Project managers are responsible for the planning and organisation of resources and people, ensuring that projects finish on time, stay within the set budget and fulfil the requirements of the business.
If you’re good at keeping all the balls in the air and can take on several tasks at the same time, this may be the career for you. You also need excellent people-skills and should be able to confidently lead a team.
To get into Project Management, you'll need some relevant experience of working on projects, maybe having been a part of a project support team. It will help if you have relevant training and qualifications, for example the PRINCE2 certification.
|Necessary skills, interests and qualities
You will need to have/be:
- Enhanced organisational, planning and time management skills
- Logical in your thinking and possess creative problem-solving ability
- Attention to detail
- Great communication and negotiation skills
- Able to understand budget control
- Ability to work well with others and have team-leadership skills
- Great business understanding
- Technical knowledge which is relevant to the project
- Good IT skills.
Expected work activities
It would be up to you to plan and manage all sorts of business projects, ensuring that they’re completed on time, and meet the needs of the client, while staying within the set budget.
You could be work in almost any area of construction, including overseeing large building developments. No matter what the project is, your work could typically include:
- Ascertaining what the client or company wants/needs to achieve
- Agreeing timescales, costs and resources which will be needed
- Drawing up detailed plans and schedules for each stage of any given project
- Both selecting and leading a productive team of workers
- Negotiating with both contractors and suppliers, ensuring that materials and services are of a quality and price specified by the client
- Ensuring that stages progress within a time scale; that they are on budget and up to required quality standards
- Adequate reporting of progress to senior managers and clients at regular intervals
- Assessing and managing risks to ensure there are no delays.
Part of your work would mean using project management methods such as PRINCE2 (PRojects IN Controlled Environments) in order to break down each project into set stages and monitoring its progress. You would also need to use specialised software to assist with scheduling, costing and risk analysis.
Working hours and conditions
Standard office hours, Monday to Friday, are often worked, however, this can vary and you may need to work overtime to ensure deadlines are met.
Generally the job is office-based, but you may need to spend some time travelling to meetings and visiting contractors and suppliers, as well as visiting construction sites regularly. Sometimes there will be a need to have overnight stays away from home.
Salaries will depend on your experience as well as the particular industry and the size and type of the project. Often there are extra bonuses for meeting, or beating, deadlines.
Junior project managers salary will range from £25,000 - £30,000 a year. Experienced managers often earn from £30,000 - £60,000+. If you decide to become a freelance project manager, you will be able to negotiate a daily rate for the length of the contract. (These figures are for guideline only.)
Are there any entry requirements?
There are different routes into becoming a project manager, but all will require experience of organising and managing both available resources and costs.
It’s possible to study for a foundation degree, degree or postgraduate award in either business or project management. Courses which include work placements can be particularly useful.
Or you can move into project management straight away, dependent on your experience. For example, it’s possible to progress onwards after starting as a member of a project support team, or you could advance after managing smaller projects.
In general you would need experience in applying project management principles and other methods, such as PRINCE2. Skills in software, (for example Microsoft Project or Open Workbench,) are also useful. A working knowledge of development processes like 'Agile' would also be useful.
Further training and development
As well as developing on the job, it’s possible to get training in PRINCE2, project processes such as ‘Agile’, and the use of specific project management software. Training can cover leadership and management skills, as well as risk analysis. You may be encouraged to work towards other professional project management qualifications. These are offered by bodies such as:
- Association for Project Management (APM)
- Project Management Institute (PMI)
- Chartered Management Institute (CMI).
Other work-based qualifications can include:
Level 4 Diploma in Project Management
Level 6 Certificate in Project Management
Level 7 Diploma in Project and Quality Management