In 2018, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has added project manager as an occupational category for the first time. That’s a big step in recognizing project management as a profession because, up until now, it only was included as a skill in general management occupations.
There are project managers in every industry who work across departments to identify and implement new technology, introduce new products, improve business processes and more. The demand for project management jobs is projected to grow faster over the next 10 years than the demand in other occupations.
Project Management Jobs at a Glance
Job descriptions for project management jobs will vary depending on the industry and the company. However, it is possible to identify certain responsibilities, duties and requirements that apply in most cases.
The overriding responsibility you’d have as a project manager is to meet the project’s goals. In general, those goals are to complete projects within scope, on time and within budget.
Management typically defines the scope of a project in terms of goals and the results that the project will deliver. It’s important for you to keep the project within scope because if it starts to address every related issue in the organization, the odds are it will fail.
Finishing a project on time and within budget keeps the promise made to the organization when the project began.
To meet the goals, you must take responsibility for the following:
- Developing a detailed project plan to allow tracking and reporting on progress
- Coordinating the efforts of the project team and any outside resources as they perform steps in the project plan
- Resolving issues such as requirements for additional resources or changes in scope, referring issues to management as appropriate
- Managing relationships with stakeholders and keeping them involved and updated on progress
- Tracking project costs and ensuring that the team adheres to the budget
- Recognizing and encouraging valuable contributions from all team members
- Leading and communicating with team members
- Displaying flexibility to respond to unanticipated situations in completing the project
- Evaluating risks that may arise during the project and minimizing their impact
- Creating and maintaining complete project documentation
- Analyzing data to reach strategically sound decisions
- Presenting final results, recommendations and reports to all stakeholders
Employers are looking for certified project managers. The Project Management Institute offers eight different certification programs that focus on specialties such as portfolio management, business analysis, Agile practitioner, risk management and more.
Earning these certifications is much easier and faster when the individual has an educational background that focuses on the skills and knowledge needed for project management jobs. Therefore, employers would be more disposed to hire you if you are still working to earn a certification and have the right educational background.
A Day in the Life of a Project Manager
People in a variety of roles use project management skills, but project managers use those same skills on a larger scale every day. You might start your week with a team meeting where the team discusses progress and roadblocks they’ve encountered, such as scheduling conflicts, timeline issues or budget restraints.
Project managers are sensitive to any issues requiring intervention and any risks that appear on the horizon, such as escalating costs or indications that the conclusions the team is reaching may not be strategically sound. You would need to address all the issues raised and involve senior management when necessary.
Throughout the week, you would check in with different team members or groups to gauge progress. Changes in the project plan steps may be necessary to address unanticipated problems. For example, if a stakeholder won’t be available for an interview during the duration of the project, then you must identify someone who could represent that stakeholder and adjust the schedule accordingly.
If you notice a team member who isn’t making progress, you coach that person or, if necessary, arrange for a reassignment. You would also work with stakeholders, such as line managers or vendors, to answer questions or address and resolve concerns.
As a project manager, you will typically use an electronic program to track assignments and progress and manage costs. At various milestones throughout the project, they provide status updates to senior management and other stakeholders in person and in writing.
Preparing for Project Management Jobs
The online MBA program for project management at Concordia University, Nebraska is perfect for working professionals who want to develop or strengthen the skills employers look for in project managers. Our MBA program is IACBE accredited and delivers the strong foundations that may satisfy the academic component of the Project Management Professional Exam (PMPE) for certification. Our fully online courses let you advance your education without taking time away from your current job, even as new knowledge and tools help you improve professionally.