If you’re looking for a career with plenty of opportunities for growth, consider becoming a project manager. PMs are in high demand across many industries, and the job outlook looks good for the foreseeable future. But what exactly does a project manager do? And how can you become one?
This post will answer those questions and more, so if you’re interested in learning more about this exciting and rewarding career path, keep reading!
1. What Is an IT Project Manager?
An IT project manager is the person that every business wants to have onboard for any given IT initiative. The primary responsibility of an IT project manager, as their name implies, is to manage projects. This implies that they’re responsible for identifying what needs to happen and organizing resources accordingly. You could even say that they set out roadmaps or schedules according to which a project is going to happen. That might sound very easy, but it’s a lot more challenging than you would think, especially in the IT world where things change so frequently and on such a granular level that even just putting together a calendar for next week can be hard enough.
In order to manage projects successfully, an IT project manager needs a lot of knowledge on a wide range of topics. An IT project manager will work with programmers, system administrators, and network engineers to make sure that all the technical aspects of any given project are covered. They need to know what those people do in order to be able to communicate effectively with them. They also need to understand how software is developed and delivered in order to know how changes will affect other systems. And they need to be able to communicate what needs to happen very clearly because it’s their responsibility that things actually get done.
2. What Are the Qualities Project Manager Need to Have?
Project managers are often expected to be Swiss Army knives which can turn their hands to anything. But there’s always something IT project managers are better at. Find out here in my list of ten things that make a great IT project manager!
1. Take the lead
IT projects are complex. They need a project manager who can take the lead and show everyone else where they’re going. The ability to set direction is a core PM skill. Plus, clients love it when you get up in front of a crowded conference room and tell them how it’s going to be! There isn’t an IT project manager alive who hasn’t felt the thrill of standing in front of a room full of clients and stating their case.
2. Act as an interface
Everyone has to deal with clients. But IT project managers are often the only interface between business teams and technical teams. That means you need to be able to think on your feet, interpret information, and communicate it back to your team.
3. Delegate responsibility
The buck stops with the project manager, but they can’t be everywhere at once. As well as delegating sub-tasks to individual members of staff, great IT project managers… know how to delegate responsibility. They don’t try (and fail) to do everything themselves.
4. Get their hands dirty
You can’t be a control freak and expect your team to do exactly what you say. IT project managers need to know how the technology works, even if they’re not experts in IT systems. And it’s tough for a PM who doesn’t have deep technical knowledge of the area to get their head around the complexities of the project.
5. Speak geek
The language of technology can be a minefield for those who aren’t fluent in it. IT project managers need to speak geek and know all the right acronyms and buzzwords that will get their team excited about what they’re working on. To do this, you need to.
6. Know the technology
I’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating. For an IT project manager to be successful, they need to know the technology. They may not need to be experts at every aspect of their project (the job would be impossible!), but they need to be able to understand the basics… and make sure their colleagues know it too.
7. Cut through red tape
Clients don’t always see the value of IT projects. Sometimes, that’s because they don’t understand how technology can help them (and who could blame them? It’s probably not on their radar every day). Other times, clients are busy, stressed, and just looking for an easy way out. This is where IT project managers come into their own. They need to spot the issues that are holding up progress – sometimes by asking the right questions, other times by having a nose for what’s going wrong before it goes wrong!
8. Be organized
IT projects are notoriously prone to slipping deadlines. Everyone wants their IT project to run like clockwork, but that’s just not possible. The best IT project managers know this and act accordingly. They get themselves organized, make plans, file paperwork.. you name it!
9. Get the team working together
There are usually dozens of people involved in an IT project (if not more). It’s tough for a project manager to be in control of all those people and make sure they’re doing what they promised. Good IT project managers know how to get the best out of their teams, having spent plenty of time working alongside them (and not just supervising them from afar!).
3. How to Become an IT Project Manager?
In order to become an IT project manager, there are some specific qualifications and skills that must be met. For example, a bachelor’s degree in computer science or engineering is generally required. In addition, experience with developing and managing large-scale projects will help your chances as well. Most importantly, though, you have to have good communication skills so that you can effectively lead teams while still being able to listen and understand their needs on a more personal level – and of course, you need to be able to keep your projects and outcomes alive and well organized.
If you already have the qualifications and skills, here are some tips for how to become an IT project manager:
- Attend seminars and conferences related to information technology as much as possible. This will allow you to gain the necessary experience and insights into the field.
- Try to work as a computer consultant or in another similar role that will allow you to gain valuable practical knowledge.
- Networking is also very important, so try to establish contacts with other IT professionals and managers within your network. This way, you can create a good team together so that you may submit projects for bigger companies.
- Familiarize yourself with the different tools and techniques that are currently used in project management. Use those that you find to be most useful as much as you can.
- Don’t forget to establish a good rapport between yourself and your team, as this is the key to success within every project.
- The first few projects that you take should not be too big or complex, as this would only lead to an unnecessary level of stress and pressure. You need to start small so that you can learn from your mistakes and improve as you go along.
- Finally, prepare yourself for the long hours and challenging work. Being a project manager is not an easy job, so only take it when you feel that you are ready.
4. How Much Does an IT Project Manager Earn?
An IT project manager earns an annual salary of $82,000. In addition to their base salary, they may also earn bonuses and other compensation depending on the company they work for and the project they are managing. Generally speaking, those in charge of larger or more complex projects will earn more than those managing smaller or simpler projects.
According to Indeed.com, the national average salary for an IT project manager varies from $69,000 to $100,000, depending on a variety of factors, including location and experience level. Those with two or more years experience typically earn closer to the high end, while those entry-level or with one year of experience earn closer to the low end.
5. The Job Outlook for an IT Project Manager
The job outlook for an IT project manager is positive. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that there will be a 15 percent increase in jobs for IT project managers from 2016 to 2026. This means that there will be about 25,600 new jobs created during this time period. Some factors that are contributing to this growth are the increasing number of businesses that are using technology and the need to upgrade and maintain aging information systems.
6. What Skills Are Required to Become an IT Project Manager?
Some of the skills needed to become an IT project manager include:
- The ability to communicate with both employees and clients
- Leadership skills
- A practical understanding of the field in which you will be managing projects. If you are working in Information Technology; it would be helpful to have an IT background.
- An understanding of how business works, especially when it comes to budgeting, time management and prioritization.
- An understanding of the organizational hierarchy as well as how different departments work together
- Technical expertise in IT, or at least a willingness to learn new technology as it becomes available
- The ability to multi task and balance multiple projects at once
- Excellent planning and analytical skills
- A positive attitude and the ability to work in a team
7. Pros of Being an IT Project Manager
Some of the Pros of being an IT project manager include:
- A challenging and rewarding career
- The ability to work with different kinds of people
- Flexibility; t his type of job does not require you to work the typical 9-5 hours that are common in other types of office jobs . You may be required to work very long hours, but in return it can also take you around the world
- The ability to earn a generous salary; this increases with experience and seniority in the field
- Job security; IT is always in demand Companies are constantly trying to utilize IT for their growth, which means your skillset will always be needed
8. Cons of Being an IT Project Manager
Some of the Cons of being an IT project manager include:
- The stress that comes with working long hours on tight deadlines
- Difficult clients; there are many types of people who engage in this line of work, and some may be difficult to deal with. You will need to learn how to set limits and manage your time with them
- A heavy workload; you might need to work on many things at once and also supervise others who are working on projects as well. This can be overwhelming
- Less job security; although you will always have a role in the IT field, it is possible that some of the technology you used to work with may go obsolete. This means you will need to learn new skills and adapt to changing technology
- Less time for family; this is a common factor in many jobs where employees are required to work long hours, but the importance of this cannot be overstated. The ability to balance your personal life with your career is an essential part in being a happy and healthy individual
9. Top Recruiting Companies for a IT Project Manager
Some of the top recruiting companies for an IT project manager are:
The reason these companies are at the top of the list is that they offer a great work-life balance, excellent pay, and challenging projects. They also have a team-oriented environment that encourages employees to work together to achieve common goals.
10. Best Colleges to Study IT Project Management
There are many colleges that offer degrees in IT project management, but some of the best ones include:
- Northeastern University
- Carnegie Mellon University
- Stevens Institute of Technology
- The George Washington University
These colleges offer degrees that are accredited by the Project Management Institute (PMI), which is the leading authority on project management. They also have excellent faculties who are experienced in the field and provide students with the skills and knowledge needed to succeed as an IT project manager.
Project managers are in high demand, and the project management field is growing. With the right skills, a project manager can have a successful career in many different industries. Whether you want to move up the corporate ladder or work as a freelance project manager, there are many opportunities available to those with the proper training and experience. We hope this article has helped you better understand what it takes to be a successful IT project manager and that you feel inspired to start your journey down this rewarding career path.