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Accidental project managers versus career project managers

Portrait of a career project manager

A significant number of project managers now have some sort of accreditation in the discipline and expect those coming in to complete tertiary study. Is this the end of the ‘accidental’ project manager?

Accidents happen. But accidents, like risks, can be threats or opportunities: they can be happy accidents, like becoming a project manager. So many project managers I’ve met have come from some other role in industries like construction/engineering, architecture/design, IT and finance.

Perhaps, though, the era of the accidental project manager is nearly over. While project management will always exist as a skill set in various roles across any industry, and while there will always be project managers who join the fold from other disciplines and roles, it seems that more and more people entering project management are doing so deliberately, because they see it as part of their career portfolio.

So what will the career project manager look like?

  • S/he will have completed tertiary study in project management, or a related discipline;
  • S/he will receive further on-the-job training from employers keen to ensure that project team members are capable of handling increasingly complex project environments;
  • S/he will be a member of a professional body;
  • S/he will prioritise continuing professional development; and
  • S/he will focus on interacting with other project managers, for purposes that range from mentoring/coaching to networking.

Late last year, Project Manager online began research on how project managers like you viewed education and professionalisation. The above portrait of a ‘career project manager’ was derived from some of the results.

In addition to ‘personal interest’, respondents nominated ‘to further my knowledge of project management’ as the key reason they participated in activities such as attending conferences and seminars, reading or writing articles and papers, and networking with other project managers. This tells me that you lot love what you do and take the initiative when it comes to professional development!

To read the report, see Professional development key to project management career.

The whole picture illustrates a clear movement from project management being a by-the-by discipline to becoming a formal profession, and that can only be healthy for all kinds of projects looking into the future.

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Adeline Teoh ed.
From the Editor
Adeline Teoh is the editor of ProjectManager.com.au. She has more than a decade of publishing experience in the fields of business and education, and has specialised in writing about project management since 2007.
Adeline Teoh ed. has written 60 articles for us.