work long, stressful hours to keep a project on track and deliver it on time. Furthermore, as a project manager, you cannot expect to be able to go home and completely detach from your work. Many project managers keep track of their projects, respond to emails, and stay in touch with their team even while they are not at work or on vacation.
- You may be responsible for all responsibilities if you work for a small company and are the only project manager. That implies you’ll have to juggle multiple tasks while allocating enough daily time to manage and handle them. If you’re starting your job, this may be impossible because you lack the critical understanding to manage your time effectively.
- On the other hand, you may not have a say in which project you work on. As a result, you’ll be assigned little jobs that may squander your time. Similarly, you may stumble upon a project connected to a topic in which you are uninterested. It will make it tough for you to want to learn more and comprehend what you’ve learned.
- A project manager’s responsibilities are challenging to handle by just anyone. If you’re not used to having such authority, the pressure of completing a project on time can be overwhelming. Similarly, if you’re not a stress-resistant person, stay away from difficult tasks or even this line of work. From the outside, being a project manager implies that you will have complete control over the project development process.
- However, the reality is that you are completely reliant on what your customers desire. Please don’t misunderstand me. You can give your thoughts, but you must also be willing to accommodate any last-minute modifications your client may need without grumbling. The final choices are frequently made by top management. That is one of the reasons why implementing a project management process at a company where the top and project managers have similar powers is so difficult.
- Also, project managers are sometimes well-liked. Employees admire effective project managers because they provide detailed and accurate tasks, are thoughtful, and can lead by example. On the other hand, bad project managers emphasize the importance of a lot of meta-work: too many meetings, presentations, and status reports, with less actual work and opportunity for advancement. In other words, project managers focus on producing useful results rather than on the development process.
- There are also project managers that assume they own the project. It’s not only project managers, though. Product and program managers face similar challenges, and the truth is that any employee may be a proponent of meta-work. Not communicating with and listening to your staff will only drive them away. You will encounter challenging individuals who need help to persuade you to comprehend your goals throughout your career.
- Learn to actively listen to others, focus on team cooperation, communicate freely, and aim for actual project results rather than measurements and status reports to gain your team’s respect and prevent unneeded fights. Learn how to become their mentor and ensure your guidance is as precise and beneficial as possible. Nobody despises a project manager who assigns work without providing detailed specifications or client requirements to help them. That may indicate that you must familiarize yourself with the issue or the client’s requirements.
- Individuals should be valued and treated with respect. Never regard your team members as simple resources or machines capable of doing any work instantly. Listen, comprehend, and adjust to their requirements. You might not be a good fit for this profession if you dislike working with people and become irritated waiting for others to accomplish their tasks.
- What are the different ways of managing projects?
- The project management process, as well as its methods, methodologies, and frameworks, can be approached in various ways. These are constantly shifting. New frameworks and PM trends emerge regularly. You are mistaken if you believe you can get by merely knowing Agile for the rest of your career. Your framework choice depends on your company, project, and team. True, a corporation may need you to possess a certain credential or have prior experience with one. However, you cannot rely exclusively on the application of a procedure. Throughout your career as a project manager, you’ll have the opportunity to work with more than one.
To make a list of five approaches to managing a project easier to understand, we’ve simplified it. You’ll also be able to determine which are better for your working style.
Agile is a set of processes and ideas that work well for products and initiatives that undergo many changes as they develop. This approach is focused on short delivery cycles and a dynamic work environment that encourages team cooperation. “Agile means adaptive, just like its name suggests — the capacity to elegantly adjust to rapidly changing client needs.”
Scrum is mostly used in software and product development. Small cross-functional teams collaborate with a Product Owner in charge of the product’s direction. “After that, a Scrum Master serves the entire team and removes all roadblocks.” The Scrum process is broken down into two-week cycles. During the daily stand-up meeting, team members discuss what they’ve accomplished and what they’ll focus on for the day.
Kanban is a technique for gaining a visual picture of your work. A real or digital board with three columns is used in this method (To Do, In progress, Done). These tasks are written on cards and can be moved from one level of progress to the next until they are accomplished. Kanban focuses on a team’s ability to work together as a whole, and it can help you manage your workflow and spot bottlenecks early on.
Extreme Programming aims to increase software quality (hence its name). It, like Scrum, is based on short sprints, frequent releases, and continuous stakeholder involvement to boost productivity. Project managers can reduce staff fatigue and improve the quality of project deliverables by using this framework.
This method divides your job into tasks that must be completed in a specific order. Before beginning work on the next task, each one must be completed. Similarly, you will be able to begin the next phase once the prior one has been completed. The foundation of this strategy is extensive planning. It comes with well-defined timeframes and budgets to help you achieve your goals. It is possible to avoid dangers and misconceptions by outlining all phases before development.
The waterfall is based on devoting more effort to the early stages of project creation to avoid errors and save time on maintenance. Its disadvantage is that it has yet to adapt to modern software development requirements. It is, in fact, more effective for businesses and sectors that build physical products.