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How to become a Project Manager

Project management can be a challenging, rewarding, fulfilling and varied career. Increasingly, organisations of all sizes and industries have the need for talented project professionals to bring their projects in on time and on budget. The demand for these skills isn’t showing any signs of dwindling, making this a top career choice. In fact, the Project Management Institute (PMI) predicts that project roles are expected to grow by 33 percent through 2027 – some 22 million new jobs!

So how do you become a project manager? What qualifications does the role require? How can you gain experience? And how do you go about landing a job in the industry? We are here to answer all of this and more. From core skills to climbing the ladder, and how you can improve your performance. Let’s dive in…

Becoming a qualified Project Manager

Let’s start with what we know best here at ILX and talk about professional qualifications.

Project Management requires a broad skill set. Project managers are responsible for seeing a project from start to finish. Initiating, planning, executing, and completing projects. As well as monitoring and budgeting throughout the project lifespan, managing teams, and communicating the status of project milestones to key stakeholders.

Developing skills with a project management course will ensure you have the knowledge and skills in your toolkit in order to handle the vast demands of the role. Here at ILX, we have courses available in the various project management methodologies (and a team on hand to help you choose the right course for you), including:

PRINCE2 - a process-based method for effective project management. This qualification will equip you with the fundamental skills needed to be a successful project manager. The PRINCE2 framework is used all over the world and can be tailored to suit any project you are managing.

PRINCE2 Agile - combines the flexibility and responsiveness of Agile with the clearly defined framework of PRINCE2. This qualification teaches all the core skills for a tailored approach to projects using both the PRINCE2 methodology and Agile processes. It provides guidance on how to practically apply both in order to achieve project success.

The great news is that you don’t have to become a full-time student to complete one of these professional qualifications. In fact, many employers assign time and funding for courses such as accredited PRINCE2 training. With classroom-based, virtual, and e-learning options available, it is easy to study alongside your role.

Gaining project management experience

Together with gaining a project management qualification, obtaining experience is key. Start-out roles such as assistant or junior project manager will provide new recruits with invaluable on-the-job training.

Alternatively, look for a role in a sector of interest, an industry where you see yourself progressing. Depending on where you are in your career journey, achieving a leadership role can naturally progress into project management.

Many executives and team leaders report finding themselves fulfilling the role of a project manager at their company. Others in management roles choose to switch jobs to side-step into project management, with the addition of a project management qualification to help them to progress.

Whatever stage you are at on your path to becoming a project manager, know that (almost) any work experience has the power to see you gain valuable, relevant skills for the job. Core abilities include:

Organisational skills: goal setting, scheduling, and tracking progress

Time management: prioritising, delegating, and knowing when to say no to requests

Leadership capabilities: motivating and inspiring your team with a shared vision

Strong communication: spoken and written communication are key, as is active listening

Problem solving abilities: recognising potential risks, and offering innovative solutions

Negotiation know-how: working with competing interests and negotiating the best outcome

Competencies and soft skills such as these can be developed in a number of positions. To unlock success and build up your project management knowledge, combine a PRINCE2 qualification with the experience you gain from working in the field.

Developing a career as a project professional

You’ve done the work, gained the qualifications, secured the role, now what? There are so many prospects for progression as a Project Manager!

Take our PRINCE2 courses for example. They begin at Foundation level, where you set the groundwork of knowledge, before moving onto the Practitioner level to build your skills. From here there are various routes you can take, such as our Managing Successful Programmes (MSP) course, which teaches the fundamental skills needed to be a successful programme manager. Or our Management of Portfolios (MoP) training for those wishing to progress into heading up change initiatives. Our courses progress as you progress, working hand in hand with your career growth.

We’d love to hear from you and help your future career to develop. Get in touch with us today, and we can guide you with personalised development opportunities.