Become a Project Manager

Dick Billows, PMP
Dick Billows, PMP
Dick’s Books on Amazon

There are many career paths you can use to Become a Project Manager and start a professional career. Project management offers career potential to men and women. The average salary for certified project managers topped $110,000 in the past year. Project management is also a skill demanded worldwide. The demand for project managers has remained strong despite economic ups and downs. In fact, in bad economic times organizations in the private and public sectors need to have projects to improve performance, cut costs or cope with diminished availability of resources. That gives project managers a lot of opportunities to change employers, geographic locations, as well as industries and the type of projects they manage. Project management is now seen as a separate skill from the technical knowledge of information systems or construction or manufacturing.  For many projects, particularly large ones, the project manager does not have to be a technical expert in the actual work of the project. Many organizations are coming to realize that what the project manager needs to be expert in is managing projects, teams, stakeholders, schedules and budgets. Project Management Careers Main Page

Become a Project Manager – Three Paths

Here are career three paths or situations we’ll explore:

  • a recent college graduate
  • a craftsperson who has worked their way up in the trades
  • a professional, like a systems analyst, accountant or operations manager, wanting to move into project management.

Become a Project Manager – Recent College Graduate

These days it’s difficult to find a job after you graduate from college, particularly if you don’t have a degree that is in demand. If you’re a person who pays attention to detail and is good on follow-through, a good option is getting a job as a project coordinator or assistant project manager. Usually no experience is required for these entry-level project management positions. Regardless of the title, the work will involve assisting a project manager on a large effort. Your work could include assisting with scheduling the project work, updating the schedule to show the team’s actual performance, documenting information to support change requests and expediting work on tasks by team members, outside contractors and vendors. Good performance in the entry-level position can earn you an opportunity to manage a small project on your own. That’s the first step up in your project manager career.

Become a Project Manager – Working Your Way Up in the Trades

Many project managers gain their first experience out of high school working in the trades or as a line employee. Good performance lets them move up to the supervisor or foreman level and many make the jump to project management at that point. They have a great deal of practical experience to offer. However, they must learn the basics of planning, scheduling, tracking and reporting so they can apply the best practices in project management to their years of practical experience. Usually their first project management assignment is assisting an experienced project manager and learning the ropes from them. Obviously training in the basics of project management is a big help in making this transition from the trades into the professional project manager ranks.

Become a Project Manager – Moving From Another Profession 

Still other people begin their career in one profession, such as information systems, civil/electrical/mechanical engineering, medicine/nursing or general management. After several years, theyBecome a Project Manager decide that project management is a better fit for their skills and long-term career opportunities. They equip themselves to make the move to project management by getting some basic training in the best practices. Then they market themselves using the combination of their current professional skills and their knowledge of managing projects.


Become a Project Manager- Summary

Each of these paths for getting into project management is possible because the demand for project managers is high. Few organizations have enough people who are able to consistently manage projects to produce results on time and within budget. All of the paths require one thing; that you know the best practices and can use the basic skills of project management. You can learn them in our project management basics courses. Take a look at the course in your industry specialty.

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Author: Dick Billows, PMP

Dick has more than 25 years of project and program management experience throughout the US and overseas. Dick was a partner in the 4th largest professional firm and a VP in a Fortune 200 company. He trained and developed 100's of project managers using his methodology. Dick is the author of 14 books, over 300 articles and director/producer of 90 short project management training videos. He and a team of 25 project managers work with client companies & students across the US and in Europe, South America, Asia and the Middle East. They have assisted over 300 organizations in improving their project performance. Books by Dick Billows, PMP are on