Project managers are professionals who draft and execute work plans across a wide variety of disciplines, updating and revising the plan to meet the changing requirements and needs of the project.
Every type of industry needs project managers. A project manager working in information technology (IT) will oversee very different types of work plans than a project manager working in the biomedical sciences, but his or her core competencies will remain the same: planning, organizing and managing resources so that the project underway may be successfully completed. Project managers are required to oversee teams of workers, track necessary resources, coordinate between company departments, identify and correct methodological errors and ensure the project sticks to its schedule.
While traditionally project managers were chosen from among the pool of talent whose expertise was being leveraged by the project, increasingly project managers are graduates of university and college programs where they learn specialized administrative skills. In 2005, there were approximately 208,000 project managers n the United States.
Project Manager: Salary Overview
Project manager salaries depend upon a number of different factors including the type of industry he or she works for, the size of the company he or she works for, the project manager’s own qualifications and experience, and the geographical location of the job but in general project management is a lucrative occupation. Entry level positions earn just over $50,000 a year; the annual salary range is between $86,812 to $110,887 with bonuses for good performance on top of that.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
In 2006, according to a survey administered by the Project Management Institute, the median earnings of a typical project manager – salary plus bonus – came to approximately $96,000 a year. Even during the recent recession, earnings have continued to grow with project managers in the field of information technology (IT) reporting salaries exceeding $100,000 a year.
Changing industries or companies is one effective means of increasing earning potential. Another is pursuing a graduate degree in a specialty (generally a masters degree) or obtaining project management certification through an organization like the Project Management Institute.
Project Manager: Job Description and Outlook
All projects have beginnings and endings. The project manager’s responsibility is to move the project forward between those two points within the constraints imposed time, money and the scope of the project itself.
The first phase of the project is the planning stage. Project objectives must be defined in concrete, measurable terms. Every project has stakeholders, clients or members of the organization at whose behest the project is undertaken. What do the clients see as the project’s goals? Project managers will meet with organization members to define these objectives as specifically as possible, and then draft a document that states exactly what the project is intended to achieve in tangible terms. These concrete objectives are referred to as the project’s deliverables.
Next the project manager will create timelines and network diagrams for the project, prioritizing and scheduling objectives, breaking down deliverables into specific component tasks, and estimating the project’s costs.
When the plan is put into action, the project manager is responsible for facilitating communication between team members, for monitoring the progress of the project and for making changes in the project as it evolves as dictated by constraints.
Finally when the project ends, the project manager closes it down. He or she meets with stakeholders to make sure that objectives have been satisfactorily achieved, makes sure all contracts are paid, equipment returned, and team members acknowledged for their contributions.
Job prospects for project managers vary according to their specialty, but as more and more companies switch to using formal project planning methodologies for their internal planning, the field is expected to grow more quickly than average through 2014, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Project Manager: Training and Education Requirements
There are two routes to becoming a project manager. The first involves being hired from within a company or specialty that the project manager already works in; the second involves formal training as a project management specialist.
In the former situation, project managers are professionals within their fields who have been tapped for their administrative talents. Often these project managers have advanced degrees in their discipline, either a master’s degree or a Ph.D.
In the latter instance, project managers are graduates of colleges and university programs. A baccalaureate is usually a minimum requirement in order to be hired into an entry-level project management job, but most project managers hold masters degrees either in project management or in business with a project management emphasis. Coursework will include statistical analysis, quantitative decision-making, cost benefit analysis, time management and legal considerations within the project manager’s field of specialty.
Project Manager: Certifications
Several organizations offer project management certifications.
- The Project Management Institute (PMI) offers a Project Management Professional (PMP) credential. The exam fee is $520 for PMI members, and $670 for non-members. According to PMI’s own study, the average earnings for PMP-certified project managers are $90,000 a year.
- The International Institute for Learning offers a post-PMP credential called the Advanced Project Management Certification (APMC.) The total cost for this program is $3,750.
- The American Academy of Project Managers offers Master Project Manager (MPM) certification.
- The International Association of Project & Program Management offers a generalist credential, designed to supplement the PMP, called Certified Project Manager (CPM).
Project Manager: Professional Associations
Professional organizations for project managers include the Project Management Institute, the American Academy of Project Managers, the American Society for the Advancement of Project Management, and the International Association of Project and Program Management.
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