The 411 on becoming a project manager

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July 5th 2023

The 411 on becoming a project manager

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A six figure salary with no formal education required? Sign us up! Project Management has taken the career world by storm, which is why this week on Parallel we’re deep diving into what a typical Software Engineer does during their 9 to 5, what education is required to get there, what salary you should be expecting, and what companies are currently on the hunt for… you guessed it: a Project Manager.

What does a project manager do?

Typically, Project Managers work with the hottest tech startups (think: We Make Websites) that offer products and/or services that cater to the needs of other companies.

It’s no shock that Project Managers manage projects – depending on the client, or company, these projects can range from assigning tasks to internal teams, to ensuring that the IT team is on track with coding a software.

Think of Project Managers as the middle-man who leads and coaches their team, while reporting to the client they are working with (i.e project owner). Averse to high pressure, problem-solving roles? This may not be the gig for you. But if you thrive as a fast-paced fixer – the responsibility of tracking projects, establishing what went wrong (when it does), and figuring out how on earth to fix it will be second nature.

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A day in the life of a project manager

Expect your 9-5 to involve juggling a lot each and every day. This career is for the thick-skinned and driven. Your days will be unpredictable and stressful but it is this aspect that keeps Project Managers addicted to their work-life.

From back-to-back virtual standup’s spanning across multiple timezones, to planning, leading and executing specific goals and objectives – timelines are a Project Manager’s best friend. Welcome to a role where you:

  • Create and present reports to executive team members and shareholders

  • Generate various metrics to track team productivity

  • Give suggestions on how to improve the project and deliver better results

  • Constantly follow up on how the teams are handling the project

  • Assist with quality assurance and testing of products and solutions

  • Create and maintain system interface documents and application data mapping

Jas (@jasthecreative) is on a mission to help tech girls win and shared their day as a Project Manager living in Dallas, TX. Gear up because this is a pretty accurate reflection of how busy your day will be!

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This career is for you if:
  • You are an organized self-starter

  • You are an active listener who listens to understand

  • You have good parental skills (we’re not joking)

  • You are a good mediator with the ability to negotiate

  • You like spontaneity and thrive off being kept on your toes

Education requirements

Excellent news! To become a Project Manager, you don’t need a degree – although it is important to prove that you have managerial experience and understanding of what a role like Project Management entails. We recommend highlighting moments were you have successfully lead an assignment, project or team when whipping up your CV geared towards Project Management.

Being a Project Manager requires you to be a knowledgeable leader and have experience in problem-solving and guiding teams. You are in luck — Google offers a Project Management course that includes weekly quizzes, check-in questions, peer-review assignments and much, much more.

Let’s talk money

Don’t get too excited yet – yes, Project Management is a 6-FIGURE career path, but it takes building up to. The only difference is that it doesn’t take that long to get there because the entry-level salary is sitting at $66k (you read correct).

So, what’s the average annual salary in the USA, you ask? $84k, according to Indeed. Of course, this differs from state to state and from company to company but if you ask us – Project Management is clearly where it’s at.

According to a project manager

We asked Caprelle, a Project Manager contractor from the Washington D.C. area, how he manages the stress of managing multiple people and multiple projects as a PM:

Sure – you can feel guilty when projects aren’t completed on time… especially when reporting back to clients. Sometimes they just don’t understand that you are basically the messenger – so those meetings can honestly be tough. But overall, I enjoy being a Project Manager because I get to work from home while being fairly compensated.

Who's hiring? We gotchu!

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