Do you love to be organised? Are you always the go-to person who arranges family gatherings, birthday parties and nights out?
Sounds like you love to be in control of a project my friend! If you’ve ever thought about translating that passion into your professional life, you might have considered becoming a Project Manager.
The great thing about Project Management is you can work in literally any industry - but how do you make the transition into a PM role?
Assess your skills
If you want to become a Project Manager, you should start by looking at your existing skill set to see if you have the right core skills. A good Project Manager needs a wide range of skills in their arsenal, with time management and good communication skills right at the top of the list.
You’ll also need strong leadership skills including the ability to motivate people and the knowledge of when and how to delegate tasks.
Other skills you will definitely use as a Project Manager are:
- Risk Management
- Critical thinking
- Problem solving
If you’re strong on these skills, then you have a good foundation on which to build towards becoming a Project Manager.
Now that you know you have the right skills you can go ahead and get some qualifications to prove you’d make an excellent Project Manager.
There are a number of routes you can choose; which one you take will depend on how confident you are in your existing knowledge.
APM Project Fundamentals Qualification (PFQ)
If you’re a complete newbie to Project Management and feel like you need a broad and comprehensive qualification, this is the course for you.
There are no entry requirements and the course will give you a good introduction to 10 key project management principles including Scope Management and Communication.
PRINCE2 Foundation & Practitioner
PRINCE2 is a process-based method for effective project management. It’s one of the most commonly used methods throughout the UK and worldwide.
PRINCE2 has 2 levels of standard qualification: Foundation and Practitioner.
The good news is that the Foundation course has no formal entry requirements, so if you feel confident that you have some understanding of Project Management, you can jump right in. Completing this course will enable you to confidently work on a project team that’s using the PRINCE2 method.
Once you’ve passed the Foundation, you can then move on to the Practitioner course which is much more in-depth and will enable you to tailor and apply the PRINCE2 methodology to any project.
The Practitioner course builds on the knowledge you learn from Foundation and teaches you how to apply and adapt this to real-life scenarios. Once you’ve passed this, you’ll be able to run any project using the PRINCE2 process.
PRINCE2 courses are available online as well as in a classroom setting, giving you much more flexibility and control over your studies. Most training providers will offer a Foundation & Practitioner combined course which will save you money.
Apply for related roles
Professional qualifications are a great way to develop practical knowledge of Project Management, but you'll still need to get work experience so you can apply this knowledge in real life.
If your organisation has a dedicated project team you should try asking to help on upcoming projects. This will give you valuable work experience and the opportunity to observe how the Project Manager works and pick up any good practices they follow.
You could propose or volunteer to run projects within your current role to help you demonstrate the skills your qualification has given you.
You can also start applying for junior or related roles like Junior Project Manager or Project Coordinator which will allow you to prove your worth and work your way towards the top job.
As in any job, you can’t just sit back once you're qualified and assume you’ve acquired all the knowledge you’ll ever need. The business world never stands still, so you’ll need to continue to develop yourself professionally to keep up.
A quick and easy way to keep yourself up to date with the latest developments is following a few Project Management blogs. There are loads to choose from, so here are a few of our personal favourites:
- Project Management Tips - The Ronseal of PM blogs: it does exactly what it says on the tin
- Project Smart - A huge knowledge base of articles and whitepapers
- Green Project Management blog - An informative and practical blog devoted to environmentally friendly and sustainable project management
- PM Student - Aimed at students, but still a very useful resource for refreshing your knowledge
You can also keep learning in a more official capacity as there are plenty of more advanced Project Management qualifications you can choose to study.
The APM also has the power to grant chartered status, which will only be given to those who show a commitment to continuing professional development, so if that’s the route you want to take it’s wise to start your CPD early on in your career.
The most important thing to remember in your career as a Project Manager is that to be truly effective in your role, you have to enjoy it.
There will be times when your best-laid plans and projections go haywire and it’s then that you’ll really have to draw on your passion for the job. Combine that passion with the right training and practical experience and you’ll be unstoppable!