Project Management Career – How to Join a Fast Growing Profession

Dick Billows, PMP
Dick Billows, PMP
CEO 4pm.com

A Project management career offers you a fast growing profession, world-wide demand and high incomes. A Project Management career gives you mobility between employers because your skills are applicable in any company.

Project Managers who have the ability to deliver business results on time and within budget are needed in every organization. Project managers are in demand  in both public and private sectors. Salaries are high with the average income of a certified project manager (PMP®) averaging $114,000 US.  In this article will summarize the steps in a project management career: from first getting into the profession, to learning the basics, to your first certification and then up the ladder to multi-project and portfolio management. First let’s do a quick overview and then we’ll get into the details.

Project Management Career Progression

More than half of the project managers in the profession were pushed into it. Executives noticed they were good performers so when a hot project came up, the executives dumped it in their laps. Learning on the job and on-the-fly, these people got through that first project and then decided they liked the work. They learned the “right way” to manage a project later on.

Other people consciously decided to enter the project management profession. They prepared themselves for their first job as a project manager by learning the basics of project management. Then they got an entry-level project manager certification for credibility. These steps helped them get their first chance to manage a small project. How To Get into Project ManagementProject Management Career

No matter what route people take to start their project management career, they need to have training that teaches them the fundamentals of planning, scheduling, executing and tracking projects. Many people also get their first certification at this point because it helps in job hunting. That first certification is often the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM®) from the Project Management Institute (PMI®). That certification requires no project management work experience. But it does require learning the processes, definitions and terms of the profession and passing a 3-hour exam. Pass the CAPM Exam

Functional/Industry Project Management Certifications

Another route early in a project management career is to earn a certification in a specialty area. This is a popular route if you are already working in IT, Healthcare, Construction, Consulting or Business/Manufacturing. The certifications are:
Certified IT Project Manager
Certified Healthcare Project Manager
Certified Construction Project Manager
Certified Consulting Project Manager
Certified Business Project Manager
These certifications give you credibility in a project management specialty area and confirm your knowledge of the basic through advanced project management skills. Then you can “sell” yourself as someone who can manage small and medium-sized projects using the best practices, tools and techniques.

Project Management Professional (PMP)® Certification and Beyond

After you have several years of experience managing projects, you will be qualified to earn the Project Management Professional (PMP®) certification from the Project Management Institute (PMI®). This is an internationally recognized credential for experienced project managers and is highly regarded in all industries. You must apply and get PMI’s approval to take the PMP exam. PMI requires you to document 4,500 hours of project management work experience if you have a university degree or 7,500 hours of project management work experience if you don’t have a university degree. They also require 35 hours of project management education. You need an exam preparation course to teach you PMI’s best practices in project management. Then you must pass the very difficult 4-hour PMP exam. About 50% of the people who take the exam world-wide fail.

The next step in a project management career is to earn a Program Manager Certification which prepares you up for positions managing multiple projects and larger, strategic programs. Program Management

Following that, your next move will be into senior management in a position like Chief Project Officer, CPO.

We offer individual, customized online courses and certifications for every step in your project management career.

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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 60 short project management 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 are on Amazon.com