Career Paths for Project Managers
As project management training providers, Velopi is inclined to look at career development in project management in terms of professional project management certification. Seeing as we are recognized by the Project Management Institute as a Registered Education Provider and by offering validated programmes leading to Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) awards, this is not surprising. But for someone starting out in life, how do they become aware of project management and how should they prepare themselves to take on this role someday?
Project management tends not to be taught in schools or universities at under-graduate level. This is a pity because everyone will have to manage projects, if not at work, then certainly at home. If you ever organized a social function, a trip abroad or a wedding, you had to manage a project. Even if you never rise beyond hands-on technical work, you will still have to plan your own work and provide input to project managers.
For instance, suppose you are a carpenter. You come into work every day and are given tasks to perform. Because you are a qualified tradesperson, you will be expected to handle the details yourself. You will also be expected to provide estimates for how much material will be needed for the job, as well as how long it will take. Project Management Professionals (PMPs®) reading this will now be getting interested – how many times have you had to poll such information from your staff?
Once you have your raw materials, then you need to breakdown the job into tasks – although you might not ever describe this as a Work Breakdown Structure – and carry them out in a logical order. If your work requires coordination with other tradesmen, you will need to factor these constraints into your planning. For example, fitting a new kitchen may involve working with gas fitters, electricians and plumbers. For a PMP® all this will remind them of communications and stakeholder management, not to mention schedule constraints.
Anyone in a trade will build up intuition over the years. When they estimate a job, they will factor in possible problems that they have met in their travels – power cuts, delays in materials arriving, the need to prepare the work site because it is not as pristine as they were led to believe, etc. A PMP® will recognize this as risk management; the tradesperson will call it bitter experience.
For tradespeople who set up on their own with a tool kit and a white van, a lack of project management awareness can lead to very dissatisfied customers. People who do incredible work can ruin their reputation by poor communications and stakeholder management. How often have we sat waiting for someone to arrive and are left for hours before the tradesperson arrives without a word of apology? How many tradespeople have gone out of business because they did not factor in all the overhead costs or risks into tender responses?
For anyone who does project-related work – builders, tradespeople, computer programmers – an awareness of project management is a valuable asset. For those of you with no project management experience, an entry-level qualification, such as the Project Management Institute’s Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)® or Quality and Qualifications Ireland's (QQI's) component certificate in project management are useful entry points.
Experienced project managers can increase their confidence by considering the Project Management Professional (PMP)®. Such a qualification will also send out the signal to potential employers that you are serious about project management. The PMP® will also benefit your day-to-day work, as you will have a framework to structure your management tasks.
But whatever your career ambitions – to stay on the bench, become a site foreman, set up on your own – knowing about project management will serve you well. The real attraction of project management though is how it can be applied to domestic projects. Weddings, house extensions and holidays will all run smoother when you consider scope, time, cost, quality, human factors, communications, risk, procurements and the stakeholders.
Velopi’s project management training courses are available for newcomers and experienced practitioners alike. We hold our project management certification courses in Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Galway. Find out more by visiting our training page or by contacting us directly.
By Velopi Seamus Collins