The career path of a Project Manager

Project Manager working

The global demand for qualified project managers is increasing. Explore the diverse field of project management and what careers may be open to you.

The demand for skilled project managers and project administrators is increasing globally with data demonstrating, there are insufficient numbers of professionals to fill the position vacancies.

Globally, employers will need an additional 87.7 million individuals to take up roles in project management roles by 2027. To help manage this growing demand, 71% of global organisations are creating project management offices, a 15% increase from 2007.

There is a high demand for roles in Project Management across a broad spectrum of industries ranging from advertising and creative project management to construction and ICT.

Evidence of this skills shortage is that industry-specific project manager roles within Construction Project Manager, ICT Project Manager and Program or Project Administrator are so hard to fill in Australia, they are now on the ANZSCO in-demand occupation list for skilled migration.

In deciding to upskill into a Project Management career you’re likely to find an array of dynamic careers to choose from in Australia, or anywhere around the world.

What does a Project Manager do?

Whether you work on a construction site or in the office of a finance company, your skills, tasks and responsibilities as a project manager will be surprisingly similar.

A project manager:

  • Plans the project from execution to completion
  • Develops the budget and financial planning
  • Forms and directs a team
  • Delegates tasks and leads
  • Manages tasks to a schedule
  • Manages supply/deployment of deliverables
  • Conducts regular meetings and progress reviews
  • Liaises with clients and stakeholders
  • Measures key performance indicators and deliver reports
  • Makes strategic changes when necessary

Project Management career paths

Project management is such a diverse field you can take this skill set and with a bit of training, you can apply it to managing projects across any industry you choose. Whether your interests are creative, digital, problem-solving, business or construction-oriented; there’s a Project Management career path out there to suit you.

Examples of globally popular Project Management career paths you could consider.

1. Construction Project Manager

The construction industry is an excellent choice for a project management career. Construction projects are exciting with many moving elements to consider, often high-stakes large-scale projects that will satisfy even the most experienced manager. With multiple forms of construction being undertaken, the opportunities for professional growth in this field are evident.

As mentioned above, the role of Construction Project Manager is on the ANZSCO in-demand occupation list for skilled migration. Selection of this occupation will place you in high demand with projected job growth of 10.2%, and a high average salary of $135,000.

2. ICT Project Manager

The role of information, communications and technology (ICT) project manager is experiencing a massive boom right now, with an extremely high growth rate of 17.7% projected over the next decade. As virtually every industry is currently undergoing digital overhauls, the necessity for ICT project managers to oversee these important organisational transformations is acute.

The consequence of this trend is a global digital skills gap, as demand for digital expertise outstrips available trained professionals in this field. Anyone considering an ICT project management career will be in high demand for decades to come, experiencing diverse job opportunities across many industries. The average salary for an ICT project manager in Australia is as high as $140,000.

3. Healthcare Project Manager

A healthcare project manager leads projects within healthcare organisations, pursuing improvements to operations and service recipient outcomes. Because healthcare is an industry that is constantly updating practices and technology, there is a high emphasis on project managers who are experienced in leading organisational change.

If you are passionate about helping people, using project management skills in a role that serves the public, could make this the ideal career path for you. Currently, there are over 7000 healthcare project manager jobs on offer around Australia with advertising salaries ranging from $100,000- $160,000.

4. Business Innovation Project Manager

According to research from the Australian Institute of Project Managers (AIPM), around 45% of all projects managed in Australia are within the field of business improvement and innovation. If this sounds like a broad role that can be applied to most industries, that’s because it certainly is.

A business innovation project manager oversees projects ranging from starting a new business, releasing new products, performing feasibility studies, and creating a new internal division, to implementing improvements in the structure and operations of an organisation. In this creative role, you could work in virtually any sector from hospitality to advertising; opening sustainable hotel projects or delivering digital marketing campaigns.

This role is ideal for trailblazers; leaders and thinkers who are interested in finding creative solutions, challenging the status quo, and implementing new ideas and organisational changes. It’s also a perfect field for someone who likes to have diverse interests and skill sets, and who wants a flexible and interesting career that could take them anywhere. A general business project manager role commands an average salary of $130,000 in Australia.

5. Engineering Project Manager

Civil, electrical, environmental and general engineering project managers are also in high demand in Australia. Mining, water management, manufacturing and public infrastructure are all sectors that involve the management of large teams of engineers, architects and craftsmen working together on complex projects.

If you want a challenging and thrilling career managing some of the biggest teams and most complex construction projects possible, this is definitely the career path for you. This high-stakes role comes with one of the highest salaries for project managers at an average of $160,000, with a job growth projection of over 10% over the next decade.

How to become a Project Manager

Every career path is different, and people come to project management from a range of different fields and backgrounds. There is no one ‘right way’ to become a project manager however, these six steps basically summarise the key steps you need to take to get your career in project management underway.

  1. Are you already an ‘accidental project manager?’ Identify project management skills you already have, and assess what further skills and experience you need to take the next step into making it a career.
  2. Decide if you want to specialise in a specific area of project management, for example, construction project management, and make sure you tailor your qualifications and experience to that area.
  3. Attain a project management qualification, suitable to your existing level of education and experience.
  4. Gain some project manager role experience through internships, volunteering or taking on junior project management roles.
  5. Choose employers that offer on-the-job leadership training and development, and approach them for junior project management training opportunities.
  6. Further, develop your niche skill set and focus on constant improvement in your project manager role, to create opportunities for promotion to the senior project manager.

Every project management career starts with some education and training.

Qualifications you need to become a project manager

There are a lot of different qualifications that will open up your pathway to becoming a project manager in Australia, even if you can’t enrol directly into university straight away.

There are many different ways you can study project management and gain the essential skills to kick-start any one of these career paths.

Check our Project Management Courses to learn more

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