Many industries thrive on the successful execution of projects. Projects are usually completed by a team of professionals in a workplace. They are also typically overseen, facilitated and directed by a project manager. If you are looking to hold a versatile leadership role in your workplace, you may want to become a project manager. In this article, we explore steps you can take to become a project manager, as well as the job description, duties and hiring requirements.
What is a project manager?
A project manager is responsible for leading a team in the execution of major projects in the workplace. Project managers oversee all the stages of a project, from the planning stage to the final reports. Project managers are involved in creating the scope statement and statement of work for a project. These documents estimate the time, resources and the size of the team necessary to complete a project, and are submitted to management and the project’s stakeholders before work can begin.
Project managers manage the team to make sure everyone’s individual skills are used efficiently. They also use their skills and experience to aid in the project’s progress. Project managers are often the face of the project and take the lead when it comes to making daily decisions. According to PMI.org, the need for project managers continues to grow as companies become more project-oriented in their business strategies.
Project manager job description
Project managers play several different roles during a typical workday, and their duties may include:
Planning out all the individual tasks that must be completed during a project
Organizing, managing and motivating a team of employees
Scheduling and meeting project deadlines for each project stage
Estimating and maintaining the project’s budget
Communicating with management, stakeholders, employees, focus groups and customers to ensure the project is satisfactory on every level
Analyzing risk and protecting the integrity of the project and their employer reputation
Monitoring and reporting the team’s progress throughout the project period
Creating and submitting the necessary records and documents following the project’s completion
Project manager work environment
An increasing number of industries are prioritizing projects in the workplace, so project managers are finding work in a growing range of environments. Still, the majority of project managers work in the offices of independent companies and organizations. You can work as a project manager in a variety of companies, ranging from small start-ups to billion-dollar corporations.
Project managers maintain a regular work schedule and are usually salaried employees. In the office, they meet regularly with higher management and act as a “go-between” for their team and the stakeholders. They also conduct scheduled meetings with their team members and oversee all the work involved in the project to ensure a steady rate of production. Project managers’ workdays are full and labor-intensive since they must constantly communicate, work in a fast-paced environment and are responsible for the productivity of their team.
Project manager job requirements
There are several preliminary requirements you need to meet before you can become a project manager. Depending on your job title, employer and geographical location, these may include:
Education and certification
Employers typically expect project managers to have a bachelor’s degree in management, business or a related field. You can also choose to pursue a relevant master’s degree or official credentials. Project managers can be certified by the Project Management Institute, which awards credentials like Certified Associate in Project Management and Project Management Professional. The American Society for the Advancement of Project Management also provides certifications for project managers.
A good project manager exhibits many professional and personal skills, including:
Analytical skills: Project managers must be able to analyze situations and make logical decisions that ensure the quality of the project.
Organizational skills: Project managers must create, coordinate and maintain numerous task lists, schedules and communication channels for the project to proceed smoothly.
Communication skills: Project managers use verbal, written and electronic communication to lead their teams, report to management and make informed decisions regarding the project.
Time-management skills: Project managers must be able to create and meet several hard and soft deadlines during the project process.
You will most likely need several years of experience in your industry before you are considered qualified to be a project manager. Many of the decisions a project manager must make are based on their past practical experience. You will gain the knowledge you need to be a project manager while pursuing education or certification.
However, much of your practical and technical skills will come from the experience you gain while working or while learning from an industry mentor.
If you are interested in being a project manager but are currently inexperienced, look for other leadership roles in your workplace. Volunteer to head up smaller team efforts and make every effort to produce exemplary results. Make your aspirations known to your supervisor and ask for opportunities that allow you to show your potential as a team leader.
How to become a project manager
Here are several specific steps you can take to become a project manager:
1. Pursue relevant education
Earn your degree in management, business or another industry-related field. If possible, take courses that teach team management, professional skills and corporate processes. Use your time in school to network and create relationships with industry professionals and other aspiring project managers.
2. Gain practical experience
After graduation, seek out employment as a project manager or a similar title. Use the next few years to gain practical experience in the workplace. Learn from your supervisors, grow your professional skills and work toward pre-determined career goals. If you are interested in certification, do some research on how many hours of experience you need to qualify.
3. Consider certification
After you accumulate sufficient experience, you may decide to pursue certification. Project managers can become certified by the Project Management Institute and several accredited colleges and universities. Certification can involve taking a six- to eight-week course and a 200-question exam, which tests your practical knowledge, professional judgment and decision-making skills.
4. Develop and progress
After you reach your goal of becoming a project manager, continue to prioritize professional growth. Make sure to seek out jobs where you can show your full potential. Be aware of continuing education opportunities your employee may offer, which would allow you to keep learning. You can never stop working to become a more productive and efficient project manager.
Project manager resume
When applying for project manager jobs, you will want to include the following information on your resume:
Your educational background. If possible, include contact information for a professor who would be willing to recommend you.
Your past work history. Write detailed but succinct descriptions of your previous roles, including your duties, some specifics successes and examples of how you grew professionally while working in the position.
Your relevant skills. Make a list of your soft and hard skills, which will make you a valuable candidate for the project manager job. This includes interpersonal, technical and professional skills.
Project manager cover letter
Crafting a well-written cover letter is an important step in searching for a job as a project manager. You can take advantage of the opportunities a cover letter provides by using it to:
Express your gratitude at being considered for the position
Sharing your personal and professional goals
Explaining what you would be able to contribute as a part of the project team
Share your opinion of the company or organization, and discuss why you are interested in working there
Expound on the education history, previous work roles and skills you included in your resume
Project manager interviews
If you land a project manager interview, you will want to make a positive and accurate impression on the interviewer. Consider these tips while preparing for your interview:
Bring a printed copy of your resume.
Practice your answers to common questions in advance.
Come prepared to ask some questions of your own.
Recall some stories and practical examples you can share that show your experience or skill level.
Research the company or organization ahead of time.
Practice your interview technique with someone else to help you relax.
Act confident, even if you feel nervous.
Be prepared to negotiate salary, schedule or benefits.
Project managers are a crucial part of every project team. They lead, motivate and inspire each of their team members. If this career sounds like a good fit for you, consider all the necessary steps, including earning an education, gaining experience and acquiring skills. No matter your background or current level of experience, pursuing a career as a project manager could be the next exciting step for you as a professional.