Project managers are the point person in charge of a specific project or projects within an organization. We regularly feature project management resources to help train PMs to land jobs in the industry or develop better skills in their current role. So we thought it would be a great idea to take a look at what core qualifications are required of project managers and define their responsibilities and the common job descriptions for several PM roles.
What Does a Project Manager Do?
Project managers plan, budget, monitor and report on the project with project management tools, sometimes pitching the idea of the project or being assigned to it once it’s already been approved. The project manager is the bridge between upper management, stakeholders and the teams tasked with the actual execution of the project. They make sure the project plan is sound, report regularly on its progress and monitor it to ensure that its execution stays within the approved budget and schedule.
Anything that has a start and a finish, resulting in a product, is a project and its life cycle requires the oversight and leadership of a project manager. That means that project managers work in virtually all fields, from software development and IT to human resources, from advertising and marketing to construction, and everything in-between.
How Much Does a Project Manager Make?
A project manager salary depends on many things such as experience, industry and certifications, but in general terms, project managers are well-compensated for their work, and project manager salaries range around the low six-figures. Project management is an exciting career path, rife with opportunities for well-organized individuals.
How to Become a Project Manager: Education and Certification
There are many entry points into work as a project manager. There is no one path, but there are more linear routes that one can take, just as if learning a trade. Being a project manager is a trade, after all, and there are many trade schools and universities that offer a course of study resulting in a degree.
Beyond academia there is project management training and certifications. There are two major certifying bodies, PRINCE2 and the Project Management Institute (PMI). The latter offers a certification called Project Management Professional (PMP), which has become the primary certification for professionals in the field of project management. To obtain it, project managers must meet qualifications such as 35-60 months of project management experience, 35 hours of project management education and complete a 180 questions certification exam.
Project Management Certifications
The Project Management Professional (PMP) certification is the most common certification for project managers, but it’s not the only one there is. Here are the main project management certifications offered by the PMI:
- Project Management Professional (PMP): This certifies that you’re a capable project manager who is competent in waterfall and agile project management.
- Agile certifications: These are ideal for those project managers that want to work in agile environments as a scrum master, agile certified practitioner or agile value stream consultant.
- Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM): This project management training program is the first step towards getting your PMP certification. It’s recognized by many employers for entry level project manager positions.
- Program Management Professional (PgMP): As the name implies, this certification is meant for those who want to become a program manager. Program managers specialize in managing a group of closely related projects that are part of a program.
- Portfolio Management Professional (PfMP): This project management training will allow you to apply for project management roles that require to manage multiple projects simultaneously.
If you’re looking to get your project management career started but you’re not ready for those certifications, you could check the Google project management certification program, which is not as recognized as those provided by the PMI or PRINCE2, but it’s a good place to start before getting into more advanced project management certifications.
But many people land as project managers without any education or certification in the field. While there is nothing wrong with getting educated and certified, experience is also a great teacher. Then there are those we called the “accidental project managers,” people who find themselves being tasked to lead a project and must hit the ground running.
Project Manager Responsibilities & Duties
A project can begin and certainly is designed to fail if there first wasn’t a plan devised to see it through, on time and within budget. The project manager’s first role is making a feasible plan that achieves the goals and objectives of the project and aligns with the organization’s overall business strategy. This involves creating a project schedule, securing the resources, defining the project goals, among many other things.
Assembling and Leading a Project Team
Project managers need resources to complete the project tasks, which include skilled and experienced team members. A project manager either takes a leadership role with an existing project team or creates one. Once a team is created, you need to create a project schedule to assign them tasks and deadlines, give them the tools to collaborate and don’t get in their way by micromanaging every activity. Meet regularly, of course, and get status updates to chart their progress, while reallocating resources as needed to avoid blocking team members or overburdening them.
Time is always ticking towards the project deadline. While communication is key to address changes and make sure everyone is doing what they need to do, the project manager must also define, schedule and accurately estimate the task duration to develop and maintain a realistic project schedule.
Nothing is going to get done without money. Figuring out what the proper funding for the project is, having that get accepted and then keeping the project within or under budget is often what makes or breaks a project. You can get your stakeholder their deliverables on time, but if that cost more than the budget you created, then the project is a failure.
You want to deliver to your stakeholders what they expected or better and make sure that they’re satisfied with the results. But that doesn’t mean ignoring them to focus solely on the project. Rather, you need to be in constant communications with them, reporting on progress and being open to their feedback to keep them happy and coming back to you with future projects.
Problems will inevitably arise in a project. That’s called an issue. You need to be ready for them and work towards resolving them quickly, so they don’t take your project off-track. Then there are risks, which are potential problems, ones that have yet to occur or might not ever. Regardless, you must figure out beforehand what the risks are and set in place a plan of action if they in fact occur.
To make sure a project is progressing as planned, you must constantly measure it and compare those metrics against the plan you created. Therefore, you must have a way to collect project data, such as status reports from your team, to see if the actual progress of the project is meeting what you had initially planned.
Reporting and Documentation
Reporting is one of the ways you communicate with your team and stakeholders. While teams need more detailed information and stakeholders are looking for broader data to check the project’s progress, both are essential tasks for the project manager. This documentation, along with all paperwork, must be collected, signed off on and archived by the end of a project, which provides a history that you can revisit when planning for a similar project in the future.
What Skills Do Project Managers Need?
Project managers may be required to have a certain skill set depending on the job, project, industry and their experience level. However, there are general project manager skills that are common to any project manager job description. These are the most essential:
- Leadership skills
- Communication skills
- Interpersonal skills
- Team mentality
- Organizational skills
- Time management
- Team management
- Risk management
- Stakeholder management
- Industry-related technical skills
- Knowledge of project management software
- Project management certifications
Sample Project Manager Job Descriptions
For your convenience, here are a general project manager, IT project manager and senior level project manager job descriptions that you can copy, paste and edit as necessary!
General Project Manager
Project manager is responsible for the direction, coordination, implementation, executive, control and completion of project, while remaining aligned with strategy, commitments and goals of the organization.
- Plan and implement projects
- Help define project scope, goals and deliverables
- Define tasks and required resources
- Collect and manage project team
- Manage budget
- Allocate project resources
- Create schedule and project timeline
- Track deliverables
- Support and direct team
- Lead quality assurance
- Monitor and report on project progress
- Present to stakeholders reports on progress as well as problems and solutions
- Implement and manage change when necessary to meet project outputs
- Evaluate and assess result of project
Education & Experience
- Project management qualification (PMP), Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM), or equivalent
- Theoretical and practical project management knowledge
- Knowledge of techniques and tools
- Experience as a project manager
- Experience in strategic planning, risk management and/or change management
- Proficiency in project management software tools
- Critical thinking and problem solving
- Excellent decision-making and leadership skills
- Contract negotiation
- Conflict resolution experience
- Able to tolerate stress
General Project Manager Salary
According to payscale, the average salary for a general project manager in the US is $75,000.
IT Project Manager
An IT Project Manager is responsible for developing and managing information technology projects and their cost, time and scope. Responsibilities include: project plan, communication plan, allocating tasks and setting milestones.
- Create & manage project plans
- Define project schedules, allocate resources and monitor progress
- Align project objectives with company goals, and make sure project team is clear on objectives
- Deliver and install technology solutions
- Help project team with the design and development tasks
- Lead process of issue identification and resolution
- Manage risk tracking process
- Monitor and manage project scope
- Manage all project documentation
- Work multiple projects within the company’s project portfolio simultaneously
- Foster partnership with customers, stakeholders and sponsors
- Three or more years project management experience in information technology I.T.
- ITIL or ITSM certifications preferred. PMP certifications required.
- Thrives in collaborative environment
- Good communications skills, with customers, team and stakeholders
- Business & IT strategy experience
- Customer-focused mindset
- Knowledge of related software development and project management tools
IT Project Manager Salary
According to payscale, the average salary for an IT project manager in the US is $88,900.
Senior Level Project Manager
Senior Project Manager is in charge of schedules, budgets, resources and project deliverables. Delivers business results by ensuring that project management best practices are being met. Monitors teams to make sure the project goals and objectives are being kept. Knowledge of larger landscape without neglecting granular details while tracking project health, staying alert for risk and resolving issues as they arise. Maintains standards and monitors project scope and quality requirements.
- Works with key stakeholders to understand the business needs, and creates a project management plan that aligns with the company’s strategic objectives
- Oversees strategic plan, monitoring and adapting as needed
- Creates project plans, project charters and project schedules
- Maintains project objectives
- Monitors production and quality to customer/stakeholder/sponsor standards
- Identifies and resolves issues and risks
- Reports on project progress, offers viable solutions and opportunities as they arise
- Implements change practices
- Manages resources to make sure schedule is on track
- Project portfolio management
- Lead meetings and set expectations for project team
- Maintain budget
- Reporting on projects and portfolios
- Bachelor’s degree required; MBA preferred. Business administration, management, leadership and related fields.
- 10+ years experience in project management, especially larger projects with established firms
- PMP certificaction required; PMO experience preferred
- Knowledge of agile and lean approaches such as Scrum, Kanban, SAFe, among others.
- Experience in Agile project management teams
- Proven leadership skills
- Expertise in conflict resolution
- Analytical and strong organizational skills, with excellent verbal and written ability
- Proficiency with project management software and related tools including but not limited to ProjectManager, JIRA, MS Excel, etc.
Senior Project Manager Salary
According to payscale, the average salary for a general project manager in the US is $91,350.
ProjectManager Is the Tool for Project Managers
You’ve crafted a thorough job description and landed a highly qualified and motivated project manager. But they can’t do it alone. They need ProjectManager, an online project management software that gives project managers the tools they need to better plan, monitor and report on their projects.
Planning & Scheduling
Think of all those responsibilities that weigh on the shoulders of a project manager. For starters, they must create a project plan. No problem. ProjectManager.com makes planning easy: there are even industry specific templates to get started fast. Once tasks are inputted, they can use the Gantt chart to create timelines and roll out a schedule. From here, the project manager can assign work and even direct the team, commenting at the task level and adding relevant documents. ProjectManager also offers kanban boards to facilitate task management.
Tracking & Reporting
Monitoring production while the plan is being executed is how a project manager keeps track of time, work and costs. ProjectManager has multiple project management tools to track progress on your project. A real-time dashboard gets six project metrics and turns them into easy-to-read charts and graphs for a high-level view of the project, which keeps stakeholders updated.
Resource & Team Management
Project managers need more detailed data to manage resources and their team’s workload. ProjectManager.com has one-click reporting that can be filtered to give you just the information you need. These reports can be shared with stakeholders, too, if they want to take a deeper dive into the project.
It’s always important to make sure teams have a balanced workload. ProjectManager.com has a workload page that is color-coded making it easy to see who is overtasked and who is not. Resources can be reallocated on the workload page so production can continue to move forward.
To get all these features and more for your project manager, try ProjectManager.com today!
No matter what type of project you’re working on, project managers need tools to help them manage all the moving parts of their project. ProjectManager.com was developed by project managers for project managers. It’s a cloud-based tool that gives you real-time data to better monitor your projects, but also has features to help you plan, manage teams and report with ease. Try our award-winning software today with this free 30-day trial.