Many professionals consider pursuing project manager careers. However, not all of them realize that there are two potential paths available, both of which can get you to your destination.
By understanding how a person may shift into a project management position, you can determine whether one approach better applies to your career and other goals. Here’s a look at the two paths to a project manager career.
The Intentional Path
With the intentional career path, you use a formal approach to acquire the needed skills and experience. Often, the first step is to obtain any required education or training, either through your employer or on your own. Additionally, you’ll want to explore the requirements for various project management certifications, as being able to earn one can quickly position you as a viable candidate for project manager jobs.
In many ways, this option is education focused. You’ll spend time taking courses offered by certifying organizations or higher education institutions, depending on whether you’re pursuing a certification or degree as your foundation. Along with studying, you’ll typically need to pass exams, allowing you to secure the target credential.
Once you earn a certification, you’ll also need to maintain it. In some cases, this means taking an exam every certain number of years. Since the exams can change, refreshing your knowledge is often a must. Additionally, you may need continuing education credits to remain eligible, depending on the certification in question.
The Accidental Path
While some who pursue careers as project managers use the more planned approach outlined above, it’s also possible to get there almost accidentally. Many professionals gain project management-related experience on the job, often by being assigned complex tasks or asked to oversee teams when there’s a larger, collaborative goal that needs handling.
With this strategy, the first step is to assess your current skill set. Identify capabilities that align with the project manager position, such as budgeting, requirements gathering, planning, quality control, risk assessment, procurement, time management, or leadership. Then, compare that to the list of key skills project managers need, allowing you to determine what you’re missing.
Once you have a list of new skills you’ll need to acquire, seize opportunities to do so. Volunteer for assignments at work, take advantage of company-provided training, and join project management professional organizations. You can also speak with your manager about your desire to become a project manager to see if they can provide more direct support.
As you hone new skills, put them to work as quickly as possible. This allows you to gain valuable experience. Plus, it may make new skill-building opportunities more accessible.
Once you’ve got most of what you need, you can plan your next step. Getting a certification or formal education may be beneficial, or you may be ready to apply for project manager opportunities.
Find Your Next Project Manager Job
Ultimately, both of the paths above are solid ways to launch project manager careers. If you’d like to learn more or are interested in project management jobs, the staff at Alpha Consulting wants to hear from you. Contact us today.