Project Managers are the main overseers of a project or series of projects. They are responsible for planning, defining, and documenting all aspects of the project. They frequently work with a team to ensure the project is hitting appropriate milestones, remains within the budget, and does not veer too much from the initial scope. Understanding and assessing each step within the project is an essential aspect of a project manager’s day-to-day.
Many times, project managers will partner with upper management to ensure the project is on schedule. They will also need to negotiate and collaborate with other departments for support.
The day-to-day tasks of a project manager vary depending on what stage of the project they are in. That being said, many project managers find themselves acting as chief motivator and expert planner for their team. Project managers keep everyone, including themselves, on task. With a strong vision for the end goal and outcome, they must understand every step on the path to completing a project. In general, they will be responsible to:
Define and clarify the project scope, including developing a project plan, deliverables, and assessing what is to be included or excluded from the project work.
Identify the project needs, including what resources, which team members, and any other departments that must be involved to see a successful outcome.
Coordinate team effort, assign tasks, give direction to key project players, and keep everyone motivated.
Create a schedule and project timeline, assuring that each phase of the project remains within budget and project progress is reported.
Implement and manage change when necessary to meet project outputs and lead quality assurance for deliverables.
Control and document the progress of the project from start to finish, as well as evaluate each stage of the project and the end results.
Skills of a Great Project Manager
Project managers are visionaries who can clearly see what steps need to be taken to meet a desired outcome. They often work with multiple teams and departments, and need to be able to communicate and take ownership. It is often the project manager who will be praised or blamed, if the project is a success or failure. Therefore, there are some essential skills that every good project manager should have:
Confidence to lead a team, maintain motivation, and create a positive environment for innovation within the team and project.
Resourcefulness and forward-thinking nature to skirt red tape and tap into potential resources in other departments.
Ability to resolve conflicts and foster an open environment where challenges are shared and discussed openly.
Excellent decision-making and leadership with the ability to tolerate stress, mitigate risk, and problem-solve.
Strong negotiation techniques to ensure proper budget, timeline, and scope, as well as expectation setting for the company leadership.
As businesses grow, projects seem to be never-ending. Fortunately, that paints a good picture for the future of project managers. Project managers are needed across all industries and can create a niche skillset by learning and specializing more in certain types of projects or methodologies.
According to Glassdoor, project managers make an average base salary of $86,036 in the United States. The more niche skills a project manager has, generally the higher the salary will be. For example, an IT Project Manager makes an average $10k more in base salary. Likewise, the more experience you gain as a project manager, the more seniority you will have – and consequently a higher salary.
Looking for the next step in your career? Collabera has many current openings for project managers, with more posted every day. Browse and apply online, or submit your resume to get started with us today!
Expected Education and Certification
Most employers will be looking for at least a bachelor’s degree, usually in management or business administration—though many project managers choose to pursue a master’s degree or professional certificate. While it’s possible to get a job as a project manager without a specific certification, holding a certificate communicates to potential employers that you have a detailed understanding of project management processes, methodologies, and potential risk areas.
Project Management Professional (PMP): Project Management Institute (PMI) puts a solid methodology and pedagogy behind their certification program. Some previous experience leading projects is required to enroll in this program. This certification is the most sought-after by employers.
Certified ScrumMaster (CSM): Scrum Alliance places an [obvious] emphasis on the use of Scrum as a methodology to track and manage projects. Their CSM certificate program has no prerequisites.
Potential Project Manager Interview Questions
With communication skills at the core of your role as a project manager, you will need to have a strong interview in order to land the job. Show your strengths and come prepared for any question. Here’s a few to think about in order to get started:
Share a challenging situation you encountered on a project. What were the conditions and what was the outcome?
How would you handle a change in scope that alters the timeline from a few months, instead to a few days?
How would you explain the project process to a team who is new to Agile, Scrum, or Waterfall?
Which project management tools are you familiar with? Which one do you use most frequently and what are the benefits of that approach?
How do you manage different expectations when Leadership is requesting changes to the scope of the project that does not align with the original goals?
Professional Organizations and Associations
Joining a professional organization demonstrates your commitment to the role, and helps to develop your professional network. You can stay abreast of new skills, innovations, and the latest news in the field of project management.
Staying up-to-date on the latest best practices also includes self-learning. From reading blogs and attending conventions, to taking a free course online, there are many ways and places to expand your skills.
Project Summit: conference looking at the business side of project management.
Explore our Top Project Management Roles
Collabera placed over 400 project managers in 2017. There is always a need, and we are always on the lookout. Searching for a new role as a project manager? Check out some of our top IT project management and scrum master jobs, or submit your resume to get in touch with a recruiter today!