how to become a project manager (2024 Guide)

Is Project Management a Good Career?

BrainStation’s Project Management career guide is intended to help you take the first steps toward a lucrative career in project management. Read on to explore whether or not project management is a good career, as well as what experience is required to be a Project Manager.

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Yes, project management is definitely a good career with high salaries and plenty of variety at work, but it’s also a demanding job that can be highly stressful at times.

The reason project management is such a good career and Project Managers are in such high demand? Every company will always initiate projects to increase revenue, minimize cost, and boost efficiency. That’s why, according to a recent report from PMI, there’s such a drastic shortage of Project Managers relative to demand. The report found that on an annual basis, employers will need to fill nearly 2.2 million new project-oriented roles each year through 2027. Further, the report found $208 billion is at risk due to that anticipated project management shortage.

Some Project Managers enjoy their jobs because of the variety – no two days look alike. Others appreciate the fast-paced, urgent nature of the work. And another feature of the job many find appealing is that you can actually finish something and move on to a new challenge, which isn’t the case with a lot of other positions.

There’s also the fact that they’re well-compensated. According to Glassdoor, the average Project Manager salary in the United States is $75,474 while additional cash compensation can be anywhere between $1,541 and $19,755. Project management careers are still in high demand, so expect salaries to continue to rise skyward.

It should be noted that project management careers are not perfect. The reality is that it can be a difficult job and you have to be the right person to handle the myriad challenges you’re bound to face. Many PMs labor long hours to make sure a project’s on track. And forget leaving work at the office – Project Managers can’t afford to unplug and potentially miss out on an important development. There’s also the fact that you might not get to choose your projects, and some will interest and stimulate you more than others.

Still, most Project Managers seem to think the pros outweigh the cons.

Do You Need Experience to Be a Project Manager?

While it is possible to become a Project Manager with no formal experience in the role, you will need the right mix of education, work experience, and transferable skills.

First, it’s important to get an education. You don’t need a degree in project management to become a Project Manager, but a combination of a four-year college degree and a project management certification should suffice. The industry’s gold standard is the Project Management Professional certification (which everyone just calls the PMP) – but before you can take the exam, you need to amass hundreds of hours of project management experience.

Since you don’t have that, you can take the test to become a Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) after an online course. You should know that certification isn’t a requirement for all project management roles – but getting the certification can signal that you’re serious about changing careers, and it might help get your resume in front of the right people.

Now let’s think about your past experience. So you haven’t ever had the “Project Manager” job title, but if you have a few years of professional experience, you may have had opportunities to flex skills that are highly transferable to a Project Manager position. You may discover that you already have experience with risk management, communication, or time management that you can leverage as you make this transition.

You should also look into opportunities at your current job to get more involved in projects. If you have Project Managers working in your organization, chances are they’re overworked. They’ll likely appreciate the enthusiasm and the offer to help and take you up on your willingness to get involved.

Just be sure you’ve already familiarized yourself with some project management software tools so you can hit the ground running. Some of the tools you should consider picking up include Asana, Basecamp, ProofHub, Podio, and JIRA. They help Project Managers communicate with their team members, share assets, monitor project progress, and analyze work volumes.

Now it’s time to apply for entry-level project management roles with a resume edited to emphasize all the transferable skills and experiences you have that could position you to thrive in the project management field. Titles like Project Coordinator, Office Manager, or any operations role should be in line with what you’re looking for.

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