What Is a Project Officer? (Plus Skills and Salary)
Strategic projects help organizations improve their operating processes and meet growth goals. To ensure projects are successful, an organization might employ several project management professionals, including project officers. If you want to use your strategic thinking and organizational skills to help teams successfully complete projects, then becoming a project officer might be a rewarding career path for you. In this article, we describe what project officers are and what they do, list some key skills for the role, explain how to become a project officer and provide salary and job outlook information for this career.
Related: FAQ: Project Management Basics
What is a project officer?
Project officers, sometimes called assistant project managers, project coordinators or project assistants, help project managers plan and execute strategic projects. They might work in a wide range of industries, including health care, technology, manufacturing and logistics. Some project officers also work for nonprofit organizations and government agencies. Depending on the size of their organization, a project officer might support one or more project managers.
What does a project officer do?
While a project officer's specific tasks might depend on their industry and organization, many project officers complete the following tasks:
Conducting research into the technology or resource requirements for specific projects
Helping project managers draft proposals and project plans to share with stakeholders
Coordinating schedules with members of the project team
Taking notes during project planning meetings
Creating resource lists or guidelines for project team members based on the project plan
Checking on team members' progress during their phase of the project
Uploading materials to project management platforms
Compiling data and creating reports for project managers
Conducting tests on project results
Taking part in post-project sessions to discuss results and suggest improvements
Completing other administrative tasks for project managers
What is the work environment like for a project officer?
Typically, project officers work in office settings. The type of office they work in might depend on their industry. For example, a project officer in the health care industry might work in a medical facility, while a financial services project officer might work in a bank or insurance office. Some project officers might work remotely or have a hybrid work model. Usually, project officers complete some of their tasks independently and collaborate with team members on other tasks. While most project officers work during regular business hours, some might work in the evenings or weekends, depending on the project.
What is the career path for a project officer?
A project officer can use their position to gain the skills and experience for a more senior role. Many project officers become project managers, often after earning additional degrees or certifications. Some advance to senior positions in operations or logistics departments. You might also advance in your specific industry. For example, a project officer in a health care facility might eventually become a facility manager or other senior member of staff.
Project officer skills
Here are some key skills project officers might use in their daily work:
Project officers typically have deep knowledge of their industry. This knowledge helps them run strategic projects effectively since they understand the goals. For example, a project officer working in a technology company might have advanced knowledge of IT trends and consumer priorities, which allows them to monitor the different project stages to ensure team members share the same goals. They might develop their industry knowledge in college courses or professional experience in that industry, either as a project officer or in another position.
Project management knowledge
A key part of a project officer's job is the project management cycle, the process that divides a project into phases to make it more accessible. Project officers might develop their knowledge of the project management cycle by completing college courses, participating in professional development programs or observing senior members of the project management team. The basic project management cycle has five stages :
Depending on their industry, project officers might know about specialized project management approaches, like agile methodology, which is an approach used by many technology companies.
Project officers communicate with every member of the project team, including managers and directors. They might organize and lead regular meetings, where team members reflect on the different stages of the project. Depending on the size of the project, they might also conduct progress checks with individual members of the team to ensure everyone has the required resources and guidance to complete the project on time. Often, project officers set up a communication system with team members, using a chat application or project management software. They might also deliver messages from team members to the project manager.
Project officers use their organizational skills to perform administrative tasks and ensure that each stage of the project management cycle happens smoothly. In the early part of a project's development, the project officer might help the project manager construct a strategic plan for the project, which involves high-level organizational skills. Many project officers support multiple project managers, so they might have different folders or online dashboards for each project they're supporting to help them stay organized. They may also use project management software to help them arrange project documentation and records, which they might put into reports for stakeholders.
Many organizations use a variety of digital tools during the project management process, so project managers often develop solid technical skills to use these programs. Project management software can help team members meet their deadlines and provide a place to store useful resources. As the administrative support professional for project managers, a project officer might create new projects on these software platforms. Depending on the location of different team members, the project officer might also use video-conferencing programs or chat applications to facilitate meetings or communication. Finally, they might use publication programs to create project reports for stakeholders.
As project management is usually a collaborative effort, project officers might use their interpersonal skills to ensure that every team member feels supported in their stage of the project. They might use active listening skills to understand team members' opinions, which can help them mediate conflicts or adjust the project design to improve the work experience. If they conduct progress meetings, project officers might use empathy to connect with team members who need additional support to complete their work. Project officers might develop their interpersonal skills as they grow in their careers.
How to become a project officer
Here are four steps you can take to become a project officer:
1. Earn an undergraduate degree
While project officers might have a wide range of educational backgrounds, many hiring managers prefer candidates who have at least a bachelor's degree. You might earn a degree in project management, but you might also study a subject related to the industry you hope to enter. For example, to become a project officer in the medical field, you might study health care administration, nursing or public health administration. Project officers in technology companies might have degrees in IT management or computer engineering. Some candidates might major in an industry-related subject and minor in business administration or project management.
2. Gain experience
Many project officers start their careers in entry-level or associate positions in their chosen industry. These roles can help them develop industry knowledge and skills. For example, a hiring manager at an IT consulting company might prefer project officer candidates with prior IT experience. You might work as an IT service representative or in another entry-level role. Some project officers also work in entry-level project management jobs, such as junior project coordinator or project associate. In these roles, professionals can hone their project management skills and develop professional connections that can help them later in their careers.
3. Consider an advanced degree
If you want to become a project officer at a large organization or government agency, you might consider earning a graduate degree in project management or a subject related to the specific industry. For example, to work in a large health care network, you might earn a graduate degree in nursing administration or a related field. Many universities offer courses online or in the evenings, so you can earn a graduate degree while working in your field. These degree programs can increase your industry knowledge and help you develop advanced project management skills.
4. Earn a certification
Project management certifications are programs that verify your skills in certain areas related to strategic projects and management support. The certification program you choose might depend on your experience level and your professional goals. For example, if you're beginning your project management career, you might choose to earn the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) certificate from the Project Management Institute, which is for entry-level or associate professionals with basic project management skills. As you develop your skills, you can advance to one of the Project Management Institute's senior certifications, like the Project Management Professional (PMP).
Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.
Project officer salary and job outlook
According to Indeed Salaries, project officers earn an average yearly salary of $68,509. They might receive additional benefits, including health insurance, referral bonuses, paid time off and tuition reimbursement. A project officer's salary might depend on their education, industry, location and the size of the organization. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 6% increase in jobs for project management specialists, a group that includes project officers, from 2020 to 2030. This growth trend matches the average predicted national job increase.
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