- What do project managers do?
- Project manager career path
- Project manager salaries
- Qualifications and training
- Project manager skills
- Pros and cons of being a project manager
- Project manager work-life balance
- Typical employers
- Related jobs
Do you pride yourself on your organisational skills? Are you great at motivating people to get their work done? If you want to see a project through from start to end, you could start your career as a project manager.
If you’re intrigued by a career as a project manager, explore the technology consulting and project management jobs available right now.
What do project managers do?
Project managers are responsible for overseeing projects happening within an organisation. This includes all the planning and organisation stages as well as budget management and looking into the resources required for the budget. Project managers work within many sectors and you could specialise in an industry that interests you and matches your experience. You could work in retail, events, technology, finance, healthcare, media and many other areas. Regardless of the sector, here are the daily tasks that you might have as a project manager:
- Meeting with the department or client that is running the project to understand their requirements and what they want to achieve throughout the project.
- Making budgets and timelines for the project.
- Planning the projects including the resources needed, the colleagues involved and the tasks that everyone needs to do to collaborate and complete the project.
- Exploring the risks or problems that you might come across in the process of the project and thinking through ways that you can mitigate these issues.
- Managing the project, making sure everyone involved is doing the work that they need to and that the budget and timeline are being met.
- Motivating the team if necessary.
Project manager career path
Your career in project management could help you exceed and work your way up within a company. Here is the career path for project managers that you could follow:
As a junior project manager, you’re learning all the skills you need to succeed in mid-level and senior project manager roles. To do this, you often assist senior project managers with their projects, doing important but low-level tasks like filling in documentation and communicating with clients or colleagues to get updates on projects.
As a junior project manager, you may get your own project to work on. This will likely be a simple project and you update your colleagues on your progress throughout the process. You might even present your work to your manager or to the clients.
You reach a mid-level project manager when you have enough experience to demonstrate your ability and skill level. In this role, you’re given your own projects which you’re expected to manage and run. This means being responsible for the project, working with the client to assist in the issues that they’re facing and managing your time and workload.
With years of experience, you become a senior project manager. The tasks that a senior projects manager has are the same as mid-level but with greater responsibility. This means working on more complex or higher-profile projects within a company. You set junior colleagues work to do, whether this is on their own projects or part of your own work and oversee the results. This is to show your colleagues the quality of work that you expect and teach them the skills that they need to do the job.
If you want to move away from product management, you could enter a senior management position. These jobs revolve more around managing staff rather than projects. You might oversee a department, checking its progress and seeing if the staff are satisfied in their positions then making any adjustments if they don’t like an aspect of work or are struggling with something. You could help the firm by finding prospects, or clients, and liaising with existing clients to make sure they’re satisfied with the work they’re receiving from your colleagues.
Project manager salaries
Whilst working up in project manager positions, you have the opportunity to reach high salary levels in a company. The specific salary depends on the industry you work in, the firm and the geographic location. Here are the salaries that you might expect when working as a project manager:
- Entry-level positions like junior project manager earn between £23,000 and £30,000 per year.
- Mid-level project managers earn between £30,000 and £50,000 per year.
- Senior project managers earn between £40,000 and £90,000 per year.
Qualifications and training
Having the right education and training can make you very appealing to any hiring manager and get your CV at the top of the pile. Here are the qualifications that you need to be a project manager:
Many project managers have undergraduate degrees. This is often in a management or business subject. You could even do a degree in a humanities subject and be accepted in the role if you can demonstrate the right skills and experience. Having a degree related to the industry that you’re going into is a bonus because it teaches you the relevant background information and theoretical contexts within the industry which can be really helpful with some projects.
However, having a degree isn’t the only way into a project management career. Some firms offer apprenticeship opportunities for project managers. This means learning how to do the job from industry experts currently in the role. Some apprenticeships include a more formal educational aspect where you work for the firm and complete a degree at the same time. If you’re interested in project management apprenticeships, you can use this government apprenticeship search tool to explore what’s currently available to you.
Another option is looking into the college diploma path. With a diploma, you get more specialised theoretical knowledge than with a degree and save both money and time. Whilst having a degree over a diploma is generally considered more prestigious, this shouldn’t stop you from considering diploma and apprenticeship options as they can give you a great education and set you up just as well for work.
Having some work experience is a great way to impress any hiring manager. This is relevant for many circumstances. You might be doing a degree or diploma and want to show the hiring manager that you have experience beyond your education. You could alternatively be doing an unrelated degree to project management and want some practical experience. You might not have any education at all beyond secondary school and want to break into the project management career path. If any of these instances apply to you, an internship may suit your needs.
You can explore the current internships available right now or decide to go down the networking route. This means making connections with current professionals in the industry and asking about any unadvertised internships. Use this bright advice for networking to know how to successfully network.
Project manager skills
Combining your great experience with your excellent skills ideally situates you to be a project manager. Here are the skills that you need to succeed in the career path:
- Organisation. To be a successful project manager, you need to organise the project, your work and everyone working on the project’s work. This can be difficult but having great organisational skills makes doing this easier and your plans more effective.
- Leadership. You need great leadership skills in this career path so you can effectively direct everyone working on a project to make sure they’re completing their tasks in the timeframe you set out. Learn how to be a great leader with this Bright Network Academy leadership skills course.
- Budget management. You should understand what the budget is for the project, what you need to achieve within the budget and how much everything will cost. Having experience of working with a budget and managing money makes this easier and means the project is less likely to exceed the funds available for it.
Pros and cons of being a project manager
Working as a project manager may seem like the perfect career for you but there are some positive and negative parts of the job to think about. Here is what you should consider before committing to the project manager career path:
- Senior positions offer great salaries.
- It can be very satisfying seeing a project through from beginning to end.
- You could work on some diverse and interesting projects.
- The range of projects you work for keeps your job interesting and exciting to do.
- Working your way up in a firm gives you job security and often affords you great pension schemes.
- Sticking to timelines and budgets can be stressful.
- You might find some people in a team are more resistant to working with you and getting them on your side can be difficult.
- If someone in the team or the entire project falls behind schedule, colleagues can be reluctant to give you updates which may be a source of stress.
- If the project doesn’t go to plan or fails, you might be held accountable.
Project manager work-life balance
Project managers often work standard office hours of 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. Around big deadlines, you may find your workload increasing so you have to work longer hours to finish all your tasks for the day. Your work is primarily in an office. If you’re working for a client rather than in-house, you might be expected to go to the client’s office either to work or to check up on the progress of the project. This may involve some travel which can be a pleasant change from your usual working environment or an unwelcome addition to your long working day if you have to commute.