How to Become a Project Manager

By
Kathryn Walsh
- March 13, 2018

Making Your Mark as a Jill of All Trades

How to Become a Project Manager
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You schedule play dates, coordinate with teachers, monitor your kids' eating habits and tend to their emotional needs. If you're a mom, you probably already feel like a project manager—but man, the pay is terrible. Some of those skills you've honed could be put to profitable use if you start a career as a project manager. Excelling at project management requires you to have a lot of diverse skills, something most moms can understand.

Job Description

Project manager is one of those jobs that exists in many industries and means slightly different things in all of them. As you might guess, it's a catch-all term for the person who oversees a particular project. It's commonly used in construction, tech, health care, science, advertising and finance, among other fields.

A project manager, or PM, typically leads a team and monitors its day-to-day progress. She's the person who creates the strategy for how the team will accomplish its goal. Depending on the field, that goal might be the completion of a building or renovation project, the design and launch of a software program or the creation of a marketing campaign for a new product. The PM does things like guide all team members working on the project, oversee the budget and find solutions for any hurdles that arise during the process.

Education Requirements

Because project manager is such a broad term, it's impossible to say what credentials you'll need to break into the field. Construction companies tend to require a PM to have a bachelor's degree in a construction-related field in addition to extensive construction experience. An IT project manager should have at least a bachelor's degree in a tech-related field and may also need to have a master's degree. Most PM jobs require, at minimum, a bachelor's degree.

About the Industry

Project managers work everywhere. They're needed on every construction site and in so many other fields that PM jobs exist in big cities, rural towns and everywhere in between.

Years of Experience

Being a successful PM requires you to have thorough knowledge of your field and the jobs of your team members. It's rare for recent college grads to move straight into project management jobs. Because it's a job that requires a lot of experience and comes with a lot of responsibility, PMs tend to be well paid.

Construction managers earn a median salary of $71,318. (Median means that half of construction managers earn more than that and half earn less.) At the start of a career in construction project management, expect to earn an average salary of around $58,000. Construction PMs earn average salaries of $73,000 by the time they have five years of experience and $81,000 at the 10-year mark.

By contrast, the median salary for a project manager who works in IT is $85,552. The average salary for a project manager with less than five years of experience is $70,000. The average jumps to $89,000 by the time PMs have five years of experience and $100,000 at the 10-year mark.

Job Growth Trend

The future is bright for project managers, at least in some fields. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that employment of PMs in both construction and IT fields will grow at a faster-than-average rate in the near future.

About the Author

Kathryn Walsh has more than 20 years of experience working with children and has been writing about children and parenting topics for more than 10 years. Her work has appeared on sites including TheBump, Working Mother and Mamapedia.