Project Manager Jobs: Climbing the Career Ladder

A number of industry professionals who have built their resumes on technical skills and qualifications will at some point in their careers consider trying their hand at project management. When it comes to technical professions in particular, project manager jobs are an excellent step forward on the career ladder. Not only does project management come with a better salary, but it is also a great opportunity to see one’s skills at work from a different perspective and apply one’s knowledge and expertise on a greater scale, not just on a task-to-task basis. For this reason, both project and programme management are the natural next step, career-wise, for any industry professional with considerable experience working in technical jobs.

Another frequent reason why professionals seek out project manager vacancies or careers in programme management is the opportunity these positions provide to work in supervisory roles as opposed to being supervised, which is usually the case with skilled staff working in technical fields. Running a project or programme that calls for one’s specific skills and knowledge instead of working under a manager who may not have a good grasp of what one’s expertise entails, is very often the main reason why people move onto project manager jobs, even if their career ambitions are not necessarily pulling them in that direction, and even if this means leaving the security and immediacy of technical work behind.

Project management skills

In project and programme management, the emphasis is not on technical skills, but on the management process itself: pinpointing the requirements of a project, determining the scope, identifying the best approach, setting goals, finding the right balance between quality and cost, and implementing all these in time, on budget, and to the client’s satisfaction.

A project manager is a supervisory role, one that does not always allow a person to be very hands-on, as technical professionals generally like to be. Instead, it requires a certain knack for delegating tasks, as well as willingness to rely on other people’s skills instead of one’s own, which is not in every professional’s comfort zone right off the bat and takes some getting used to. Experienced IT specialists and engineers may not even see any appeal at all to certain aspects of project and programme management for that very reason: the roles simply demand a degree of detachment, while they are used to being engrossed in the fine details of any assignment they take on

In many ways, project management calls for a shift in mentality. Unlike an IT specialist, a project manager cannot afford to focus on a small single task for hours at a time. The role is an intermediary one; standing between the team of professionals and the project at hand, and it must primarily be treated as a supervisory one. A project manager is there to provide leadership and vision, organise and support the team, and to help them carry out the tasks, not to micromanage or perform the tasks on his or her own. In both project and programme management, people skills figure much more prominently than in technical roles.

Project management certifications

The Project Management Institute (PMI), a leading professional organisation for professionals who work in project or programme management, offers a number of project management training seminars and professional credentials: Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM), PMI Scheduling Professional (PMI-SP), Program Management Professional (PgMP), and Project Management Professional (PMP), among others. For anyone looking to move up the career ladder, the Project Management Institute should be the first stop. While the certification itself may not matter to all prospective employers equally, if you are in it for the long haul, having a solid grasp of standardised project management processes will definitely put you ahead of the game.

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