How to launch your career in project management

Project management can be a rewarding and challenging career, but where do you start?

by MT Staff
Last Updated: 27 Feb 2018

Project management is a well-regarded and challenging career path that can command substantial salaries. The Association for Project Management (APM) is currently running its annual survey on salary trends in the profession. Their most recent research has found that the average salary of a project professional sits at around £50,000.

The diverse range and scope of the work involved makes this an attractive career option, particularly for experienced professionals seeking to transition into a new role.

What is project management?

Professional bodies describe project management as the application of processes, methods, knowledge, skills and experience to successfully deliver project objectives.

A project manager is responsible for bringing a project to completion on time and within an agreed budget. Their ability to manage teams, define processes and organise a range of disparate datasets into a coherent scheme of work is highly prized and sought after.

At the project’s inception, the project manager must define the scope of work, outline its deliverables and devise a detailed, compelling business case. The manager then takes ownership of implementing the project

What’s the first step?

The main entry point into the project management profession is via Axelos-certified qualifications. PRINCE2 (or PRojects IN Controlled Environments) is the industry standard qualification which provides the core skills in best practice for managing a project.

If you live in the capital, Axelos courses such as the PRINCE2 Course in London or the PRINCE2 Weekend Courses in London are a good place to start. Outside of London, you can find a PRINCE2 Course in Birmingham, Edinburgh, Dublin and in most large towns and cities across the UK and Ireland.

It’s an investment worth making. The Project Management Institute’s (PMI) ‘Earning Power’ survey across 37 countries found that those with professional certification earn 23% more than those without.

Demonstrating professional standards

Following certification, it is useful to seek membership of a professional body such as the UK chapter of the PMI or the APM. The former is a worldwide body, and the latter holds chartered status in the UK.

A commitment to professional standards, allied to an Axelos-accredited certification, provides a strong statement about an individual and their passion for the role.

Membership of the professional bodies also opens up the door to continuous professional development and further training. This commitment to ongoing learning and improvement underpins all successful careers but is particularly true of project management, where a proven ability to adapt to new and complex situations is essential.

Embracing technology

Alongside professional development, project managers should have a grounding in the various disciplines of the teams they lead, especially as it relates to new technologies that are transforming the working environment.

As technological advances and digital change improve the speed and efficiency of processes, project managers of the future need to be prepared to embrace these new opportunities to ensure projects can be delivered more smoothly. 

Image credit: Toni Lozano/Wikimedia Commons

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