Although the fundamental concept of project management is similar across industries, the role of a project manager can take different forms. The career path leading to various project management positions might look different for each individual.
Certain career paths and skills can gear a person towards a position in project management more often than others. For example, if you are an assistant manager and have exceptional delegation skills, you are more likely to take up a position of a project manager in a company than a person who has no interest in heading up a team.
Several positions are suited to mould individuals to become successful project managers. The most common path to take a person from a company employee to senior project manager is simple in principle. Before looking at what it takes to move up in the ranks, it is a good idea to know what a project manager is.
What are the types of project management positions?
Project team member
Before getting into a role of management, a person is a part of the team and has general responsibilities for the project at hand. In any project, the team members are crucial for success.
Project manager coordinator
The entry-level position for a project manager consists of general administration and minor delegation. The project manager coordinator is usually tasked with relaying information and doing behind-the-scenes operational management, such as tending to the calendar, reports, and reviews of a project.
Project management assistant
Similar to the project management coordinator, the project management assistant is involved in administrative procedures. The person in this role can be the assistant to the junior or senior project manager, but this is not always the case. The project management assistant could be the go-to figure in assisting with human relations, client communication, and project budget. Consistent and constructive feedback
Junior project manager
The junior project manager has a more hands-on position of management than the assistant project manager. The team members will look to the junior project manager for guidance and instruction and the senior project manager will expect the junior project manager to handle either small projects
Senior project manager
An individual with a great deal of project management experience can become a company’s senior project manager. There is a huge amount of responsibility
The project management career path
The most common career path for a project manager involves most of these positions. The move from team member to project manager coordinator is an important step for a person to break into the project management field.
The entry-level position can look different for different fields, such as in architecture, a young technical analyst could step into a position of management and find themselves a senior project manager in years to come. In all fields, the progression from member to manager can happen in many ways, but generally includes a promotion and a raise. For a project team member to be considered for a position of management, certain skills are needed.
What skills do project managers need?
Essential skills for project management are:
- Leadership – A project manager needs to know how to head up a team of individuals in such a way that the team strives to do their best in their given task.
- Communication – “Communication is key” is not just a fun catch-phrase. Communicating a message clearly is a fundamental skill that any project manager needs to possess to ensure the success of a project.
- Delegation – For a project manager to see a project fulfilled in time and within the allocated budget, it is important that they tap into their human resources. Micro-managing results in frustrated team members and burnt out managers. Delegating duties to the correct team member to complete will assist in a completed project and a satisfied task-force.
- Time and budget-management – A project manager needs to know how to prioritise time and money so that tasks get done timeously.
- Problem-solving – Not everything runs smoothly all the time. And that’s okay; but only if the project manager is able to resolve issues efficiently and constructively.
If you display any of these traits as a team member, then you are more likely to be considered for a project management position than those who do not take the opportunities to develop these skills.
How do I better my project management skills?
If you are wanting to become a project manager, or to rank up in position, then it is a good idea to equip yourself with resources to better your skills. These can be soft skills learnt through work experience or can be honed by doing a relevant degree in organisation or project management, or by taking a project management short course.
Finally, don’t be afraid to show initiative where it might be needed, or to put yourself out there. Risk-taking is a part of project management too.