The future prospects of a career in Project Management


The long-term prospects of a career in project management are looking good for those who possess the right education and experience: depending on the industry, qualified Project Managers currently enjoy an average earning potential of anywhere between R400 000 and R600 000 per annum.

What do Project Managers do?

Whether or not they are aware of it, all organisations require project management to one degree or another. With a formal education in project management, you’ll be able to manage a project team; prepare a detailed, constantly evolving, day-by-day project schedule; and accurately define the scope of the project at hand. You’ll also be equipped to make educated decisions about project costs and budgets and keep the project on track; identify and mitigate the risks associated with the project; and ensure there are sufficient resources for the project to reach a successful conclusion. Finally, you will be able to clearly define the roles and responsibilities of each of your project team members and ensure that the project results in an outcome that is not only on schedule, within budget, and within scope, but also of high quality.

Climbing the Project Management ladder

There is no clearly defined career path for a project manager. Often, people will start as business analysts, project team members, or line managers who are required to work on projects as part of their larger job description, which often later leads to specialisation in project management.

Formal education in project management is an essential first step for long-term career success in the industry. Once you have secured a qualification, the next step is to gain experience working as a project manager or on a project team. Thereafter, continuing education through experience and regular engagement with industry resources, events and recognised project management organisations or online networks is essential if you want to keep up and advance a lucrative career in this field.

Which sectors offer lucrative Project Management career pathways?

According to PMI, 15,7 million new project management jobs will be available by 2020 in project-intensive industries, including manufacturing, business services, finance and insurance, oil and gas, information services, construction, and utilities. An emerging sector is healthcare, which, although it is not currently one of the project-intensive industries recognised by the PMI, is expected to lead the pack in terms of growth during this period with an estimated increase in project management jobs of 30%, a higher rate than any of the other project-intensive industries. The next seven years are an ideal time for individuals interested in project management to break into the industry.

How to set yourself up for sustainable success in Project Management

Successful project managers require a myriad of skills. Many of the most advantageous competencies and expertise are often lacking in professionals who may possess extensive project management experience, but lack formal, business-orientated education. Functional skills include a thorough understanding of the foundational knowledge-base behind project management practices, as well as comprehensive insight when it come to the intricate processes, tools, and techniques of the profession. Though often overlooked or undermined, the soft skills unique this profession are also of paramount importance to securing sustainable success as a Project Manager.

Take one of the world’s first widely lauded Project Managers, for example: recognised by Winston Churchill as “the organiser of victory” for his leadership during WWII, American military leader George Marshall was famous for an uncanny ability to select the perfect person for a particular job, every time. Effective talent management, and the many soft skills that accompany it (communication, leadership, strategic vision, etc.), is a fine art that can only be mastered with the right combination of theoretical education and hands-on experience under expert mentorship.

Knowing how people-focused project management can be used strategically to establish a strong internal competitive edge is a necessity in today’s increasingly complex organisational landscape, and those who invest in their professional marketability with Project Management in mind are set to reap gainful rewards in the long run.

Do you think you’re cut out for success this exciting occupation? Whether you’re looking to break into the industry formalise your experience with an internationally respected qualification from Africa’s top university, UCT and GetSmarter are gearing up to revolutionise education by taking industry-relevant education online: download an information pack for the Advanced Diploma in Business Project Management, presented entirely online, and find out how you could kick start your career with a top-tier part-time programme in 2015.

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Issue 29


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