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8 essential skills you need to be a project manager

By Fi Darby

If teamwork, organisation and problem-solving are already part of your skillset, then a career in project management could be just what you’re looking for. Project manager jobs are available in a wide range of industries across Australia and offer great opportunities for advancement and learning. 

The average wage of a project manager in Sydney is $116,000 making project management a rewarding career for those with the drive to succeed. Project management is also a great long-term career as it offers so many opportunities for diversification. The skills necessary to succeed in project management include industry-distinct skills and specific project management skills. 

Ideally, you’ll already be working in your chosen industry but project management skills are flexible and can cross industries. An online project manager course can deliver key project management skills. 

Read on to find out more about the skills you need to be a project manager.

8 Important project manager skills

  1. Critical thinking skills.
  2. Creative thinking skills.
  3. Attention to detail.
  4. Scheduling skills.
  5. Remote management skills.
  6. Business skills.
  7. Communication skills.
  8. Self-management skills.
Successful project managers generally have a well-developed set of soft skills. These soft skills help them to manage challenges, adapt to circumstances and reduce their own workplace stress

If you’re considering a career as a project manager, you’ll probably already have some of these. The great news is that all soft skills can be enhanced through experience and training. Take a look and see how your existing skillset measures up:

1. Critical thinking skills.

If you want to be good at decision-making, you need to be able to judge the advantages and disadvantages of a range of solutions. If you tend to take a logical approach rather than an emotional one, you’re on your way with this one.

2. Creative teamwork skills.

Teamwork is about bringing and keeping people together to achieve a goal. The more experience you already have of working with different age groups and levels of experience, the better you’ll be at this.

3. Attention to detail.

Projects are complicated and it can sometimes take only one mistake to throw out multiple processes. If you are used to checking your work and expect accuracy from other people, you’ll probably be good at this.

4. Scheduling skills.

project management schedule

When you take a project manager course, you’ll have the opportunity to learn some specific project scheduling skills. These will be vital tools in your project manager job. An existing tight approach to scheduling and timing is a good sign you’re looking at the right career path.

5. Remote management skills.

With today’s technology, project managers can work with teams all over the world. Getting the right balance between regular check-ins and over micromanagement can be tricky. This will get easier with experience but being good at understanding strengths and weaknesses can help.

6. Business skills.

Business and project management go hand-in-hand. Great project management can lead to business success. Existing experience or skills in business can give a real boost to a project management career.

7. Communication skills.

Today’s project manager has almost too many communication options to choose from. Focusing on the communication needs of your team and other project stakeholders can help you find the right paths to effective and regular communication. The good news is that you can rehearse this in your current job role.

8. Self-management skills.

Before you can successfully manage a project, you need to be sure you can manage and organise yourself. As a project manager, you’ll manage conflicting work priorities on a daily basis. Get ahead of the game now by looking at your timekeeping, prioritisation and planning skills.

Understanding the language of project management

Just like individual industries, project management has its own terms and meanings. Before you apply for a project manager job or look for a project manager course, it can help to understand these:
  • Project scope – the collection of goals, tasks, deliverable and features that make up a project
  • Project risk – the impact of uncertain events on project objectives
  • Project integration – balancing the different elements of a project so they can all be completed with minimal negative impact on each other
  • Project stakeholders – anybody who has an interest in the outcome of a project. These include contractors, clients, management teams and user groups
  • Project recovery – turning around a project and team that has been struggling to meet goals

Industry-specific project manager skills

project management in construction

Project managers are responsible for overseeing projects in different industries. Any industry that brings together different providers has a need of a project manager. Here are some example industries for you below:
  • Construction
  • Information technology
  • Renewable energy
  • Electrical services
  • Landscaping
  • Transport
Project managers don’t need to be able to complete all of the tasks in a project but they do need to understand the key processes and regulations. For example, one of Australia’s larger project management roles is that of construction project manager. Important industry-specific project manager skills for construction projects include:
  • Building skills
  • Engineering skills
  • Technical design skills
  • An understanding of safety and regulations
If you already have industry experience or have opportunities to gain training, things are looking good for your project manager career. However, many project manager jobs also require training in specific project management skills.

Grow your project manager skills

This list of project management skills looks long but many of them will be skills you’re already starting to develop in your existing job role. Take a look through them and pick a few that you feel you need to improve on. Not only could this form part of your ongoing professional development, it can also look great on your resume. 

The other really useful step you can take towards your project management career is to study an online project management course. Upskilled’s BSB51415 - Diploma of Project Management is a 12-month course that has been developed to help you build the confidence to manage a project right through its lifecycle. This course is a great option if you have some experience in leadership roles or if you want to expand your project management potential.
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