7 Skills for Project Management

A degree may open the door to a variety of opportunities and diverse career paths. The degree programs offered at AIU will not necessarily lead to the featured careers. This collection of articles is intended to help inform and guide you through the process of determining which level of degree and types of certifications align with your desired career path.

Project management can be a great career option for highly organized individuals who enjoy complex planning and process-oriented work. Because many different industries rely on project managers to get their products and services to market on time and as promised, the demand for project management jobs often corresponds to market trends and growth.

Project Management Job Growth

The Project Management Institute (PMI) reports an "extraordinarily positive jobs outlook" for those hoping to enter the field within the next decade. Pointing to a growing need for project management professionals globally as well as a larger portion of the existing professional talent pool reaching retirement age, they estimate that employers will need 87.7 million individuals working in project management-oriented roles by 2027.1

The PMI also points out that a number of industries are seeing an increased demand for project management positions as these fields change, particularly those with rapidly changing technology needs.2

Industries with the highest levels of expected project management job growth include:1

  • Healthcare (expected 17% growth in project management jobs through 2027)
  • Manufacturing and construction
  • Information services and publishing
  • Finance and insurance
  • Management and professional services
  • Utilities and oil and gas

While the US Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn't collect data on project management positions (as they often fall under other types of industry-specific managers), they do report faster than average growth for several related positions.2 Employment of Computer and information systems managers, for example is projected to grow 12% from 2016 through 2026 (an increase of approximately 44,200 jobs), while the BLS projects that employment of construction managers will grow 11% from 2016 through 2026 (resulting in approximately an additional 44,800 positions).3, 4

So what do project managers do exactly, and how do you get into project management as a career path? Below we cover the basics of the field and some common entry-level jobs below.

What is Project Management?

PMI defines project management as "the application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements."5 Working across multiple industries and in many different types of companies (from production to finance to healthcare), project managers coordinate internal efforts to make sure all projects are completed according to plan, on budget and to desired quality standards.

Job duties may include ensuring that timelines are met for all projects (both new and ongoing). In order to keep processes running smoothly, a project manager works with various internal teams to set realistic expectations and create reasonable timelines and plans for completion of projects. This may also involve checking in with all departments involved to make sure they have the resources needed to complete the project. For this reason project managers must be flexible and able to adjust to new demands or market conditions as well as being highly organized and able to maintain clear documentation of many different tasks and sub-tasks in multiple stages of completion.6

Possible Project Management Jobs

Because project managers deal with process planning, sometimes getting input from multiple departments, they don't necessarily need to be subject-matter experts. This means there are often a wide variety of opportunities for those looking to get into the project management field.

The PMI and BLS list project management within a number of different fields and sub-categories, including:2,7

  • Communications Management
  • Computer and Information Systems Managers
  • Construction Managers
  • Cost Management
  • Integration Management
  • Organizational Project Management
  • Portfolio Management
  • Program Management
  • Quality Management
  • Resource Management

Should You Pursue a Project Management Degree?

While educational requirements will vary by industry, company and position, the PMI requires at least some kind of secondary degree for most of their project management certifications. Additionally, a project management degree (often offered within a business administration program) can offer well-rounded instruction in workflow and management strategies, creative problem solving techniques, budgeting, resource management and other skills needed to oversee complex projects in an organization.

It may be possible to move into project management roles after working for a few years in other entry-level positions in a company. However, a degree may offer students an opportunity to develop project management skills in advance of or alongside actual work experience with a chance to develop useful on-the-job skills before entering the workforce. You may still want to look into the various professional certifications available when considering advanced positions, but for those who want to enter the project management field as soon as possible, a degree can be great preparation.

Ready to learn more? Explore project management degrees at AIU.

1. Project Management Institute, Project Management Job Growth and Talent Gap 2017–2027, on the Internet at https://www.pmi.org/-/media/pmi/documents/public/pdf/learning/job-growth-report.pdf?sc_lang_temp=en (visited on February 22, 2019).
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, "Project Managers Stay in Charge and Out Front," Occupational Outlook Quarterly, on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/careeroutlook/2006/summer/art03.pdf (visited on February 22, 2019).
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, "Computer and Information Systems Managers: Summary," on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/computer-and-information-systems-managers.htm (visited February 22, 2019). Conditions in your area may vary.
4. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, "Construction Managers: Summary," on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/construction-managers.htm (visited February 22, 2019). Conditions in your area may vary.
5. Project Management Institute, "What is Project Management?" on the Internet at https://www.pmi.org/about/learn-about-pmi/what-is-project-management (visited on February 22, 2019).
6. Project Management Institute, "Who Are Project Managers?" on the Internet at https://www.pmi.org/about/learn-about-pmi/who-are-project-managers (visited on February 22, 2019).
7. Project Management Institute, "Categories" on the Internet at https://search.pmi.org/default.aspx?q=project+management+careers (visited on February 22, 2019).

For important information about the educational debt, earnings, and completion rates of students who attended these programs, go to www.aiuniv.edu/disclosures. AIU cannot guarantee employment or salary. Not all programs are available to residents of all states.
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