Project management is a booming industry. Research predicts that by 2027, employers will need 87.7 million individuals working in project management-oriented roles, with close to 100,000 new project manager roles in Australia alone.
Factors like a retiring older workforce and increasing demand in rapidly developing economies like China and India have led to a significant talent gap.
Ripe with opportunities, now is a good time to shift gears in your career and discover why you should study project management.
As a unit coordinator for the ECU Online Master of Project Management, Dr Ross Yates draws on his industry experience to teach the next generation of project managers.
He shares his insights on the industry, what it takes to succeed in the job and why we need skilled project management professionals to fill a widening talent gap.
Why is project management a good career?
An exceptionally positive job outlook is one reason why project management is a good career. But that is only part of the story. Yates says that people could be drawn to the profession because they can see value in it.
“Project management incorporates time management, people management, planning, measuring progress and all those good things that organisations want,” he explains. “Project managers can handle different competing demands and interests without getting overwhelmed.”
But what if you’re in an industry like health care or construction? Will your skills still remain relevant?
Project management skills work across all industries
Even if you decide not to pursue a career in project management, your project management skills are highly desirable. Yates likens it to decades ago when computer skills were the jewel in the crown of a resume. Project management is that new jewel.
As the global economy becomes increasingly project-oriented, businesses are driving demand because they see the incredible value that project management skills can bring to an organisation. As highly transferable skills, their value also opens other doors beyond standard project management roles.
“Everyone is doing projects,” says Yates. “You might be a project manager but you typically start out as a project support person or a subject matter expert. You can add value to that particular conversation, and you are obviously adding value to the organisation.”
Research shows that job security within the industry is high
In a recent report on project delivery in Australia, 64 per cent of respondents indicated that project management skills will be important in the future. As for the perception of project managers in organisations, 66 per cent stated that this was positive.
This same report revealed an increase in the number of organisations creating a centralised project management office. According to Yates, the current available supply of project managers can’t meet the demand. This trend indicates that job security is high in the industry, with a strong pipeline for professional growth.
What is it like being a project manager?
Yates wants anyone considering a career in project management to know that it’s never boring. The work is dynamic and always moving, which is highly rewarding.
That aside, how stressful is project management? Is being a project manager hard? And do the rewards of the job outweigh the stress and challenges?
Planning can be a stress reliever
Yates says that while the job has its challenges — as does any job — the skills you learn when you study project management prepare you for this.
“The nature of project management is that there is a lot of planning involved,” he explains. “But that planning itself can be a stress reliever. It helps you to anticipate what is coming up in the future based on the input you have from various people, past projects and estimations.”
This planning is your roadmap. As you move forward, you validate, check things and draw in the resources you need. A good project manager can manage uncertainty.
“There are no guarantees in projects,” says Yates. “Project managers accept that uncertainty. What they do have is their planning to draw on. They know there will be bumps along the way but they also know they are heading in the right direction.”
Planning is about surrounding yourself with the right people
It is also important to remember that it is not the role of the project manager to do all of the work. A project manager is an aggregator of sorts. They surround themselves with the right people with the right skills to get the project over the line.
More than just project support, when you surround yourself with the right people, they make you look good. They use their subject matter expertise to critique documents and spot missing elements. They help to add polish to your plans.
“That is not to say that a project manager does not add value,” adds Yates. “Of course they do. The project manager is in the firing line if things go wrong, but their planning is what helps to minimise the risk of that happening.”
When a project manager brings people together, they connect the right people with the right skills and unite them with a common agenda. Yates says that this is a rewarding part of the role, to see disparate, competing agendas merge into a single goal and vision.
Why study project management when you can learn on the job?
You are a good communicator and are often complimented for your impressive time management skills. You enjoy planning and work well alongside others. Why study project management if you can learn it all on the job?
Yates says that it’s a case of having the capability and confidence to deliver.
“If you go into project management without any training, you are essentially thrown into the deep end,” he explains. “You learn on-the-fly and are likely to get the job done with the support of the people around you.
“The difference when you have formal qualification is the peak level of competence you reach. Completing a master’s degree is a project in itself. And it carries good standing in the profession.”
Formal education helps to inspire confidence, and confidence is an attribute that always carries through, no matter what the role. As sound investments go, here are two more reasons why studying project management might be the right choice for you.
Advanced qualifications will add depth to your skill set
Through the ECU Online Master of Project Management, you learn the principles of project management and how to apply those practices in a real business environment. This is an advanced-level course that teaches presentation, leadership and communication skills to set you up for success as a project manager.
A short course might make you industry ready, but the Master of Project Management will give you the industry advantage.
“You get not only the credentials but the practical, hands-on experience to go with it,” says Yates. “The focus is on adding a realistic dimension to project management, not just teaching theory. Employers can have confidence that you have both the knowledge and experience to deliver.”
ECU Online provides professional and industry recognition
The ECU Online Master of Project Management is accredited by the PMI Global Accreditation Center for Project Management Education Programs (GAC). It is also endorsed by the Australian Institute of Project Management (AIPM). This global professional recognition further adds to the industry standing of the degree.
Additionally, the ECU Online model allows you to more easily balance your studies with the other demands in your life. With the option to fast-track your studies, you can complete the Master of Project Management in just two years.
The question you need to ask yourself is, why are you interested in project management? If it’s to build a successful project management career in a thriving industry, a Master of Project Management is the first step to take.
Build your future project management career with ECU Online
With more opportunities than ever before for project managers, now is the time to upskill and make the most of a growing industry. Futureproof for your career prospects and step into a profession that is challenging and rewarding in equal measure.
Build your skillset and your future. Learn more about why you should study Master of Project Management.