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How To Become A Project Manager

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Interested in becoming a project manager, but not sure where to start? We’re very excited for you! Being a project manager can be a very rewarding career to have, both professionally and financially. 

However, it does take a certain type of person to truly succeed in the position. 

Are you a leader? Able to motivate and support multiple people at a time? Fascinated with constant improvement, obsessed with organization, and not intimidated when it comes to regular communication?

If you’re nodding your head as you read through those questions, then you might make an excellent project manager! Here are some things to consider as you learn more about what it takes to be a project manager. 

What Does a Project Manager Do?

From the very beginning of a project to the final product, a project manager needs to have a finger on the pulse of all that is happening.

From the project charter to a system of well put together digital (or physical) notes, an organized, systematic approach is a project manager’s best friend. 

Every step forwards or backward should be logged, every conversation and negotiation collected and documented. 

At the start of the project, the project manager should have a road map to present to the client and the team to show where they should be throughout the process. Having this level of organization allows you to know whether your team is behind, ahead of schedule, or right on track.

Project Manager Salary

How much you can earn annually as a project manager depends on several factors, such as your past experience, level of education, and team size.  Even which city you live in can make a significant difference in your salary. 

In the United States, average compensation for a project manager is $95k for a non-PMP and $120k for a PMP, where other factors are the same. These stats are from the salary study performed by the Project Management Institute (PMI).    Starting out you might make closer to $50,000, but after a decent amount of experience under your belt, you could enjoy a significant bump in pay, especially if you’ve earned the PMP credential.

Project Manager Duties

The duties of a project manager can change depending on the objective of the project and the management methodology you use. 

In a waterfall style approach, the project manager is ultimately responsible for the success or failure of the project and takes more immediate control. Think of the project manager as the CEO of the specific project, leading the team, delegating and assigning tasks, and communicating updates to the clients directly. 

In an agile-based project, the project manager is more of an integrated team member, with a few extra leadership responsibilities. Instead of assigning tasks, the project manager would focus more on removing obstacles from the team’s path and helping the team get the resources that they need. Being an engaged member of the team connects the different departments and helps them reach their goals. 

Why Is Project Management Important?

A project manager isn’t simply someone who takes a project from point A to point B. A project manager is a strong leader and connection point between all levels of team members within the company. Often, the project manager is viewed as the hub of vital project communication.

A strong leader knows how to motivate those around them, remain calm and steady when stress levels begin to rise, and take control when the situation dictates. 

What Qualifications Do You Need to Be a Project Manager?

There are many qualities it takes to become a successful project manager, and if you set your sights on becoming one, you’ll want to grow and develop in these key areas.

Who Can Become A Project Manager?

Anyone can become a project manager! Even in our personal lives, the skills of a project manager can benefit everyone daily. 

In the professional world, any individual who is interested in being a leader and has the drive to learn can become a project manager. Most project managers start in a more technical field as team members and grow into management positions.

How Do I Start A Career as a Project Manager?

While we wish that there was one definite way to start a career as a project manager that we could share with you, the truth is that everyone is going to end up there in their own way. 

Applying for the position is an option, but as we’ve mentioned, several project managers end up growing into the position by showing notable qualities that employers appreciate. 

Project Manager Career Path

While every project manager’s journey is going to be unique to their experience, you might anticipate the path going something like this:

  • Gain some technical knowledge in your company or your product. 
  • An opportunity comes up, and you join the project team because of your technical skills. 
  • Over time, you are asked to manage components or portions of the project. 
  • Once you’ve shown responsibility and positive qualities in a leadership position, you are asked to lead a new project. 

Project Manager Skills

Exactly what skills a project manager needs depends on the company and the industry they’re in. But there are a few universal skills and qualifications that you can expect to need if you hold the title.

You may be wondering how exactly to gain all of these skills and know-how to handle the responsibilities of a project manager.  You probably won’t be surprised to know that training and education are key, and Velociteach offers many options to help you grow and learn along your project management journey, from instructor-led classes for training and certification to self-paced online courses for certification and PDUs.

A mix of traditional education and specific certificates unique to the world of project management will make entering the career field significantly smoother than if you were to make an attempt without them. 

Can I Become a Project Manager Without a Degree?

Absolutely! Becoming a project manager is about having the right qualities, and even without a college degree, you can pursue other training routes to heighten your skills. 

Granted, a bachelor’s degree gives you the base amount of education you need to demonstrate to employers that you’re prepared for the workforce and know what you’re doing. But, that degree is not required in many instances. (For instance, in order to earn the PMP credential, the minimum education required is a high school diploma.)

A Master’s degree takes it a step further, giving you advanced training and experience in areas such as conflicts and preparation. Project managers with Master’s degrees are highly valued and typically make more than their Bachelor’s degree counterparts.

So while you don’t need a degree to get started as a project manager, you can see how they might help you as you work your way up the ladder. 

What Certifications Do You Need to Become A Project Manager?

When it comes to knowledge and value, certifications can take even a highly trained project manager to the next level. 

The Project Management Professional Certification

The Project Management Professional, or PMP, certification is a globally recognized achievement that project managers can attain. 

Achieving it is a major boost to your career as a project manager. It reflects that you are a top-tier leader and have a firm grasp of what you need to be a successful manager and valuable asset to any team. 

It’s highly regarded if you have your PMP certification because it’s a rigorous examination of your project management skills. You’re given about four hours to answer all of the 180 questions and achieve a passing score.

The Certified Associate in Project Management

The Certified Associate in Project Management or CAPM certification is similar to the PMP, except for entry-level project managers.

The CAPM is an excellent first step in project management. It exposes you to concepts and best practices that apply across all industries. 

Many earn their CAPM first and then go for the PMP. In fact, the organization that administers both exams waives the 35 hours of training required to apply for the PMP for holders of the CAPM. 

Preparing for the CAPM

While the CAPM is a more entry-level exam than the PMP, studies and training should still be taken very seriously. 

CAPM Courses

At Velociteach.com, we have a wide range of options for individuals to consider.  Whether you’re someone who learns better through instructors and a well-defined curriculum, or you prefer to absorb materials at your own pace, we offer options for you. 

For those looking for a class led by world-class instructors, our highly reviewed CAPM training program will be a perfect fit.  This class offers all the materials and support you need to prepare to pass the CAPM exam.  And it comes with a money-back guarantee.

If your current lifestyle is already a bit full and won’t allow you time to dedicate a few days exclusively to the course, don’t worry. Our complete CAPM 6th Edition Exam Prep Bundle is designed to provide you everything you need to prepare for the CAPM at your own pace. 

Preparing for the PMP

As we mentioned, the PMP requires serious attention to the preparation process. Being that it’s such an in-depth examination of your understanding of project management, a high level of focus and dedication is required to prepare for this exam.

PMP Courses

Velociteach offers several options for studying materials and methods for those interested in earning their PMP. 

We’ve cultivated the best resources and hired a team of highly trained PMP professionals to teach classes designed to get you ready to take the PMP and pass on your first try.

As we mentioned with the CAPM materials, we also provide online course bundles that include everything you need to prepare for passing the PMP at your own pace. 

Creating a Project Manager Resume

Creating a resume for any position can seem like an intimidating task. You want to create one document that encapsulates all of the work experience and educational training you’ve obtained and who you are as a person and employee. 

An organization will always look closely at a candidate’s resume, especially a project manager’s resume. It’s such a big part of the process that a cluttered resume can be a major negative against you. 

Limit the experiences you put on your resume to only the most essential and preferably relevant. If this is your first project manager position, then highlight experiences that involve leadership, communication, and organization. 

Utilize keywords that your employers might expect to see. You can usually get a good idea of what these might be by taking the time to read through their website. 

Company values and expectations can often be found on the About page on a website, and including what the company presents as important on your resume will go a long way. 

In Conclusion

As we’ve discussed, being a strong project manager requires combining a lot of specific qualities and skills. 

A project manager needs to be extremely organized and able to communicate well with a plethora of different team members and shareholders. 

They’ll be required to create and stick to plans and motivate the team they’re working with to stay on track. 

Higher education at either the Bachelor’s or Master’s level is fairly strongly recommended so that you can attain the training you need to enter the workforce confidently. 

But you certainly don’t need them to become a project manager. And once you’ve got a few years of experience on your resume and you’re ready to take it to the next level, your PMP certification will be there to show that you’re a world-class project manager. 

Velociteach is excited for you as you embark on your project manager journey, and whether you’re preparing for the PMP exam or just interested in advancing your knowledge, we have the resources and materials to help you every step of the way.

Sources: 

7 Ways Successful People Stay Calm At Work | Stress.org

4 Tips to Deal With Team Burnout As A Manager | Cultureamp.com

Project Management: Masters Salary | Valuecolleges.com

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