Project Management is a Rewarding and Versatile Career Path
Project management involves planning, executing, and overseeing various projects. Project managers can work in different industries, such as IT, construction, healthcare, education, events, and more.
They are responsible for ensuring that the project goals are met within the given budget and time constraints. Project managers need to have strong skills in communication, leadership, problem-solving, and risk management. To become a project manager, one typically needs a bachelor's degree in a related field, as well as relevant work experience and professional certifications.
Read here about the Project Management Career Path
What are the Challenges on the Project Management Career Path?
Project management is the process of planning, organizing, executing, and controlling a project to achieve specific goals and objectives. Based on my own experience, most difficulties arise from the points listed below:
- Project scope:
The project scope defines what the project will deliver and what it will not. It is important to have a clear and realistic scope to avoid scope creep, which is when the project requirements change or expand over time without proper approval or adjustment of resources, budget, and timeline.
- Project resources:
The project resources include the people, equipment, materials, and budget that are needed to complete the project. It is important to have adequate and qualified resources to ensure the quality and timeliness of the project deliverables. The available resources are often not sufficient. Unfortunately, especially on the part of the contractor, project managers are often only engaged when the contract is signed and when the planning can no longer be influenced.
- Project risks:
The project risks are the uncertainties or potential problems that may affect the project outcome. It is important to identify, analyze, prioritize, and mitigate the project risks to reduce their impact or likelihood. It is also important to monitor and control the project risks throughout the project lifecycle and respond to any changes or issues that may arise.
Besides the above points, the project manager has to serve a variety of other management areas. This includes procurement, stakeholder management, communications, and quality, to name only a few.
What are the Tasks of a Project Manager?
A project manager is a person who oversees the planning, execution, and completion of a project. A project is a temporary endeavor that has a specific goal, scope, budget, and timeline. A project manager is responsible for ensuring that the project meets those goals and the agreed-upon objectives. Some of the tasks of a project manager include:
- Initiating the project:
This involves defining the project's purpose, scope, and deliverables. Further, identifying stakeholders, and collecting their requirements, evaluating risks, and developing mitigation strategies. The project manager also prepares the project charter that outlines the vision, goals, and governance of the project.
- Planning the project:
This involves developing a detailed project management plan that covers the activities, resources, schedule, budget, quality, communication, and risk management of the project. The project manager also identifies the roles and responsibilities of the project team and assigns tasks accordingly.
- Executing the project:
This involves coordinating and managing the work of the project team and other stakeholders. Another important task is change management.
- Monitoring and controlling:
The project manager also monitors and controls the progress, performance, quality, and costs of the project. He/she regularly reports the progress, status, and issues to the stakeholders.
- Closing the project:
This involves finalizing and delivering the project's outputs and outcomes. The project manager also evaluates the results and lessons learned from the project. The project manager also releases the resources and closes any contracts or agreements related to the project.
What are the different Project Management Qualifications?
Some people may wonder if there are specific degrees that focus on project management and prepare them for this career path. The answer is yes, there are project management degrees that can be obtained at different levels of education, from associate to doctoral. These degrees aim to provide students with the knowledge and competencies needed to plan, execute, monitor, and control projects of various sizes and scopes. Some of the topics that are covered in project management degrees include project initiation, scope management, risk management, quality management, communication management, stakeholder management, project closure, and many more. Additionally, some project management degrees may also offer specializations or electives in certain domains or methodologies, such as agile, lean, or Six Sigma.
Project management degrees can be beneficial for those who want to start a career in project management or enhance their existing skills and qualifications. However, they are not the only way to enter or advance in this field. There are also various certifications and professional associations that can help aspiring or current project managers to demonstrate their competence and credibility in the industry. Project management is a complex and dynamic field that requires a variety of skills and competencies. There are many different project management qualifications that can help professionals to demonstrate their knowledge and abilities in managing projects effectively. Some of the most common and widely recognized project management qualifications are:
- Project Management Professional (PMP):
This is the most popular and prestigious project management certification in the world, offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI). It validates the experience, education, and skills of project managers across different domains and industries. To obtain the PMP credential, candidates must meet certain eligibility criteria and pass a rigorous exam that covers the PMI's Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK).
This is a structured and scalable project management methodology that focuses on delivering projects in a controlled and consistent manner. It is widely used in the UK and other countries, especially in the public sector. PRINCE2 stands for PRojects IN Controlled Environments and has two levels of certification: PRINCE2 Foundation and PRINCE2 Practitioner. The Foundation level covers the basic principles and terminology of PRINCE2, while the Practitioner level tests the ability to apply PRINCE2 to different scenarios and contexts.
- Agile Certified Practitioner (ACP):
This is a certification that recognizes the skills and knowledge of project managers who use agile approaches and practices in their projects. Agile is a flexible and adaptive project management philosophy that emphasizes collaboration, customer feedback, and iterative delivery of value. The ACP certification is also offered by the PMI and covers various agile methodologies, such as Scrum, Kanban, Lean, XP, and others. To earn the ACP credential, candidates must have relevant agile experience and pass an exam that assesses their understanding and application of agile principles and techniques.
How much does a Project Manager earn?
One of the most common questions that aspiring project managers have is how much they can expect to earn in this profession. The answer is not straightforward, as there are many factors that influence the salary of a project manager, such as their level of experience, education, certification, industry, location, and company size. However, some general trends and averages can be observed from various sources of data.
According to the Project Management Institute (PMI), the median annual salary for project managers in the United States was $116,000 in 2020. This was based on a survey of over 32,000 project management practitioners across 42 countries. The PMI also reported that project managers with a Project Management Professional (PMP) certification earned 22% more than those without it.
Another source of data is Glassdoor, which collects salary information from employees and employers. According to Glassdoor, the average base salary for project managers in the United States was $95,167 in April 2021. This was based on over 133,000 salary reports submitted by users. Glassdoor also showed that the salary range for project managers varied from $48,000 to $162,000 depending on the company and location.
A third source of data is Indeed, which aggregates job listings and salaries from various websites. According to Indeed, the average salary for project managers in the United States was $86,188 in April 2021. This was based on over 61,000 salary reports from employees and employers. Indeed also indicated that the most common benefits for project managers were health insurance, retirement plan, paid time off, bonus pay, and flexible schedule.
As you can see, there is no definitive answer to how much a project manager earns, but rather a range of possibilities depending on various factors. The best way to find out how much you can earn as a project manager is to research the market conditions and requirements for your specific industry and location, and to enhance your skills and qualifications through education and certification.
What are the Future Perspectives in Project Management?
Project management is a dynamic and evolving discipline that faces many challenges and opportunities in the future of work. Some of the trends that will impact the future of project management are:
- Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Data Analytics:
AI and data analytics can help project managers automate tasks, optimize resources, enhance collaboration, and improve decision-making. AI and data analytics can also provide insights into project performance, risks, and opportunities, as well as generate forecasts and recommendations.
- Collaborative Workspaces:
As more teams work remotely or in hybrid models, collaborative workspaces can facilitate communication, coordination, and knowledge sharing among project stakeholders. Collaborative workspaces can also foster a culture of innovation, creativity, and trust among team members.
- Agile and Blended Approaches:
Agile methodologies can help project managers deliver value faster, adapt to changing requirements, and respond to customer feedback. Blended approaches can combine agile with other methods, such as waterfall or hybrid, to suit different project contexts and needs.
- Soft Skills and Digital Skills:
Project managers will need to develop both soft skills and digital skills to succeed in the future of work. Soft skills include emotional intelligence, communication, leadership, and problem-solving. Digital skills include cloud computing, cybersecurity, data science, and AI.
- Project Resilience:
Project resilience is the ability of a project to withstand and recover from disruptions and uncertainties. Project resilience can be enhanced by adopting a proactive risk management strategy, building a diverse and flexible team, leveraging digital tools and platforms, and fostering a learning culture. These are some of the future perspectives in project management that can help project managers deliver successful outcomes in a complex and changing environment.