Why do I want to become a project manager?

Why do I want to become a project manager?

By Published On: 2. October 2023


Oh man, why do I want to be a project manager? A super good question! Well, I think it's largely because of the variety and diversity the job brings. So how cool would it be to manage projects from the concept phase to execution? To be honest, I love the idea of being responsible for the success of a project. The job also allows for a lot of interaction with different people - from team members to clients. And not to mention, project management skills are applicable in almost any industry, which means I'm not tied to any one industry. Now add in a bit of ego - yes, it feels great when a project is successful and everyone acknowledges that I made a significant contribution, right?

What is a project manager?

As you look at different career options, you may wonder, "What is a project manager and why would I want to become one?" Don't worry, we have the answers to these questions. Project managers play a critical role in a variety of industries, from information technology to construction. They are responsible for ensuring that projects are completed on time and within budget while meeting the needs of the client.

Role and responsibilities of a project manager

A project manager is like the conductor of an orchestra, overseeing and coordinating all the different parts of the project to ensure they work together harmoniously to achieve the desired result. The specific responsibilities of a project manager can vary from industry to industry, but the main tasks are always similar. These include developing and defining project goals, planning and sequencing tasks, coordinating team members and resources, monitoring progress and quality of work, and of course, communicating with stakeholders and customers to ensure their expectations are met.

Project managers also work closely with their team to resolve issues that may arise during the course of the project. They are also responsible for producing a final report outlining the successes and challenges of the project.

Required skills and qualifications

Successful project managers are characterized by a number of skills. Expertise in the relevant field is important, of course, as are excellent planning and organizational skills. You also need to be a good problem solver, able to respond creatively and proactively to unexpected challenges.

In addition, communication is another crucial aspect of the role of a project manager. You need to be able to communicate clearly and effectively with your team as well as with stakeholders and customers. You need to be able to present complex information in a way that is easily understood by all stakeholders. In addition, project managers need excellent leadership skills. Not only must you be able to motivate and lead your team, but you must also be able to make decisions that contribute to the overall success of the project.

To become a project manager, you usually need a bachelor's degree in a relevant field and experience in project management. Many project managers also earn project management certifications, such as those from the Project Management Institute (PMI).

Overall, the role of project manager is both challenging and rewarding. The ability to see a project from start to finish and stay on top of it is a very satisfying accomplishment. If you pursue a career in this field, you will get the chance to be at the forefront of exciting projects and make a real difference.

Understanding the role of a project manager

The role of a project manager is varied and complex. But don't worry, I'm here to shed some light and help you get an accurate picture of what to expect as a project manager. If you see yourself in the role of project manager, you need this information to really understand what to expect.

The range of projects on which project managers work

Project managers are not only present in the IT and construction sectors, as you might have thought. No kidding! The variety of projects that project managers can work on can hardly be put into a few words. Think of event management, translation and localization projects, marketing projects, research projects in universities and so on. There's hardly an area where project managers aren't needed. You could be working on developing an app, running a major international conference, working on a research project for a novel vaccine, or launching a new product. The possibilities are endless and so are the challenges you'll face.

Dealing with stress and the resilience of a project manager

Yes, you heard me right. As a project manager, you need a thick skin. And that's not just a euphemism. Stress and tension are part of the normal workday of a project manager. You will constantly feel pressure from different sides - from the team members asking for your leadership, from the stakeholders expressing their expectations and demanding the results, of course from the customer expecting the final product and expecting you to exceed their expectations.

But don't worry, these challenges are also what make being a project manager so exciting and rewarding. The satisfaction of successfully completing a tedious and hard project is hard to compare to anything else. You get to see your hard work, sweat, and effort translated into reality and recognition. Imagine how satisfying it must be to see the app you worked on being downloaded and used by millions of people, or the product you launched having huge commercial success.

So, if you have a willingness to work under pressure and make an effort, and of course the necessary professional skills, you are an ideal candidate to become a project manager. You will not regret it! This profession can open doors for you that you have never even dreamed of. And most importantly, you will participate in the process of creating something important and meaningful that can make a difference in the world.

The qualifications you need to become a project manager

In the world of project management, it's less about what jobs you've done before and more about what skills and knowledge you bring to the table. In this section, we'll talk about the skills you need to become a project manager.

Academic training

Although project manager is not a specific degree program, there are certainly academic trainings that can better prepare you for this role. Germany offers a lot of great master's programs in project management that provide specific knowledge, skills, and understanding for the role. These master's programs typically focus on important topics like risk management, quality assurance, and budget control, as well as soft skills like team leadership and communication. Degree programs in related fields such as business management, engineering, or IT can also provide valuable preparation, especially if you want to focus on specific project management roles in these industries.

However, it is not essential to have an academic degree to become a project manager. Practical experience and professional training can be just as valuable, if not more so, as they often provide directly applicable knowledge and skills.

Professional experience and certifications

Many employers are looking for candidates with hands-on experience in a project management role or in a role where similar skills are required. Previous experience as a team leader, project coordinator, or even in related fields such as business administration or process management can be very helpful. It may also be useful to start in an assistant role and gain experience from there. Assistant positions can allow you to experience the processes and techniques of project management firsthand, gaining valuable insight in the process.

In addition, certifications in project management, such as the CAPM (Certified Associate in Project Management) or PMP (Project Management Professional) from PMI (Project Management Institute), as well as comparable certifications from other organizations, can significantly improve your career opportunities. These certifications officially validate your knowledge and skills in project management and can give you an edge in the job market. However, they often require a certain number of hours of hands-on experience, so it's important to gain practical experience first.

Overall, it is important to understand that the skills you need to become a project manager can be very diverse and depend on many different factors, including the industry you work in and the specific requirements of the employer. Therefore, it is important to constantly work on your professional development and learn new skills.

Advantages of a career as a project manager

Project management is an exciting and diverse career that can offer you many benefits. It is a role that constantly presents new challenges and requires good communication, organizational and decision-making skills. Let's now take a look at some of the key benefits that a career as a project manager can bring.

Skills that are transferable across many industries

As a project manager, you'll learn a number of important skills that are transferable across many different industries. You'll learn to communicate effectively, solve problems, work with different stakeholders, and manage projects effectively from the concept phase to completion. All of these skills are in high demand across all industries, which means you'll have the opportunity to work in areas that interest you. For example, you could work in IT managing software projects, develop new treatment strategies in medicine, oversee large infrastructure projects in the construction industry, or work in the public sector managing social programs. This diversity and flexibility is a great benefit of careers in project management.

Good salary and career opportunities

As a project manager, you are responsible for the successful completion of projects. For this reason, your work is often compensated appropriately. While the exact salary will of course depend on the industry, location and your experience, the median salary for a project manager is usually much higher than the average salary. Not only that, but a career in project management often offers good opportunities for advancement. With growing experience and proven performance, you can work your way up to higher positions such as Program Manager, Portfolio Manager or even Chief Project Officer.

In addition, the project manager job also offers a unique perspective. By working on a project from start to finish, you get the whole picture and can better understand how businesses and organizations work. These insights can help you gain a wealth of experience that can be very valuable in future roles or projects.

Finally, a career as a project manager also offers a high level of satisfaction. It allows you to have a direct and measurable impact on the projects you work on. You can see the results of your work and know that you have helped to create something real and valuable. It is this satisfaction that drives many people to choose a career in project management and keeps them motivated despite the challenging nature of the work.

In conclusion, project management is an emotional, rewarding and diverse career that offers many opportunities. It requires hard work, dedication and ongoing learning, but with the right skills and attitude, it can be a very fulfilling choice. It offers many benefits, including a good salary, good career growth, and the opportunity to work in many different industries. By using the skills and experience you've gained as a project manager, you can take your career in the direction that best fits your interests and goals.

A typical day in the life of a project manager

Have you ever wondered what a day in the life of a project manager looks like? Since you've been following our conversation about becoming a project manager, we thought it would be cool to give you an insight. Let's dive into the varied and diverse world of a project manager. No two days are the same, but here's the general flow.

Preparing for the day and reviewing schedules

A project manager usually starts his day with a cup of coffee and extensive planning. He looks at schedules, checks deadlines and makes sure everything is on track. Of course, first comes checking emails and responding to messages that came in overnight. This part of the day is important to clear your head and prepare for what's coming. Sometimes something unexpected comes up, but as a project manager, you're trained to deal with it.

Meeting with the team and troubleshooting

After that, there are usually a few meetings on the calendar. Meetings with the team are important to monitor progress, discuss problems and prioritize the next planning steps. As you know, communication plays a huge role in project management. That's why a project manager spends a lot of his time talking to people, listening to them and making sure everyone knows what needs to be done.

If anything goes wrong, it is the project manager's job to control the damage. It is he who keeps a clear head in times of crisis and finds quick, effective solutions so that the project can continue to run successfully.

Changing hats and talking to customers

A project manager must be able to wear different "hats". Sometimes he must act as a mediator between differing opinions or as a motivator for a team that has lost its enthusiasm or focus. At other times, he must be a strict budget watchdog, making sure the project doesn't go overboard.

Last, but by no means least important, a project manager often talks to customers. He makes sure they know how the project is progressing and answers their questions. If the customer is happy, the project is usually on the right track!

At the end

Finally, at the end of a long and often hectic day, a project manager takes time to reflect. He reviews what went well and what needs improvement. He makes notes for the next day, updates schedules, and prepares for what is to come.

Sounds like a lot of work, right? It is, but that's part of what makes the job so exciting and fulfilling. Every day is different and offers new challenges and opportunities to learn and grow. And at the end of the day, when you look back at what you've accomplished, there's an incredible sense of satisfaction knowing you made a difference. Isn't that the real thrill you seek from your job?

The challenges you face every day as a project manager

Every day is a new adventure when you work as a project manager. It's a bit like a roller coaster ride, isn't it? Except it's not about fun, it's about hardcore work. Sure, it can definitely be fun. But let's face it, you're less likely to find rainbow-colored ponies and colorful unicorns in this job. Let's move on to the challenges you'll face.

A good juggler does not have to go to the circus

As a project manager, you'll be the master of juggling - not with colored balls, unfortunately, but with tasks, deadlines, budgets and expectations. You'll be constantly juggling to make sure nothing falls off. And believe me, that can be quite difficult. You need to have a clear idea of what your priorities are. And those can change daily, sometimes even hourly. There it is, that flexibility thing. Yeah, you're going to need that, too. Here's a tip: perfectionism is out of place here. Instead, focus on working as effectively as possible. That's good for your nerves and keeps your blood pressure in check.

Risk a look into the crystal ball

This may sound a bit esoteric, but it's not. As a project manager, you need to be able to anticipate risks and take action before they become problems. No, you don't need a real crystal ball for that, don't worry. But a well-developed intuition and a structured risk management approach can work wonders. Be critical and try to play out the "what if?" scenario before a situation turns into a problem.

And by the way, this job is not a 9-to-5 job, so you'll have to work overtime more often than not, especially as the deadline approaches. But hey, don't worry, it has its benefits. You'll learn what it means to take responsibility and lead big projects. And that feels pretty good, I can assure you!

Of course, being a project manager is sometimes tough, and there are many challenges to overcome. But it's also extremely satisfying and exciting. Every day brings new challenges and learning opportunities. You'll grow from tasks and challenges, and you'll learn a lot about yourself in the process. And ultimately, that's what makes the job so fulfilling and rewarding. So are you ready for the next adventure?

Salary and career prospects as a project manager

Good point, why would you want to be a project manager if you don't know what's in it, right? Your career prospects and the salary you can expect as a project manager go beyond the basics. You're not always just the one pulling all the strings and managing projects. As a project manager, you also have the potential to move up into leadership positions and constantly develop professionally. And let's face it, the money you'll make in the process is appealing, too! Now that we've addressed that, let's dive deeper into salary and career prospects as a project manager.

The salary as a project manager

With respect and recognition comes decent pay. As a project manager, you're certainly no pauper! Of course, the exact amount depends on the industry, company size and your experience. In IT, for example, you can expect a high salary, and in the construction industry the salary is not bad either. But no matter what sector you work in, you'll definitely earn more than the average. In addition, there are often bonuses and premiums that can add even more value to your income. So, if you're tough and know how to push through, the financial side of project management is very attractive!

But sure, no pain, no gain, right? You definitely need to invest a lot of time and energy to earn good money. Long days and exhausting nights can be part of your job, especially when deadlines are looming or a project problem needs to be solved. But hey, who said the road to the top is a cakewalk, right?

Career prospects as a project manager

In the world of project management, standing still is a foreign word. You can always move forward and grow from project to project. Today you manage a small project with a tight budget and tomorrow you could be responsible for a huge international project with a budget of millions! In this profession, you always have the opportunity to develop and advance.

There's nothing to stop you specializing in certain areas and positioning yourself as an expert in that field. For example, you could specialize in IT projects or construction projects, or maybe event management appeals to you more. There are unstoppable options and paths you can take. The world of project management offers a multitude of opportunities to take your career into your own hands.

And don't forget that as a project manager you already have important leadership skills. This makes you a potential candidate for higher positions such as department manager or even CEO! Although the path to this position is certainly not easy and requires a lot of hard work, these positions are still attainable for anyone who is willing to go the extra mile.

Ultimately, if you really choose project management and put your all into it, you could find yourself on a career path that is not only satisfying and challenging, but also very financially rewarding. So, what are you waiting for? Off to your next project management adventure!

Here's what the journey to becoming a project manager looks like

You're probably eager to learn what the path to a career as a project manager looks like. What's this fast-paced climb like, going from a small assistant to a big driver in project management? Grab a cookie and let's begin the journey.

Start with the right basics

So before you jump into the deep end, you should first check if the water is deep enough, right? Simply put, it's important that you understand the basics of project management before you jump into the thick of it. What are the exact tasks? What does the day-to-day work look like? And don't forget, how do project managers deal with problems?

Once you have internalized these basics, the world will look very different. Now you can finally face the exciting challenges. And that means you'll have to keep learning. So get ready for long nights and lots of coffee breaks.

Work your way through the hierarchy

Okay, you don't start directly as a general, but don't worry, everyone starts small. Most likely, you'll start your project management career somewhere at the bottom of the hierarchy. But hey, that's not a problem! It's a great place to learn the trade from the ground up.

However, always remember that this is just the beginning. Work hard and prove to yourself and everyone else that you've got it. You'd be surprised how fast you can rise if you just keep at it and keep pushing your limits.

Questions are overrated! It's better to give answers before questions even arise. And if you take this principle to heart and take every task seriously, believe me, you're well on your way to becoming an excellent project manager.

So here's what the journey looks like. It starts with the basics, leads to impressing bosses, and ends with managing top projects. Sure, it's a lot of work and requires a lot of dedication, but if you're prepared for it, you'll quickly realize it's worth the effort. Becoming a project manager means being an expert in your field. And who doesn't want that? So, grab your coffee and start your journey in project management.

Do's and Don'ts for prospective project managers

Hey, do you want to be a project manager? Then listen carefully! Here you'll get the best tips, straight from the horse's mouth! So, prepare to take note of all this. Let's talk about what you should do and what you should avoid if you want to take this great career path.

What should you definitely do?

First, don't be shy! English is the lingua franca of business, so work on your English. And if you speak another language, all the better!

Second, spend as much time as possible with people. After all, project management is a people business. Get to know as many people as possible and build a good network. Try to familiarize yourself with different areas so that you get a feel for how such teams work.

Third, you should always keep yourself up to date. The world of project management is evolving very fast and it is important to always be up to date. Read as many books as possible, attend conferences and continue your education. Not to mention, beware of burnout! Yes, this career can be stressful. Good time management and work-life balance are extremely important here.

What should you avoid?

Remember - you are not Superman or Superwoman, even if it sometimes feels like it. You can't do everything yourself, so it's important to learn to delegate. Learn to trust and let go.

Be careful with your statements. If you are unsure, say so! It is better to say you don't know something than to provide false information. Remember that you always have to defend the reputation of your organization.

Also, you should put pride aside. Be ready to ask for help. It's not a sign of weakness, but of strength. Even the best project manager doesn't know all the answers.

And above all, don't be fearless. That sounds weird, doesn't it? But here's the thing - in project management, you make a lot of tricky decisions. A healthy amount of fear can actually save you from making mistakes.

So, those were the most important do's and don'ts for aspiring project managers. If you follow these rules, you can be sure that you are well on your way to becoming a successful project manager. You will work effectively and efficiently, have fun doing it and be proud of yourself at the end of the day. You will see: This job is actually as cool as it sounds! So, what are you waiting for? Take the plunge and sign up for the next project management course. Your career is waiting for you.

Success stories: Why did you decide to become a project manager?

It can sometimes be inspiring to hear the stories of people who are already where you want to be. That's why we'd like to share some success stories of project managers who have already made it. Maybe you will find in their stories the spark of inspiration for your own path to becoming a project manager.

Markus, the bored engineer

Markus worked for years as an engineer in a large company. His work was challenging and well paid, but he felt that something was missing. "I had to do the same thing all the time and had no opportunity to try out new ideas," he recalls. One day, his boss asked him if you could imagine managing a project. "I had no idea about project management, but the idea of learning something new and bringing more variety into my everyday work appealed to me," Markus says.

Markus started taking courses in project management and was eventually promoted to project manager. "For me, it was a whole new world. It was exhausting and challenging, but also incredibly exciting. Every project is different and I'm constantly learning. Now I know that I'm made to manage projects and not always do the same technical tasks. I'm glad I had the courage to take a new direction in my career."

Sabine, the creative problem solver

Before Sabine became a project manager, she worked in the marketing department of a medium-sized company. She loved her job, but found that projects often ran chaotically. "There were always delays and misunderstandings, and I thought we could work more effectively if someone coordinated the projects," Sabine says.

One day, Sabine took the initiative and suggested to her boss that she take on the role of project manager in her projects. "I had no experience in project management, but I was willing to learn and take responsibility," she says. Her boss was impressed by her motivation and gave her the chance to prove herself as a project manager.

"It was very challenging, but I loved it. I was able to be creative and solve problems instead of just completing tasks. Plus, I felt like I could really make a difference. Today, I can't imagine having any other job."

These stories show that there are many ways to become a project manager. Whether you're already working in a related field or pursuing a completely different career, if you're ready to take on new challenges and keep learning, becoming a project manager could be just the job for you. Take the plunge!

The bottom line: should you become a project manager?

After we have looked at all the details, the crucial question is: Should you become a project manager? To answer this question, let's take a look at what you can expect and whether you are ready for this challenge.

Are you going to give yourself the bullet or not?

If you're still asking yourself now, "Should I become a project manager?", here's my direct answer: yes, if you think you've got it! The job as a project manager is challenging, no question. It's also not for everyone, because you need to bring a lot of different skills to the table and always keep a cool head, even when things get chaotic. But if you're willing to persevere and give your best, this career opportunity will open many doors for you.

Project management is not a job for sissies, that's for sure. There are many challenges, including constant pressure, strict deadlines and the need to deal with a variety of people. But on the other hand, you are also well rewarded, not only in terms of salary, but also in terms of satisfaction and sense of achievement when you successfully complete a project.

Am I the right guy for this?

Look, the fact is, only you can answer this question. Are you ready to roll up your sleeves and jump into the fray? Do you have the will to earn the respect and loyalty of your team? Are you able to manage projects so that they are completed on time and on budget? And most importantly, do you have the desire to learn, rise to the challenge and succeed?

Of course, these questions are not easy to answer. But ultimately, it's about whether you have the will and the willingness to take on this challenge. If you do, then there's no reason why you shouldn't become a project manager!

So, if you are a team player, not afraid of challenges and willing to acquire the necessary skills, then you have what it takes to be a successful project manager.

Does all this sound a bit much and intimidating? Maybe. But hey, no one said it would be easy. And as the saying goes, nothing ventured, nothing gained. So, grab your courage by the scruff of your neck and take the first step!

Bottom line is, if you think you're ready for the challenges of project management and are interested in going deeper into this field, then you should definitely become a project manager! Don't worry, there will be moments when you might be overwhelmed, but remember that this is completely normal. The most important thing is that you learn from these moments and keep going. Then you will be successful as a project manager!

Training opportunities and courses for prospective project managers

Hey, you're probably wondering how you're going to pursue your project manager career after all these tips, right? Well, we've put together some resources and courses for you to do just that! There are some really bright minds out there who have developed courses and materials that will help you learn and navigate the clutter known as project management. So, let's get right into it!

Online courses for future project managers

In today's digital world, there are many ways to learn the craft of project management. Online courses offer you the flexibility to learn at your own pace and in your own space. So, get comfortable, grab a coffee, and start learning!

One recommended online learning platform is Coursera. There, numerous courses are offered, from general project management to specialized courses such as Agile or Lean Management. The great thing about Coursera is that the courses are often offered by universities like the University of California and offer serious degrees. You can decide if you just want to take the courses and use the knowledge gained from them, or earn a recognized degree.

If you're more of a hands-on type, then MIT's Project Management Simulation: Scope, Resources, Schedule may be for you. This course offers an interactive simulation where you can master all the challenges of project management in a digital environment.

Books and podcasts on project management

Are you more the type who likes to hold a book in your hand or listen to an informative podcast on your way to work? Then we also have some resources for you.

If books interest you, you might start with "The Project Manager: Confident in Stress." This book prepares you to handle the stressful phases of project management with strategies, techniques, and important tips. There's also "Project Management for Dummies," an easy-to-follow introductory book that's ideal for anyone who wants to learn the basics of project management.

Regarding podcasts, I recommend "The Project Management Podcast" by Elke Seeger. There you will find an interesting combination of interviews with successful project managers, skills and current topics around project management. If you are more interested in agile methods, you should listen to the "Agile Uprising Podcast", which specializes in agile methods in project management.

So, dear future project manager, grab your laptop or your MP3 player and dive into the fascinating world of project management. These resources are sure to help you find your way and get you ready for your first project management job. So, no more excuses - start learning now!

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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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