Project Manager Career Roadmap: From Entry-Level to Project Director

project management essentials

Becoming a project manager can happen in many different ways, giving you lots of choices. But this can also make it hard to know what step to take next. You might also wonder what you can do after working as a project manager for a while.

You could start by gaining experience in a specific field before becoming a project manager. Later, you might move up to a senior project manager, and then to a director. Let’s explore the possible career journey for a project manager in more detail.


Working experience

A lot of project managers begin in regular jobs and become managers as they handle more tasks. Someone who manages software projects may have started as a programmer. On the other hand, a person overseeing construction projects likely began as an engineer.

Some people might also start as business consultants to learn about company operations and improve their management abilities.

Having direct experience in the field you’re managing can really help you as a project manager. You’ll know exactly what the job involves, be able to relate to your team, and have a clearer idea of the best way to tackle a project.


Start with entry-level in project management

When you’re starting out, think about beginning with a basic job in project management, such as a project coordinator, assistant, associate, or junior project manager. These jobs support the project manager in organizing and making sure a project goes well.

By working in these starter roles, you can learn a lot about the field and build up your experience before going for a project manager job. If you want to become a project coordinator or a similar position, it’s useful to be good at talking to people and organizing things.

It also helps to have some background in the type of work you’ll be doing. To boost your chances, you might want to get a beginner’s certificate in project management, like the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM).


Project manager

Project managers are in charge of organizing and carrying out projects that can range from creating new products, building structures, or starting new initiatives in a company. They guide their team to make sure everything – like the timeline, money, and communication – is on track to meet the project’s objectives.

Project managers are needed in many fields, such as construction, health care, technology, finance, government, and information technology.

If you’re looking to become a project manager, starting in a basic role or as a junior team member can be a smart move. Getting professional certifications, like the Project Management Professional (PMP) or others related to Scrum or Agile methods, can also be beneficial.


Senior project manager

Senior project managers handle big projects, like improving how teams work together, making intricate products, or managing long-term projects. They usually have a good amount of experience in project management.

To reach this level, you should focus on getting practical experience by managing various projects and working with different teams. It’s also important to learn as much as you can about project management, either through classes or by getting certified. Improve your leadership skills because you’ll often be in charge of what other project managers do. Finding a mentor to guide you through your career can also be a big help.


Project director

Directors of project management are in charge of planning and making sure the project management department in a company is successful. They make sure that each project fits with the bigger aims of the company and plan out how the project management team can reach those aims.

They might lead several project managers, work with different departments, and talk to top bosses in the company. To become a director, you need many years of experience in managing things and outstanding leadership skills. You should be great at talking to people, solving problems, and convincing others.


Is pursuing a career in project management a good decision?

There’s a big need for people in this job. The Project Management Institute (PMI) predicts that by 2030, the world will need 25 million new project professionals to meet the demand. Also, a study by Burning Glass Technologies showed that between 2019 and 2020, there were over 280,000 job ads for entry-level project management roles.

For those who like working with others and are good at organizing, this job can be very fulfilling. Starting a project from the beginning, solving problems with a team, and seeing the results of your hard work can be very satisfying. Project managers get to work on a variety of projects, which means they always have something new to learn. However, it can be a tough job with a lot of pressure to meet deadlines.


What’s next?

The project manager career offers many different paths, so you have lots of chances to decide how your job journey will go. If you’re eager to begin learning, you might want to look into the Project Management Essentials to get to know the basics.

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