So you are interested in becoming a Project Manager but how exactly do you go about it?

The good news is that no matter where you are in your career, whether you’re just starting out or looking to make a change, there are a number of different avenues you can explore.

A good place to start is by taking a look at our Project Management Careers Guide which provides a great overview of what it takes to become a Project Manager and what you can expect as you build your career.

For now, let’s zero in on some of the ways you can become a project management professional. It’s safe to say that in many roles today you could very well be managing projects without wearing the official title. It’s what we call the accidental Project Manager.

But as it becomes a more sought-after skill set and profession – having recognised certification and training will go a long way to positioning you well in what, today, is a highly competitive job market.

Want to learn more? Check out our guide, Project Management Career Path.

Taking the first steps

There are lots of options when it comes to formal training to kick start your project management career. From online courses through to graduate and post graduate programs, you have plenty of jumping off points depending on your stage of career and life goals. Our Endorsed Courses resource is a comprehensive listing of top-class programs that can get you off on the right foot.

If you are starting off your career and have just completed or nearing the end of your studies, it can be helpful to look for an internship. Not only will this give you a better sense of what it’s really like to work in project management, it will also give your resume an element of practical experience that can be a real differentiator. If you are already working and studying part time, try to find projects that you can be involved in to bolster your real-world experience.

Get a little help and be recognised

Whether you are starting off in a Project Coordinator or Administrator role or further down your career path, it’s often useful to rely on the support and guidance of wiser, more experienced practitioners to help you chart your course. The AIPM Project Management Mentoring Program, for example, will match you with an industry leader who has the experience to offer you advice and strategies for advancing your career in the industries or organisations you are targeting. Our Online Community is also a great informal forum for getting ideas or guidance on different courses of study, certifications or just more general career advice.

As you gain more experience and map out your career from Project Manager to more senior positions such as Project Director – you can accumulate certifications along the way that confirm your project management expertise. Our National Certification resource explains the different certification levels available, which ones might be best suited to you and how to get started. Gaining certification indicates that you are committed to project management as a profession and provides potential employers with evidence that you can walk into a role with the required skills and experience.

It’s not all classroom learning

Becoming a project management professional requires more than just learning implementation and management methodologies, data management, resource scheduling and other hard skills. Fundamental to being a good project manager are skills that help you build relationships, motivate people and lead. As technology takes on more of the heavy lifting when it comes to the hard skills or repetitive or manual project management tasks – the softer, more human skills are coming to the fore. Strong communication skills, the ability to exhibit empathy and understanding, managing expectations as well as the ability to pivot and adjust to changing needs and circumstances is critical to successful project management.

Take the time to think through the kind of career that you would like to have in project management. Research what kind of training is available, the steps you need to take and find professionals who can help you make the right decisions along the way. You know – manage your career like a project.

Visit our certification page to find out more about the benefits of gaining AIPM national project management certification, RegPM and what it will do for your career.