3 Must Have Assets for a Career in Project Management
A career in project management is simultaneously challenging and stimulating, where every day brings with it unique obstacles to conquer. This career path best suits those who are fascinated by the ‘how’ of making things, have a penchant for planning and like to liaise with all the people within a given company, from the factory hand to the CEO.
Project managers in Australia can expect a minimum average wage of $105,000, according to seek.com, and Project Management Institute (PMI) has confirmed that Australian project managers are the most highly paid worldwide, with an average salary of over $134,000.
Just like any management position, it requires a combination of personality traits, higher level qualifications and solid on-the-job experience to create a successful project manager.
1. The Right Personality Traits
When selecting a career path, a good place to start is by aligning your own strengths with attributes required of entry-level candidates. Project managers require a number of personal characteristics, as the role is a broad one. Being a good communicator who is able to not only get a message to the right people, but also deliver it in an inspiring way, will take you a long way with project management. Project managers are also natural born leaders, meaning that delegating tasks to a team of professionals is no cause for concern.
If you find yourself leaning towards keeping records, calendars and even diaries throughout your daily life, then a career in project management may just be the fit for you. Pressure and deadlines don’t faze you, because you have meticulously planned your projects to a tee.
2. High Level Qualifications
Project management courses, such as a Diploma of Project Management (BSB51415), are a launchpad from which graduates can enter into a prosperous future career. Not only will it teach the fundamental basics of the industry, it also gives students a chance to rub shoulders with future contacts, and gain some hands-on experience with simulation projects, which can be vital when conveying experience for entry-level roles. Project management can seem like it uses an entirely different language to the uninitiated—particularly some of the methodology lingo, but by the end of your studies, you will be an expert in the most popular project management methodologies.
3. A Mentor By Your Side
Starting out along a career path can be a confusing process. Students and ambitious graduates who manage to find a mentor to take them under their wing will be granted the reassurance of always being able to turn to someone. Not to mention the huge career lift and networking opportunities. A mentor may come in the form of a lecturer/tutor, an employer, or simply someone you meet who works in the industry. Be sure to approach potential mentors with a value proposition: in return for their wisdom, teachings and guidance, you will be able to complete tasks of greater and greater significance for them.
Top 7 Project Management Methodologies to Learn
It’s no secret that project management is a very process-driven industry. For anyone just starting a career in project management, the language coupled with the sheer number of perspectives can be overwhelming. Exactly which processes are deemed the most appropriate in any given situation will depend on who you talk to. However, any study within the field will develop an understanding of a wide variety of models.
By undertaking adult education courses within the sector, such as a Diploma of Project Management, you will be exposing yourself to all of the following processes, software, tools, and many more. With this wealth of knowledge to draw from, it then takes an experienced project manager to determine the right fit for the project at hand.
The waterfall model is seen as the traditional project management methodology, dating back as early as 1956 and first used for the manufacturing and construction industries. It is a sequential process, whereby progress cascades through the phases of conception, initiation, analysis, design, construction, testing, production and maintenance. While still important to understand and implement in some instances, this method notably lacks a way to address modern software development challenges.
Agile software development is a broader term used for methodologies for projects which are largely flexible, evolutionary, or agile. It demands collaborative efforts from teams, focusing particularly on adaptive planning and continuous improvement, with notable features including a short-term delivery cycle, dynamic team culture, and real-time communication.
Scrum is a specific form of Agile software development, where three to nine developers work together as a team toward a common goal. The work is broken down into cycles, ranging between one and four weeks, with daily progress checks. The Scrum approach hinges on removing all possible barriers to productivity, as well as accepting that change during the process is unavoidable, and therefore the process must be adaptive.
PRiSM is an acronym for Projects integrating Sustainable Methods, and as such, places a large emphasis on minimising environmental footprints. Typically implemented for large-scale projects, it is particularly popular for real estate development or infrastructure projects which are at higher risk of harming the environment.
Projects In Controlled Environments, version 2, is a structured method which favours the division of projects into manageable tasks, based on the notion that smaller tasks are easier to control. This method focuses on ensuring that projects have justified business outcomes and contribute value by identifying needs, target customers, benefits and cost assessments.
Kanban, a form of Agile software development, prioritises the idea of steady workflow with rolling deliverables. It helps to identify where time is being wasted, and therefore which area needs attention in the delivery chain. A popular example may be of a whiteboard with ‘planned’, ‘in progress’, and ‘delivered’ columns, where magnets, notes or words are progressed through the process.
Six Sigma, first developed in the 1980s, is a process which seeks to eliminate defects and minimise variability of output. Each project is broken down into a number of improvement areas, defined by specific value targets, each with their own expert team. Different people take responsibility for each area—for example, reducing production time to a certain timeframe.
Your Entry Pathway Into Project Management Study
The project management industry is experiencing ongoing growth, while PWC reports a shortage of qualified personnel in this area. The demand for skilled professionals is therefore extremely high. There are multiple entry points for those who have identified project management as a career conducive to their innate and learned skills.
Certificate IV in Project Management Practice
A Certificate IV in Project Management Practice is an entry-level adult education course designed for those looking to shift career paths toward project management, those just starting out in project management, or those looking to strengthen an existing basic project management knowledge base. Completion of this course would prepare graduates for an entry-level role, such as an assistant or support staff to a project management professional.
Armed with a Certificate IV in Project Management Practice and an entry-level support role, ambitious employees will find that they have the pillars in place to progress up the corporate project management ladder. Some common starting points in the workplace are:
- Project Coordinator
- Assistant/Junior Project Manager
- Project Analyst
- Project Control Specialist
- Work Process Manager
- Project Lead
Diploma of Project Management
A Diploma of Project Management is widely regarded as the industry standard qualification for project managers. Completion of this adult education course ensures that graduates have a well-rounded understanding of the process lifecycle, phases, and various methodologies used for different projects. However, this is not an entry-level course, and students must have either completed a Certificate IV in Project Management Practice, or possess equivalent career experience within project management.
For those with their sights set on the Diploma of Project Management, you may want to research your dual study options, as you can progress from Certificate through to Diploma-level studies quite easily. You can study the Diploma of Project Management online, during hours that suit your lifestyle.
While the Diploma and Certificate IV are recognised nationally, specific Certifications may vary. Perhaps you have had a few years of broad project management experience, but want to return to study to specialise in a certain area, or brush up on newly introduced methodologies. In this case, you might look to study a specific PRINCE2 or Agile Certification, for example. These are endorsed by professional project management bodies, and that body will determine where your Certification will apply. The Australian Institute of Project Management is the recognised local body, whereas Project Management Institute is the most popular in America and these qualifications are recognised worldwide.
Beyond Certificates, Diplomas and specialised Certifications, there is ongoing opportunity to progress your project management career through study. Postgraduate study options are becoming more mainstream for project management professionals in Australia. There are also further still specialisations, not necessarily on methodologies, but on specific skill sets, such as quality auditing. From there, it is a matter of transitioning into program management, portfolio management and eventually on to project director. The sky’s the limit in a career in project management.