Project Manager Careers

How to become Project Manager

What does a Project Manager do?

Project managers work in all industries and oversee the completion of large short-term projects. Preliminary discussions are held with the client to establish their requirements, following which the project manager develops a brief providing a detailed analysis of the objectives, resources needed, timescales and budgetary estimates for completion.

The project manager is responsible for selecting and organising the project team which may number up to 100 people, some of whom may have specific skills such as legal or financial expertise. The project manager also negotiates tenders with external contractors for materials and services, and may employ specialist consultants to help with decisions on particular courses of action.

The project is broken down into a sequence of phases to be completed in accordance with set quality standards, time constraints and cost limits. Various methodologies are employed, depending on the project, with two of the most widely used being PRINCE2 (Projects in Controlled Environments) and PMBOK (Project Management Body of Knowledge). In addition, computer software is used to simulate possible outcomes and to help with costing, estimating materials and other aspects of project control. The project manager will devise contingency plans in case any problems or issues arise during the progress of each phase.

Regular reports and presentations on the project's progress will be delivered to the client.

What's the working environment like working as a Project Manager?

There are no set hours for project managers, and the working week may be long where deadlines must be met.

The environment varies depending on the project. Much of the work is office-based, but there will be some travel to visit contractors and suppliers or to inspect the project's progress. There may be periods of time spent away from home, often overseas.

What does it take to become a Project Manager?

To be a project manager you should:

  • be highly organised with a logical, methodical approach to work
  • have problem-solving capabilities
  • be self-motivated and target-driven
  • have the stamina and determination to cope with a busy schedule
  • be able to plan and coordinate several simultaneous projects
  • have an understanding of budgetary control, scheduling, and resource allocation and management
  • have strong interpersonal, leadership and negotiation skills
  • be able to communicate well with people at all levels, both verbally and in writing
  • have technical skills relevant to the project being managed
  • understand techniques for monitoring and controlling programmes
  • have good IT skills.

Project Manager Career Opportunities

Project managers are employed in areas such as construction, finance and accounting, law, sales and marketing, IT, manufacturing and engineering, and in the public sector. (See the Project Manager: IT profile for more information on this area). Some jobs are offered as fixed-term contracts, so it may be necessary to seek new positions fairly frequently. Opportunities are available both in the UK and overseas.

Some project managers set up their own management consultancies.

Further information

If you would like to know anything about Project Manager that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

Association for Project Management (APM)
150 West Wycombe Road
High Wycombe
HP12 3AE
Tel: 0845 458 1944

Project Management Institute

Information Systems Examination Board (ISEB)


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