How to Become a Project Manager

How to Become a Project Manager: The Advanced Guide 2021

Project management is one of the most rewarding career paths for individuals who want to become project managers. As per a report by the project management institute (PMI), there is a need to fill about 2.2 million project-oriented roles every year till 2027.

For instance, there is an increase in demand for individuals with a project management background. Project managers are also responsible for organizing and leading all the team projects in an organization. You can choose the project management career path to advance your professional as well as financial growth.

So, We have come up with a comprehensive guide to help you explore the project manager career path and how you can become one. 

What Is Project Management?

Project management is the process of managing a project from its initiation to the closing phase.

Project management is an important part of every organization as it determines the success or failure of a project. In project management, the project is broken down into 5 main phases or processes:

Initiation

The initiation phase is any project’s initial start stage.

The project manager lays down the scope and objectives of a project and decides w the project should be taken up or not. 

Planning

The planning stage involves everything from deciding the full scope of the project to the tasks involved.

  • Scope of the project
  • Objectives and deliverables of the project.
  • The tasks required for completing each project deliverable.
  • Project budget
  • Allocation of internal and external resources.
  • Creation of the project team

Executing

After the project receives approval and the entire project plan is drafted, the next step is executing the tasks to move the project forward. Now, there are several project management methodologies that can be used for the project execution, some of these are as follows:

  • Agile
  • Lean
  • Scrum
  • Waterfall
  • Kanban
  • Six Sigma

Monitoring and Controlling

The project managers are responsible for monitoring and controlling the progress of a project. They have to ensure that milestones are met within the deadlines.

The execution phase of project management involves the following:

  • Clear communication between the project team and stakeholders.
  • Evaluation of team performance as per the established scope, and timeline of the project.
  • Timely project reporting to stakeholders or clients involved in the project.
  • Ensuring quality control.
  • Budget management and monitoring resource allocation.

Closing

After completing all the required tasks of the project, it is time to close the project. It includes evaluation of the project’s results as per the established scope and objectives in the initiation phase.

The closing phase includes keeping a record of all the project documents and reports for future reference.

Who Is a Project Manager?

A project manager is an individual who is responsible for planning, executing, monitoring, controlling, and closing out the projects. A project manager is accountable for meeting the project scope, the performance of a project team, budget management, and ultimately the success or failure of the project.

What are the Skills Required to be a Project Manager?

To become a good project manager, mere knowledge of project management is not enough. There are several skill requirements to become a successful project manager.

Here is a list of skills that most successful project managers possess.

  • Strong understanding of project management and risk management processes.
  • Proven project management skills.
  • Leadership skills
  • Budget management
  • Critical and strategic thinking
  • Good communication skills
  • Time management skills
  • Knowledge of project management tools
  • Accountability
  • Adaptability
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Strong work ethic
  • Creative mindset
  • Delegation
  • Stress management

What does a Project Manager Do?

The duties of a project manager may vary depending upon the industry and project undertaken. Here is a list of common responsibilities of a project manager in various industries.

  • Directing and leading all phases of project management
  • Creating a project team
  • Planning what tasks are to be completed and by whom.
  • Coordinating among the team members to ensure smooth operations at all times.
  • Establishing clear communication among the team.
  • Creating a schedule 
  • Managing the budget for the project
  • Developing a project management plan to track the project progress.
  • Focusing on customer satisfaction and meeting all the project expectations.
  • Developing professional relationships with stakeholders and clients.
  • Evaluating team performance.
  • Creating and updating the project documents and reports.

Types of Project Manager

You can come across two types of project managers out there, they are as follows:

  • The ‘traditional’ project manager

A traditional project manager is someone who chooses the project management career path by following the traditional method of getting the project management qualification and experience. 

  • The ‘non-project’ project manager 

A ‘non-project’ project manager is also known as an accidental project manager as these are people who did not choose project management as their career, but are involved in the day-to-day management of projects in their regular job. 

How do I become a Project Manager? 

Here is everything you need to know about project managers and how you can become one. 

Steps to Become a Project Manager

Here are some steps that you can consider to become a project manager.

Step 1: Understand your already existing Project Management Skills 

This step involves analyzing your existing project management skills and knowledge. You can analyze your skills by analyzing whether you planned, organized, budgeted, scheduled, or documented the progress of any project in your organization or a previous job role.

Although you may have not considered your previous job responsibilities as part of project management, but your previous roles might have given you some exposure to the skills that are required by a project manager. 

Therefore, if you hold or have experience in managing and organizing projects or have a minimum experience of 3 years, you are eligible to apply for the project management professional (PMP) certification, which might open up new opportunities for you in the project management domain. 

Step 2: Build Project Management Experience

The next step that you need to focus on is building project management experience by taking up managerial tasks in your organization and developing other organizational skills. You might be working in different industries, all you need to look for is opportunities to work in roles that are going to build up your project management skills.

There are several things that require planning, controlling, organizing, or execution. See if you can join or contribute to these efforts. You can approach your manager to discuss how you are interested and want to build up your project management experience.

Step 3: Develop Project Management Skills

Getting hands-on learning experience to sharpen your project management skills is one way to achieve the career path of becoming a project manager. Some of the skills you can find for project manager job description are as follows:

  • Budget management
  • Risk management
  • Agile project management
  • Waterfall project management
  • Scrum
  • Organization
  • Communication
  • Leadership

You can develop the above-mentioned project manager skills through enrolling yourself in different courses, preparing for various project management certifications, and practicing these skills in your organization.

Step 4: Look for entry-level positions

Another way to take the project manager career path is by applying for an entry-level project management position that can help you build your skills and knowledge. You can check out and apply for the following entry-level roles:

  • Project coordinator
  • Operations coordinator
  • Associate project manager
  • Operations associate
  • Junior project manager
  • Administrative associate

Step 5: Consider a Project Management Credential

Getting your hands-on project management certifications can help you gain the necessary skills and knowledge that are required for becoming a project manager. A few project management certifications are as follows:

  • Certified associate in project management (CAPM)
  • Project management professional (PMP) certification
  • Certified Scrum Master
  • Professional Scrum Master I (PSM I) 
  • ICAgile certified professional (ICP)
  • Google Project Management: Professional certification

How to become a Project Manager without Qualification? 

If you are working in an organization where you coordinate or assist the project management efforts, and would like to take up the project management career path without the necessary qualifications, then here are some tips that you can consider. 

Step 1: Learn about where you lack in your Project Management knowledge

Even if you are working in different roles in your current job, such as a marketer, developer, designer, etc. The chances are that you have been brushing your project management skills in these roles as well. 

There are 10 knowledge areas of project management as per the project management body of knowledge (PMBOK) guide, they are as follows:

  • Integration management
  • Scope management
  • Schedule management
  • Cost management
  • Quality management
  • Resource management
  • Risk management
  • Communications management
  • Procurement management
  • Stakeholder management

Now, recall the previous projects you have worked on or assisted. Which of the above-mentioned knowledge areas have you already worked on? Maybe you were involved in creating a timeline, project plan, or scope. Alternatively, you might have helped in the reallocation of resources for a particular project. These tasks involved the project management knowledge areas that any good project manager needs to know. 

On the other hand, it is possible that you may not have access to the above mentioned knowledge areas, then you know exactly what knowledge areas you need to focus on to become a good project manager. 

Step 2: Get more Project Management Experience

If you want to become a project manager without qualifications, then you will have to focus on earning project management experience.

Every organization has projects that need to be completed within set deadlines, you can always volunteer to work on these projects and gain as much project management experience as you can. 

Start taking up extra responsibilities to develop your organizational skills and other skills as mentioned above that are necessary to become a project manager. 

Step 3: Learn everything there is to know about project management

If you want to become a project manager, you have to learn everything about project management. You have to look for opportunities where you can learn and grow your project management skills and knowledge. You can consider the following:

  • Enroll in project management courses available on Udemy or Coursera
  • Attend project management conferences 
  • Connect with people already working in the project management field
  • Join local networking events

Step 4: Start using the project management software

Leverage various project management software to hone your skills and knowledge. These tools or software are helpful in automating your work and minimizing the cost and time investment. 

Getting experience in using several project management tools can help you learn how to assign tasks to team members, view reports or project progress in the form of visual representation, or manage the entire project resources from one platform. One such project management tool is teamwork. Using and getting hands-on experience with project management software means you will not have to spend a lot of time on training or onboarding. 

Can I be a Project Manager with No Experience?

You may find that PM job roles require certain years of experience as a requirement.

But you can also find project management jobs by showing your project management skills and knowledge to the employer.

Most importantly, it is good to earn some project management experience to become a good project manager. 

How to Become a Certified Project Manager? 

Here are some steps that you can follow to become a certified project manager. 

Step 1: Explore which project management certification is suitable for you

Now, there are several project management certifications that you can come across in the market, it becomes overwhelming to choose the best one for your project management journey.

Go through every project management certification option that you have such as PMP, CAPM, PMI-ACP, PRINCE2, and the list goes on.

Firstly, you can check the requirements of each of the project management certifications.

Then, you can select the project management certification for which you meet the eligibility criteria and is suitable for you.

Step 2: Apply and pass the certification exam

After deciding on a project management certification, the next step is applying for the certification and passing the exam. Now, passing the project management certification exam is not a piece of cake and requires a ton of time investment for preparation.

Earning a project management certification is worth your time and money as it will open up great opportunities for you.

If you want some guidance, you can find various project management learning courses available online that help you pass the exam on your first try. One of the recommended options that you can choose is Techcanvass.

Step 3: Maintain the certification 

After you earn the project management certification, the next step is to maintain it. Every PM certificate has a limited validity period. For example, the PMP and CAPM certification is valid for 3 years.

To avoid giving the PMP certification exam after the validity expires, you can maintain it by earning 60 professional development units (PDUs) within the 3-year life cycle of the certificate. You can learn more about the certification renewal process for PMP certification here

Step 4: Master the project management tools

Exploring various project management tools and using them will allow you to get practical experience of everything you have learned In your project management journey. The tools will allow you to view the projects with more clarity, manage the project resources more efficiently, and ultimately report the project progress more accurately. 

A good project management tool helps the project managers to automate the work and minimize their time investment on a particular task.

You will find many project management tools that are used in project management.

Here is a list of a few project management tools that you can consider. 

Top Project Management Certifications Available

1. Project Management Professional (PMP)

Project management professional (PMP) certification is an advanced-level credential offered by the PMI to candidates who pass a comprehensive exam that covers three integral domains of project management- people, process, and business environment. 

PMP certification offers the best project management practices, skills, and tools.

For a detailed guide, you can check out the blog here

2. Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)

certified associate in project management (CAPM) certification is ideal for entry-level candidates with or without any prior experience in the project management field. CAPM certification is recognized as an entry-level certification and is offered by PMI. 

For a detailed guide, you can check out the blog here

3. Agile Certified Practitioner (ACP)

Agile certified practitioner (ACP) certification is again offered by the project management institute. Hence, the certification revolves around the concepts of agile methodologies in project management. ACP aspiring candidates get an in-depth knowledge of agile principles, practices, and the ability to implement them in project management. 

For a detailed guide, you can check out the blog here

4. Certified ScrumMaster (CSM)

Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) is a certification accredited by the Scrum Alliance. The certification combines an in-depth knowledge of the Scrum framework and agile project management skills and practices. Candidates with a CSM certification can become Scrum masters who use Scrum in order to handle and execute projects.

5. PRINCE2 Foundation/PRINCE2 Practitioner

PRINCE refers to PRojects IN Controlled Environments. PRINCE2 is an advanced-level certification and is better known as a project management degree of 3-4 years offered by AXELOS Ltd. This certification includes two categories: PRINCE2 Foundation and PRINCE2 practitioner. 

PRINCE2 Foundation is an entry-level certification that involves the basic study of project management methodologies.

On the other hand, the PRINCE2 practitioner is an advance-level certification that requires you to pass an eligibility requirement.

6. Master Project Manager (MPM) 

Master project manager (MPM) is an advanced-level project management certification for experienced professionals who are looking to enhance their productivity in the project management domain.

MPM certification is suitable for candidates with technical or business management background. 

Is It Really Worth it to be a Project Manager?

Project management is a lucrative career that offers high salaries and good job opportunities. The project management skills and knowledge remains relevant throughout the globe, and it allows project managers to enjoy global job opportunities. 

It is important for you to understand that a project management career is not easy, and requires lot of skills and the right knowledge to face the challenges of managing projects.

Moreover, project managers have to work many hours so that they can make sure the project is going on as per plans.

Expected Salary

The expected average salary of a project manager is $116,000 (USD) as per the project management salary survey by PMI. 

Advice for Beginners From Experienced Project Managers

Better our People Skills

The project manager deals with people all the time and it is very critical for her to work on improving her interpersonal skills. These skills include emotional intelligence, communication, leadership, active listening, conflict management, critical thinking, problem-solving, etc.

Stick to Basics

The project manager should always remember the objectives of the project. This simple principle makes it easier for the project manager to align with the organizational goals, become proactive in managing project risks, and be intentional in delivering the project.

Kaizen

The project manager should always keep herself abreast of the project environment. She should be vigilant in order to check for external and internal factors that might impact the outcome of the project. Hence, this can only be achieved if she keeps herself on the path of continuous improvement. She should also look for current trends in the marketplace, technologies, social networks, and an emerging set of values. 

Conclusion

Start preparing for your project management journey to become a project manager. It requires a lot of dedication and perseverance in order to become a project manager.

So, You can go through this guide, and follow all the above-given tips and steps to get the project management skills, knowledge, and the necessary experience to excel in the career. 

If you find this guide useful, let us know in the comments below and share it with your teammates or other people who are looking to grow as a project manager in the project management field, 

Janakiram SD

Janakiram is a PMI-ATP-PMP Instructor from Techcanvass Academy with over 15+ years of experience in the Software Industry including roles such as Project Manager, Engineering Manager, Development Manager and Delivery Manager. He has end to end experience in successfully delivering projects on both Predictive and Adaptive (Agile) approaches. Started his career as a Microsoft Stack Developer and has developed solutions encompassing various technologies like Web applications, Windows applications, Database design and development, Cloud based development. He is certified on PMP (PMI), CSM (Scrum Alliance), MCSD (Microsoft)

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