Are you able to see the big picture while monitoring small details? Do you have the ability to work with a team yet feel comfortable spending time alone going over schedules and budgets? Can you assume a leadership role and build consensus among different people with varying needs and agendas? Do you thrive in a deadline-driven environment?
If your answer is yes to the above, then perhaps a career in project management is for you.
According to a report produced by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), project managers are “the face” of a given project. They lead, motivate and coordinate team efforts. The report states that project managers also make sure that work flows steadily, despite setbacks and changing circumstances.
BLS does not classify “project management” as an occupation. Instead, project managers are counted as managers within their respective industries such as construction managers or computer and information systems managers. BLS asserts that project management is a full-fledged career for a growing number of people. Further, CNNMoney.com reported last year that the project management certification is in high demand for workers who want to upgrade their skills in this lackluster job market.
And where there is a demand, programs will emerge to cater to this burgeoning market. A Google search reveals hundreds of Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification programs. There’s everything from a four day PMP® Certification “Training Camp” to graduate degrees in project management.
So if you’re considering this field, how do you choose the best program for you?
“Choose one that is PMI- (Project Management Institute) endorsed,” urges Harriet Renay Anderson, an Austin-based buyer/planner of semiconductor components who displays her PMP® credential after her name on her LinkedIn profile. “Those are the ones that will prepare you the best for the exam,” she said.
In addition to the Project Management Institute’s website www.pmi.org, Anderson says another place to get good information about certification is the RMC Project Management, Inc., www.rmcproject.com, a 20-year old organization founded by Rita Mulcahy, a well-known project management author, trainer and speaker.
Anderson chose to prepare for certification through a six-week training course offered by Austin Community College in Austin, Texas. “During that training course I learned from my instructor and my classmates that not only was it going to take knowledge of project management to answer the questions correctly on the exam, it was going to take discipline and determination,” she said.
On why the interest in project management has increased, Anderson says, “Many of us who have worked for years in the manufacturing, services, or other industries have now found ourselves either downsized from our place of employment or unfulfilled career wise.” She continues, “We are scrambling for a new career or profession that will encompass all the knowledge and experience we have gained over several decades of working without having to totally recreate ourselves. Project management is that profession.”
Anderson was inspired to seek certification a few years ago when she was a project analyst and had the opportunity to work with a group of project managers. “I discovered while working on those various projects that I was using my skills and calling upon lessons I had learned over the years from all my past jobs,” she said. “It was finally all coming together. This was what I was meant to do.”
A major benefit that comes from certification is the affiliation with the Project Management Institute. Certified members of PMI have access to resources and cutting-edge project management approaches and training materials. Anderson says this keeps her informed and on top of her game.
“The day I became PMP® certified was one of the proudest days of my life!” enthused Anderson who became certified close to a year ago. “The certification meant that all my years of hard work and education were finally being recognized. Not only did I feel a sense of accomplishment, I also felt that it had leveled the playing field for me in terms of job opportunities.”
Even in this economy, Anderson receives a few calls a week from recruiters looking for project managers. “I have been working consistently since I received the certification,” says Anderson. “I have a choice now on which jobs I will or will not accept.”
For those who are thinking of becoming PMP® certified, Anderson says, “Do it!”, and contends that the field is wide open with new technology and innovations appearing every six months. “There are new and exciting industries popping up every day,” she says.