Project managers are professionals responsible for identifying and clarifying a client’s project objectives. They are also the people who create the project plan, get it approved, and obtain the budget and resources. The responsibility of their position usually comes with the authority to make decisions, as they implement this approved plan according to a schedule, manage the constraints and risks, report about its status, and see to its completion according to industry standards.
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Where the jobs are?
According to an Aerospace Industries Association survey, this industry is planning to hire over 100,000 people by 2013. David White, a senior project manager of Boeing says the Everett, WA Company is not only hiring PMs, but is also developing the ones they have which they believe can help the service and manufacturing industries in many US cities. Walter Mascarenhas of ATG solutions describe a great demand for this position in the aerospace and defense industry who will be working on technology slated to come within 10 to 20 years.
In the construction industry, some markets are better than others. For example, PricewaterhouseCoopers Canada predicts that in 2020, Canada will be the fifth largest market in the world. By the same year, Master Builders Australia expects up to a million additional building and construction jobs.
The energy sector, both in fossil fuel fields and in renewable energies, is experiencing slow but steady growth. For example, a big gas discovery in Western Australia would require more project managers in that region. In the US, the solar energy industry is expecting 20,000+ jobs corresponding to a 24 percent market growth.
Businesses are still investing in IT, but the majority of projects are coming from governments of many countries. For example, the Indian government is embarking on a national ID initiative that will cost multi-million rupees. Also, the healthcare industry in Germany, France, the UK, and the US also has very good prospects. In the US alone, up to 200,000 new IT healthcare jobs are to be filled by 2015. The IT healthcare in Australia expects a 10 percent growth, and the EU has a patient records digitalization project targeted by 2015.
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How much they are paid?
- According to the latest survey from PayScale, the general-type project manager receives an average of almost $60,000 annually, the construction PM receives slightly higher at 68,000 USD, and the IT PM receives the highest at an annual average salary of 83,000 USD.
- Job site Indeed.com reports of an average salary of $83,000 for project managers, with senior and senior IT PMs getting offers of more than 100,000 USD annually.
- In the US, a median salary of $61,783 for a Project Manager I position is reported by Salary.com. This position may entail a bachelor’s degree and two to four years of related experience. An IT PM II with four to six years of related experience can expect a median salary of $86,007. A PM with at least eight years of experience in developing, planning, and implementing an ERP system can expect a median salary of $116,522.
- It follows that the more experienced project managers are, together with more credentials and certifications, the higher salary they can ask for.
- In a 2011 salary survey done by the PMI covering 29 countries and 30,000 practitioners, the top 5 paying countries are Switzerland at a median annual salary of $160K, Australia at $139K, Germany at $110K, The Netherlands at $109K, and Belgium at $108K.
What employers are looking for?
- Project managers not only should be proficient in their job, but should also have a good understanding of the industry where their projects are being implemented. Mr. White from Boeing identifies the needed PM as someone who can manage cost and schedule while ensuring quality in every aerospace project. Understanding systematic integration is also important, especially with complicated systems like aircrafts.
- J.D. Harrison of construction and engineering company CH2M Hill recommends the right combination of background, attitude, credentials like PMI Risk Management Professional and good communication skills for a lucrative PM career in the construction industry.
- In the specialized oil field sector, O. Ibilola of Nigeria-based Korea National Oil Corp suggests reading energy journals to be familiar with the duties of geoscientists and petroleum engineers. Project manager A. Lazcano of Fulltek, S.A., highlights the importance of negotiation, conflict management, and problem solving skills that PMs should have, either by experience or by learning from a mentor.
What courses to take and where to go to for a PM degree?
- No specific degree requirements are needed to be project managers, according to a report for the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, it can make one’s resume more attractive. Aspiring PMs can achieve their goal, for example, as construction PMs by pursuing degrees in construction management. Other ways are by earning college, university, or business school degrees, either on-campus or online, such as an Associate’s Degree in Project Management, a Bachelor’s Degree, a Master’s Degree, or a Ph.D. Degree.
- According to Education Portal, the top two US universities with a good Project Management Program are Stanford University in California, and University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA. Other schools with a good PM program are University of Texas in Austin, Pennsylvania State University, and New York University.
- Five universities that offer good Online Project Management Degrees are American InterContinental University, Ashford University, Capella University, Colorado Technical University, and DeVry University.
When to get a certification and which ones?
To work in project management, it is not necessary to have a certification. However, as competition becomes tighter, getting a PM certification can help a project manager get a better position or project, and eventually, advance his or her career. For example, the PMI Certified Associate in Project Management is suitable for the starting professional with very little experience.
To be eligible, one has to have a secondary (high school) diploma and at least 1500 hours of project experience or 23 hours of PM education before taking the exam. Other important certifications such as PMP, PgMP, PMI Agile Certified Practitioner, PMI Risk Management Professional, or PMI Scheduling Professional would require a higher degree or more project hour requirements before one becomes eligible to take the test.
The Pros and Cons of the Profession
The PM profession is like a coin with two sides. The temporary nature of projects brings with it some unique pros and cons.
- As the point person, the project manager’s name becomes known to many people quickly.
- Since PMs are involved at the very beginning, they are given the opportunity to clarify the primary objective and provided the freedom how to proceed with the project.
- As the go-to person of the team, the project manager will encounter a variety of issues that will encourage resourcefulness and the discovery of hidden talents.
- PMs become an agent of change for an organization.
- A successful project gives a sense of accomplishment at the end.
- As the key person of a successful undertaking, recognition and promotion are more achievable.
- As the point person, all will look for answers on every question about the project from the project manager.
- Since PMs are involved at the very beginning, they will find a lot of ambiguity and uncertainty.
- There can be too much variety of issues and events happening every day and give a feeling of absence of any normalcy or stability.
- As agents of change, project managers can encounter resistance from what has been in place or from who has been in charge.
- A delay, high cost, or expanding scope outside the control of the PM can give a sense of frustration and exasperation.
- Because of the temporary nature, letting go of the team or of the project at the end can be difficult.
What the future holds for the Project Manager?
Project management is changing in some ways brought about by factors such as a more global workforce, the gaining popularity of agile methodology, and the adoption of cloud technology. Software-as-a-service (SaaS) in particular has a significant impact on the project manager, as PM tools become more powerful and automated, and allows for better collaboration and integration. Together with centralization of data and relative ease of use, the PM can spend less time now on the tool and more with the team, solving issues, managing constraints, and preparing contingencies. As early as now, the project manager is becoming more of the project leader, a role of leading people and driving change in organizations.