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How to Become an IT Project Manager

If you are an IT professional with excellent time management skills, strong verbal and written communication skills, and are an analytical thinker, a career opportunity as an IT project manager might be a good fit for you.

As an IT project manager, you’ll plan and oversee IT projects, ensuring that they meet company objectives, stay on budget, and meet deadlines. You must be able to manage people and resources and keep stakeholders informed of progress. IT project managers document timelines, roles, and responsibilities and ensure that the project stays on track, so you’ll need to monitor the project and make changes as necessary. 

IT project managers must have excellent leadership skills, a solid understanding of budgeting, and advanced knowledge of a variety of project and program management methodologies. Interpersonal skills are needed as you will work closely with stakeholders, such as internal personnel, vendors, and end-users in this position. IT project managers need strong organizational skills and be able to effectively multi-task.

Sample job description

IT project managers oversee technical projects from end to end, including the planning, organization, and implementation stages. They work with internal and external stakeholders to ensure the project meets customer requirements and company goals. IT project managers need strong leadership and management skills, excellent communication skills, and extensive knowledge of hardware, operating systems, and networks. [Your Company Name] is hiring an experienced IT project manager to revolutionize our IT department and projects. If you have experience organizing, conducting, planning, and implementing technical projects, you might be a perfect fit for a role as an IT project manager.

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Coordinate internal resources and third parties/vendors for the flawless execution of projects
  • Ensure resource availability and allocation
  • Perform risk management to minimize project risks
  • Measure project performance using appropriate tools and techniques
  • Coordinate cross-project activities
  • Develop and control deadlines, budgets, and activities

Education and experience

This position requires a bachelor’s degree in management or a related field. Employers prefer job candidates who have a master’s degree as well as Project Management Professional (PMP) certification.

Required skills and qualifications

  • Excellent client-facing and internal communication skills
  • Strong working knowledge of Microsoft Office Suite
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills
  • Solid organizational skills including attention to detail and multitasking skills
  • Thorough understanding of project/program management techniques and methods
  • Working knowledge of program/project management software (Basecamp, MS Project, etc.)

Preferred qualifications

  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills
  • Excellent analytical skills
  • Commitment to excellence and high standards
  • Ability to manage priorities and increased workflow
  • Acute attention to detail
  • Demonstrated ability to plan and organize complex projects

Typical work environment

IT project managers typically work in offices where they spend much of their time on a computer. They might be in charge of several clients and accounts and have to travel to meet with clients. IT project managers generally work from 9 AM to 5 PM Monday through Friday with occasional nights and weekends to meet project deadlines. A growing number of IT project managers work remotely. 

Typical hours

The typical work hours in an office setting for an IT project manager are usually from 9 AM to 5 PM. However, some IT project managers might have to work more than 40 hours per week to create solutions for specific issues when they arise.

Available certifications

Many institutions offer certifications to help IT project managers improve their skills and knowledge and gain an advantage in the workplace. Here are some of the top certifications for IT project managers: 

  • CompTIA Project+ Certification. This certification prepares entry-level IT professionals to successfully manage small to medium-sized IT projects. CompTIA, a globally recognized institution for professional certifications in IT infrastructure, cloud, and cybersecurity, designed this program to develop your skills in project basics, project constraints, communication and change management, and more. There are no prerequisites, but Comp TIA recommends that candidates have at least 1 year of experience managing or participating in small to medium-sized projects.
  • Project Management Professional (PMP). The PMP certification recognizes you as having in-depth project management knowledge and experience. The program covers a variety of advanced project management topics, such as environments in which projects operate, initiating processes, planning processes, executing processes, and monitoring and controlling processes. To be eligible for certification, candidates must have a bachelor’s degree, three years of project management experience, 4,500 hours leading projects, and 35 hours of project management education. Those with a high-school diploma, qualify with five years of project management experience, 7,500 hours leading projects, and 35 hours of project management education. 

Career path

The path to becoming an IT project manager starts with earning a bachelor’s degree in management or a related field. Employers prefer job candidates who have a master’s degree. However, project managers don’t always start from a technical or IT background. Companies say they’ve hired IT project managers with degrees utterly unrelated to the technology world — like English or history. The key for most project managers is an understanding of the lifecycle of a major project, leadership skills, management training, and knowledge of different project management techniques.

Many industry leaders say it’s essential for an IT project manager to have business acumen and a definite sense of the organization’s goals. Project managers often work with stakeholders from many disciplines, both technical and non-technical, so an ability to work with people from different backgrounds is also essential. Companies also find it helpful for project managers to have their Project Management Professional (PMP) certification, which gives them a knowledge of multiple project management methods.

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 11-3021

2020 Employment482,000
Projected Employment in 2030534,700
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift 11% increase
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift52,700 increase

IT project managers should stay informed about automation and artificial intelligence (AI) in the years to come. Many companies are looking at automating various IT processes, especially when it comes to storing data.

Industry insiders also stress that becoming more flexible as an IT project manager will continue to be of paramount importance in the coming years. Technology has always been ever-changing, but it’s changing even more quickly, and companies are working to be more nimble when it comes to adopting new technologies.

Change management is another trend IT project managers will see in the coming years. Whether it’s getting larger, becoming more automated, getting leaner, or adopting more cloud-based solutions, industry thought leaders say IT project managers will need to become proactive about managing change within their organizations. They need to look for processes that can be improved and visualize how to streamline those processes.