Now you know the crucial soft skills required to become an effective project manager. But what other qualifications or experience are required? Let’s take a look.
What higher education is required?
There are no particular higher education requirements to become a project manager. Some universities do offer degree courses with a project management specialization. Here are a few examples.
Arizona State University offers an online degree in Organizational Leadership (Project Management). The University of South Wales offers a BSc in Construction Project Management. Cranfield University offers an MSc in Programme and Project Management.
The theories, methodologies, and principles taught in degree courses can also be gained through other routes. These include accredited industry qualifications. Some people may fall into a project management role from other careers and may learn these on the job.
What licenses, certifications, and registrations are needed?
Learning on the job is possible. But a professional qualification makes you stand out from the competition. There are hundreds of project management courses out there. Look for one accredited by these governing bodies:
- Association for Project Management (UK)
- Project Management Institute (US, Global)
- Australian Institute of Project Management (Australia)
- Axelos (UK, global delivery through PeopleCert)
- Scrum.org (US)
- ScrumAlliance.org (US)
- ScaledAgile.com (US)
Choosing a project management certification will depend on which methodology you want to pursue.
Projects follow either an Agile or Waterfall methodology. Agile projects complete tasks in short sprints. These usually last around two weeks. At the end of each sprint, the project team prioritizes what should be tackled next. Under the Agile umbrella, there are a number of frameworks, such as Scrum, SAFe, and Kanban.
Waterfall projects are thoroughly planned upfront. Work is completely sequential. Each task is completed in order according to what other tasks are dependent on it. Some approaches, such as PRINCE2, combine both Agile and Waterfall principles.
Different project management certifications are required for different roles. There are overarching project management qualifications. For example, the PMI-certified Project Management Professional (PMP).
There are also niche qualifications, such as the ScrumAlliance’s Certified ScrumMaster. Coursera offers the Google Project Management Certificate. If you’re interested in project management jobs at Google, that could be a great option.
What on-job internships or apprenticeships are typically undertaken?
Some project managers start as project assistants before moving up to lead teams. Organizations with in-house project management may offer internships or secondments to interested employees. They may even sponsor them to take a professional qualification while gaining experience.
There are also project management apprenticeships available with several large organizations. These include BAE Systems, British Airways, Toyota, and Vodafone.
The Association for Project Management offers two apprenticeship pathways. The Level 4 Associate Project Manager Apprenticeship takes 12–15 months to complete. Apprentices gain the APM Project Management Qualification (PMQ) during the program. The Level 6 Integrated Degree Apprenticeship usually lasts four years. As well as the PMQ, graduates of the program receive a degree in project management.
What advancements or specialization opportunities are there?
There are almost limitless ways to advance your project management career. As you become more experienced, you may decide to take a specialized qualification. This could include learning a different project methodology or framework. For example, perhaps you initially took a PRINCE2 qualification. You might decide to broaden your technical skills with a qualification in one of the Agile frameworks.
Or you might continue your career journey with a complementary qualification. This could include a change management or project management office (PMO) certification. The Change Management Institute maintains a global network of endorsed training providers.
Some project managers might wish to gain additional training or job experience as a program or portfolio manager. Program managers are responsible for a suite of aligned projects. Portfolio managers are responsible for a collection of independent, unrelated projects.