How to become a project manager
Are you looking for information on how to become a project manager?
Project management is an increasingly popular choice when it comes to a career and no wonder – as a project manager, you could really make your mark on a company or organisation. With such a diverse range of apprenticeships in project management also becoming available, there are many ways of breaking in to this field.
Project managers are in demand across a range of sectors from business, construction, engineering, IT, marketing, retail and beyond. In this role, you manage company projects from start to finish, responsible for all kinds of resources, people and tasks.
You need to ensure that projects are delivered on time and in a budget, and that means putting to use your well-honed organisation and management skills.
Do I need a degree to become a project manager?
While a degree or an apprenticeship in project management will qualify you for the job, many employers will also look for additional knowledge gained from professional qualifications related to the sector in which you want to work.
For more specific project management roles, you will need a strong knowledge of the subject and/or sector.
Postgraduate qualifications aren’t always necessary, but many graduates choose to study a master’s degree if their first degree is unrelated to project planning or management.
What about a project management course?
Project planning training is covered by employers and so it may be beneficial to look at specific programmes and training that relate to current methodologies of project management, such as;
- PRINCE2 – this structured methodology is used for end-to-end project management. There is a range of courses available, from foundation stage for new recruits with basic knowledge then practitioner level, the stage aimed at working professionals.
- Agile – this is a methodology used in fast-paced project management settings, such as IT, software development and similar fields. Using short development cycles, this method using a process called ‘sprints’ to focus on continually improving the product throughout the development of the product. Training is available at foundation and practitioner level.
- PRINCE2 Agile – a combination of the two which brings the benefits of both methods
Navigating the different methodologies can be complicated, so if you’d like to find out more about becoming a project manager we have a great free webinar organised this coming week on Thursday 30th July 2020, we’ll cover:
- The background to each of the three methods listed above
- What topics are covered in each approach
- Which situations they best apply to
- What you can do to achieve certification and become a project manager
Should I become a member of a professional body?
Like other professions, the field of project management is considered the lynchpin of many companies staying ahead of their competitors. Sharing best practice is key to developing the role, especially in a marketplace and business world that are both continually changing.
The Association of Project Managers offers a range of certifications to help you become recognised as a project manager including;
- APM Project Fundamental Qualification (PFQ) – as an introductory course, this covers all the project management terminology you will encounter. There is no prior project management knowledge or experience is required. Great for people new to project management.
- APM Project Management Qualification (PMQ) – this is a knowledge-based qualification that will see you able to demonstrate an understanding of all elements of project management. To complete this course, you will need some previous experience of working in a project management role. Ideally, you should have completed the PFQ. In effect, this is the next step after completing the initial project management course.
- APM Project Professional Qualification (PPQ) – covering the core and specific competencies project professionals require, this course is aimed at anyone working in project management and who wish to become a member of the APM.
- APM Practitioner Qualification (PQ) – this qualification is aimed at those experienced and professional project managers with at least three years’ experience.
The Project Management Institute offers a range of qualification too. If you want to become a project manager, in most cases, you will need a degree coupled with at least three years of project management experience for entry onto programmes;
- Project Management Professional (PMP)
- Program Management Professional (PgMP)
- Portfolio Management Professional (PfMP)
- Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)
- PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)
- PMI Scheduling Professional (PMI-SP)
Project management skills
If you want to become a project manager, you will need to bring a range of skills to be a successful and effective project manager. Don’t underestimate their importance as these really are the essential skills that an employer will need to see that you can demonstrate;
- Time management – A large portion of project management is managing the time that the project has to run. With the Agile way of managing projects, the time is short and needs to be utilised at its most efficient. But just as you will be adept at managing the time and workload of the project, you will need to manage your own time just as effectively. And with only so many hours in a day, how will you do that? By delegating tasks and prioritising what needs to be completed.
- Communication – An effective team is only truly effective when they talk and listen to each other, but communication needs to be so much more. You need to be skilled at articulating the vision, ideas and goals behind a project and communicating these not just to your team but to stakeholders, management and beyond.
- Negotiation and diplomacy – Goals may clash, resources may be scarce, and compromises will need to be made. As a project manager, you will need to be able to see the bigger picture, acting as negotiator and diplomat. How can you show you are a great communicator?
- Risk management – Control of a project comes from identifying and managing risk throughout the term of the project. You need to be ahead of the game and be in a win-win position at all times. Companies and larger organisations offer an apprenticeship in project management as a means of finding and training the next generation of managers who can take their projects on to success. Are you that person?