Project management is a great career. If you love to solve problems, love working with people, and want to use your creativity every day, project management could be a good fit for you.
First, it's proliferating as the world becomes increasingly connected and technological. In fact, according to a report released by the Project Management Institute (PMI), “an increase in the number of jobs requiring project management-oriented skills, higher demand due to economic growth, and retirement rates will create the global need for 25 million new project professionals by 2030.” This means hundreds of thousands of new jobs will open in this field each year—and they'll pay well!
Second, there are so many opportunities within project management that you can tailor your job search to your skills and interests. Someone who starts off their career as an assistant project manager will probably become a project or program manager if they stick with it long enough. That's precisely what happened to me. It's exciting because there isn't any limit to where our careers might take us! Let's look at some ways to get started in this exciting field.
Know About Project Management. Project managers must be able to juggle multiple tasks at once and keep everything running smoothly. You'll need to understand how to prioritize your work so that you can get projects done on time without sacrificing quality or missing deadlines.
Project management requires excellent communication skills because you'll be working with many different people within an organization or across organizations that all want something different from one another (and often at odds!). A successful project manager has an innate ability to empathize with others while maintaining firm boundaries around what needs doing—and who will do it!
The skills you will learn are transferable to many different industries, so it can be gratifying if you're interested in project management as a career.
Get Experience. You can read all the books and watch all the videos in the world, but until you get out there and do it, you won’t know what it is like to be a project manager.
Join a local project management group, such as your local PMI chapter. A PMI chapter is an organization where project managers meet regularly to share ideas and discuss projects. You can learn where your local chapter is through the PMI website. If you do not have a branch near you, consider joining projectmanagement.com or other online project management groups for networking.
If you are already working in an organization that hires project managers, discuss how to get involved with your manager. Learn more project management skills while you are waiting for an opportunity. I did precisely that, and I was asked to assist a project manager when an opportunity arose.
You can also volunteer at your local school or community organization for real-world experience and networking opportunities with other professionals who work in this field. This will help prepare you for applying these skills professionally later too!
Become Certified. Once you've advanced your project management knowledge and developed some experience, consider obtaining certification. There are many different certifications available, but choosing one that will be of use in your field is essential.
Becoming certified is not required to get a job as a project manager; however, it can help make you stand out from other candidates vying for the same role. The value of certification is that it demonstrates knowledge through testing, completion of an educational program, and a minimum of experience. This means that even if there aren't specific requirements for the position, having this extra credential could prove helpful.
Get Networking. In a project management role, networking is more than just grabbing business cards at conferences and never following up with people. It's about building relationships and forming partnerships to help you grow your business.
As a project manager, you need to find the right people for the job—including finding someone to help manage your career development. For example, suppose you wanted an executive coach who could mentor your career development and provide feedback on how well you're performing as a manager. In that case, resources out there will connect the two of you (e.g., on LinkedIn or Facebook).
Networking also means being active in your network: sending emails out, making phone calls, attending meetings, and participating in forums online or offline—the options are endless!
The key is to get started and then keep going. There are plenty of resources to learn about project management and how it can help your career. I hope this article has been a good starting point for your journey into project management!
If you want to learn more about project management, consider reading our two most popular books, Accidental Project Manager and Accidental Agile Project Manager, available in most Amazon marketplaces.
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