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You’ve Chosen a Career in Project Management…Now What?

By Veronica Thraen
September 20, 2023

In a previous article, I provided three ways to test your readiness for a career in project management when you are looking for a change or just starting your professional career journey.

Choosing to embark on a career as a project manager could be one of the wisest and timeliest decisions you make. The Project Management Institute (PMI), the world’s leading certification body for project managers (PMs), predicts that the global economy will need 25 million new project professionals by 2030. That means that 2.3 million people will need to enter project management-oriented employment (PMOE) every year just to keep up with demand.

So, what are the next steps once you’ve determined that this is the right career for you? Here are some recommendations to ensure you are on the right track to a successful and rewarding career as a project manager.

1. Find the type of project management that’s right for you

The possibilities are endless for project managers; however, not all project management positions are alike. If you haven’t done so already, you’ll need to decide upon the type of projects that will most interest you.

Are you a “techie” at heart? Perhaps information technology or software development projects would be a good fit. Or maybe you’d prefer overseeing large commercial construction projects. The difference between technology and construction projects is quite vast – requiring specialized skillsets, methodologies, and training, so this is an important decision to make before moving forward.

If you are already working within your industry of choice, then you have an advantage, as most companies hire from within before recruiting external candidates. Discuss your career goals with your manager first. They should be able to introduce you to the right teams and develop a transition plan and timeline that works best for all.

If you are looking to move into an industry where you do not have the experience, try attending industry-specific events and begin networking with seasoned professionals who can provide guidance. Some companies do require industry experience, so it’s beneficial to make contacts who can help get your foot in the door.

2. Invest in a project management certification.

Once you have some working experience under your belt, the next logical step is to prepare for a project management certification. There are many benefits to having a certification: PM credibility, better job opportunities, and value-add for your organization. According to a leading certification training provider, Simplilearn, project management is recognized by more than 90% of institutions as the key to quality performance.

Another added benefit to having a certification: higher salary. According to PMI’s most recent Project Management Salary Survey, the median salary for PMP holders in the U.S. is 25% higher than those without a PMP certification.

3. Keep up with the latest methodologies and tools

During your career as a project manager, you’ll need to be able to adapt to the latest trends, such as new project delivery methods and technology. This will keep your skills highly marketable to employers looking to hire a rockstar PM.

There will also be continuing education and training required for certification renewal to ensure that you can continue to meet project and market demands. Here are some other ways you can continue learning throughout your career:

  • Seek out and learn from other project managers who have diverse backgrounds and experience
  • Volunteer at your local PM organization chapter
  • Follow and/or contribute to project management discussion groups on social media platforms
  • Attend project management networking events, breakfast meetings, etc.
  • Subscribe to project management blogs or publications that provide tips or information on upcoming trends
  • Take advantage of free trials to familiarize yourself with popular, industry-specific project management software

There are many reasons why people around the globe choose a career in project management. If you thrive on daily challenges, enjoy leading and working with teams from all levels within an organization, and live to help teams push through issues and roadblocks, then project management is for you! The ultimate win for a PM is delivering a project that the team can be proud of and meets all stakeholder and customer expectations – on time.

Veronica Thraen is the Owner and Principal Consultant at Maven Project Management, a technology project management consulting firm in Phoenix, Arizona that helps growing organizations put processes and tools in place to keep projects on track for long-term growth and success. Her leadership advice has been featured by Ellevate NetworkThe Huffington Post, and Forbes.

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Disclaimer: The ideas, views, and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of International Institute for Learning or any entities they represent.

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