What is a Project Manager?
In larger companies, often a group of people is assigned to work on a "project" for 3-6 months to maximize efficiency and productivity. A project has many moving parts and people, and to keep other team members focused on their main roles, a project manager is assigned to make sure balls keep rolling.
Often this is done with a spreadsheet “project plan” with different timelines for each team member. This can be extremely valuable for the team, because often their jobs rely on someone else partly (for example– you can’t develop a site that hasn’t been designed yet! If a developer got the designs for a page a day before the deadline, everyone would fail).
A project manager’s work can vary extremely based on the company, whether they are client facing (link to blog post) or not, and where they sit in the company (marketing, product, elsewhere). But the core competencies remain the same.
If organization, spreadsheets, and planning are your love language, read on. This is one of the easier jobs to break into, and provides exposure to many other roles. This is a great way to break into the tech/remote space and see what kinds of activities you like to do at work!
What does a Project Manager do?
A project manager is responsible for getting things done, and their day to day activities reflect this.
You can expect to make and upkeep “project plans”, often, which are schedules of when certain milestones should be hit to achieve tasks before a deadline.
Often there is a budget associated with the project, and that will need to be tracked too. Communicating the project plan and budgets associated with other team members, updating the plans, and making sure project “milestones” are hit in a timely manner are the backbone of the job.
Do I need a degree to be a Project Manager?
None required for an associate/entry level position. This is actually one of our favorite jobs for breaking into tech, with tons of upward mobility.
Job descriptions will often mention a requirement of SOME degree, but this is not a hard rule. If you can demonstrate organization in other things (restaurant management, secretarial or customer service work), you have a great shot at a project management job. Mid Level roles sometimes require a PMP (project management professional) or others outlined in the certifications below. Often a company will pay for necessary training for associates.
- Anyone with heavy planning experience, like veterans or teachers
- Liberal arts degrees with good soft skills
- Data entry, accounting, and receptionist professionals
Our Favorite Project Management Certifications
Project Management Certificate
This is one of the only self-paced university SEO certifications, and we loved every second of it. The program has a great mix of technical and theoretical concepts to get you familiar with the role, fast.
Project Management Foundations
This course is great if you're new to the tech world and interested in learning about more options than just project management.
LinkedIn Learning subscriptions are great for exploring many options with one cost.
Project Management for Beginners
This class is a top seller on udemy, and covers popular growth hacking tactics including both SEO and social.
Career Path of a Project Manager
While this sample career path is very common in the tech industry, project managers can have a range of roles and responsibilities. Often project managers transition into other product roles, and sometimes even research roles!
What is a Project Manager's salary?
We've aggregated thousands of salaries across glassdoor and linkedin, and project managers can make anywhere between 65k - 86k, depending on their location and skillsets.
Top Skills of a Project Manager
We've compiled thousands of job descriptions for project managers to record the most common requirements to save you time. While preparing for interviews, keep in mind specific times you've demonstrated these skills.
- Running daily standups and other planning meetings such as refinements or sprint planning
- Budget creation and monitoring
- Time management for yourself and others
- Experience with Agile Teams & Planning
- Communication with internal and external teams
- Account Management
- Creation of new team processes and norms
- Multi-team scheduling
- Managing team burn reports
Top Tools of a Project Manager
We've also compiled the most common tools listed in job description. If you're serious about becoming a project manager, get familiar with these and be ready to talk about them.
For Scheduling & Time Tracking
- Google Suite
Other Helpful Tools
For Task Management
Key Traits & Competencies of a Successful Project Manager
Arguably one of the most important competencies of project managers is keeping track of team member's tasks.
Project managers have to resource plan under budgeting constraints. They also have to visualize and report on budgets.
Project managers need to keep themselves and their team meticulously organized to get work done as efficiently as possible.
Project managers must be detail oriented to make sure their teams do not miss critical information.
Project managers need to be adept at people management to make sure the team meshes.
Project managers have to be able to handle multiple swim lanes of communication at a time, and make it look easy!
As a Project Manager, you'll work all kinds of roles. These are the most popular:
Difference between Project Manager and Program Manager
Project managers are mostly entry to mid level roles, and usually manage one big project or client at a time. They hop from project to project in various timeframes, but usually their focus is dedicated.
Program managers on the other hand are more senior than project managers. Program managers usually oversee multiple projects that roll up into an area. They may also manage project managers, or have several on their team working on projects that roll into a program.
Therefore while a project manager may work to improve a single area of a mobile application for a company, a program manager may be responsible for all the improvements on the application, or even multiple applications and the related projects involved.
Get Project Management Experience at Home
Learning on the job is one of the fastest ways to get familiar with new topics, and showing is much better than telling. Create a few free accounts with some popular project management tools (such as ASANA, Jira, Trello) and create a task manager for a household project. Watch Youtube or take a recommended class to learn how.
A project could be something as easy as logging steps to a family cooking recipe, or something as complex as managing a home remodel project. This is great content for a mini"portfolio" to talk about and reference in interviews.
Being a project manager is a great entry-level way to get experience with several roles and responsibilities within an organization. It's also a great way to break into a tech career because it does not require any hard skills to be successful.
Here at Bridged we are huge fans of stacking micro-certifications to achieve desired career results. We're building a product to make your career planning fun and affordable, and we'd love to talk to YOU! Was this article helpful? Did you land an interview for a role in project management?
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