How to Break Into IT Project Management

How to Break Into IT Project Management

Modis 03 January 2019

IT Project Management has long been, and continues to be a rewarding career choice for many technology professionals. It is expected that this field will experience tremendous growth to keep up with global demand for skilled, trained IT leaders. The Project Management Institute estimates that by 2027 approximately 88 million Project Management Professionals (PMPs) will be needed globally to meet the demand of business initiatives around the world. Further, through to 2024, the tech industry is expected to experience 12% growth, a increase that is 5.5% higher than other industries.

This demand is creating a significant talent gap, which spells opportunity for anyone interested in pursuing a career in IT Project Management. If you are looking to break into Information Technology (IT) Project Management, there has never been a better time. The key is developing a clear understanding of this role - what to expect, some of the challenges and benefits, the future outlook and growth prospects, compensation information, and how to get started. Here's what you need to know to jump start your career in IT Project Management.

Job Openings by sector by 2027

US Sector

Job Openings

Manufacturing and Construction

9.7 million

Information Services and Publishing

5.5 million

Finance and Insurance

4.6 million

Management and Professional Services

1.7 million

Utilities

279,000

Oil and Gas

49,000

(source: PMI)

By 2024, it's anticipated that 488,500 new tech jobs will be created with areas of high growth occurring in the following key sectors:

Sector

Percentage of Job Growth

Web Development

27%

Biomedical Engineering

23%

Analysis

21%

IT Security

18%

But it's important to know the difference between the general Project Manager's (PM) role and an IT Project Manager.

IT Project Manager

Project Manager

According to PMI, the general role of a PM in any industry is the “application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements". These skills are applied throughout the planning, initiating, executing, monitoring and controlling, and closing phases of a project. A PM manages the project team, facilitation, communication, scheduling, budgeting, cost control, resource allocation and its management, and the quality of all deliverables, regardless of the nature of the project. A Project Manager will likely be required to hold a PMP Certification.

IT Project Manager

An IT Project Manager is responsible for all aspects of IT projects including overall project management and planning for projects and programs. They manage the project scope, budgets and resources as well as track and communicate all issues, risks and action items in a timely manner.

They are also responsible for identifying goals, setting team expectations, identifying and implementing project policies and procedures, making recommendations, supporting individual team members, detecting and resolving issues, and ensuring all tasks and project initiatives support the broader objectives of the IT department and company as a whole. The IT Project Manager leverages his or her knowledge and professional discretion to achieve goals and maintain positive relationships with all stakeholders. An IT Project Manager may require a bachelor's degree and 2-7 years of relevant experience as well as a PMP Certification.

What is a typical IT Project Manager Job Title?

In addition to the responsibilities of the IT Project Manager as described above, the answer to this question will differ depending on the IT Project Manager's job description, the level of experience, the particular industry, and other factors. Here are just a few examples of job titles that you may see during your job search for “IT Project Manager.“

  • IT Project Lead
  • IT Project Coordinator
  • IT Project Manager
  • IT Project Manager II or III
  • IT Project Manager Consultant
  • Senior IT Project Manager

Career progression for an IT Project Manager

At the start of your career, you may be hired as an IT Project Coordinator, IT Project Lead, or IT Project Manager I. As you gain experience, you might then progress to become an IT Project Manager II, III or even a Senior IT Project Manager.

From there, once you have gained more experience and demonstrated a track record as a reliable professional, capable of consistently delivering positive results, you could also choose to become an IT Project Management Consultant or even be offered more opportunities, such as a transition in your career to become an IT Program Manager, Portfolio Manager, or eventually a Chief Information Officer (CIO), Chief Information Technology Office (CITO) or IT Director - here are some job descriptions for these. The IT Project Manager role provides many career path options for those who are interested in this and dedicated to success.

Rewards and challenges

The role of an IT Project Manager can pose challenges at times, but it can also be extremely rewarding.Some of the challenges may include obstacles at an organizational level, such as dealing with ambiguity or vague requirements that need to be further flushed out, or a lack of support from project sponsors, resource shortages, tight deadlines, or projects that are misaligned with company-wide goals.

Some obstacles may reside at the department level and involve internal team conflicts, deficiencies in skill sets, a lack of project buy-in from team members, or conflicting deadlines with other initiatives. Many of these are similar to the challenges a 'normal' PM may face, but the specific technical nature of IT projects means that IT Project Managers are in high demand due to the fact that they are skilled professionals equipped with the knowledge, training and experience to handle these situations.

Despite these potential difficulties, being an IT Project Manager can offer many rewards for those who are up for the challenges they may encounter. These can include job satisfaction, opportunities for career growth, movement within and among industries, access to global experience, a high degree of respect as a professional, and of course, attractive salaries.

As high demand for Project Managers increases, so will the need for more IT Project Managers as IT departments struggle to keep pace with innovation initiatives, aging infrastructure and outdated policies and practices. This translates to great news for those who are or are interested in becoming IT Project Managers.

IT Project Manager Salaries

Now that you have an understanding of the IT Project Managers' role, some of the challenges, rewards and job growth prospects, it's important to also know the range of salaries you might expect to see. As with the difference in IT Project Manager roles, salaries will also differ depending on geographic location, industry, level of seniority, experience, whether the individual is certified or not, their specialization, the project type, and other factors. The PMI notes that for those holding the PMP certification, median salaries are 23% higher on average than for those without a PMP certification. According to the Modis 2019 Technology and Engineering salary guide, the median total cash compensation for an IT Project Manager ranges from $83,000 to over $137,000 a year.

How can you break into IT Project Management?

With technology jobs experiencing 12% growth by 2024, and 88 million Project Management Professionals needed globally by 2027, finding a job as an IT Project Manager has never been easier. Knowing where the best place to look for companies that are actively recruiting for this role can help you get your foot in the door faster. Modis provides job seekers with valuable up-to-date career-related data, including job descriptions, salary guides, current job postings from companies seeking IT Project Managers, and other resources. You can also submit your resume for job postings. If you are interested in pursuing this role, explore our openings at Modis to start a rewarding career in IT Project Management.

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