Short answer? Absolutely! Being a professional project manager can provide great job satisfaction and excellent compensation and be a stepping stone to something more. Take it from someone who has been managing various projects in various roles for over 30 years.
Here are just a few of the features that make project management a great career:
High Demand: There has been a nearly perpetual shortage of project managers, which appears to continue. The Project Management Institute commissioned a study by the Anderson Economic Group that found a demand for 22 million additional project managers by 2027.
Portable Skill Set: Project management is a portable skill set that can be used in any industry, organization, or culture. While some sectors may create artificial boundaries (for example, many biotech jobs are filled by scientists from within the organizations), there are still plenty of opportunities to cross into a different field. There is also plenty of project management work with a lower entry bar. A willingness to continuously improve and learn will increase your chances of leading a project in another industry.
Variety of Work, Skills, and Responsibilities: Often, new project managers will be called upon to either manage multiple projects or take on various roles. One organization expected that only 25% of my time would be spent managing while the other 75% would be technical. As I increased my management skills and took on larger projects, these percentages moved toward 100% management. The work is never dull or repetitive, with various project types, tasks, and problems needing a solution.
Stepping Stone to Higher Roles: If you are an excellent project manager, your path can lead you to management and board and C-suite positions. You will build relationships over the years with many people as well. Doing a good job is the way to advance the career ladder. Be sure to give back as well. I've helped launch the careers of many project team members and others who aspired to project management through mentoring and coaching.
Excellent Compensation: While not the most significant reason to enter a career, it should be mentioned that project managers enjoy positions that generally come with excellent compensation, both in salary and benefits. According to Indeed.com, the average project manager salary in the US is about $75K annually and comes with a significant cash bonus and other valuable benefits. You can use their database to search for other countries as well. Finally, project managers with certifications can see a boost of between 10 and 20%.
As with any job, there are downsides as well. There are sometimes long hours, difficult-to-solve problems, and stress, but the pros generally outweigh the cons.
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