How I Became a Project Manager and 9 Tips on How You Can Too

I know I am biased but being a project manager is the best job in the world and I could not imagine doing anything else. However there are many people who want to become project managers and struggle to land their first official project manager job. In this post I will explain how I got into project management and also give 9 tips on what else you can do to get a job as a project manager.

How I Became a Project Manager

There are two ways in which to become a project manager the deliberate way or the accidental way. The deliberate way is where you know you want to be a project manager and work towards and be given the job title project manager. The accidental way is be given projects alongside your day job and as projects grow in size to the extent that eventually all your time is taken up by managing a project. The way I became a project manager was the deliberate way as I knew that I wanted to be a project manager.For me it all started just over 10 years ago; I decided to become project manager after spending some time watching people with the official job title of project manager deliver projects. Like most people I had been given small projects to manage by my line manager alongside my day job. The first step I took was to write down all the small projects I had delivered and then described how I managed them in project management terms. For example I listed the budget for each project and how I tracked the expenditure to ensure they came in under budget.

The next step I took was to study for a degree in project management in the evenings after work. I also spoke to the Human Resources department to see if the company I was working for at the time would help fund the degree as part of their employee benefits scheme. The good news was they decided to fund it. Once I had started the degree and the company had paid the university I requested a meeting with the CTO (Chief Technical Officer). In this meeting I raised that I wanted to become a project manager and via his budget he was paying for me to do a degree in project management. I then asked if I could change jobs to be a project manager in his team so he would get some benefit from the degree he was paying for. I am thankful that he agreed and have never looked back since.

9 Tips on How You Can Become a Project Manager

This is how I did it however there are a number of things that you can do to get a job as a project manager.

  1. List all the times you have managed a small project alongside your day job and describe in project management terms what you did
  2. List all the times you have managed a project outside of work (for example building work in your home or organisations you help in your spare time like kids club events) and describe in project management terms what you did
  3. Read project management blogs like this one 😉 on a regular basis. There are loads of great project management blog and article sites.
  4. Listen to project management podcasts
  5. Study for project management qualifications such as Prince 2, PMP etc while not essential it will help
  6. Find your local PMI chapter and join. Here you will meet other project managers and grow your network.
  7. Join project management groups on LinkedIn, Google+ and Facebook
  8. Follow and connect with project managers on social media sites such as Twitter. The hash tag #pmot (project management on Twitter) will bring up great tweets.
  9. Try and take steps to become a project manager by applying for roles such as project co-ordinator, project planner or project administrator. These roles are a great stepping stone as you get to experience project management first hand and see how project managers work. From here it is very easy to step into a project manager role as a position becomes vacant and/ or you may be assigned small projects to run. So check to see if your company has a project management office and do they have an opening or would they like some help during busy periods.

Finally I wish you all the best with your goal on becoming a project manager it truly is a fantastic job.

What do you think; are there any other things you could do to increase your chances of becoming a project manager?