Project Management Career Path

Project Management Career – 3 Vital Steps for PMs

14 min. read

Are you looking for a project management career path? In this article, we aim to provide you with the career growth paths for the project managers. Though we do not aim to chalk down every possible path, however, we will give you an overview that can help you to understand the possibilities.

Project management is one of the critical jobs in the current era of technology. Fast-paced global dynamics have derived the need for evolution in the project management career path as well. Consequently, fast-paced evolution has derived the innovation and fast-paced adoption of advanced technologies. Organizations are on the highway of competition to grow. So their desire to be the best and to sustain this position has impacted the ways organizations work. To keep project managers motivated, companies must offer rewarding project management career options for PMs.

Participants who have earned a certification in the last 12 months: 35.77% increased their salary by more than 10% and 16.89% increased their salary by more than 20%.

The nature of projects has shifted from less-complex to more-complex. Organizational strategies are being devised in order to grow the companies’ market share. Fortune 500 companies are the market leaders so they have a lot of pressure to get even better. These companies have many programs running within the organization and these are handled through multiple projects. Thus the projects play a vital role in the growing business and technology innovation. To ensure successful project delivery, solid project management career paths must be established in organizations.

Project Management Career Path Step #1 – Start Your Profession

Project managers are the key change agents within the companies. These key agents have to adopt skills through training and development. This enables them to handle the complexities within projects to achieve success. Companies rely on their project managers to run their projects in all aspects. Because project managers ensure that these projects complete within cost, schedule, scope.

So how can one become a project manager? Is it possible for a person to get a relevant education and become a project manager? What is the generic project management career path?

The answer is YES! Because many institutes have launched degree programs in project management disciplines. Project Management is a worldwide recognized discipline. Not only the graduate programs are offered for project management. Additionally, higher education programs are also being offered in the area of project management.

Degrees in Technical Fields

There are a plethora of technical fields to choose from. So your first target should be to choose the technical fields in which you want to become a project manager. This helps you gain the expertise of your desired area through a well-defined project management career path. So once you become the project manager you will have good technical skills to manage your projects accordingly. This is the boot-camp of your career. Some of the technical fields include:

  • Computer Science
  • Civil Engineering
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Masters of Business Administration
  • Finance Management
  • Telecommunications and many others.

Project Management Career Path

Degrees in Project Management

Moreover, there are various study programs offered in project management disciplines. These programs cover various aspects of project management and guide students about project management career options. Many institutes have aligned their programs with respect to the international standards of project management. These programs are quite extensive as these are long hours of engagement.

Universities are offering different approaches like case studies to educate the incumbents on how project management challenges are being addressed currently in the world. Also, many institutes have even launched their short courses to facilitate the students and professionals who want to start and groom their careers in the project management field. Below are sample topics of project management discipline being covered in an institute for the short course:

  • Project Planning and Life Cycle
  • Role of Project Manager
  • Introduction to MS Project
  • Risk Management
  • Managing Cross-Functional Project Teams
  • Managing Public Sector Projects
  • Conflict Management
  • Project Monitoring and Control
  • Project Closure

Check our How much a Project Manager can earn? PMP salary video

Degrees in Technical Fields

During your education, you learn through project management lectures, however, it is important to mention here that the degrees help you lay the foundation. The graduates passing from these institutes, who have no prior experience, are typically not considered for project management career positions directly. So these graduates are typically not the best candidates for induction against the project manager posts within the organization. Because to become a project manager you need to have relevant experience.

Project Management Career Path Step #2 – Show Leadership & Improve Your PM Skills

Acquiring the relevant degree is just a first step towards becoming a project manager. After getting the required education you need to initiate the project management career from scratch and prove your mettle. During these initial level engagements, you will be attached to the senior people and teams. You will get the opportunities to go through several scenarios with the passage of time and learn through hands-on practical experience i.e through assignments and team activities.

After completion of your education, you join the professional fields as a fresh resource. At this stage, you are ready to sharpen your skills for career advancement. There are different ladders i.e. career grown paths within the organizations. Every day you get an opportunity to work on your official assignments.

If you are looking forward to a project management career position, you must be sure to take on the PM career growth path. Now the question is how will you get to this position. This is the golden key question that will help you identify and address all the gaps you require to fill in the project management position.

Project Management Career Path

Progression in your Career

Once you join the organizations, you will work in the teams and these teams are made up of all the necessary roles to accomplish the team projects and assignments. Once you join the organizations you will get your job descriptions and necessary orientation on what you are expected to do and how you are supposed to do it. Likewise, all other employees of the organization have their roles and job descriptions. So you got to understand what is expected of you and how others are working in the teams to perform their duties.

You can learn through hands-on activities along with your mentors and managers. Wow! This makes it the very first opportunity to explore the areas to excel. Not only you get the chance to learn from seniors, but you get the chance to apply. These are the best moments to show your leadership and management skills. One important tip here, no success comes without failures or hardships. So take any failure as a challenge to become stronger than before.

An Example – Software Engineering and Analogy

There are many industries that remain in high need of project managers. For instance, some of the high demanding industries are:

  • Engineering
  • Construction.
  • Healthcare
  • Financial Services
  • Law
  • Technology

We will just be mentioning an example of software engineering here for your understanding. You can fit this analogy to any other field. Some of these fields are worth mentioning here,

In the Software Engineering field, if you join as a software engineer you have a lot of opportunities to show your mettle and shine. Eventually proving yourself to be a good project manager will enhance your project management career path. Even though you are not working in the capacity of Software Project manager at this stage, you perform the activities like:

  • Communicate with the team
  • Analyze the activities
  • Take upon the tasks
  • Estimate the activities
  • Implement the functionality
  • Ensure the correctness of your tasks through unit testing
  • Collaborate with Quality Assurance team
  • Communicate the progress of your tasks
  • Usage of collaboration tools
  • Complete the activities within the target time

These are just a few examples of the activities; you perform in the capacity of the software engineer. All these activities contribute to project success. Good point, in all these activities you are working under the close supervision of your senior team members and project manager. However, this also poses an initial challenge to be recognized, as there may be many software engineers working within the organization. Therefore a healthy competition is what you learn through rigorous challenges at this stage. Getting a technical foundation set to achieve and display dependability within your organization is the first challenge. This sets the seed of a winning attitude.


Then there is the time to overcome the challenge of being assessed by the seniors through reviews. During reviews, you get different ratings based on several KPIs set for your job. Hence, this is the time to be proactive. On one side, you have to cover up for any identified areas of improvement and on the other side, you have your reinforce your strengths. So this event makes you learn to rectify your negative feedback. If you had this in mind from the start, you better will be assessed with higher grades. It is worth mentioning here that many companies include various traits to assess your management aptitude, some of these may include:

  • Problem Solving
  • Stress Management
  • Communication Skills
  • Dependability
  • Team Work
  • On-time Delivery
  • Quality Consciousness


Generally, promotions are based on performance along with experience. So every small progress you make at the junior level is contributing toward your success with respect to that role. Multiple good reviews help the management team to acknowledge you like a superstar within the organization. Eventually, this makes you a good candidate for future position advancements. So try your best to make it happen this way.


More interestingly this sets you to the transformation of individual independent to a dependable senior resource. With the passage of time, you will take up the role of a mentor, a senior professional, a Senior Software Engineer, eventually as a Principal Software Engineer. Now you will practice your job activities including the above-mentioned list of activities. However, with more responsibility.

PMP Certification –  Advancement of your career towards Project Management

The PMP certification is the world’s most prestigious project management certificate. Based on an independent pay study survey, PMP affirmed experts have a 20% higher salary than their non-certified peers. Moreover, PMP certification is a critical bullet where businesses are searching for project management positions. Thus, everyone expects you to get a PMP certificate if you are now working or you intend to work as a project manager. Getting PMP certification must be one of the vital steps for a bright project management career.

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Project Management Professional (PMP) certification demonstrates the knowledge and experience to bring business and IT projects to successful completion, therefore, it is globally accepted that PMP certified professionals have the project management skills to complete projects on time, within the scope and budget.

Having more than 470,000 members in 207 countries, PMI is the world’s largest project management association and has certified more than 740,000 PMPs globally. This is the mere fact to understand the importance of PMP and the indicator of PMP certified professional induction trends in the market.

PMP Prerequisites for Eligibility:

If you have at least a four-year bachelor’s degree (or global equivalent), you need the following:


You must have at least three years of project management related experience. Within these three years of experience, you must have 4,500 hours of working experience in project management activities.

Once you complete these hours of experience, then it is the best time to apply for PMP certification. So your foundation – you set through profession – is also recognized by PMI.

For the sake of the PMP application, it is not mandatory for the candidate to have a project management role. Rather, the candidate may have professional experience of three years along with a graduate degree. Most interestingly, candidates need to have experience of working in the project management process areas in any role: Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring and Evaluating, and Closing. Hence the candidate is eligible for PMP Exam if they are working in any of the relevant roles contributing towards the project. This is one of the reasons that PMP aspirants prepare themselves to obtain certification and suit themselves for the project manager role.


You must have completed 35 contact hours of formal PMP Exam Course. You have to get PMP training for this.

There are many training providers that offer PMP Certification Training. These trainings help you earn 35 PDUs. These trainings are provided in various formats. These formats include

    • Classroom Instructor-led training
    • Online Instructor-led training
    • E-learning (Online) course

These trainings help you understand the PMP standard – Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBoK) by PMI. You may choose any of these formats based on your preference in terms of flexibility and cost. Just ensure that Project Manager training you choose fulfills the PMI Criteria of 35 contact hours.

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Project Management Career Path Step #3 – Get a PM Job

After having enough PM experience and earning PMP, you should look for arising PMP job opportunities in your organization or if this is not possible, you should look for jobs in the market. Practicing the PM skills is the best way to advance in your project management career.

Companies are working continuously to improve the skills of their employees and train them to meet the global requirements. By virtue of this competitive market, these companies train and certify their employees. Also, the hiring requirements are being focused to get the best out of the market. A candidate who is already skilled and have proved records. These criteria also impose the need for certified professionals and so is the case with the Project Management Professionals (PMP). If you view the job postings of project management or senior project management, you will see the value of the certified professionals and PMPs.

PMP credential is the dire need of these market players. They look forward to hiring talent with displayable skills. Therefore your PMP certification is a value-adding tool to showcase your ability to become a prominent member of this globally challenging market.

Participants who earned Project Management Certification: 36.84% increased their salary by 10% or more and 15.13% increased their salary by 20% or more.

Project Management Opportunities

In order to switch for the best project management career opportunities, you can find many jobs on the internet. Also, your existing experience will play a vital role to determine the suitability. One option is to follow the organization you like to join. Another option is to register to the recruiting websites. In either way, you get market awareness. Based on the domain, there are a plethora of project management jobs available. So you need to search for the one that matches your skills, qualification, and experience. In other words, you need to search for the one who is searching for you – hence the right fit. Some of these jobs include:

  • Project Manager, (Unspecified Type / General)
  • Project Manager, Construction
  • Operations Manager
  • Project Engineer
  • Project Manager, Information Technology (IT)
  • Senior Project Manager, IT
  • Project Manager, ERP
  • Project Manager, Financial Services

Organizations set Project management certifications as a necessary requirement for hiring the project managers.

Project Management Jobs in the Digital Age of Innovation

There are many others considering the digital age of innovation. In this digital age, disruptive technologies are evolving across the globe. Likewise, forward-thinking organizations are building better products. They are also creating stronger customer relationships with a speed that hasn’t been seen before. The most interesting factor of these disruptive technologies is that the organizations always strive to sustain by increasing market share. Therefore organizations like to have star performers with them. These star performers help the organizations to grow as well as sustain themselves through the challenges brought by the digital age.

PMI published a report “The Project Manager of the Future Developing Digital Age”. In this report, they have listed project management career skills to thrive in disruptive times. These areas are helpful for individuals as well as organizations. So you can focus on these skills to prepare yourself for the Future Project Management. These skills include:

  1. Data Science
  2. Innovative Mindset
  3. Security and Privacy Knowledge
  4. Compliance Knowledge
  5. Ability to make data-driven decisions
  6. Collaboration Leadership Skills

If you are looking for your advancement then these future skills are the must-have for you. Therefore you will certainly benefit if you acquire these skills.

Project Management Career Path – Summary

In this article, we provided you with the career growth paths for the project managers, so we have given you an overview that can help you to understand the possibilities.

We provided the 3 steps for your career growth path. In brief, first, your Project Management Career Path starts with education. Then you prepare yourself for the project management position. At this stage, you can go for the project management certification. Finally advancing your career within your organization or switching organization.