Employers will need about 90 million people in project management-type positions by 2027, a 2017 Project Management Institute report found. That’s almost 22 million new jobs.
Alongside the anticipated job openings, there’s a lot to like about project management. Many find the work gratifying: seeing a project through completion and helping staffers achieve team and individual goals. The pay isn’t bad either. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, management occupations in May 2017 had a median annual wage of $102,590.
But before you jump to this new career path, take a minute to think about this question: is project management right for you? The points below can help you make that decision.
You need a dual skillset as a project manager: the ability, and patience, to dig deep on certain details, such as project budgets that have gone astray and staffer performance metrics; and the ability to step back and see how these details fit into the bigger picture. You’ll constantly toggle between these two modes.
You’ll certainly use these skills when planning projects. On the one hand, you’ll need to think through the fine details, such as staffer capacity and allocated hours and budgets, when you’re about to kick off a new project.
On the other, you’ll have to think big picture and plan for several quarters in advance. Anticipate the amount of work you can take on and staffers who you may need to hire. Naturally, a project you planned in March will change
You’re managing budgets and staffers, hitting deadlines, keeping clients informed, and analyzing reports for multiple projects. Plus, you’re working with a variety of staffers and their idiosyncrasies. In short, as a project manager, you’re juggling many moving parts each day for multiple projects. Needless to say, staying organized is critical.
Don’t get too comfortable with your current skill set. It’s no surprise that technology is taking the workplace by storm, underscored by the uptake of artificial intelligence and the internet of things.
Understanding technical topics can help you better use and understand the tools and data at your disposal. At the same time, you may find yourself partnering more with people who already have a technical background, such as data analysts, who can help as you navigate your projects.
Part of your role as a project manager will involve working with others, whether that’s sharing the project plan with your team or explaining to your client why you’re over budget.
Your means of communication may vary, from chat-based apps to in-person meetings. Regardless of the means, communicating clearly and proactively—that is, addressing issues before they become big problems—will go along way in your career as a project manager.
Project management isn’t just about numbers and deadlines. Equally important is thinking subjectively. For example, consider team dynamics when devising your team of staffers to complete a project. Just because Joe and Bob have the capacity to take on more work, doesn’t necessarily mean they should be on the same project if they don’t work well together. You’ll save yourself stress and time by thinking through some subjective measures.
Ultimately, for any job to be rewarding you ought to enjoy the day-to-day. Hopefully, the points above give you some context about what it means to be a project manager and what you can expect.