Why project management is a good career path

(Editor's note: After reading this, be sure to check out part 2 of this blog post.)

Project management is a valuable competency in the modern workplace. A study by the Project Management Institute (PMI) shows the presence of a project management team can reduce likelihood of failed projects, decrease instances of projects going over budget, and increase the chance of project completion ahead of schedule.1

An Indeed.com search, for example, on the term “project management” indicates more than 300,000 jobs currently available in the United States. 2

Now, many reading this may easily be inspired by the job market and opportunities therein, prompting an exclamation like, “Wow, I want to be a project manager!” But before you jump in the deep end, it’s important to determine if you and the field of project management are a good match.

Is project management right for me?

Deciding your career path is a big commitment and life decision. There are many factors that contribute to a good career fit, but project management requires skilled communication, leadership and organization. If those aren’t your best qualities, you may want to consider something else (Grantham University has more than 50 programs that could spark some ideas).

One way to help you decide is by using the O*Net Interest Profiler, a tool that can shed light on your interests, how they relate to the workplace and which kinds of careers might be ideal for you. 4 It’s not an exact science, but (especially if you want to be a project manager), it can show you skills you may want to develop.

Develop your project management skills

If you want to step into a project management role in the near future, you should gain as much experience as you can now.

After all, having relevant experience is a huge part of the reason people land specific jobs, right? So, what can you do? Start with where you are now. If you are currently employed, think about opportunities on the job to display skills common among good project managers.

The PMI recognizes many core competencies one needs to be a successful project manager. 3 Reviewing these to determine which qualities you already have, and which you may need to develop, is a great place to start. Some examples of these competencies include:

  • Team Leadership
  • Strategic Decision Making
  • Communication Strategies
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Life Cycle Management

And here’s something interesting, even if you decide later that you no longer want to be a project manager, you’ll not have wasted your time building these skills. Why? Because they are general enough to benefit many careers and important enough to be difference makers.

Case in point: The Project Management Institute reported that “80% of executives believed their project management competencies helped them remain competitive in the recession.” 1

When working these competencies into your own life or job on a regular basis, it can be helpful to start with small, but structured goals. Focus on goals that are specific, measurable, achievable and time-oriented.

Consult Grantham’s career professionals

If you’re really serious about project management as a career, you might consider working with Grantham’s dedicated career services team. These professionals can help you create a personal development plan, point you to relevant topics in their Webinar Series, help with your resume, and prepare you for interview. But wait, we’re getting a bit ahead of ourselves.

An education tailored to your project management goals is also a big part of the equation, and we cover this, along with more on career development, here in part 2 of this blog post.