How To Become A Project Manager: A Step-By-Step Guide – Forbes Advisor

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Project management is among the most valuable skill sets in the current job landscape, but a persistent talent gap in the field means that there are not enough candidates with the right skills to meet the global demand for project managers.

This indicates a talent gap in the project management field, meaning there are not enough candidates with the right skills to meet this high demand.

As such, competent managers who can oversee projects throughout their life cycles are at a premium in the modern workplace. Read on to learn more about how to become a project manager.

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According to a 2021 report by the Project Management Institute (PMI), the main professional organization in the industry, employers must hire approximately 2.3 million project management professionals every year to meet demand by 2030. Let’s explore what it takes to succeed in this high-demand occupation.

A project management degree is not always required for jobs and certification in the field. However, it is much easier for bachelor’s degree-holders to earn PMI certification.

Common majors for project managers include bachelor’s degrees in project management, business and related fields. Aspiring project managers who plan to work in a specific field like health services or information technology often pursue a bachelor’s degree in that field.

Some project managers are generalists who work in all business-related fields and are comfortable executing projects for clients in a variety of industries. However, many project managers choose to focus on fields like construction, real estate, information technology, sustainability and transportation.

Having a defined specialization may make it easier to find jobs in the field.

PMI is the primary organization offering professional certifications in project management. The institute offers certifications in a wide variety of specialties.

Many entry-level project managers pursue PMI’s Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)® designation, which demonstrates a foundational skill set in the field.

In addition to the CAPM certification, many professionals pursue the Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification, which demonstrates mastery and excellence in the field. Keep in mind that PMP certification requires 36 to 60 months of professional project management experience depending on your educational background.

PMI’s other certifications also have unique educational and professional requirements, so make sure to check the institute’s website for the most up-to-date information. Also check out our guides on how to get PMP certification and CAPM certification requirements.

Is PMI certification worth it? For many, it is. According to a 2022 jobs report by PMI, PMP-certified professionals earn 16% more than their uncertified peers.

Project management specialists in the U.S. earn a median annual salary of $98,580, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. PMI’s 2021 talent gap report projects that the global economy will have to add 25 million project management professionals to meet demand by 2030.

The talent gap report notes that the most drastic and rapid growth for project management-oriented employees will take place in software development, which can expect a 14% increase in demand for these professionals from 2019 to 2030.

In most cases, you can pursue entry-level project manager positions if you hold a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field like business or project management. However, employers often prefer to hire candidates who hold PMI certifications, and PMI-certified professionals tend to earn higher salaries than their uncertified peers.

The time it takes to become a project manager varies by position and by employer. Some companies require project managers to hold four-year bachelor’s degrees, and some don’t require degrees. Others prefer to hire managers with CAPM or PMP certification. PMP certification requires 36 to 60 months of professional project management experience.

Yes. You can earn the PMI’s PMP certification—widely considered the gold standard in the industry—with only a high school diploma. However, to qualify, you must have 60 months of professional project manager experience, while bachelor’s degree-holders only need 36 months. You also need either CAPM certification or 35 hours of professional development courses in project management.

Mikeie Reiland is a writer who has written features for Oxford American, Bitter Southerner, Gravy, and SB Nation, among other publications. He received a James Beard nomination for a feature he wrote in 2023.