Information Technology Project Managers
Education and Training Requirements
Introductory computer science classes and specialized courses in programming, database management, computer security, and software design will provide you with good preparation for college and an eventual career in project management. Other useful classes include business, English, speech, mathematics, science, psychology, and social studies.
A minimum of a bachelor’s degree is required to enter the field, but some employers prefer to hire applicants with master’s degrees. Project managers have a wide variety of educational backgrounds. Some have degrees in management information systems, database management, computer engineering, software development, or network engineering. Others have degrees in project management. Many project management programs are accredited by the Global Accreditation Center for Project Management Education Programs. To view a list of U.S. and international programs that offer bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees in project management, visit https://www.pmi.org/global-accreditation-center/directory.
Some colleges and universities offer certificates in project management. For example, the University of Chicago, Northwestern University, Villanova University, and the University of New Haven provide project management certificates. Credit and non-credit programs are available. Topics covered in the University of New Haven's noncredit program include project framework and lifecycle, project initiation, activity sequencing, estimating resources, developing the project schedule, stakeholder management, procurement, risk management, quality management, project execution, quality control, managing project teams, project monitoring/control, and managing conflict.
Many colleges and universities offer certificates in database management, computer security, software design, and other IT-related areas. Contact schools in your area to learn about available programs.
The IEEE Computer Society provides a variety of knowledge area certificates, including those in software project management, software configuration management, and software engineering management.
Other Education or Training
Many professional associations provide continuing education (CE) opportunities via webinars and in-person classes and seminars. For example, the Project Management Institute offers webinars such as Essentials of Project Management, Project Management Fundamentals, Leadership Essentials, and The Complete Agile Project Manager. It also offers educational seminars in U.S. cities such as Dallas, Chicago, and Las Vegas, and overseas in Greece, Spain, and the United Kingdom. Visit http://www.pmi.org/learning.aspx for more information. The IEEE Computer Society offers online courses in project management, software design, quality, and other topics. The Association for Computing Machinery, CompTIA, and other associations at the local, state, and national levels also provide CE opportunities.
Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements
Certification or Licensing
Many certification credentials are available to IT professionals, but staffing firm Robert Half Technology says that one of the most in-demand credentials for project managers is the project management professional (PMP) credential from the Project Management Institute. To become certified, applicants must meet educational and project management experience requirements and pass an examination. According to PMI, those who hold the PMP credential earn 23 percent more than their non-certified peers. Visit http://www.pmi.org/certification.aspx for more information about this credential and other certification programs that are provided by the institute. Here are a few other popular certification credentials for project managers.
- Associate in project management, professional in project management, certified project director (Global Association for Quality Management)
- Master project manager (American Academy of Project Management)
- Project+ (CompTIA)
Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits
A minimum of three to five years of experience in lower-level project management or supervisory positions are needed to work as an IT project manager. Smaller employers typically require the lowest levels of experience, while the largest companies may require as many as eight to 10 years of experience.
Successful project managers are strong leaders who are able to inspire members of their team to do their best even under the most challenging circumstances. They are good at multitasking and excel under pressure. They need excellent communication and interpersonal skills because their work days are filled with meetings with executives, project status meet-ups with their staff, and time at their computers writing reports. Other important traits include good organizational and time-management skills; the ability to assess and mitigate risk during IT projects; and a willingness to make hard decisions (which may upset some members of the team who disagree with their decisions) in order to successfully complete projects on time and within budget. They also need to be familiar with the standard way in which software is developed, designed, and built in the IT industry; many IT organizations now use the agile development methodology or the waterfall model.