Project Manager Career Outlook

by NU Online on 11/20/17 6:00 PM
project-managers-career.jpgProject managers are integral to the successful planning, execution and delivery of an organization’s projects. These individuals are highly organized, detail-oriented workplace leaders who ensure communication between all other members of a team (or teams), assuming a large degree of responsibility in order bring projects to completion on time and under budget. Project managers factor heavily into the planning and scheduling stages of a project and help to both define the larger scope of the undertaking as well as clarify the smaller details. They then organize resources and delegate roles to team members; while the project team works on delivering the final product, the project manager tracks and monitors the process, keeping everybody on deadline and assessing possible risks to that end along the way. Individuals who have completed the Bachelor of Science in Management Studies degree program may be excellent candidates for employment within the challenging field of project management.

Education & Experience

In the past, a high school diploma was the minimum educational prerequisite necessary to be considered for the position of project manager. However, as technology has become more advanced and businesses seek to streamline operations while achieving optimal outcomes, it has become crucial that candidates possess a bachelor’s degree. Furthermore, a degree in a relevant discipline—such as Management Studies—is advisable if applicants wish to cultivate a greater aptitude for the expectations of project management and therefore increase their chances of getting hired. It is quite uncommon for newly minted graduates to be hired as project managers right out of the gate, with employers preferring applicants have a few years of industry experience under their belts. Many eventual project managers start out in junior assistantships to gain experience working with a project manager; they gradually take on further responsibilities in a bid to deepen their knowledge of a given industry and demonstrate value to the company.


A 2014 survey conducted by the Anderson Economic Group reported that an average of 1.5 million project management roles will need to be filled each year through at least 2025. This is great news for potential project managers, as the field has proven quite lucrative; according to a recent study by the Project Management Institute, 51% of project managers surveyed reported an increase in total compensation, with the profession’s median average yearly salary currently hovering around $90,260. Additionally, certain concentrations within project management may yield even higher earnings, with IT project managers reportedly earning as much as $108,000 per year. An excellent way to maximize one’s earning potential is to consider becoming a certified Project Management Professional. This credential, as awarded by the Project Management Institute, has the potential to increase candidates’ yearly salaries by as much as 20%; interested applicants must have (at least) a bachelor’s degree and between 4,000 and 7,000 hours of prior experience leading and directing projects.


Project managers must act as cheerleader, visionary, architect, disciplinarian, analyst and negotiator all in one. If this sounds daunting, it is because much is expected of the project manager to whom crucial projects and undertakings have been entrusted—and rightfully so. Project managers are intimately involved with their assignments from the planning and organization stages, to leading the project through active development and anticipating any obstacles to a successful and timely completion. A project manager’s core responsibilities typically include:

•    Determine the scope of a project
•    Develop a project plan & schedule
•    Identify procedures to support project objective(s)
•    Delegate roles and responsibilities to team members
•    Identify services that may need to be provided by external companies
•    Provide direction to team members
•    Coordinate communication and cooperation between various organizational functions
•    Track project progress and produce status reports
•    Determine problems and take corrective action, when applicable

So much of what project managers do involves careful foresight. Project managers must determine the scope of a project and allocate the appropriate amount of time and resources to the endeavor in order to deliver on-time. The project manager must also navigate the waters of bureaucracy and anticipate budgetary concerns in order to allow his or her team to remain focused on the project. They constantly monitor the progress of the project and work to identify potential risks before they arise, as well as deliver progress reports and appropriate documentation. The profession is undoubtedly demanding, but as more businesses turn to project management and the field continues to experience unprecedented growth, project managers can find ample opportunity to ply their trade in some of the more intriguing and lucrative sectors of industry.


A successful project manager must be more than a foreman barking orders. In order to be as impactful, efficient and indispensable as possible, a project manager must display aptitude in the following disciplines:

  • Organization – project managers are accountable for even the seemingly most minute details of a project. There are multiple teams and team members to keep track of, as well as deadlines, budgets, tracking reports and status updates for the edification of upper management. A stand-out project manager demonstrates the ability to multitask without letting anything that may threaten the successful completion of the project slip through the cracks.
  • Interpersonal Skills – a strong leader must be able to motivate his or her team by building strong, balanced relationships and establishing clear expectations. Project managers set the tone for effective communication and teamwork between individual members and subgroups of the project team; it is important that a project manager walks the line between being an approachable team player and an undisputed authority figure, all without damaging the success of the project or allowing progress to become bogged down in emotional politics.
  • Budgeting – much of a project manager’s overall responsibility revolves around managing a project’s budgetary needs. Project managers must be able to monitor and control budgets, which often requires basic mathematical and accounting skills. For prospective project managers looking for a leg up in this competitive industry, it may prove beneficial to receive certification in a financial discipline, via avenues such as the popular Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) certification exam.
  • Communication & Negotiation – it is essential that a project manager possess impeccable communication skills, both written and verbal. These skills are of crucial importance when and if conflict arises between individual members of the project team, as the project manager is responsible for the resolution of such issues. Additionally, the ability to communicate effectively and respectfully is necessary in potential negotiations with outside vendors who provide goods or services that contribute to the project.
  • Adaptability & Initiative – when it comes to tight deadlines, specialized personnel and a fixed budget, plans often have a tendency to go astray. As such, a project manager must be prepared to implement changes smoothly and assertively so as to not disrupt his or her team’s progress. It is also crucial that a project manager anticipate possible roadblocks and create viable contingency plans in the event of staff illness, changes in budget, reduction in resources, or alterations to the project timeline.

Traditional Industries for Project Managers

  • Finance –  with innovations in the realm of e-commerce and the increased need for cybersecurity, many banking institutions experiment with online banking platforms designed to provide a simple and secure user experience. The rollout of such services demands skilled project managers with a critical eye for small details.
  • Medicine –  pharmaceutical firms are constantly initiating prescription drug trials. These clinical trials are designed to test the safety and efficacy of medications, devices and treatments, and often involve a human test subject component. As such, project managers must ensure that all ethical and safety guidelines are followed during the course of study.
  • Retail & Branding –  whether a social media company is launching a new platform or a fitness brand is preparing a revolutionary new piece of equipment, a project manager is there every step of the way, from inception to completion. As many startup companies are often created by “dreamers” who have a great concept but may lack practical business or manufacturing experience, project managers are especially efficient in guiding these companies to a successful product or service launch.

Project managers are fortunate to have so many diverse options before them—particularly, considering the projected job growth within the field. While it takes many individuals to generate tenable ideas and put in the physical work necessary to see them through to realization, it is project managers who negotiate the waters of bureaucracy and empower team members to focus on the task at hand. Project management is a results-driven industry that entails different levels of complexity and dynamism from project to project, and rewards the deftness and flexibility of those individuals who work to affect change on a corporate scale. The education afforded by a Bachelor of Science in Management Studies program can provide individuals with the necessary communication skills, organizational habits and leadership mindset to become effective project managers who are able to support the goals of an organization and unlock its maximum potential.

Learn More

As the nation’s oldest private military college, Norwich University has been a leader in innovative education since 1819. Through its online programs, Norwich delivers relevant and applicable curricula that allow its students to make a positive impact on their places of work and their communities.

Norwich University’s online Bachelor of Science in Management Studies program is a comprehensive, engaging educational experience that helps produce graduates who are fully prepared for demanding careers in management. Our rigorous curriculum provides you with an all-inclusive study of organizational management concepts, decision-making processes, strategic planning, and fiscal management.

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