what is a project manager?

As a project manager, your key task is to plan and execute projects. That means you are in charge of determining the project scope and resources necessary to execute your plan to completion. You are also responsible for managing teams and resources assigned to you. As a project manager, you take care of tangible and crucial elements like planning and budgeting. You also participate in less quantifiable aspects like providing moral support and leadership to your teams.

Project managers are agents of change who enjoy working in a complex and dynamic environment. When working as a project manager, you inspire others to achieve milestones and drive results. You also shift between the big picture and minor details – a crucial skill for project success. That means you are responsible for coming up with the game plan for executing a project, creating schedules and defining tasks of each team member that leads to the achievement of milestones.

Unlike other careers where you work in a specific industry, project managers serve in all sectors. For instance, they provide roadmaps in construction projects, help in marketing, and support the IT industry in project development.

Would working as a project manager suit your leadership skills? Then read on to find out what competencies and qualifications you need to thrive in a project manager role.

project manager jobs
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average salary of a project manager

According to National Careers, the average salary of a project manager is £22,000 annually for entry-level positions and can increase to £70,000 per year as you gain more experience. Aside from the attractive basic salary, project managers receive numerous benefits. Your health insurance is often part of the compensation package, and some companies offer housing and transport allowances. When you work overtime hours, your employer compensates with agreed-upon hourly rates and successful project completion is rewarded with bonuses.

how to increase your salary as a project manager

Your compensation package depends on various factors, and paying attention to these components can increase your pay. For instance, a bachelor's degree graduate earns less than a master's or doctoral degree project manager. If you improve your academic qualifications and add a few certifications to your resume, your compensation package will reflect the additional skills.

The industry sector you choose to practise your project management skills also influences your pay. Working as a consultant or a construction project manager boosts your wages compared to becoming a marketing or healthcare project manager. Aside from the industry, the company size also plays a role in determining your salary. In a large organisation, project managers oversee a large team and conduct complex projects. That generally translates to more pay compared to smaller businesses.
 

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types of project manager

Project managers serve in different industries and have different roles. Some of them include:

  • construction project manager: as a project manager in the construction industry, your job is to work closely with architects and create a plan for completing projects. That includes overseeing construction projects like building structures and infrastructure to completion.
  • it project manager: when you are a project manager in IT, your role is to solve problems in your IT department. Some of the issues you are likely to deal with are installing new software or updating networks. Software project managers also guide teams to develop new software.
  • energy project manager: in energy, your work is to supervise projects that lead to infrastructure development or improvement of existing energy-efficient practices in a company.
     
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working as a project manager

When you are a project manager, you apply a set of principles that guide project execution. That means you need to break down the project fundamentals into daily tasks and milestones for your teams. Read on to discover the daily activities of a project manager.

project manager job description

As a project manager, there are no real restrictions to your responsibilities; if it falls in the remit of a specific project, then it's your job to cover it. In terms of general project management tasks, this includes:

  • planning: your primary role as a project manager is to plan a project by listing all the critical activities that ensure success. Planning enables you to define the scope of the projects and come up with a schedule and timeline for completing milestones. Your plan will determine a project's success or failure. 
  • organising project teams: your project is successful if you organise your teams to perform their tasks. As a project manager, you create detailed checklists and whiteboards for your team. Sometimes you have to negotiate their job responsibilities and ensure they are committed to the task.
  • managing deliverables: as a project manager, it is your job to negotiate with stakeholders' achievable deadlines and ensure the deliverables are delivered. It is essential to ensure the deliverables meet the time constraints and are within the budget as per the business plan.
  • monitoring progress: you spend most of your time as the project manager monitoring the progress of projects. You can monitor the status of projects using a management system and ensure milestones are met.
  • preparing reports: as a project manager, you need to provide regular reports to clients on the projects' progress. Preparing documentation is also vital for keeping track of the execution plan and the budget.

your colleagues

As a project manager it depends on the project which colleagues you have to work with on a regular basis. But one thing is certain: you are in contact with a lot of different people all day long.

Are you a project leader in the construction industry, for example? Then you will often be in contact with the foreman and assistant foreman who are on site every day. You also have contact with technical coordinators post, the site supervisor or the site administrator, architects, quantity surveyors, professional advisor and clients.
 

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education and skills

You can get into the project manager role through different academic paths, including:

  • degree course: getting an undergraduate degree in business management or project management puts you on track for a career in project management. You can add a postgraduate qualification to increase your competitiveness. To join the undergraduate course, you need 2 or 3 A Levels.
  • apprenticeship: it is possible to become a project manager through a higher apprenticeship programme that lasts around four years. The apprenticeship includes coursework and on-the-job training. You need 4 or 5 GCSEs and A Levels to join the programme.
  • certifications: as a project manager, you can increase your job prospects with certification from the Association of Project Management or Project Management Institute.

skills and competencies

Aside from educational qualifications, you need these skills to become a great project manager:

  • negotiation skills: when you are a project manager, you need to be a great negotiator to get the best deals on contracts. Negotiation skills also help you bring all stakeholders on board with your strategic plans.
  • leadership skills: as a project manager, you need strong leadership skills to guide your resources towards project goals. With your skills, you can also motivate your team members and guide them throughout the project processes.
  • organisational skills: when you are a project manager, you have numerous tasks to accomplish, and organisational skills will come in handy. Organisation skills help you multi-task since you can prioritise responsibilities and compartmentalise projects.
  • problem-solving skills: with problem-solving skills, you can find a structured approach to deal with problems that arise during the project process. It also enables you to mitigate risk and achieve positive results.
  • computer skills: you need basic computing skills to operate project management systems and organise your teams with scheduling systems. Sometimes, you also need to analyse data using spreadsheets.
  • communication and interpersonal abilities: as a project manager, communications skills help relay your plans to the teams and stakeholders.
     
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FAQs

FAQs about working as a project manager

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