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How to become a project manager

Project Manager Concept Work FlowProject managers are the modern day masters of organisation and crisis management. With a flair for delegation and negotiation they are the orchestrators of balance that keep projects from falling into utter chaos.

As a project manager it’ll be your job to plan and manage all kinds of business projects to ensure that they run on time and to budget. It’s a job with plenty of variety and it can take you into almost any industry.

How much can I earn as a project manager?

Once you’re qualified junior project managers can earn up to £25,000 a year. With experience those earnings can progress quite quickly depending on the employer and projects involved, with average earnings for experienced project managers around £30,000 – £50,000 a year. Top salaries tend to peak around £80,000 – £100,000 a year for the crème de la crème, but that can all change if you’re working as a contractor. Some freelance PM’s can earn in excess of £500 a day!

How can I become a project manager?

There are a variety of routes into project management. Some PM’s work their way up from within an organisation, others get their foot in the door through graduate study. Increasingly project managers are learning the skills that they need by studying specific project management methodologies in addition to any industry experience that they already have.

Probably the most common project management methodology within the UK is Prince2. It was originally developed by the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) and as such is the course de rigour for any PM roles within governmental departments. Since its inception in 1996 it has been widely adopted by commercial businesses across the UK, Western Europe and Australasia.

The Prince2 methodology is based around the 7 principle stages of a project.

  • Starting up a project (SU)
  • Initiating a project (IP)
  • Directing a project (DP)
  • Controlling each stage (CS)
  • Managing stage boundaries (SB)
  • Managing product delivery (MP)
  • Closing a project (CP)

The other big player in the world of Project Management is the Six Sigma methodology. Developed by Motorola in 1986 to reduce variation in electronic manufacturing processes it has since become one of the most popular management methodologies within the manufacturing industries. With its focus on minimising variability and waste Six Sigma has many crossovers into other sectors and is commonly sought after by accredited project management practitioners looking to enhance their skills.

It’s governed by 5 stages for process improvement which can be easily remembered with the acronym DMAIC.

  • Define opportunity
  • Measure performance
  • Analyse opportunity
  • Improve performance
  • Control performance

How do I decide which certification is best for me?

The best way to decide which course to choose is to research the project management roles within your interest area or industry. Scour the job descriptions to see which methodology is most commonly mentioned.

If you’re on LinkedIn you can also use the ‘people search’ to see how many project managers have either Prince2 or Six Sigma. You can even refine your search by specific companies allowing you to truly find out which certification companies are looking for!



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