Becoming a project manager is not something that a huge number of kids dream about while growing up. That could be down to a lack of project managing superheroes or just the fact that, outside of the profession itself, not many people really know a good deal about it. This means that you could be a budding expert, with excellent organizational skills and a talent for visualizing the progress of a task but have no idea that your perfect career lies in project management.
If you’ve come across the term or have seen others in action and believe it is a direction you want your professional life to be going in, but have no idea how to become a project manager, then this is for you.
How to Become a Project Manager
There is not just one single route into project management and, depending on your previous experience, some people might find themselves further along the road than others. The following tips are therefore general and look to include something for everyone.
- Find out what project management is
It might seem very basic but actually understanding what project management entails will be very helpful in discovering what skills you already possess and what you will have to work on to become a project manager. A simple read through the PMI’s definition of project management or the same from the British APM are good places to start.
- Talk to people in the field (or read blogs) about how they got started
Project managers love to communicate and evaluate their experiences, which means that there are lots of great blogs out there about project management. By seeing how others got into the trade before you, their experiences of starting out and their networking tips you will get a decent idea of how to become a project manager.
- Start viewing projects in your life through a PM’s prism
Chances are that you are already managing projects at some level, whether you know it or not. It could be putting new tiles in the bathroom, organizing a wedding or finalizing your ultimate fantasy draft spreadsheet, all of these things require project management. When you start looking at these common tasks through a PM’s eyes, you’ll see how closely project management aligns with your life.
- Assess your communication with others you work with
People management is a very important element of project management. While you may be more used to horizontal relationships with your colleagues, it can be a good trick to start evaluating how well you actually communicate with those around you. Listening carefully and being clear in your own views are important attributes, while when it comes to networking tips, being able to demonstrate value succinctly is good to get other professionals on your side.
- Start using project management tools in your life
Like most things in the world, project management has been revolutionized by cloud-based project management software. This has freed up project managers from a lot of repetitive updating and communication, giving PMs a chance to show their real worth. By starting to use them in your everyday life you can get accustomed to how they work and can benefit your planning processes.
- Study for certification
Getting certification from the PMI to become a Project Management Professional, or other Project Management degrees, will clearly demonstrate to your future employer that you are dedicated to your profession and willing to put in the work to improve your skills. It is not absolutely necessary to start in the field, but it can certainly help and can also be something you work towards while in employment.
- Apply for positions
Of course, after all that, one of the most important aspects of becoming a project manager is actually working as one. Search your own organization’s bulletin board, LinkedIn or your job search site of preference to see how the job requirements match up with your own skills. The interview process and feedback if you don’t get the position can also be very beneficial when starting out.