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Here's how you can build a project management career from scratch

By Ana Isabel Alonsagay

When it comes to delivering business value, project management is key. Its role across industries ensures quality control, continuous oversight, and the strategic fulfillment of goals within companies; holding workers together through operational highs and lows. 

The Project Management Institute’s Project Talent & Job Gap Report in 2017 predicted a continued global demand for such professionals in the coming decade; with an estimated 87.7 million project managers needed by 2027. Statistics also project growth of up to 574,399 project managers in Australia within this timeframe.
Looking for a fulfilling career in a thriving, global industry? SkillsTalk discuss how you can build a project management career from scratch – including the necessary education, experience, and certifications you’ll need for success. 

Is project management the right field for you?

Your first step is deciding whether your personality, current interests, and career ambitions fit the work of project management

Generally, the field favours those who:

Have a passion to lead.

Project managers are responsible for leading their team to successfully deliver on their promises. Rain or shine, those in the profession can maintain their optimism (and those of others) – supporting their workers through moments of strong productivity and inspiring them through ruts or hiccups during operations. Project managers are also naturally invested in their colleagues’ success, with the strong drive to help them do better.

Are excellent communicators and collaborators.

The Project Management Institute estimates that those in the field spend 90% of their time corresponding with those around them. It’s thus imperative to be sharp in your verbal (and written) communicative abilities, as this goes hand-in-hand with leadership skills to set the standards, requirements, and steps to completion for any given project

Being people-oriented is also a key characteristic among project managers; as the role involves a high level of social interaction and collaboration

Can plan meticulously (and with calculated risk). 

Becoming a project manager requires the focused skill to plan and organise. Those who are naturally attentive to detail, enjoy goal-setting, can prioritise effectively and are skilled in multi-tasking will find their efforts highly-rewarded in the field. They are also comfortable and aware of risk – and can further prepare themselves in case of setbacks or failure.
However, project managers can remain pragmatic, and are content with “good enough” rather than unnecessarily striving for perfection.
A mastery of these skills isn’t necessary when starting a project management career (this can be done through further training and experience) – though a strong interest and willingness to learn in such areas is vital to finding success in the field.

Take up a course or two.

woman teaching project management concepts

To further your technical skills in project management, aspiring professionals are recommended to undertake formal education. While it’s possible to pursue entry-level positions without a degree or diploma, those who do will often have a head start on the job market (and continued career progression will eventually depend on pursuing formal study). According to Job Outlook, having a completed contract management, project management, or business administration course under your belt can help in seeking future employment.
Job Outlook’s findings also show that 30.5% project managers currently hold at least a certificate III, a Certificate IV, or a diploma qualification. Nearly half (49.7%) hold a bachelor’s degree, a graduate certificate, or a graduate diploma.

Upskilled is a leading provider in online education, with both a certificate and diploma course in project management to prepare those entering the field. These programs train students in the fundamentals of the profession, equipping them with credentials for entry-level positions or to pursue higher-level qualifications. 

Undertaking online courses also provide aspiring project managers with the flexibility to build work experience on the side (or tend to current work commitments). Students will also have the opportunity to pursue additional courses; as project management is mainstay across industries, some companies may favour those who also have a specific degree in their area – as this often shows a deeper understanding of their field. 

Become an intern (or gain experience from your current role).

Your next step in becoming a project manager is to put your training to practice. While formal qualifications and university degrees help in building your knowledge, the activities and assessments they offer typically don’t demonstrate the real-life consequences of your decisions.
To truly test your skills as a project manager, you must work with a real project amongst other professionals in an actual business setting. There are two common ways to achieve this: by undertaking an internship, or to look for opportunities in your current work role.

Individuals can seek out internship positions on several online platforms, including popular job boards such as Indeed or Jora. LinkedIn is also highly effective in connecting with professionals in the field – some of which may be offering internship positions or scouting for professional hires. Their job board is also rich with work experience opportunities across industries.
Building on your work experience through temporary or intern roles allows you to shadow and learn from experienced project managers. This broadens your practical knowledge and enhances your current skillset, while helping you grasp the real-life demands, standards, and daily duties of the profession.

Alternatively, those already employed can seek out project management opportunities in their current company. This involves an honest conversation with your manager; discussing your goals and the available tasks or assignments you can undertake.
Employees commonly build on their project management experience by leading small projects in their department or supporting an ongoing one. You can also propose your own, though start small – you can begin with areas in your team that need improvement, such as ways to speed up operations or enhance the reliability of processes. 

With enough experience, you can work your way up to an assistant project manager; a continuous, supportive role in larger projects that involve more challenging, intensive management tasks.

Get certified and join an association.

association concept

Finally, consider getting certified in project management and joining a reputable association in the field. 
Acquiring these credentials prove your skills, expertise, and recognition in project management – by training you according to business needs and standards across varying industries. They are proof of your quality practice, and show potential employers that you know what you’re doing.
Taking part in a well-known association also grants you the benefit of accessing industry resources, events, and further certification opportunities to enhance your career. You’ll additionally get to connect with other project managers from varying fields, helping you expand your professional network.

Project management takes a leader’s spirit, persistent training, and continuous challenges.

Those seeking a role to apply their social, leadership, and organisational skills will likely feel at home in the field of project management. From zero experience, one can climb the ladder through the wide range of educational and experiential opportunities available

Upskilled provides aspiring project managers with both a BSB41515 - Certificate IV in Project Management Practice and a BSB51415 - Diploma in Project Management, which can help them develop skills and knowledge needed to pursue entry-level project management, analyst, and administrative roles. Students can dive into the field’s essential risk, cost, and quality-management techniques; along with skills in team leadership, time management, and human resource planning. 

Best of all, both programs are delivered 100% online, helping you study according to your personal needs and schedule. 

Launch your project management career and enquire about a course today. 

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