What Does it Mean to Study Project Management?
A project manager undertakes specific projects and is responsible for all aspects of its completion. Pursuing a project management degree adds to your natural talent for organization, time management, attention to detail, persistence, interpersonal communication, and ability to adapt to problems and changing priorities.
Being a project manager is about directing the success of one particular project using a set of polished skills, practical experience, and proven methodology. As a project management major, it is your responsibility to set forth clear and authoritative directions, create timelines for your projects, gather materials and resources, and forecast and plan for any unseen glitches.
Types of Project Management Degrees
Project management degree programs can be found at all degree levels, both in traditional on-campus settings and in more technological online settings. These programs usually focus on the five processes of project management: initiating, planning, executing, controlling and closing. Other topics of study may include human resources, communications, risk management, and procurement.
The minimum level of education for most careers in project management is typically considered to be a bachelor's degree with some type of business focus. Industry professionals are increasingly turning to online degrees in project management and related specializations. Online degrees allow students to earn a degree at their own convenience, without having to take time off work. They also give working adults the opportunity to immediately apply the lessons learned to the workplace. Thus, employees may be encouraged to pursue an online project management degree so that their newly acquired knowledge can be immediately put to use on the job.
Certificate Programs in Project Management
Undergraduate certificates in project management introduce students to the concepts and skills needed to become successful project managers. While these programs do not typically lead to project management positions on their own, certificate programs can be a great way for students pursuing other business degrees to make themselves even more marketable. Certificate programs focus mainly on basic leadership and decision-making topics. While certificate programs generally don't dive as in-depth as more advanced degree programs, they can be a way to learn basic project management skills without the expense of paying for a full-fledged degree. Typical courses may include:
- Introduction to Project Management
- Introduction to Organizational Systems and Communication
- Decision Making for Managers
- Basic Risk Management
- Fundamentals of Project Planning
- Introduction to Accounting
Associate Degrees in Project Management
Associate degrees in project management are generally more rigorous than undergraduate certificate programs. Students enrolled in associate degree programs engage in a more comprehensive study of the fundamentals of project management. In addition to leadership and management courses, business courses are important for obtaining a basic understanding of how businesses operate -- both functionally and financially. Students pursuing their associate's degree on a full-time basis can usually expect to complete their degree program within two years of study. These degrees are also a great stepping stone for students interested in furthering their education at the bachelor's degree level. Typical course topics might include:
- Introduction to Business
- Foundations of Project Management
- Fundamentals of Negotiation
- Introduction to Business Law
- Basics of Budget Management
Bachelor's Degrees in Project Management
Earning a bachelor's degree in project management is a requirement for a variety of careers in the field. Bachelor's degree programs are expected to cover broad general education requirements, as well as a thorough study of their particular field. A project management major may enroll in courses that emphasize business concepts, communication, critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Students often examine case studies, work on team projects, and improve their systems management skills. Bachelor's degree programs usually require four years of full-time study to complete. Common course topics may include:
- Applied Project Management
- Project Management and Procurement
- Managing Project Quality
- Management of Project Costs
- Fundamentals of Leadership
Master's Degrees in Project Management
Working professionals seeking to improve their project management skills may want to consider earning an online master's degree in project management. These degrees may help those with the proper experience become more competitive in the job market and advance their careers. Master's degree students typically specialize in a certain area of project management. Some specializations include supply chain management, enterprise architecture, enterprise resource planning, and more. Students can usually expect to complete a Master's degree in two years of full-time study. Students holding down a job and studying on a part-time basis should expect to take longer. Topics covered at this level may include:
- Advanced Project Management
- Advanced Planning and Resource Management
- Corporate, Business, and Project Strategies
- Advanced Cost/Value Management
- Advanced Team Leadership
What Can You Do With a College Degree in Project Management?
A project management degree is extremely versatile and can be applied towards any larger organization where teams are assembled to handle unique, goal-specific projects. Positions can be found in almost any industry, but in most cases, industry-specific training and education is required. Average salaries reflect this level of expertise but will vary by job field and location.
Because the field is so vast and diverse, it is impossible to list all of the different career options available to a project management major. Prior work experience as well as an educational background in a specific industry is usually required prior to assuming project management duties. Here are just a few of the job titles commonly available to those with project management degrees.
Construction managers are in charge of planning and supervising all areas of a construction project. These might include projects for individuals, corporations, or other private or public organizations. Some of their duties include making estimates, supervising budgets, scheduling, and ensuring that all local codes and legal requirements are observed. Additionally, construction managers interact closely with other construction specialists like electricians, architects, stonemasons, engineers, and carpenters.
- Minimum Educational Requirement: Although extensive work experience may be acceptable in some cases, larger construction firms usually prefer to hire construction managers with at least a bachelor's degree.
- Special Certifications or Licensures: Construction managers may be required to attain licensure in some states. Certification is typically not required but can be an important factor for career advancement. Designations such as the Certified Construction Manager (CCM), Certified Professional Constructor (CPC), and the Associate Constructor (AC) are available.
Computer and Information Systems Managers
Computer and information systems managers are responsible for planning and coordinating the computer operations of an organization or business. Commonly called IT project managers, typical duties include assessing their company's computer needs, planning for the implementation of new computer-related hardware or software, and performing a cost-benefit analysis of their recommendations. They may also negotiate with vendors and be tasked with managing other IT professionals throughout the organization.
- Minimum Educational Requirement: Most computer and information systems managers are required to have at least a bachelor's degree in computer science plus the requisite work experience needed to succeed. Some positions may require a master's degree.
- Special Certifications or Licensures: Generally, special certifications or licensure is not required.
A logistician is a professional in charge of getting a company's product to consumers. They may be tasked with managing the entire supply chain, from acquisition and distribution to product delivery. Logisticians design systems to decrease costs and delivery times, then analyze those systems and search for ways to improve efficiency. They also direct how the company allocates the various resources they have at their disposal.
- Minimum Educational Requirement: Although some positions may be available to those with associate degrees, logisticians are usually expected to hold a bachelor's degree. Related work experience may also be a prerequisite to employment.
- Special Certifications and Licensures: Certifications are available through the International Society of Logistics and the APICS, although they are not normally required.
A management analysts consults with an organization's management team in an attempt to help the organization become more efficient and increase profits. They typically analyze a variety financial reports, observe company processes, and interview employees. After organizing the data they have collected, they make recommendations to management about improving company efficiency and ideas for solving any pain points.
- Minimum Educational Requirement: Management analysts often specialize in a particular area of interest and expertise. While these vary widely, a bachelor's degree is commonly expected for entry-level employment. Master's degrees in business administration or related fields may be preferred by some employers.
- Special Certifications and Licensures: Although not required, those seeking a competitive edge in the marketplace may consider pursuing professional certification, such as the Certified Management Consultant (CMC) designation.
Sales managers lead the sales team of their respective organizations. They approve expenditures for their team members, prepare budgets for their department, and analyze relevant sales statistics. Sales managers may also be expected to motivate and train their company's sales staff.
- Minimum Educational Requirement: A bachelor's degree plus relevant work experience is usually required for sales management positions.
- Special Certifications and Licensures: Certifications and licensing requirements vary by industry.
Project Management Salaries and Career Outlook Data
|Career||Total Employment||Annual Mean Wage|
|Computer and Information Systems Managers||433,960||$156,390|
Project Management Associations and Organizations
Project management professionals can join a variety of organizations that can supply them with various resources and opportunities for professional development. Some of these organizations include:
- International Project Management Association (IPMA) - Founded in 1965, the IPMA claims to be the world's first project management association. They offer opportunities for continuing education and training, as well as a four-level certification system.
- Project Management Institute (PMI) - This organization advocates to advance the project management profession on a global scale. They also offer several professional certifications, including the Project Management Professional (PMP) designation.
- International Association of Project Managers (IAPM) - The main focus of the IAPM is to promote competence in project management. They also offer several levels of professional certification.
Computer and Information Systems Managers, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/computer-and-information-systems-managers.htm
Construction Managers, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/construction-managers.htm
Logisticians, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/logisticians.htm
Management Analysts, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/management-analysts.htm
Master of Project Management, Penn State University World Campus, http://www.worldcampus.psu.edu/degrees-and-certificates/project-management-masters/overview
Project Management Associate of Applied Science Degree, Clackamas Community College, https://www.clackamas.edu/Programs/Project-Management.aspx
Project Management Certificate, Columbia Southern University, http://www.columbiasouthern.edu/project-mgmt/certificate
Project Management Degree, Bellevue University, http://www.bellevue.edu/degrees/bachelor/project-management-bs/
Sales Managers, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/sales-managers.htm