Project Manager

Overview

Project managers work in many fields, determining and directing the resources, schedules, and team members needed to accomplish a specific goal, such as creating a product. In the field of information technology (IT), project managers are responsible for planning and implementing IT projects. An IT project manager might be tasked with replacing old servers, creating a custom e-commerce site, or merging databases. Successful IT project managers create budgets, plans, and schedules; assemble teams; manage staff; and ensure that the project is completed on time and on budget. Depending on the project, an IT project manager may work with coworkers, customers, consultants, or vendors. IT project managers often report to chief technology officers or chief information officers.

IT project managers must be well-versed in the systems and software they work with. They must also understand business management, because information technology is a key component of most organizations. Because IT project managers lead teams to implement projects, they must have excellent leadership skills. IT project managers must explain project plans and report on a project's status to clients and managers of various departments, so good communication skills are essential in this position.

Computers are central to the vast majority of businesses today, so an IT project manager can find work in a wide variety of industries. Financial firms, insurance agencies, government agencies, business management organizations, and the computing industry are some of the primary employers of IT project managers. IT project managers can also work for consulting companies or become independent consultants.

Outlook

In a 2009 survey, CNNMoney.com ranked the best jobs in America, and IT project manager was listed in the top five. Between 2006 and 2016, this field is projected to grow 16%, which is faster than the average for all occupations. To remain competitive, organizations will need to apply technology in new and more complex ways in the workplace, fueling the need for more IT project managers. As a result of projected employment growth in the coming years, job prospects for IT project managers should be extremely good.

Salary Table

According to the Project Management Institute's (PMI) 2009 Project Management Salary Survey, the median base salary for a project management professional is $100,000. Three-fourths of survey respondents earn more than $84,000 per year, and one-fourth of survey respondents take home an annual base salary of more than $120,000.

Percentile 50% (Median)
Annual Wage $100,000

Research, Explore, and Become a Project Manager

Because they are in management positions, IT project managers need to have a bachelor’s degree in information technology, technical project management, computer science, or management information systems (MIS). Some employers prefer candidates who have earned a Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.). degree with technology as a specialization or concentration.

Experience is also critical to earning an IT project manager position, because nobody wants to hire a project manager who’s never managed a project. Prospective project managers can gain practical experience through internships and volunteer work. Some companies offer an entry-level project manager position, called a program manager, that focuses on small elements of larger projects.

In addition to education and experience, employers may require certification in project management. The Project Management Professional (PMP®) certification, offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI), is the industry standard. PMP courses are available online to help prepare candidates for the rigorous, four-hour exam. Certification candidates must also document their project management experience, describe the results of projects they have managed, and provide proof of their education. According to a PMI survey, project managers who hold a PMP certification earn up to 10% more than their noncertified coworkers.

Additional Resources

Certification

Want to become a certified Project Management Professional (PMP)? Learn more about the certification here: www.pmi.org/Certification/Project-Management-Professional-PMP.aspx.

Job Boards

The Project Management Institute (PMI) has a job board for project managers seeking work. Take a look at: http://careerhq.pmi.org/jobs.

The Computer Society's job board allows visitors to search for IT project management positions here: www.computer.org/portal/web/careers.

Computerjobs.com lists IT project manager jobs. Search their listings here: www.computerjobs.com/.

News Articles

Get the latest news about project managers.

What does it take to be a successful IT project manager? This article offers some tips: http://career-advice.monster.com/career-development/education-training/Project-Management-Skills/article.aspx.

Find out about the importance of experience and certification in project management. Read about it: www.computerweekly.com/Articles/2011/06/16/246997/How-IT-professionals-can-boost-their-salary-and-advance-their.htm.

You have your assignment. To deliver your project on time and on budget, follow these hints: www.itbusinessnet.com/articles/viewarticle.jsp?id=1349436.

According to CNNMoney.com, IT project managers have one of the best jobs in the nation. Find out how this career earned a top spot: http://money.cnn.com/magazines/moneymag/bestjobs/2009/snapshots/5.html.

Professional Associations

With more than half a million members, The Project Management Institute (PMI) is the world's leading not-for-profit membership association for the project management profession. To join, visit: www.pmi.org.

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