Project management programs of all levels teach, at varying depth, the most effective methods of successful project managers.

Project managers are organizational specialists hired to initiate, develop, execute, and effectively complete specific and often complex projects of all kinds. Project managers generally oversee a team of workers, creating clear project objectives and monitoring the team's progress. It's essential for project managers to outline goals and deadlines in order to control costs, optimize results and complete the project on time. The success of any short or long-term project depends not only on the project's staff, but largely on the capabilities of their project manager.

A large number of project managers are employed in engineering, information technology, construction or business firms. With the considerable output of projects, information and services these types of companies usually generate, the need for project managers is continuing to grow.

More industries are beginning incorporate project-based methods in order to successfully and quickly implement new business strategies and products. Project managers are needed in almost every capacity and work in a wide variety of businesses large and small, from construction sites to educational providers.

Project Management Career Opportunities

Related Careers: Project Managers, Management Analysts and Consultants

Because project managers work within a variety of growing industries, career opportunities are favorable. According to the Project Management Institute (PMI), the career outlook for project managers is favorable, despite the present economic downturn. While some industries like the automotive industry have experienced dramatic downsizing, areas like infrastructure development, construction, and the healthcare industry continue to need new and qualified talent in order to successfully implement new and ongoing projects.

While the Bureau of Labor Statistics does not specifically track project manager employment, the Project Management Institute predicts that career opportunities will be favorable; especially as the economic recession begins to improve. The BLS eports strong growth for specialized project managers it does track, like construction managers, who are predicted to expand by 17%, much faster than average job growth from 2008-2018. Perhaps more tellingly, membership in the Project Management Institute more than quadrupled in size from 1999 to 2005, from 43,000 to 208,000 project managers. That is a strong indication of increased opportunities for project managers.

Many successful project managers advance into careers with business consulting firms, often as management analysts and consultants.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 746,900 working management analysts in 2008. As more businesses turn to consultants and analysts with "domain knowledge" of the industries in which they work, the occupation is predicted to add 178,300 new jobs over 10 years, for a 2018 total of 925,200 positions. That 24% growth rate is much faster than the average for all occupations, and almost 3 times as high as the expected 8.2% expansion of the civilian workforce.

Management Analysts are predicted to experience a robust 24% growth rate, much faster than average for all occupations and the predicted 8.2% expansion of the civilian workforce over the same time period.Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Real job opportunities for project management graduates interested in management analysis and consulting positions will be even better. According to the Occupational Information Network, a project of the Department of Labor's Education and Training Administration, there will be 306,500 new openings for qualified management analysts from 2008 to 2018; that figure includes the new jobs the BLS predicts and existing positions vacated by retirement, career change, early termination, etc.

Project Management Earnings

Through a survey commissioned by the Project Management Institute, the BLSfound that, in 2006, the median annual wages of full-time project managers were $96,000 including salary and bonuses.

According to the Project Management Institute, project managers made a median of almost $100,000 in 2006.Source: Project Management Institute

The PMI study found, not surprisingly, that as the candidate's level of education and experience increased, earnings followed.

Successful project managers have excellent credentials for positions as management analysts and consultants. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, management analysts earned annual median wages of $73,570 in 2008. The middle 50% of the field earned between $54,890 and $99,700, while the bottom 10% earned less than $41,910 and the top 10% earned more than $133,850.

Management analysts earned median annual wages more than double the national median earnings for all workers in 2008.Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Project Manager Educational Benefits

Most project managers need a bachelor's degree and some industry-relevant work experience for basic project management positions. Often, project managers earn their initial degree in another field. For example, a student may earn their bachelor's degree in information technology and go on to earn a master's degree in project management, making them an attractive candidate for project management positions in the IT field.

Most advanced positions, like management analysts and consultants, expect candidates to have master's degrees in project management or a related business area. According to the Occupational Information Network, the vast majority of management analysts – 78% – had a bachelor's degree or higher. 16% had some college, including project management associate's degrees or postsecondary diplomas, and the remaining 7% had a high school diploma or less.

More than 3/4 of management analysts have a bachelor's degree or higher.Source: Occupational Information Network

More students are earning their initial postsecondary degrees in project management, as more educational providers are offering programs. In an effective project management program, students will learn the basic principles and tactics used within the project management field.

Those students who have earned a bachelor's degree in project management or a related field may decide to earn additional certification. Certification will help to further showcase project management knowledge, although a certificate is not required for most employment opportunities. The Project Management Institute offers a variety of certificates to those project managers who have 3 or more years of managerial experience and have passed an examination. Take a look at the Project Management Institute's Web site for additional information on their certificate programs.

Earning a bachelor's degree will significantly increase a project manager's job opportunities. A degree in project management is typically comprised of courses such as project development, risk analysis, finance, management, communications and various math courses.

Project Management Programs Online

Degrees Possible: Certificate, Associate's, Bachelor's, Master's and Doctoral Degrees

There are a wide variety of project management degree programs online. These programs span from the certificate to doctoral level and are comparable to project management courses offered at local ground schools. In addition, there are also a variety of online courses which help the student prepare for the Project Manager Professional examination (the PMP). This is a nationally-recognized examination administered through the Project Management Institute which confers a specific level of certification.

As with any serious educational decision, do your research when picking an online project management program: is the school accredited? Do credits transfer? What is the school's job placement rate? What are people saying about this school in general and this program specifically?

Project Management Skills and Abilities

Project managers, before all else, must be organizational experts, able to orchestrate effective communication and collaboration between a diverse group of workers and teams. Because of the dynamic, real-time obstacles that project managers of all kinds routinely face, flexibility and adaptability are critical to effective management.

Project managers must be comfortable leaders, interacting with individuals and groups to delegate assignments and job responsibilities. Project managers must also be able to facilitate communication, resolve group problems and dilemmas, optimize teamwork within a group dynamic and have excellent critical thinking skills.

Project Management Qualification and Advancement

Completion of a bachelor's degree in project management qualifies graduates for entry-level positions as Project Managers for smaller projects.

For more advanced project management positions, including Management Analysts and Consultants, many employers prefer master's degrees – often in the form of an MBA.

Additional Information

The Project Management Institute maintains a Web site at http://www.pmi.org.

The Association of Management Consulting Firms maintains a Web site at http://www.amcf.org.

The Institute of Management Consultants USA maintains a Web site at http://www.imcusa.org.