Project Manager Career Path

Are you thinking of becoming a Project Manager or already started your career and planning the next step? Learn how to become a Project Manager, what skills you need to succeed, how to advance your career and get promoted, and what levels of pay to expect at each step on your career path. Explore new Project Manager job openings and options for career transitions into related roles.

How To Become a Project Manager

Project managers plan and oversee projects to ensure they are completed within budget and in a timely fashion. They plan and designate resources for projects, prepare budgets, monitor progress, and maintain consistent communication with stakeholders. Project managers work with a wide array of project types including marketing, HR, IT, and construction.
Contents

1

Get your Bachelor's degree in business management or business administration.

There are specific minimum educational requirements that must be met to become a project manager. You must at least have a high school diploma or equivalent to begin a career. Many project managers hold bachelor's degrees in fields such as business management or business administration. If you wish to specialize in a particular field, such as the IT field, for example, you may be able to enter the field with a computer science degree.

What type of degree should you pursue to become a Project Manager?

87% of people working as a Project Manager earned a Bachelor's Degree

What skills do you need to be a Project Manager?

  • Excellent Communication
  • Microsoft Office Suite
  • PMP
  • Consulting
  • Agile
  • Leadership
  • Powerpoint
  • Schedules
Based on resume data from Glassdoor users who reported working as a Project Manager in the United States.

2

Get work experience to gain skills like communication and organization.

Having relevant work experience is essential to becoming a successful project manager. You must have skills that will motivate you to direct your team efficiently, communicate with clients promptly, and keep them updated on any changes in the project. The following skills will be used daily as a project manager:

  • Communication
  • Organization
  • Risk management
  • Critical thinking

The best way to learn these skills is to work as an intern or entry-level project manager. Related field experience is practical as well.

3

Obtain certifications such as Certified Associate in Project Management.

While not always necessary, there are certifications that project managers may acquire that will help them access better work opportunities. There are a few well-known certifications from the Project Management Institute, a highly recognized organization. These include:

  • Project Management Professional. This certification is internationally recognized and will allow you to work in a variety of fields. To become a Certified Project Management Professional, you'll need a high school diploma, 35 hours of project management-specific education, and 7,500 hours leading in projects. You can also have 4,500 hours leading projects, 35 hours of project management education, and a bachelor's degree. Certifications are offered in areas such as scheduling, business analysis, and risk management. Every three years, CPMPs must complete 60 professional development credits.
  • Certified Associate in Project Management. To become a Certified Associate in Project Management, you must have at least a high school diploma or associate's degree and 23 hours of education in project management. This option is available for those who don't have the prerequisites for the CPMP certification test. This will help you gain the experience needed in your chosen field of work.

4

Get a project management job.

Once you've gotten the education, certification, and experience, you're ready to begin work as a project manager. Tailor your cover letter to be position-specific when applying for project manager jobs, and be sure your resume is updated with certifications, education, and relevant skills and experience.

5

Further your project management education.

If you start your career as a project manager without having a bachelor's degree, it's possible to earn one while gaining real-life work experience. Bachelor's degree programs are designed to work around your schedule and provide you with the skills you need to further your career. There are also degree programs project managers pursue at the masters and doctorate levels.

Seniority Levels

L2

Project Manager

2 - 4Years of Experience
$103,500 /yrAvg. Annual Salary
Learn More

L3

Senior Project Manager

2 - 4Years of Experience
$132,000 /yrAvg. Annual Salary
Learn More

L4

Project Manager IV

5 - 7Years of Experience
No Salary Reports
Learn More

Salary Trajectory

Project Manager Career Path

$160K
$120K
$80K
$40K
$0
L2
L4
L6
Seniority Levels

Related careers in the Product & Project Management Industry

Interested in other Product & Project Management careers? Below are occupations that have high affinity with Project Manager skills. Discover some of the most common Project Manager career transitions, along with skills overlap.