FAQ: Working as a Project Manager for IT
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IT project managers are technology professionals who lead IT teams in the planning, initiation and completion of technical projects. These professionals rely on a range of skills and expertise to achieve results for their organizations. If you're interested in learning about what an IT project manager's job is like, there are several things to know about the role. In this article, we'll discuss what a project manager for IT does and cover the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about this career field.
What does a project manager for IT do?
Project managers in the information technology industry plan, organize, budget and initiate company projects to meet specific IT goals. IT project managers perform a range of job duties that encompass planning and defining a project's scope, start and end deadlines and necessary resources. An IT project manager may also perform the following responsibilities:
Coordinating the work and tasks of IT professionals on their teams to develop and produce software and other technical applications
Leading IT teams through project changes and facilitating problem resolution and risk mitigation
Monitoring and measuring project progress and ensuring teams meet key objectives
Evaluating performance and developing strategies to improve performance
Collaborating with clients about project criteria and standard of completion
Reviewing third-party contributions and managing invoices
Organizing project documents and communicating project specifications to technology teams, executives and clients
What skills should an IT project manager have?
Here are several skills that you need as a project manager for IT:
IT project managers have deep subject area expertise and rely on their knowledge of technical applications and processes to direct projects to completion. For instance, IT project managers have deep knowledge of IT infrastructure and architecture, two technical aspects of overseeing IT processes in the workplace.
Strategic planning skills
Project managers in any industry need to understand the strategic planning process to break projects down into tasks, measurable objectives and necessary due dates. IT project managers depend on these skills to set overall goals for project completion, organize short-term objectives and support their teams in achieving successful results.
Managing and tracking progress with complex technical projects requires effective decision-making skills. IT project managers must be able to evaluate data, advantageous strategies and necessary project resources are essential skills that IT project managers rely on to make important decisions about project scope and budget.
Successful IT project managers have strong problem-solving skills. They rely on their ability to develop solutions and overcome challenges that may arise on the job by using effective risk mitigation strategies, collaborative efforts and creativity to fix issues with projects.
IT project managers lead diverse teams of technology professionals and need to have strong leadership qualities for delegating and directing tasks and motivating and inspiring staff to achieve success. Strong leadership skills IT project managers have also include the ability to mentor and support employees' development, encourage unique ideas and apply team feedback to better achieve business goals.
Written communication, verbal communication, visual communication and active listening are forms of communication IT project managers depend on in their careers. Many project managers for IT must communicate technical information in writing for colleagues, executive management and clients to read. Additionally, the ability to convey technical information visually in charts and graphs is another aspect of communication that IT project managers frequently apply on the job.
Maintaining a high level of organization while completing technical projects is crucial as an IT project manager. For example, many IT project managers regularly create technical documents, maintain project budgets, develop project outlines and delegate tasks to team members.
What is the required education for an IT project manager?
Most IT project managers have at least a bachelor's degree in information technology, project management or business management. Many employers require candidates to have at least a four-year degree, while some employers may require you to have your graduate degree. IT professionals who obtain graduate degrees usually specialize in business administration (MBA), project management and additional technical fields. The coursework that prospective IT project managers complete prepares them to take on leadership and management roles in corporate settings.
While a master's degree isn't always a requirement for entering your career as an IT project manager, it can give you a competitive advantage over candidates without this qualification. Additionally, you can boost your fitness for hiring by obtaining professional certification in project management, which can show employers your expertise in the field.
What kind of certifications are there for IT project managers?
Here are several certifications for IT project managers:
Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM): The CAPM certification is a voluntary entry-level certification that supports your progress toward the PMP certification.
Project Management Professional (PMP) certification: The PMP certification is the highest level of certification that the Project Management Institute offers. It demonstrates your ability to successfully manage all stages of a technical project.
Certified Six Sigma Yellow Belt (CSSYB) credential: This is the entry-level Six Sigma certification through the ASQ (American Society for Quality) that demonstrates your developing abilities with Six Sigma applications.
Certified Six Sigma Green Belt (CSSGB) credential: The CSSGB credential is a professional level of certification that demonstrates your knowledge and expertise with Six Sigma applications. You can achieve this certification after your CSSYB.
Certified Six Sigma Black Belt (CSSBB) credential: The CCSSBB is the highest level of certification the ASQ offers, and it demonstrates an expert-level competency in Six Sigma applications.
Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) credential: The CSM credential through the Scrum Alliance demonstrates your expertise with integrating Scrum and Agile applications in your project tasks.
What's the salary of an IT project manager?
According to Indeed's salary information, IT project managers earn a national average salary of $101,194 per year. Your earning potential as a project manager in IT can vary, though, depending on several factors. One factor that can affect your income is your location, as some states may have higher salary averages than in others.
Similarly, IT project managers who live in metropolitan areas may also earn higher incomes than professionals who live in less populated locations. Your level of experience can also affect your earning potential, as project managers with a longer work history may make more than those who are just entering their careers.
How do you become a project manager for IT?
Pursuing a career as an IT project manager requires the following steps:
1. Complete a bachelor's degree
To enter your career as an IT project manager, you need to complete your four-year degree. Choose a major that can prepare you for the intricacies of organizing and overseeing technical projects. For instance, computer science, information technology, business analytics and management information are common degree fields IT project managers pursue.
2. Complete a graduate degree
While not necessary for all employers, a graduate degree is an excellent way to boost your income potential and demonstrate deeper knowledge of project management and IT principles and applications. Consider a master's degree in project management, business administration (MBA), business analytics, information systems management or another related field.
3. Gain work experience
Build your experience on the job and take advantage of training and development opportunities. When you gain several years of experience working as an IT project manager, you can qualify to take one of your professional certification exams. Depending on the certification you're pursuing, you'll need to build up at least two to three years of work experience before you're eligible to get your certification.
4. Get certified
There are several types of professional certifications you can get as a project manager in IT. For instance, if you regularly follow the Scrum outline for initiating and completing software development projects, the ASQ offers several levels of Scrum certifications that can demonstrate your proficiency working in Agile environments and running Scrum procedures.
What's the career outlook for IT project managers?
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the job outlook for computer and information systems managers to rise by 10% between 2019 and 2029. This means that IT project managers and IT managers can enjoy a steady rise in job opportunities. Similarly, with the increasing usage of technology in everyday applications, IT project managers may find additional job opportunities across a variety of industries, including in finance, marketing and sales.
How can IT project managers develop their skills?
Highlight your abilities as a project manager and use the following approaches to further develop your skills:
Take part in leadership training. Leadership development and training programs can help you develop in your role and support your success as an effective team leader.
Apply feedback from colleagues and superiors. Ask for feedback about your skills, leadership abilities and performance. Apply feedback on the job to continue to improve and advance in your career.
Stay up-to-date on technology trends. Understand what new advances or innovations can affect your organization's success, and stay updated on industry-specific events and emerging trends.
Learn new technical skills. Continue to learn new skills that you can use on the job. For instance, learn how to initiate a Scrum sprint if you haven't worked in this format yet.
Improve your ability to collaborate. Practice effective communication through active listening, remaining empathetic and encouraging your team's input with project outlines.
Take additional courses in project management. You can continue your education or even take part in online courses that help you develop your skills as a leader, IT professional and technical advisor to your clients.
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