Advice and recommendations on how to become a project manager
Please refer to the infographic above when reading the rest of this article on how to become a project manager.
Project Managers plan; lead teams; keep projects on time and within budget; and are ultimately responsible for the success, or failure, of a project.
There are many project management jobs available, however, there is no direct apprenticeship for or direct entry into them.
Instead, becoming a project manager (PM) is the result of building up and displaying the required skills to prove that you can do the job. This usually takes 2-5 years from an entry-level job position to getting your first PM role.
Someone hiring a PM needs to be sure that you:
- Are trustworthy
- Are a good worker
- Can lead people
- Are trained in the best practices
The minimum requirement is to successfully complete high school. The infographic shows the recommended path from there.
Working backwards from getting a job as a PM then the person looking to hire will be looking for people internally first and then externally. This is because they have to take a risk on hiring you and a known quantity is a smaller risk.
They are looking to minimize the upskill/training investment so need evidence that you know how to be a PM. They want to see that you have the required skills such as planning, budgeting, facilitation etc… and can use the tools of the trade e.g. MS Project for producing Gantt charts.
Then can you lead people and manage a team? If you have not done so as part of your work experience then you must have examples from your personal life. For example sports teams, community projects, high school or university group projects, clubs, etc… Leaders act, so if you are one then you have taken action at some point and need to call it out.
Lastly, you need to have had a full-time job? This is a requirement for certification; proves that you are responsible; have experience working with others to get the job done; provides insight into how business functions; exposes you to office politics, and builds up the network that you will need when it comes time to find that pm job.
You can reduce the time it takes to become a pm by looking for opportunities such as:
- Getting a management role first
- Taking up leadership roles outside of work
- Obtaining a Project Management certification such as Prince2 or PMI
- Get jobs and work somewhere that has Project Managers working there already