Although project management has always been in practice informally, it has evolved into a distinct profession with its own specific competencies, skills and career paths. Many project management positions require a bachelor’s degree or experience in a relevant field, but many who wish to enter the profession at a higher level, or advance their career in project management, pursue a master’s degree in project management.
A project management master’s degree can open up opportunities across most industries, but particularly in such industries as construction, engineering, architecture, manufacturing and information technology. Let’s take a brief look at each of these careers.
Project management is critical to most construction projects due to the significant impact of poor planning, unexpected delays and scope creep on cost and completion schedules. In addition, the project environment can be unpredictable and subject to regulatory issues and environmental factors such as weather, geography and geology.
Construction managers, sometimes called general contractors or project managers, manage a variety of projects, including residential, commercial and industrial construction. In addition to having strong project management skills, they must be knowledgeable about all aspects of construction in order to coordinate and schedule the work while promoting a safe environment.
Engineering and Architecture
Architectural and engineering managers often work on projects such as designing buildings and other structures, developing the technical requirements for new construction, updating structures to new building codes and safety standards and designing and developing new products or processes. Much like construction managers, project managers in engineering and architecture face significant issues if projects are not executed well. In addition to cost overruns and missed deadlines, public safety may be endangered.
Manufacturing and Industrial Production
Industrial production managers are responsible for making sure finished products meet quality standards by implementing and overseeing quality control programs such as Six Sigma. These programs help a manager identify defects in products, identify the cause of the defect and address the root cause. Project managers in the manufacturing sector may handle projects related to improving quality and making changes to production processes to reduce defects. They may also take on projects to launch the manufacture of new goods.
Computer and information technology project managers plan, coordinate and direct computer-related projects in an organization. Projects often involve replacing outdated hardware and software systems with newer systems, evaluating and implementing new technology or developing technological solutions to help resolve issues affecting other business areas. They may also help determine the information technology goals of an organization and implement computer systems to meet those goals.
A Challenging yet Rewarding Career in Project Management
Project managers play a key role in coordinating and managing the complexities of everything from building a skyscraper to releasing a new product to launching the technology of tomorrow. They make sure that the project is done on time and on budget. Being a project manager is often a high-profile position that also yields high rewards for those who can rise to the challenge. Those with the background, skills and education needed to succeed in this demanding field are best positioned to reap the full benefits of this exciting career.