Are you wondering what a project management career path may look like? By the end of this article, I’m going to share with you how people become project managers and the potential roles they may find themselves in. You will get the right information that can help you start your project management career.
So if you are interested in project management career paths, guess what? Let’s get to it.
How to become a project manager.
Learn Along with Your Career
Generally speaking, there’s two ways how to become a project manager. The first way, and probably the most common way, is that you fall into the role based on your professional career choice. So what I mean by that is, for example, engineers. Engineers constantly do projects. Why? Because they usually have initiatives, activities that have a definitive start and a definitive end. That’s what projects are all about. They’re calling in other individuals, they’re usually installing new things or creating new things.
And as a result, that professional role really lends towards doing project management. Another one could be a marketer because they’re doing initiatives, they have product launches. Again, that role leads to a lot of project work. Scientists, because of clinical trials. They have hypothesis. They’re trying to find results. Again, definitive start, definitive end. Usually working with people in order to get to a deliverable. Really, doing project work. Policymakers. You can see the list goes on. Alot of professions just naturally do project management work. That’s kind of actually how I got into it with engineering, is I fell into project management because of my professional role.
Now, that being said, it’s really important that organizations teach these professional roles how to do project management because it is so integrated into what they do. A lot of times, when you’re doing your theory and you’re doing your schooling, you’re sometimes not taught those fundamental skills like project management that’s going to give you what you need to be successful. You’re taught all the theory that you supposed to need from your role perspective. So on that part, it’s definitely important to learn about it because you’re not taught about it, and your role just naturally fits into project management.
Get Professional Training
The second way to get into project management is that some people actually plan to do project management. They’re like, “I want to be a project manager.” So they’ll actually go and get some certification courses from post-secondary institutions. There may be some online courses that they do in order to get that information. They may also even go as far as getting their designation. Now, there’s a little bit of catch when it comes to getting your designation. Because a lot of times, you need to have gotten or have done some project management work before you can even get or apply for your designation.
So even though you can do schooling for it, I would say, my personal opinion, the best way is to fall into it. I know I talked about those other professional roles that are just naturally in it, but there are so many other roles that actually will do projects too, or they’re sometimes called initiatives. They’re much smaller in scale. So the key is get some professional experience. If you’re working in an organization, ask them, “Can I be a part of this initiative? Can I be on that team to help them get that deliverable out?” That’s project work. And that’s a wonderful way to get your feet wet and see if you like it and if you’re going to be good at it. So then you can do the online course and get your designation after.
Here are some roles in the project management field that can help you get started
Some people don’t get into project management right away. They get into related positions that are actually assisting the project manager. So what are some of these roles? One could be a project scheduler. This is when the individual’s really in charge of the schedule, ensuring things are on time, probably some follow-up. Some really good assistance and help for the project manager.
Another one is a project coordinator or a project assistant. So this is truly the official role of being the right-hand person to the project manager. This is where you’re getting into even more in-depth. You’re probably setting up meetings, doing a lot more follow-up, double-checking documentation, probably even executing a lot of documentation. For this you’re really going to get into the weeds of what project management is all about in this particular role.
And another role is project lead. This gets interchanged a lot with project manager, but there really is a distinct difference. A project manager actually has the ability to do a lot of complex projects. They use a lot more skills, tools, and techniques than, let’s say, majority of people would.
And they usually have a designation associated with that particular title. Project lead on the other hand is someone who does projects, maybe they don’t realize they’re doing projects, or they’re much smaller in scope. And so they do relatively the same activities as a project manager, but they don’t officially have a designation, the title, or go in-depth with tools and techniques. Project lead is a really great way to get some experience too.
Project Manager Education.
I know in the previous tip, I talked about education. So I just want to just summarize it really quickly here for you on the three core fundamental ways really to get project management education.
Three Core Fundamental Ways to Get Project management Education
The first one is formalized where you can get a certificate from a post-secondary institution in project management. There is a lot to learn about project management. And these certificate courses actually are quite extensive. For majority of people though, they probably don’t need all that information.
The second way is to get it from an online source. There are a bunch of Project management courses available online that one can undertake. Some are paid courses while some are absolutely free.
Experience Through Practice
And then the third way, third way is getting real-life experience at work. I find that to be an excellent way because you don’t realize you’ve actually done projects. You don’t realize you were a participant. You may even lead some initiatives. And that gives you a really good idea and experience around project management and how to motivate people and ensure that you deliver on time, scope, and budget. All that fun project management stuff.
From an education standpoint, those are the three basic fundamental ways in order to get educated on all that fun principles, skills, and techniques. What can you do after being a project manager?
What will you be doing as a Project Manager?
Well, I just want to say project management is exciting. There’s always something new going, and for some people, they’re project managers forever. They just get higher, more profile, more in-depth complex projects as they move up with their seniority. Now, what else can you do? There are portfolio and program management that project managers can get into. And that is where they go in and they look and oversee a whole bunch of different projects. Some that relate, some that don’t. But linking more to strategy and dealing more with executives to ensure that the strategy and the portfolio or program are in synced and ensuring that other individuals and project managers that report into them are executing.
Another one is PMO office lead or director. That’s another role that you can get into. And interestingly enough, this is why I love project management, is any managerial role. The cool thing about project managers is if you’re really good at it, you’re good at motivating people who do not report to you, you’re going to be an amazing manager. You listen, you probably have good leadership skills, disciplined, you know how to do things, you look at things strategically.
It is a natural fit to get into some other managerial role. Hence project manager, right? You’re managing. So those are some other alternative things that you can do with project management, which is why I always highly recommend this particular career path.
Post Credit: Adriana Girdler