Project Management Degrees Guide

project managerProject management is the process of planning, organizing, staffing, directing, and managing resources to successfully complete specific project goals and directives. Project managers offer valuable skills to businesses and organizations.

Earning a project management degree will give someone the tools and skills that are needed to be successful in this line of work.

What is project management?

"The project management course work I am studying has been helpful to me in my job from day one. I have applied the principles I am learning to my projects and am more confident in my work knowing that my methods are consistent with best practices in the industry," remarks Isabella, a 44-year-old professional earning her project management certificate online.

In simple terms, project management is the act of establishing a goal and breaking down the steps and actions to achieve the goal. For example, consider what is necessary for planning a trip. The goal is to travel to a destination and return home.

  • Is this an international trip: will you need a passport or any identification?
  • How are you getting there?
  • Who is traveling with you?
  • How long will it take you to get there?
  • What do you need to pack?
  • What are you doing when you arrive at your destination?
  • How much money do you need for the trip?
  • How much time do you need to prepare for the trip?

Project management provides an outline of what actions need to occur for a goal to be achieved. In a professional environment, it requires bringing together all the participants, or stakeholders, to discuss and agree on all the steps. Effective planning prevents additional costs and time lost on a project—the more complex the project, the more important project management becomes for an organization.

What do project managers do?

Project managers are professionals in the field of project management. Project managers often work in the area of construction management or information and technology management. They are involved with a project from start to finish and their responsibilities include the planning, execution, and closing of the project.

Project managers serve as the main point of contact for clients, upper management and other team members. It is their job to determine the goals of the project, establish an effective plan of action, and manage the results. They do this while considering budget and time constraints. They must also consider possible setbacks or changes to the plan and make the necessary adjustments. Project managers are key to communication between all parties involved in the project.

One of the first steps in project management is meeting with clients to establish the goals of the project and determine the desired outcome. This is done by meeting with upper management and drafting a document to ensure all details of the goals are clear.

Project managers create the plan of action for meeting the intended goals and completion of the project. The plan is broken down into smaller tasks and the corresponding responsibilities are delegated to various team members. Project managers must measure results and plan for potential problems.

Another key component of project management is monitoring the progress of the project. Project managers need to keep their team motivated and on task. Should changes arise they need to make the necessary adjustments while considering budget and time constraints. This also involves making changes to the plan and schedule. Project managers communicate all changes to the rest of the team.

The project manager is involved through the end. Upon completion of a project they meet with the clients to verify that all goals have been met satisfactorily. They may also be involved in closing out the project, which may involve tasks such as verifying that all contracts were paid.

What is the work environment like for project managers?

Project managers may work in office settings such as those involved in computer and technology project management or they may work on construction and building sites like those working in building project management.

Regardless of the setting, it is fairly typical for project managers to work long hours, including nights and weekends. This is due to the need to meet deadlines and deal with unforeseen problems that may arise. Project management often involves dealing with stressful situations.

What are some characteristics of successful project managers?

To meet the competitive demands of this field, especially at the higher levels, project managers should possess the following attributes:

  • Understanding of business and management principles
  • Technical knowledge
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Leadership skills
  • Ability to see the big picture but focus on details
  • Patience and persistence
  • Assertive yet approachable
  • Adaptable and flexible in thinking
  • Organized and able to deal with stressful situations

What salary is typical for project managers?

Compensation in the field of project management can vary widely depending on the following factors:

  • Educational background
  • Geographical location
  • Experience in the area of project management

According to a the BLS, Project and Operations Managers in 2013 had a median annual salary of $96,430 [1].

[1]bls.gov/oes/current/oes111021.htm

How does the future look for the project management field?

Project managers of all types are increasingly needed as more businesses use a team and project-based system to accomplish goals. This industry, especially in the area of computer and information technology, is expected to grow at a faster than average rate for all careers.

What kind of educational background is necessary to work as a project manager?

While a degree in project management itself isn't typically required, a bachelor's degree in a related field usually is. This might mean having an accounting degree if you want to lead your finance department in the transition to new accounting software or methods. Many certified project managers get master's degrees later to stay competitive within their industry.

Typical courses include business management, mathematics, economics, risk management, team building, and planning. Depending on their intended concentration, most project managers focus on construction science, information technology, or engineering.

Online certificates in project management are very popular. As a result, many excellent colleges and universities offer project management certificates online.

What is the PMI?

The Project Management Institute, Inc. (PMI) is a not-for-profit organization based in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania. PMI was founded in 1969 and works to "advance the practice, science, and profession of project management."

In 2001, PMI established what is called the Global Accreditation Center for Project Management (GAC). The GAC evaluates the academic programs in the field of project management offered by colleges and universities nationwide. Currently, the GAC is not recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as an official accrediting body. It is important to note, however, that a credential awarded from PMI is highly respected and recognized by schools, businesses, and organizations across the country.

PMI offers specific project management credentials across various experience levels. Project managers can stay up-to-date and connect with other project management professionals worldwide by being a member of PMI. (In 2009, PMI had 265,000 members from over 170 countries.)

 

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