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It was typical for my middle school to hold an end-of-year science fair complete with erupting volcanoes, homemade rockets (attempts anyway), and many more exciting exhibits. This is probably where many of you encountered project management for the first time. In order to get the smiling sticker and the 100% grade you wanted, you had to develop an idea and see it through to execution. You likely decided on a timeline and a budget, communicated with your classmates and your teacher, and created a process to make your project happen by the due date. So if you rocked your school’s science fair, you should think about being a Project Manager!
The typical day for a project manager is dominated by communication. That means interacting with whichever parties are most involved with the current stage of the project. While these communications will likely take place in person, over the phone, or through e-mail, project managers also rely heavily on project management software tools like MS Project or Basecamp and tracking systems like Dotproject. There are many industry-specific project management software packages, so what you use will depend on the field that you’re working in.
Project managers also spend a lot of time interacting with the end customer. Depending on the type of project it could be an internal or external customer. This relationship is essential, as it lets the project manager know if the goals that he or she has set for other stakeholders are in line with the customer’s expectations. Without this feedback loop, projects can end up losing focus or missing the mark.
A project manager typically makes between $50,000-$129,000 per year. And the sky is the limit from there! You can move on up to Senior Project Manager ($79,000-$153,000), Information Technology Manager ($41,000-$124,000) or Program Manager ($70,000-$154,000).
These hot spots have the highest salaries for project managers:
As you can see by the locations above, there seems to be a strong tie between project management jobs and the government.
Many project managers have college degrees with a focus on business or computer science. Building on that, to be a project manager there are a few skills you should develop: organization, attention to details, ability to multi-task, and a mindset of growth. Additionally, in most cases a project manager should also have Project Management Training, such as a certification through the Project Management Institute.
If project management still sounds like your cup of tea, here are a few things you should do to get started.
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