Project managers are usually not directly hired, but selected from in-house managerial staff based on past successes with mediating employee issues and increasing the profitability and productivity of their office or department. If you think you have the skills necessary to head large, highly-funded business projects, you should work towards managerial positions in fields like marketing, finance, education and information technology.
Project managers are expected to set responsible budgets and recruit capable, experienced colleagues to complete specific tasks. As such, project managers are responsible for clearly laying out project requirements for new team members, especially if they differ significantly from the normal operations of the company. Project managers are also responsible for meeting with supervisors to report progress and brainstorm new strategies to improve team efficiency, resources, collaboration, and results.
Project Management Student Profile
Project managers are leaders in the business world, so they need to be headstrong, reliable, and willing to make decisions that will determine the success or failure of their team. However, with that sense of leadership, project managers need to maintain a collaborative spirit and remain open to team suggestions.
If project management reflects your career interests, you should hone your math and finance skills, since you may be asked to manage monetary assets of your team or report a preliminary budget prior to beginning a project. As an example, think about the entertainment industry, where producers are charged with negotiating a shooting budget for a studio before their project can be greenlit. This same process is replicated across the business world, regardless of the eventual product of projects. Additionally, you should have strong mediation and interpersonal skills in order to be approachable to your colleagues. This will guarantee a more honest, comfortable working environment, even when deadlines tighten and tensions mount.
Project management, however, may not be the best options even for those interested in business administration and sales. Project expectations and corporate work specifications do not nurture creative energy, so if you rely on independent and abstract thinking, this field may be too constricting. Finally, project management is a high-stakes field where a project can result in either high praise and promotion or a severe deterioration of work relations. That pressure may be too much for some, so you should honestly consider how collaborative and social you are.
Check the Guide to Accreditation in Higher Education to learn more about accreditation and how to determine if the program you select meets the necessary standards.
Common coursework that you will find in a project management degree includes:
- Human Resource Management
- Organizational Ethics
- Cost Management
Associate Degree in Project Management
Earning an associate degree is a good option for those who are interested in business management and administration, but who are not sure if project management exactly matches their career aspirations.
- Credit hours/length of study: 2 years
- Employment prospects: Construction, farming, real estate and lodging are all industries in which managers are only required to have an associate degree or high school diploma.
Bachelor’s Degree in Project Management
Pursue a bachelor’s degree program if you want to expand your career options into fields like public relations, sales and medical administration.
- Credit hours/length of study: 4 years
- Employment prospects: This is your best degree option for prospective project managers who want to qualify for a variety of roles in the business field.
Master’s Degree in Project Management
Enroll in this degree track if you want to build your business administration skills and learn more about corporate law. A higher degree automatically means increased opportunities for raises and promotion.
- Credit hours/length of study: 1-2 years
- Employment prospects: This degree will give you more footing for advanced management jobs.
Doctoral Degree in Project Management
Doctoral degrees are available for this field, but for career purposes, they are largely unnecessary since most managerial professions only require a bachelor’s or master’s degree. Doctorate holders qualify for college teaching positions after three to six years of study.
- Credit hours/length of study: 3-6 years
- Employment prospects: This degree is only necessary if you want to go into higher education.
- Business Project Manager
- Administrative Services Manager
- Compensation and Benefits Manager
- Healthcare Project Manager
- Information Technology Project Manager
- Computer and Information Systems Manager
- Media Project Manager
- Advertising, Promotion and Marketing Manager
- Public Relations Manager
- Education Project Manager
- Training and Development Manager
Project management is a specialized study within the field of business, so most project management scholarships listed here are offered by the Project Management Institute Educational Foundation or other prominent business universities. These scholarships are available to undergraduates and graduate-level students who are enrolled in degree programs related to project management. Students should also note that many scholarships are offered only to students who live within a certain region or attend a specific school.
The amount awarded by these scholarships varies from $1,000 grants to full tuition coverage. When searching for scholarships, remember that any award amount can assist in reducing your financial costs. Often, students can qualify for multiple small scholarships, as opposed to one that awards a large amount, so it is important to consider all your options.