For any business to be successful, project management is essential; it is the core of nearly all daily operations. A project manager is responsible for grouping skilled workers into teams, constructing and instituting team plans, and facilitating the execution of all projects. This is all done to achieve the company’s goals. Specific duties and roles for each project manager depend, to a large extent, on the company the manager works for and the industry in which the company operates.

Often, a project manager begins his or her career in management at a consulting firm. This firm provides training in management methodology. In many cases, this individual starts as part of the team working under a project manager and works his or her way up into a management position.

Key Takeaways

  • Project managers plan, develop, monitor, control and execute projects, doing everything from putting together groups of skilled workers to designing the structure and schedule of the project.
  • Project managers often have an undergraduate degree in management and some have a master's degree; internships, on-the-job training or experience in other areas of business management are also helpful.
  • Established project managers, with 10 or more years of experience, can move up the corporate ladder to senior management positions or eventually become the chief operating officer (COO) of a company.

Principal Responsibilities

For any project manager, organization is the essential quality to possess. When a business assigns a project manager to a project, multiple factors and elements are involved and must fall into place seamlessly for the project manager to execute the project and achieve the company’s desired result.

In some instances, multiple departments within a business must work together to complete a project. Under these circumstances, the project manager must direct and oversee each department’s plans, ensure all departments are functioning effectively and staying on task, and combine all aspects to complete a project on time and within its budget. Staying within the company’s established budget and meeting the deadline for every project are the two primary responsibilities of every project manager.

To succeed, project managers must have excellent communication and motivation skills, enjoy working with others while maintaining a leadership role, pay close attention to details, and be organized.

Qualifications and Requirements

Earning an undergraduate degree in management is generally the place to start for an individual interested in pursuing a career as a project manager. This degree provides the individual with a background in critical areas, including overall management and human resources skills, that pertain directly to the job. The courses an individual takes to obtain this degree also strengthen communication and interaction skills. Both are essential assets needed to be successful as a project manager.

Some of the requirements for this position vary and depend on the company the individual applies to and the industry in which the company operates. Certain companies are more apt to require a person to have a master’s degree in project management to be considered for the position. Gaining higher education that specializes in this particular field adds knowledge and value to any individual applying for a position as a project manager. Most companies see the greater potential a well-educated candidate can offer. Having a higher degree also generally increases the pay level in this field.

Internships for Project Managers

Individuals interested in this position also typically find some type of internship to gain on-the-job experience. Most internships involve working as part of the team being managed but allow the individual easy access to the project manager they work under; this gives the person the opportunity to observe how the project manager operates. Certain skills and abilities that are necessary for this position can only be learned by actually working in a management environment.

$74,172

The average salary of a project manager in the United States, as of 2019, according to Salary.com; however, the figure can vary considerably, depending on the field and whether the person is in a junior or senior level position.

Career Path

There are often established project managers who wish to move up the ladder or move to a different position. There are a number of different jobs that project managers may pursue. These jobs include chief operating officer (COO) and a senior management role that falls under various different titles depending on the company and the industry.

For an established project manager – specifically one with at least 10 years of experience – moving into the position of COO is a fairly smooth transition. The work the project manager has done, interacting and working with all levels and all departments within his or her company, along with the skills and assets acquired during years on the job, easily prepare the project manager to graduate to this position.

If the manager does not already have one, it may be a good idea to earn a Master of Business Administration or MBA. Transitioning to the role of COO inevitably leads to an increase in responsibility and also a substantial increase in pay.

Senior Project Manager Roles

A senior delivery role may sound like a downgrade in position, but the job goes by different names in different companies and industries. As an example, in a vendor environment, software vendors typically use titles such as business development director, senior managing consultant and senior project manager.

Essentially, the project manager is moving up to a senior management position. It depends, of course, on how long the manager has worked for the company and how effective and successful he or she has been. Again, moving into this position surely increases duties and the level of responsibility, but it also includes a significant increase in salary.