What is project management?

“Management is, above all, a practice where art, science, and craft meet,” says Henry Mintzberg, author and business and management academic. The Gisma Business School defines project management as “the implementation of methodologies, knowledge, processes, experience and skills to achieve the objectives of a project.” Learning how to be the most effective manager will jumpstart your career in almost any field. All employers are looking for someone who is skilled in multitasking, troubleshooting, and can eventually manage a team of people or multiple projects all at once. 

A degree in project management teaches you how to systematically break a larger problem or project down into smaller chunks of manageable work that will eventually lead to culminating into the completion of the entire project. Any project manager knows that the following steps are important: 1) define the plan; 2) establish a schedule; 3) enforce teamwork; 4) maximize resources; 5) streamline processes; 6) control costs; and finally 7) assure quality. When a project moves from start to finish with these steps in mind, then the majority of the time the project will be a success. 

Within the project management field, there are a variety of credentialing and degree options available. From a basic certificate, to an associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or PhD, there are many ways to pursue a career in project management. Karen Schweitzer, for Thoughtco.com, writes, “A degree isn't absolutely necessary for an entry-level career in project management. However, it can certainly enhance your resume. A degree may increase your chances of getting an entry-level position. It may also help you to advance in your career. Most project managers have at least a bachelor's degree.” 

Investing in your career and future is important. Knowing what kind of degree will set you up for success is important, too. Should you get a certificate, degree, or graduate degree? “Check the syllabus to ensure that project management is covered in enough detail for your needs. Many Associate level degree courses, for example, only touch on project management by offering a course or two, with the rest being other business or management topics,” explains Elizabeth Harrain for TheBalanceCareers.com

Harrain adds, “If you can’t commit to a project management degree right now, there are a number of high quality, well-respected project certification options instead.” A certificate in project management can help put you on the fast-track to work in the field as a project manager, but you will likely want to invest in a bachelor's degree or even better a master's degree as you gain more and more experience and want to advance up the ladder. 

“As you navigate through the rest of your life, be open to collaboration. Other people and other people’s ideas are often better than your own,” says actress and comedian Amy Poehler about team management.

Still wondering whether or not to study project management? Here are five more reasons why a degree in project management could be the path to your ideal career.

1. It is a growing industry

Employers are actively looking to fill many project management positions, especially since it’s a growing industry. Many fields need highly skilled project managers, including: engineering and construction, healthcare, financial services, law, and technology. “Every job requires the ability to turn ideas into reality. With the constant demand for businesses to become smarter and more efficient, the skills you learn in any project management course will become more and more valuable to employers,” reports Torrens University Australia. If you can prove your worth in project management, you will be a valuable asset to any team and employers will be happy to hire you. 

2.  More job opportunities

A growing industry means that there are also more job opportunities available to you if you have a degree in project management. The U.S. Department of Labor estimates project management jobs will grow by about 8 percent from 2016 to 2026 and management jobs, in general, tend to pay much more than average, with a median annual salary of $104,240 in 2018. Jumping on the wagon now by enrolling in a project management degree could give you the edge to land a great job a few years down the line. 

3. Many career options

“Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion,” said Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric. A project management degree is very versatile because all businesses and organizations need skilled leaders who can solve problems, successfully manage workflow, and delegate where appropriate. Project management involves setting project goals, establishing tasks and a timeline for completion by assigned parties, evaluating progress and making adjustments as needed to ensure that clients, internal or external, achieve their desired results. With all of this being said, you will find that you can apply these skills to almost any career option or path you want to pursue. 

3. High salaries

One of the more obvious reasons to choose to study project management is that you will most likely land a job that is not only challenging and rewarding, you will also receive an excellent salary. “Most managers work within the following fields: construction, architecture, telecommunications, engineering or information technology. Depending on your chosen field and the projects you are hired to manage and, of course, your experience, education and location, salaries can range from $85,000 – $135,000 annually,” according to BusinessManagementDegree. 

4. You can move within industries

A high salary is an attractive part of working in project management, but perhaps the most rewarding feature of working in this specialty is the ability to move upward or change positions within a multitude of different industries. A project manager can develop skills in managing one type of project that are transferable to other types of projects. “The key to successful leadership today is influence not authority,” says Kenneth Blanchard, a leadership and management author. Upward mobility still exists in many fields and that is often achieved by wielding your skills and influence effectively. 

5. Constantly be learning

Finally, and perhaps the most affirming reason to invest in a project management degree, is that you will never stop learning. A project manager is constantly learning new ways to effectively do his or her job. “If you embrace change and have a thirst for knowledge, project managers regularly expand and update their knowledge of relevant markets, new technology, and target customers to stay on top of their field,” explains The London School of Business and Finance

Whatever your dream career is, there is almost no doubt you would benefit from investing in a project management degree. It’s a versatile degree that gives students the skills needed to be a highly trained and attractive employee and an asset to any team. "Those who plan do better than those who do not plan even though they rarely stick to their plan,” said Winston Churchill. Whatever industry you want to work in, if planning and executing a plan is your niche, then a degree in project management is for you...