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Why project management is a must-have skill

Michelle LaBrosse
December 5, 2014

Developing skills in project management—even if you’re not a project manager—empowers you to make the most of your abilities and deliver greater value to your organisation, setting you apart from the crowd.

According to the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the typical person is only working at 50% of his or her potential. Even making a modest improvement in how you do projects in your job can help you quickly rise above the mediocrity. In nearly every industry and job type, project management has become a must-have skill for anyone looking to advance their career.

Project management allows you to create more value for your organisation, even if you’re not a project manager. With knowledge of project management principles and processes, you can complete projects (any temporary endeavour undertaken to produce a unique outcome, with a clearly defined beginning and end) in less time and to a higher standard of quality. The key word here is completion. By being able to complete projects—fast—employees with project management skills deliver tremendous value to their organisation.

In a recent edition of the Project Management Institute’s (PMI) annual publication, Pulse of the Profession®, the report’s authors find that high-performing organisations successfully complete 89% of their projects, while low performers complete only 36% successfully: “This difference in success results in high-performing organisations wasting nearly 12 times less than low performers.”

Employees with project management skills, which include the ability to manage time effectively, delegate responsibilities, manage risks, negotiate for resources, and adhere to a project budget and timeline, have the know-how to successfully bring their projects to completion.

Creating more value for your company gives you leverage to advocate for advancing your position. PMI’s 2013 salary survey found that project management salaries in the US are consistently high, and will likely stay that way. The survey reports that the median annual salary for project managers in the US was $108,000; even project managers with three or fewer years of experience had a median annual salary of $70,000.

Additionally, 74% of project managers responding to the survey reported that their compensation had increased in the past 12 months and 75% of respondents indicated that they expected their compensation to increase further in the next year. The detailed survey shows median salaries above $100K for all industries (including construction, engineering, R&D, and many others), across all sizes of organisations, and for all project team sizes.

My point is, project management is a lucrative field, and even those just starting out can expect to be compensated generously.

Many successful project managers advance to their positions from other career tracks within their organisation; 46% of the salary survey respondents reported that they followed an “informal” project management career path in their organisation, and only 25% of respondents followed a project management career path that was “clearly defined in writing”. So even if you’re not formally a project manager in your organisation, developing project management skills—and earning credentials to prove it—is
one of the smartest steps you can take to advance your career.

Project management skills are transferable across many job types and industries. In today’s world, there is an expectation that as a functioning professional in any industry, you know the basics of getting things done through project management. And more so, it is an exploding career field, with people holding PMI’s Project Management Professional (PMP)® credential being some of the highest paid middle-level managers in organisations worldwide.

Check out a few of the larger online employment websites; do a search for “project manager” and you will find many employers seeking various credentials in project management. Check back routinely and you will find that the number grows almost daily.

Co-authored with Megan Alpine

Michelle LaBrosse
Michelle LaBrosse (PMP) is one of the Project Management Institute's (PMI) 25 Most Influential Women in Project Management in the World and the founder of Cheetah Learning, a former PMI Professional Development Provider of the Year. She boasts a background in engineering and is a graduate of the Harvard Business School’s Owner President Managers (OPM) program, as well as a prolific writer and educator, having authored Cheetah Negotiations, Cheetah Project Management, Cheetah Know How and Cheetah Exam Prep as well as numerous articles in publications worldwide.
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