Becoming a project manager is possible in all sectors. Pre-requisites include good communication and management skills. A university degree is generally advisable…
Project management remains a skill that is primarily acquired on the job. It calls for a certain maturity and experience. But it’s also a function that often requires a university degree, and that can be perfected with a master’s degree.
Becoming a project manager is possible in all sectors. Pre-requisites include good communication and management skills. A university degree is generally advisable.
Some professionals end up in this job through circumstance, as a result of having demonstrated leadership, interpersonal and organizational skills. Others deliberately choose this path at some point during their career and get into it through training or changing jobs.
People who choose to go into project management initially select a sector that interests them, gain some professional experience, then specialize in project management in this environment. They can then apply their expertise to other sectors.
CHOOSING PROJECT MANAGEMENT WITH FULL KNOWLEDGE OF THE FACTS
Project management is a fascinating but demanding job. Since existing processes cannot be relied on, ongoing vigilance is required.
“Each project is an adventure, a trip into the unknown,” explains Hélène Bénéteau de Laprairie, project manager at Keyrus Canada and Vice-President of PMI-Montreal. “It’s like being on the bridge, awaiting a storm, equipped with a survival kit that will have to do the job. . . You have to show a lot of imagination and presence of mind. Luckily, it’s not a solo trip and we also get to benefit from and celebrate collective successes.”
DIVERSE AND VARIED PROFILES
Many roads can lead to project management. Typical specialties include finance, engineering, civil engineering and information technology, because these sectors often require specific diplomas and technical knowledge. The function is spreading to all kinds of fields, however: event planning, the public sector, arts, business, accounting, marketing and communication.
You don’t have to be an expert in your field to be a project manager, since it is above all a field where soft skills are key. Leadership skills and the ability to manage teams take precedence over technical skills. Project managers seek out information from the specialists around them.
You should be thoroughly familiar with your particular professional field and its associated networks, however. Project managers often work in a particular area, even if their primary expertise is project management.
PROJECT MANAGEMENT TRAINING
Project management training is given at the master’s level. It is designed for professionals with several years of experience under their belt who want to specialize in this area.
It is not mandatory to complete such programs. Most project managers have not, in fact, followed any specific project management courses.
Such courses are a major asset, however, since they allow the acquisition of tools and exchange between professionals, required for standing back and discovering new perspectives. They are also a good opportunity for networking.
The Project Management Institute (PMI) has a certification program that is the ultimate reference in the profession: the Project Management Professional (PMP). This internationally recognized certification is based on a challenging exam, open to professionals with 35 hours of formal project management training. A bachelor’s degree is required, along with at least 36 months of relevant project management experience in eight years, or a college degree, high school diploma or equivalent, with a minimum of 60 months of project management experience in eight years.