Building your career as a project manager takes time and patience, but with the right skills and experience you can set yourself up for success.

Project management is an intellectually stimulating and rewarding career, however like any other role it does come with its challenges. In this guide we cover how you can pursue a career in project management and develop the skills needed to run a project successfully.

Why become a project manager?

  • Project ownership: As the project manager, you will manage the entire lifecycle of a project from start to finish. As you progress in your career, you may end up managing the completion of large-scale projects.
  • Be a leader: A large part of the role of a project manager is interacting and engaging with clients, contractors, team members and other stakeholders. As the project manager, team members will look to you for guidance and leadership on a project.
  • No day is the same: Project management is far from dull. Sure, there will be routine and repetitive tasks, but since each project is different, and each day varies, it will keep you challenged and excited about coming to work.
  • Offers a decent salary: While what you earn will depend on the industry you work in and your organisational experience, earning six figures as a project manager is well within the norm. Read our project manager salary guide for a full rundown.


What project management education do I need?

While working in project management requires specific skills, don’t worry no one starts as an expert. In fact, even experienced project managers need to continue education and training throughout their career.

There are several options when it comes to gaining qualifications in project management:

  • Short courses: If you would like to learn about a specific area of project management, such as leadership or stakeholder engagement, but don’t want to commit to a full degree, you can undertake a short course. This is often a good option if you currently have some level of project management experience and would like to top up on your knowledge or pick up a specialist skillset.
  • Vocational Education and Training (VET): You can also choose to undertake a vocational training course, such as a diploma or advanced diploma. Courses available can range from learning the foundations of project management, to more specialised content.
  • Higher education: Another option is undertaking an undergraduate bachelor’s degree or postgraduate master’s degree in project management, which will provide you with a sound understanding of the skills required as a project manager.

Visit our Project Management Endorsed Course Directory to search for courses available in Australia specific to project professionals.

How can I gain hands on experience?

While qualifications are a great way of learning the fundamentals of project management, you can’t go past on the job experience. Here’s how you can get a foot in the door and develop the skills needed to be a project manager.

  1. Internship: There are numerous internship programs available in Australia that allow you to work within an organisation and support the project team, while learning the ropes.
  2. Mentorship program: Taking part in a mentoring program will expand your network and put you in touch with a current project leader who can support you and help you develop your skills as a project manager.
  3. Graduate program: By taking part in a graduate program you will get to work across various departments of an organisation and gain ongoing training, so you can build on your project management skills.
  4. Entry level job: There are also plenty of entry level roles available, such as project coordinator, project planner or project administrator.

All of the above will provide you with the foundations for working your way up to the role of project manager.

What skills do I need?

Through your project management education and on the job experience, you should develop the following project management skills:

  • Project planning: Before a project commences, it is the project manager’s responsibility to create a thorough plan for each stage of the project.
  • Risk management: Conducting a risk assessment is also an important part of managing a project, which includes having the ability to identify any potential risks that could impact project delivery and putting a plan in place to address those risks.
  • Scheduling: Once you have your plan in place, the next step will be delegating the work that needs to be completed to various contractors and team members through scheduling.
  • Reporting: As a project manager throughout the project lifecycle you will need to report on how the project is tracking and feed that back to relevant stakeholders.
  • Budgeting: Every project will have an approved budget for getting the project across the line. Throughout the project, you will also need to ensure that the budget is on track and that the project isn’t at risk of a cost overrun.

As you progress in your career, it is important to also work on developing your behavioural skills.

  • Leadership: To be successful as a project manager, you will need to develop the ability to lead and motivate your team, as well as the communication skills to work with clients, stakeholders and senior members of the organisation.
  • Flexibility: Despite the immense amount of planning that goes into projects, there is always the unexpected to keep in mind. When things change, you might need to delegate additional tasks, shift priorities or strategies, and bring in new or different people. So being flexible is key.

Of course, there are many other skills project managers need to excel in their role. If you’re interested in finding out more read our blog on the essential project manager skills.

Getting into project management starts with developing the appropriate skills through education and hands on experience. So if project management is the career you would like to pursue, consider how you will develop those skills and take the steps to get there. Remember, even the most experienced project managers were once in your shoes.