By Scott Hirsch
Careers in project management are well-paying, dynamic and exciting. Are you a student or young professional considering a career in project management and don’t know the benefits or where to start? I work at TalentMarketplace where our platform’s sole focus is to help people find work as project professionals. I often get asked “Why choose a career in project management and how do I get started?” My goal with this article is to answer those two questions.
Why Choose a Career in Project Management?
Project management is a space that is easy to enter. There is a strong community associated with the Project Management Institute. They are always looking for volunteers with any experience level and it’s a great way to get involved while still in school. While “Project Manager” is the most well known job title, there are many other highly accessible titles that fall under the same category. Other titles include Project Coordinator and Business Analyst. These positions are often more accessible for entry level talent. I usually see junior folks start in one of these positions and work their way up to become a project manager.
Project management offers practitioners a transferable skill set that can be applied to many industries. There are project managers in every field from aerospace and IT, to construction and mining. This means that project managers have opportunities to work in a variety of spaces and seldom get bored. These skills are also geographically transferable. As long as language isn’t an issue, project managers find success internationally because the standards are transferable. Additionally, average project length is 18 months which provides ample opportunity for project managers to explore new opportunities. I often see good project managers have several options on the table for which project they’d like to do next.
Project management is a well-paid, growing field with strong job security. The median salary for a project manager in Canada is over $96,000 which is 55% more than the median salary for a CPA. Entry level positions as project coordinators or business analysts often start around $40,000 to $55,000 which is strong for most new graduates. Project management is growing. There are 779,828 project management positions projected to be available by 2027 in Canada alone which is a growth rate of over 13% over the next 10 years. This growth rate and skills gap create providing long term job security well into the future. Additionally, project management requires strong soft skills such as communication and organization which reduces the risk of the professional being outmoded by automation. Some of the strongest project managers I see make well into 6 figures.
How to Start a Career in Project Management
Experience is the most important way to advance your career in project management. Join a club at school and run a project. Take a project management class inside (or outside) of school and run a real world project. Volunteer for the PMI. Use project management practices to get a couple of real projects under your belt even if they are short term (~1 to 3 months). Quantify the results (even if they’re small) and use them to get your next project. Examples could be “Raised $500 for charity in 2 weeks”, “Gathered 100 email addresses for a mailing list to raise awareness about homelessness” or “Ran a successful dinner event with 50 attendees on time and on budget”. I often see students undervalue or miss opportunities to talk about their accomplishments because they may not seem like projects. Try to view these accomplishments through a project management lens and use it to your advantage.
Pursue a certification.
The Project Management Professional (PMP) certification is the most well known for project managers in North America but it requires a significant level of industry experience. However, there are more entry level certifications available for junior talent. Take a look at the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) certification. This certification is valued by industry professionals and is attainable by people that are pre-experience in their careers. It will give you an advantage over the competition when applying for project coordinator or business analyst positions. In the future, consider pursuing a PMP certification once you have the experience.
Find a job.
If you’re looking for entry level jobs in the project management space then project coordinator and business analyst positions are your best bet. Job boards are a good way to find some of these positions. Networking is also important. Find local project management events. Our project management events calendar at TalentMarketplace is the best summary for all project management focused events in Vancouver. Sign up for a site like TalentMarketplace where our platform gets your profile in front of employers before they post a job. Additionally, our phone screening and resume review will help make sure that you are displaying your best self in all aspects of your job search.
Project management is an excellent career choice with ample opportunity and future security. Getting started is easy through networking, working and certifications. I personally wish you the best in your pursuits and please reach out to me at email@example.com if you have any questions!