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What is a project manager?

Definition: A project manager is responsible for planning, organizing, and overseeing the execution of a project within its defined scope.

They work on various projects in different industries, from marketing and software development to production. 

A project manager is responsible for forming teams, creating and implementing strategies, and ensuring that all projects are completed on time.

What does a project manager do? 

A project manager is in charge of overseeing a project from its concept to its completion.

Their responsibilities can be split into a five-step process.

  • Initiating: The project manager defines the purpose of the project and its goals. Before any work can start, they need to identify key stakeholders and get all the necessary approvals.
  • Planning: They develop a detailed plan, including timelines, key milestones, and the initial budget, and outline key steps needed to be worked on to complete the project. After defining the overall plan, the process proceeded to plan individual tasks for the team.
  • Executing: The project manager manages the team and oversees that the project is complete according to plan. This includes coordinating, creating reports, and making necessary adjustments.
  • Controlling: Throughout the project, the project manager will ensure that all processes are followed, the project standards are fulfilled, and everything is on time.
  • Completing: This is the final stage, where the project manager communicates with all key stakeholders about its completion, archiving important files, and reviewing the whole process for faults to fix.

Key skills for project managers

The role of a project manager requires many different skills as they work with people, tech, problems, and planning.

Leadership is essential as the project manager has to connect their team with the project’s goals and keep them motivated throughout its duration. They have to build the team and provide them with direction.

The project manager will work with team members, stakeholders, sponsors, and other parties… It is crucial that they have good communication skills, especially if they are managing multiple projects.

Many obstacles and challenges can arise throughout the project, and the project manager must have problem-solving skills. The ability to identify and resolve problems fast and ensure they don’t happen again.

Projects must be completed in a certain timeframe with resource restrictions, requiring time and resource management skills. 

Depending on the industry, a project manager has to have the technical knowledge to know the ins and outs of the project and its technologies. Without them, they can’t plan the project, help their team, or analyze the market they are in.

Career ladder in project management

Project Coordinator is an entry point position responsible for creating project reports, maintaining project documentation, and tracking progress.

Assistant Project Manager is responsible for cooperating with the project manager on a regular basis. They coordinate team members, manage the timeline, and ensure the project is completed within the budget. The assistant can take on minor or bigger tasks that the project manager permits.

Project Manager is responsible for planning the budget and timeline, organizing the team that will work on the project, and overseeing the entire operation. They communicate with stakeholders and report directly to them. 

Senior Project Managers are in charge of multiple projects at the same time. They are responsible for managing individual project managers and how they carry out the project. Unlike project managers, they have multiple timelines and budgets to manage and prioritize for every project to be complete.

Project Director is a high-level role that focuses on building the project management structure in the company, developing its workflows, and providing guidance to the individual teams when needed. They create a picture of how a project must be delivered and what standards the teams must follow.

The Vice President of Operations (COO) is responsible for planning, coordinating, and overseeing the company's daily operations. Their job is to ensure everything runs smoothly and that all projects align with the company’s goals. Besides this, they handle all collaborations with other companies that are partnered with them or have a stake in their projects.

What are good to have or necessary certifications for project managers?

Here are the best certificates you can get:

Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM).

Project Management Professional (PMP).

Program Management Professional (PgMP).

Portfolio Management Professional (PfMP).

Agile Certified Practitioner (ACP).

Master Project Manager (MPM).

Certified ScrumMaster.

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Article FAQs

How much do project managers make?
Project manager salaries vary depending on the industry, location, and experience level. An average project manager earns around $80,000 annually, while the top percent earns approximately $135,000 annually.
What qualifications do you need to be a project manager?
You need a bachelor's degree depending on the industry you want to work in (business, engineering, manufacturing…). Around three years of experience in a related role are needed, along with a PMP certificate and additional training.
What degree is the best for a project manager position?
To be a project manager, you should have a business or computer science degree when looking at software project management. Still, there is no “best” degree that will automatically make you a great project manager. Project managers need a lot of experience in many fields, which is why many project managers strive to get certificates in many areas.

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