5 Skills to Help You Excel in Your Project Management Career
A career in project management can be quite lucrative. According to Capterra, the national median salary for entry-level project management positions is $89,286. The field requires a broad skill set and a strong commitment to continuing to build those skills in your post-academic life. Not only do you have to learn the basic skills required for a project management career, but you also must familiarize yourself with industry-specific requirements to excel in your chosen field. A career in project management relies on your ability to set and achieve attainable goals, and those goals should begin with ensuring that you are well-equipped to deal with the hurdles that a career in project management will present. Below are some of the key skills needed to further your career as a project manager.
1. Communication and People Skills
The life of a project manager is one that requires constant communication with a variety of parties. Being able to answer questions and delegate tasks are just the obvious portions of the job. Beyond that, project managers are required to constantly communicate with a variety of stakeholders, both internally and externally. Being able to effectively communicate the status of certain aspects of a project, while accounting for a specific stakeholder’s interests is critical for success. Project managers with excellent people skills will find it easier to motivate their teams, deliver bad news, and interact with stakeholders. According to the 2016 PMI Pulse of the Profession Report, 30% of respondents cited poor communication as one of the leading causes for project failure.
Organization throughout all phases of a project -- from the pre-planning stages through project delivery -- play a huge role in the final project outcome. As a project ramps up, aspects of the project will change and issues will arise. Great project managers are able to handle these issues in stride and find solutions that minimize delays. Without excellent organization, small issues within a project can leave you scrambling to find solutions and divert resources from where they may be most needed. A well-organized project manager not only delivers a higher quality deliverable, but also facilitates a smoother project journey for their team and other stakeholders.
3. Problem Solving and Critical Thinking
Problem solving is very important for success in this field. As you begin your career in project management, you’ll quickly learn that almost no project reaches completion without some major hang-ups along the way. Often, those issues won’t have a clear solution. However, creative problem solving and critical thinking skills can help to mitigate the fallout from unexpected project issues. Being able to make quick, effective decisions will help you to stand out from the crowd and move your career forward quickly.
4. Risk Management
All projects present a certain amount of risk to stakeholders. Being able to identify the risks and take appropriate steps to manage and mitigate those risks will improve your chances of a desirable project outcome. According to the 2016 PMI Pulse of the Profession Report, 30% of respondents cited undefined risk as a leading cause for the failure of a project. Project managers without solid risk management skills will find their projects routinely falling off the rails. On the flipside, others who are are able to identify risks early in the process can take steps to ensure that those risks are corralled as early as possible.
5. Quality Management
Although it may seem obvious, too many project managers overlook quality management as a necessary skill for their profession. Your job is not only to ensure that the project meets all major milestones on time, but is completed to a quality level that impresses stakeholders. Finding the right balance of time and quality management can be difficult, but with experience it becomes second nature to seasoned project managers.
A career in project management can be lucrative and fulfilling. An effective project manager is an extremely valuable asset to an organization in any industry. If you are interested in pursuing a career in project management, consider Drexel University’s online MS in Project Management program.