How to Become a Project Manager: A Step by Step Guide
October 20 2019 - The average project manager makes roughly $75,000 per year. That favorable salary coupled with the leadership role that project managers enjoy make a career in management something that a lot of people find themselves eager to pursue.
Since you're reading this post, it's safe to say that you're flirting with the idea of foraying into the world of project management but might be confused about how to get started.
In this brief guide, we'll walk you through simple how to become a project manager steps that should shed light on all of your career path questions.
1. Be Honest With Yourself
As with all jobs, project management positions ask specific things of those that want to be successful. While people's definitions of what a good project manager looks like vary, there is consensus on certain skills that should be possessed including:
- Financial literacy
- Critical thinking
- Risk management
While some of these qualities are things that you'll develop over time, if any of them seem like deal-breakers given your sensibilities, be honest with yourself and consider a career that's more suited to your talents. If you're confident that you do or can embody the aforementioned qualities, press on!
2. Start Seeking Informal Experience
There are a several ways that you can start padding your resume as a project manager. On a small scale, doing something like managing your home renovation projects will endow you with valuable training. On a slightly larger scale, maybe a local charity needs help organizing a community event.
Anything that you can do that will put you in charge of managing budgets, schedules and keeping people on task can help you understand if you enjoy being and excel as a project manager.
3. Experiment With Popular Project Management Tools
If you end up becoming a professional project manager, you'll be using tools like Microsoft Project on a daily basis. Most hiring managers will expect you to be proficient in commonly used project management applications the day that they hire you so start experimenting with them today.
As we mentioned, Microsoft Project is a mainstream management tool that's worth starting with. You might also want to explore applications Basecamp and Asana.
4. Develop Your Soft Skills
What separates good project managers from great ones are soft skills. Things like being able to communicate your vision, your ability to work in a team environment and your sympathy for other's needs are all things that take a lot of practice to master.
If you can make it a point to exercise those muscles, you'll find that you stand out among other candidates that will be competing with you for job offers.
5. Consider Getting Certified
Most how to become a project manager articles will push getting certified as a top to-do list item. The trouble with those articles is that they're usually written by certification companies.
Don't get us wrong, getting popular project management certifications like CAPM or undergoing other forms of formal project management training can be helpful. It's just important that you be wary as you're bombarded by "necessary" courses because many of them aren't as valuable as they claim to be.
Have a look at what project management openings in your area list as requirements. If they require a CAPM certification or strongly recommend it, put getting certified on your to-do list. If you're seeing that experience is all jobs are asking for, you may want to forgo certifications for now.
6. Pursue Project Management Full Time
By this point, you should have experience as a project manager under your belt. You're also likely to be proficient in using a number of industry-standard project management applications.
Has all of that experience led you to fall deeper in love with becoming a project manager? If it has, it's time to start looking f or steady employment.
Getting a job in project management is like getting any job. You'll want to hop on local job boards or look at job openings directly on company websites that you're interested in working for.
Once you find jobs that interest you, update your resume to reflect your experience and certifications, and apply!
7. Maintain Your Skills
Once you're employed as a project manager, it can be easy to apply your stagnant education to all of the projects that you work on until you retire. We don't recommend that since technology and workflows are evolving in the project management field all of the time.
To have the skills required to stay on the cutting-edge of your craft and to maintain your job security, take the time to attend project management seminars or continue renewing your certifications.
Taking small steps towards keeping up your education will keep you enthusiastic as you move through your life as a professional.
Now That You Know How to Become a Project Manager, Get Started!
Figuring out how to become a project manager is as easy as reading a post like the one that you've just finished. Actually being proactive and chasing down management opportunities is a lot harder.
If this career prospect really speaks to you, the best piece of advice that we can share is to stop reading and start doing. Only then will you know if you're meant to be a project manager.
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