Project Management is seen as an attractive career by a lot of students, graduates, young professionals and even older employees that want a career change due to the large number of jobs available on the market and the high wages offered by employers. To offer you a deeper image into this career option I have put together a list of FAQs that I will answer in my next series of articles dedicated to Project Management – an attractive yet difficult career.
What is Project management?
I like the definition that Wikipedia offers, so I will give you here a small part of it: PM is “the discipline of planning, organizing, motivating, and controlling resources to achieve specific goals.” The rest is available here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_management
What does a Project manager do all day?
At first planning as mentioned above. A project manager is given a specific goal to achieve – for example open a new subsidiary of a company in a specific new location, build a dam, recruit and train a new team that will handle customer support for a new client, introduce a new drug to the market, you name it – projects are everywhere and project managers are those that are given the task to implement them. Planning means splitting the goal into smaller bits – activities, sub-activities, identifying the resources needed to achieve the goal: people, money, materials, creating teams and budgets, identifying risks to be overcome during the phases of the implementation.
Then, after everything has been planned and organized, all activities start and the project manager makes sure that all goes ahead according to plan or if changes and adjustments are necessary, these are implemented and communicated to the teams. Motivating the teams to do everything on time and according to plan and controlling daily that everything is done as required also falls under the responsibility of the PM.
Is the Project manager’s job difficult/demanding/stressful?
I dare to say yes. All because of the tight deadlines and the high level of responsibility involved. Managing people, money and materials and being responsible in front of the investor or customer for everything that happens is not easy to do.
Where can I find Project manager jobs?
They are available all over the internet on main job portals, professional networks, recruitment agencies, everywhere. A simple search with the “project manager” keyword revealed 9,000+ jobs in the US on www.careerbuilder.com, 13,000+ on www.simplyhired.com, 41,000+ on www.indeed.com, 5,000+ on www.linkedin.com and a few thousands again on www.monster.com
How much do the Project manager jobs pay?
PM jobs are seen as well paid jobs. Just a simple search on job boards reveals salary estimations/year in the US between $50,000 and $180,000 amounts depending of course on experience and skills required by the employer.
What skills do I need to be a successful Project manager?
Soft skills: all these are crucial - organizing and prioritizing skills, time management, decision making skills, communication skills, attention to details, problem solving, negotiation skills, leadership skills to lead the teams needed to implement the project, pro-activity;
IT skills: PM software such as Microsoft Office Project, Excel, other dedicated software;
Other skills: financial knowledge (income, expenses, assets, liabilities), budgets, pricing, general local and /or international legal requirements;
Do I need a Project management certification to be considered for a job?
At first, no. During the early stages of this career they will not require it, but later on if you want to be considered for a better paid job with more responsibilities, a certification really makes the difference between candidates. Sometimes, the company you are working for will be willing to pay for it. In terms of certifications, these are available: Project Management Professional (PMP) and Prince 2. They are similar. PMP is used mainly in the US while Prince 2 mainly in Europe.
Do I start my job as Project manager or are there any intermediary steps?
Starting your job as PM without any experience is rather difficult even if you are certified. A small project in a small company could be an exception, but don’t count on it. You may start as Project assistant – doing administrative project work and being the assistant of the Project manager, then Project coordinator – handling only a small project or part of a larger one, Project consultant – being involved as consultant for some of the activities (for example financial consultant for the budget part) and only then Project manager.
I will come back with more FAQs in my next article. I will focus on more detailed notions like risks, milestones, budgets and more. Questions from your side are more than welcome.