3 Hot Sectors for Project Management Jobs

3 July 2012

When it comes to career opportunities for project professionals, not all industries are created equal.

If you’re stuck in a faltering sector, now might be the time to consider transitioning to a different industry with higher growth potential. Here’s a breakdown of where some of the jobs are and what project professionals need to make a switch.

Aerospace and defense

With SpaceX and other companies engaging in a for-profit space race, project talent will be in high demand. Aerospace employment totaled more than 624,000 in 2011, according to a 2011 Aerospace Industries Association report.

Defense spending in India recently increased by 17 percent to US$41 billion through March 2013. And China is expected to nearly double its defense budget by 2015, according to global research group IHS Jane’s.

The commercial aircraft sector is also experiencing an uptick in production, according to consulting giant Deloitte. The rise is primarily due to increasing demand for leisure and business travel, particularly in the Asia Pacific region.

All of that spending translates to more projects — and more hiring.

“There is an increased need for project managers at not only the majors, but also working in the field to liaise as second- and third-tier suppliers,” says David L. White, PMP, senior project manager, product cost improvement programs, at Boeing in Everett, Washington, USA.

Project and program professionals from outside the industry should emphasize experience in complementary fields, such as automotive, engineering and manufacturing, says Ahmed Abed, PMP, aerospace program manager, Tawazun Precision Industries, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

Mr. White recommends playing up specific projects, challenges and outcomes.

“The more complex, sensitive, risky and technically relevant your projects are, the more likely your experience will count,” Mr. Abed says.

Technology

Worldwide IT spending is expected to grow by 5 percent in 2012, with double-digit growth in India (16 percent), China (15 percent) and Russia (11 percent), according to IT research firm IDC.

Those kinds of numbers have set off a veritable talent war in Silicon Valley. In the United States, hiring for IT project managers has grown approximately 160 percent over the past three years, reports staffing intelligence firm Wanted Analytics.

“Processing power will continue to double every 18 months,” says David Shirley, PMP, an instructor in IT project management at Boston University in Boston, Massachusetts, USA. “People will be expecting to do more with that power, so the demand for IT services will continue to increase.”

Project managers who want to move into IT should gain experience in virtualization and sustainability, says Mr. Shirley, also the chief environmental officer at EarthPM, a project management consultancy.

Although prior IT experience isn’t required, candidates must demonstrate they’re committed to moving into the sector. They can do that by earning IT certifications and keeping up with trends, says Mr. Abed, who also specializes in IT.

“The IT project management field is innovative by nature,” he says. “The more you are able to demonstrate being up-to-date, the more welcome you are to the field.”

Healthcare

The healthcare sector’s move to digital records could be a miracle career cure for project professionals in other ailing sectors.

In the United States, healthcare IT is expected to add about 35,100 jobs between 2008 and 2018, a 20 percent growth from the previous decade, according to the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society.

In Australia, Frost & Sullivan has predicted a 10 percent expansion in healthcare IT annually through 2014. And in Brazil, the sector is expected to reach US$129.9 billion in 2012, a 35 percent jump since 2009.

“The healthcare industry is experiencing unprecedented growth,” says Mr. Shirley, also the author of Project Management for Healthcare. “With the increased demand — and increased costs — of healthcare, efficiencies must be gained and those efficiencies will be in the form of projects.”

Any type of project management experience — whether in construction, IT, scheduling or risk management — will help candidates break into the field. But those with a Project Management Professional (PMP)® credential may gain an edge on the competition.

“Hospitals are looking to hire project managers with that credential,” Mr. Shirley says.