How to become a project manager?

How to become a project manager?

By Published On: 2. October 2023


Well buddy, have you ever wondered how to become a project manager? Well, you're in exactly the right place. The role of a project manager is extremely important and rewarding in just about any sector. Whether it's in construction, IT, marketing, or even event planning, a good project manager is key to success. But of course, this role doesn't just fall out of the sky and you don't get it for free. It requires diligence, training and a lot of patience. In this article, we'll take a closer look at the exact steps and skills needed to lead a successful project life. Trust me, it's worth reading on. So buckle up, buddy, as we take you on a journey into the exciting world of project management.

What does a project manager actually do?

Project managers are important players in almost every industry. Their main task is to coordinate projects from start to finish and ensure that they are completed successfully. But what exactly does it mean to be a project manager? What is the day-to-day routine like? In this section, we answer these questions.

Project planning and organization

First on the list of tasks for a project manager is planning and organizing projects. This task includes everything from defining project goals and expectations to creating a detailed project plan. The project manager ensures that all resources (such as budget, personnel and materials) are available in the right place and at the right time. Continuous contact is maintained with the project team and other stakeholders to ensure that the process runs smoothly.

At the heart of this role is the ability to effectively juggle a multitude of tasks while respecting deadlines, budgets and resources. A good project manager works systematically and goal-oriented, maintains an overview and is able to make decisions and communicate them clearly.

Risk management and problem solving

Another key aspect of a project manager's work is risk management. They are responsible for identifying potential risks and issues that could hinder the successful implementation of the project. You must develop strategies to mitigate risks and have a Plan B ready in case something goes wrong.

In addition, you must be problem solvers. It's inevitable that problems will arise during the course of the project, and it's your responsibility to overcome them. This may mean resolving disputes between team members, finding a solution to surprising technical problems, or managing communication with a difficult client. Again, the goal is to ensure that the project is completed successfully despite any obstacles.

In summary, as a project manager you are a key player in a project. You're in charge from the planning phase to the completion phase of a project, making sure that everyone involved is working toward the common goal and pulling in the same direction. And while the job can be stressful at times, the satisfaction of bringing a project to a successful conclusion is essential.

The requirements: What qualifications do you need to be a project manager?

Anyone who has ever tried to manage a project knows that it takes more than good intentions and enthusiasm. Not everyone has what it takes to be an effective project manager. Before we dive further into specific skills, let's first highlight the basic skills and expertise you need to be a project manager.

Expertise and education

Generally, a project manager is expected to possess a broad range of knowledge and skills. You should be able to demonstrate a fundamental understanding of all aspects of a project. This means you have a strong grounding in project management principles and practices, including knowledge of project planning, financial management, risk management, and team leadership.

In addition, many project managers have a bachelor's degree in a relevant field such as business administration, engineering, information technology or a related discipline. Some have even completed a master's degree program or a special certification such as the PMP (Project Management Professional) certification. It should be noted, however, that while formal education can be helpful, practical experience and proven success in project management are often considered equally, if not more, important.

Soft skills and personality traits

Aside from technical knowledge and formal education, there are a number of soft skills and character traits that a successful project manager should possess. You need to be an excellent communicator, able to communicate clearly and effectively with various stakeholders, from team members to senior executives and customers.

Furthermore, you must have a strong leadership quality. Project managers are the ones who have to motivate the team and keep them on track, so you need to be decisive, inspiring and able to make decisions.

You must also have problem-solving skills and be able to keep a cool head during crises. Projects are rarely easy and problem-free. There are often unexpected challenges or obstacles that must be overcome.

Ultimately, the question of what qualifications you need as a project manager cannot be fully answered without considering your personality. Good project managers are passionate, dynamic individuals who can handle challenges and have the determination to lead a project to success despite the hurdles that may arise.

From team member to project manager: how to make the transition successfully

Are you a member of a project and are now wondering how you can take the next steps in your career? Then this is the right place for you. Do you want to take on more responsibility and influence the strategy and results of a project? Then the transition to project manager could be just right for you. Below you will find some valuable tips and tricks on how to effectively move up from team member to project manager.

Expand and maintain your qualifications

The right continuing education can help you make that career move. Have you considered pursuing a master's degree in project management? Even if you already have experience in this field, formal training can be very helpful. A master's degree can give you a deeper knowledge of costing, planning and controlling projects as a team member.

It's also a good idea to stay current and educate yourself on new technologies and industry-specific knowledge. Project management certifications are also a great way to advance your career. Not only do they help you, but they also show your employer that you are invested in your professional future and have the will to constantly improve.

Develop the right soft skills

Although skills and experience are important, soft skills can be key to standing out as a project manager. These skills are not as easy to measure, but they can make all the difference and allow a team member to make the leap to team leader.

The soft skills that are particularly relevant to this position include the ability to handle pressure and stress while keeping team morale high; patience and tact to overcome team challenges and resolve conflicts; diplomacy to maintain team balance and work together; and critical thinking and decision-making skills for the strategic direction of the project. There are many different ways to acquire or improve these soft skills, including seminars, webinars, workshops, or even through regular reflection and self-improvement.

In summary, transitioning from team member to project manager can be a great step in your career. Although there are some challenges, the potential rewards, such as the feeling of having led a project to success or having successfully managed a team, are worth it. With the right qualifications, ongoing training, and the right soft skills, you can successfully navigate this transition and shine as a project manager!

Training and study: The traditional path to becoming a project manager

Are you interested in how to become a project manager? Great, then you've come to the right place! The traditional path to this exciting career field leads via a corresponding apprenticeship or a relevant degree. But don't worry, that by no means means means you don't have a chance without the relevant degrees. There are many different ways to get a foothold in this profession. Let's talk about it!

The role of education: Does it always have to be a degree?

No, of course not! There are many different types of training that can put you on the path to becoming a project manager. Some people even choose to train in a completely different field first and then apply the knowledge and experience they gain to a project manager career.

For example, you could complete a commercial apprenticeship and then work on a project in a company. With increasing experience and further training - for example through appropriate seminars, courses or certification programs - you can then advance your career in the direction of project management. Many companies place great value on practical experience and view an educational path very positively. So a degree is not a must, but rather a can!

What role does study play?

A degree program can make it easier to get started in project management, especially if it is one with a relevant focus - such as industrial engineering, business administration or computer science. A business degree, for example, can give you the necessary basic understanding of the commercial aspects of a project.

But studies are by no means the only thing that counts, because here, too, practical experience is worth its weight in gold. Many companies are looking for graduates who have gained initial work experience alongside their studies in the form of internships or student jobs. In this context, specific project management certificates that underline your skills and knowledge are also an advantage.

In conclusion, there are several ways to become a project manager. Whether it's through an apprenticeship or a degree program - ultimately it depends on your individual ideas, skills and interests. The most important thing is that you bring passion, commitment and a willingness for continuous learning! Are you ready? Then go for it!

Become a project manager without studying: Is that possible?

Maybe there's a myth that you absolutely need a university degree to climb the career ladder. But is that really the case? Is it inevitable to have a degree to become a project manager? This question has certainly swayed many a person who wants to take the path to project management. The good news is: It is anything but impossible to successfully gain a foothold in project management even without a degree. How does it work? Take a look!

Skills and experience often count more than a degree

First and foremost, it should be clear that while an academic degree definitely has its advantages, the lack of one doesn't mean the end of your career dreams. In fact, many employers value practical experience and specialized skills at least as highly as formal educational qualifications.

As you climb your way up the career ladder, it's likely that you've already gained a wealth of practical experience. You may already have an in-depth understanding of the industry and be able to work efficiently and effectively. These are all skills that make an effective project manager. Your learned skills are critical to successfully completing even the most complex projects. So don't be discouraged if you don't have a college degree.

Continuing education and training as the key to success

Now you may be saying, "Okay, I have this hands-on experience and knowledge, but is it really enough?" The answer is yes and no. Experience alone can't fill all knowledge gaps, and that's why continuous education and training are elemental parts of your career development.

There are many training and certification programs that can give you the skills and knowledge needed to successfully manage projects. Courses in areas such as project management, quality management, business organization and the like can give you a significant head start. In addition, certifications such as Project Management Professional (PMP) or Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) will prove to your future employers that you are trained and competent in the field.

In summary, you can become a successful project manager even without a university degree. What counts is your passion, motivation and the will to continuously learn and develop personally. Plus: a good hand for people and practical experience in project management. With these building blocks, you'll be well equipped to hit the ground running as a project manager!

What skills and talents are essential for you as a project manager?

Being a project manager is like being a conductor leading an orchestra. And just like a successful conductor who knows more than just classical music and instruments, you as a successful project manager need a set of skills and talents to successfully lead your team. But what are they? Which skills are important and which talents make the difference?

Strong organizational skills are essential

Organization is a key element for any type of management, but especially for project management. Without careful planning and organization, a project can quickly go off the rails. Excellent organizational skills are therefore essential for you as a project manager. These include things like resource management, time management, and setting priorities.

The ability to plan and organize effectively also requires a high degree of flexibility and adaptability. Projects are rarely static - they are constantly evolving and changing. As a project manager, you need to be able to adjust your plans as needed and still maintain an overview.

Communication and leadership determine success and failure

As a project manager, you are the intermediary between your team and stakeholders. You must be able to understand and effectively communicate the expectations and requirements of all parties. You must be able to communicate clearly and concisely, both verbally and in writing.

At the same time, strong leadership is essential to motivate and coordinate your team. You need to be able to inspire and guide your team, even in difficult times. In return, this requires a lot of empathy and the ability to understand and assess the needs and desires of your team.

All in all, in addition to technical competence and knowledge about projects and their management, a lot of soft skills are required. Be it communication, leadership, organizational talent or empathy, they all determine the success or failure of a project.

Of course, there are many more skills and talents that can help you in your job as a project manager. For example, analytical thinking is helpful in solving problems or assessing risks. And of course, one or the other lack of talent can be compensated for with the right motivation and passion. Therefore, it should still be said: Love what you do and do it with all your heart! Because passion is perhaps the most important skill you need as a project manager.

What does your everyday life as a project manager look like?

At first glance, project management may seem rather dry and bureaucratic. In fact, however, it is an exciting and varied job. Every day brings new challenges and offers the chance to get creative, find solutions and drive the success of a project. So you're right to wonder what your day-to-day life as a project manager is like. Let's take a closer look.

A day in the life of a project manager: morning hours

A typical workday as a project manager usually starts early in the morning. You make yourself a coffee (or tea, if you're so inclined), check your emails and plan your workday based on the latest information and requirements. The focus is always on driving the project forward and achieving the best possible results.

Meetings are an integral part of your everyday life as a project manager. They are important to keep track of the project status and make sure everyone is on the same page. Therefore, the morning often starts with a kick-off meeting with the team or a steering committee meeting with stakeholders or customers.

A day in the life of a project manager: afternoon and evening

After lunch, which hopefully provides enough time for a little breather, you continue working. Now is the time to complete specific tasks. From creating reports and presentations, to tracking tasks and updating the project plan, to answering emails and phone calls, there are many activities that need to be accomplished.

Practice makes perfect, which is why many project managers also hold a final meeting with the team later in the afternoon. Here, the results of the day are evaluated, problems discussed and the next steps planned. On intense days, the day may end with dinner with a potential client or business partner.


In summary, your day-to-day life as a project manager is varied and exciting. Every day brings new challenges, and the freedom and responsibility that come with the role can be very fulfilling. However, it's no walk in the park and requires hard work, dedication and a passion for what you do. But don't worry, with the right tools and skills, you can master anything that day-to-day project management throws at you. Whether you're just entering the world of project management or you're already an old hand, always remember: every day is a new challenge and a chance to grow and learn.

So, ready for your everyday life as a project manager? Let's get started!

Tasks and responsibilities: What all is part of the job as a project manager?

Come pack your suitcase, we'll take you on a tour of a project manager's day and show you what you could really have on your to-do list! In fact, every challenge that rains down from the sky lands right in your email inbox. But don't worry, this is why I love my job as a project manager! Because we are masters of problem solving and leave no stone unturned to overcome these challenges.

The daily workout of a project manager

Are you ready? Let's go! Your alarm clock rings and you reach straight for your phone to check your email. Yes, I'm serious! You can't escape emails anymore. They're important every step of the way to check your project status and bring you up to speed. Remember how I said all challenges end up in your inbox? Well, it's only just begun!

Now a hot cup of coffee sets itself on your desk and as you go about your day, you prepare for the meetings that will take place right after your breakfast. "Meetings," you hear me right, they become your constant companion. They provide great opportunities to keep the team in the loop and know what's going on. Who has accomplished what, who needs help, are there any roadblocks? They are a goldmine of information!

Step on the gas for the final spurt

After you've struggled through meetings, it's time for a quick lunch. Did you think it would be quieter now? Well, you're wrong! Now the real fun begins. Now you're immersed in the actual planning, monitoring and implementation of tasks. You're creating reports, checking project status, updating plans, and oh yeah, answering more emails and phone calls. See why we need coffee all the time?

In fact, it all depends on the size of the project. In smaller projects, you can put your fingers in many matters. You could be involved in the technical details, write code yourself, run tests and do many other things. However, on larger projects, you could act as an orchestra conductor and do all the coordination.

Now that the day is almost over, it might be time for business meetings and you could have dinner with clients. Wait, did you think the day was over? As a project manager, you're always on call. Something unexpected can always happen. So you always have to be ready to step into the action and tackle the problem. And that's it - a day in the life of a project manager. Sounds like fun, right? It's definitely more exciting than your average 9-to-5 job. And when you achieve success, the satisfaction is enormous. So if challenge, variety and excitement are your thing - congratulations! You've found your dream job.

How can continuing education help your career as a project manager?

You want to become a successful project manager and wonder how continuing education can help you? Don't worry, you are on the right track! Continuing education is an important pillar in any career, especially in dynamic fields like project management. It's important to keep up to date to improve your skills and stand out from the rest. But what does continuing education actually mean in this profession? And how does it help you become a successful project manager? Let's start from the beginning.

What does advanced training in project management mean?

The field of project management is constantly on the move. New methods, tools and approaches are constantly being developed to make projects more effective and efficient. As a project manager, it is therefore important to follow these developments and to constantly update your knowledge and skills. During your studies or training, you will have learned the basic principles and techniques of project management. But the learning doesn't stop there.

Continuing education in project management can take a variety of forms, from online courses and webinars to specialized certificate programs. There are training programs for different levels - from beginner to expert. The key is to choose a learning path that is tailored to your interests, goals, and current skill level. For example, you could take a course to learn more about agile project management methods or earn a certificate in a specific project management tool.

How can continuing education support your career as a project manager?

Now that we know what continuing education in project management means, the question is how it can help you on your way to becoming a project manager. Well, there are several answers. Continuing education can significantly improve your career opportunities. By continuing your education on a regular basis, you signal to potential employers that you are willing to continuously improve and face the challenges of fast-paced project management.

In addition, further education allows you to specialize in specific areas of project management. Perhaps you are particularly interested in IT projects or you would like to deepen your knowledge in the area of agile methods. With the right training, you can gain this expertise and set yourself apart from other candidates. Continuing education can also refresh your current skills and show you new perspectives and approaches that you can bring to your projects. In short, continuing education is the key to success in any career, especially in project management. So what are you waiting for? Dive into the world of lifelong learning and take your career to the next level!

Potential challenges and difficulties on your way to becoming a project manager

With your decision to become a project manager, you are embarking on an exciting career adventure. But hey, be aware that the road to becoming a project manager is not always a bed of roses! There are some challenges and difficulties you can expect. Let's start exploring them.

Start-up difficulties or the first hurdles

Do you imagine what it would be like to start in your first project management job? Expectations are high and you may feel that you don't have enough experience yet. This is one of the biggest challenges for aspiring project managers. The solution? Swim! You need to get up to speed quickly and learn how to communicate with supervisors, the team and stakeholders. You also need to learn how to keep the project on track. And you need to learn how to effectively manage resources and minimize risk. And that's just the beginning! As you gain more experience, you'll be challenged to expand your skills and adapt. In short, the first few months or even the first year might be pretty overwhelming. But hey, don't be deterred. These challenges will help you build your skills and confidence.

Career development and reaching the next level

After you have overcome the first hurdles and feel comfortable in your job, you may find that other challenges await you. Yes, dear readers, career development also brings its own difficulties! Maybe you now have several projects to manage at the same time, or you are working on more complex and challenging projects. Maybe you now have to lead a larger team or even interact with international stakeholders. In short, the demands are increasing and with them, so is the pressure. At the same time, you may be wondering if you want to continue working as a project manager or take on another leadership role. You may also wonder how you can keep your knowledge and skills current to keep up with the latest trends and technologies in your industry. All of these thoughts and challenges can leave you feeling uncertain or even overwhelmed at times. But remember: with challenges comes growth. So take the wheel and steer your career ship!

A career as a project manager can be a real thriller, with many ups and downs. The challenges can seem daunting at first, but they are not insurmountable. You have it in your hands. Even the rockiest road can be overcome if you show passion, commitment and a willingness to work hard and keep learning. So, dear aspiring project managers, keep at it and always be ready to face the challenges. You can do it!

The role of networking and mentoring in project management

In this section, we look at two key concepts in project management: networking and mentoring. Both are crucial factors for getting off to a successful start as a project manager. Sounds exciting? Great, then get ready! By the way, it doesn't matter if you're a young whippersnapper or a seasoned pro - networking and mentoring should always be part of your career plan.

Networking for project managers

Networking is absolutely top class. And I'm not just talking about LinkedIn and Xing. It's about much more than just having an impressive number of contacts. A strong network, both inside and outside your company, can help you gather information, improve your leadership skills, and market yourself better.

Think about it: everyone in your network is a potential mentor, a source of information, or a stepping stone to new challenges. It's not just about what you can learn from others. You bring your own expertise and can help others.

A strong network also provides a safety net. If a problem arises, someone in your network may be able to help you quickly and efficiently. You're not alone, and that's reassuring, isn't it? So go ahead and make important contacts!

Mentoring in project management

Mentoring also plays a crucial role for aspiring project managers. It's an effective way to learn skills and test yourself on real project situations. And no, you don't have to find a wise old master to take you under his wing. A mentor can be anyone who has more experience than you and is willing to share their knowledge.

A mentor is not only a teacher, but also a sparring partner. Someone who gives you constructive feedback, challenges you and supports you. You can talk to your mentor about your insecurities, learn from their experience and find solutions to your current challenges together.

Don't have a mentor? Don't worry! You can ask someone in your network or look for a mentoring program in your company. The important thing is that you find someone who is a good fit for you and who will help you grow your skills as a project manager.

So guys, don't forget: networking and mentoring are two mega important factors to get started in the project management world. They give you the opportunity to develop new skills, share experiences, and make important connections. So get it done and start networking and finding a mentor. Success will thank you, I promise!

Long-term perspective: What's next for you after the project manager position?

Are you already becoming a successful project manager and wondering what comes next? That's great, because you plan ahead! You want to keep developing and wonder what career opportunities you'll have after project management? No problem! Now let's take a look at what development opportunities and career prospects are open to you as a project manager.

Vertical career: From project manager to program manager

Are you perhaps a born leader and motivate your team on a daily basis? Then a position as a program manager might be right for you. As a Project Manager, you'll manage individual projects, but a Program Manager manages multiple related projects simultaneously. In this position, you will be responsible for coordinating and managing multiple, interrelated projects. In doing so, you must ensure that the common goals and benefits achieved through these programs are consistently and successfully implemented. While this comes with more responsibility, you also get more resources, influence, and opportunities for strategic decision making.

Horizontal career: From project manager to consultant or freelancer

If you're more the type who craves independence and diversity, a career as an independent consultant or freelancer could be your next step. As a consultant, you'll have the opportunity to apply your knowledge and experience in different companies and industries. You'll help other organizations improve and successfully implement their projects. In doing so, you will constantly learn and build a broad network. As a freelancer you have even more freedom and flexibility in your daily work. You decide yourself which projects you accept and how you structure your working hours. You can also build your own expert image and have direct control over your earning potential.

No matter which path you choose, the most important thing is always to be willing to learn and passionate. Be open to new experiences and constantly expand your horizons. This way you can increase your value as a project manager and discover new exciting opportunities in your career.

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About the Author: Sven Emmrich

Sven Emmrich avatar
Sven is a business graduate, DEKRA-certified coach and passionate entrepreneur. As CEO of Karrierehelden, he has been writing for many years on all career topics such as job applications and job changes, money and salary negotiations, leadership skills and management issues, psychology and personality development, communication and conflict management, self-confidence and entrepreneurship, and the line between work and private life with work-life balance... or much more work-life integration. Sven has coached over 1,000 academics, professionals and executives with his team and is happy to help you too.
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