How to Become a Project Manager

Explore what you need to kickstart your journey in project management. Discover the key skills that matter most, the value of the CAPM certification, and how to confidently launch your career.

Written by Project Management Institute • 20 June 2024


Learning what it takes to become a project manager doesn’t have to be complicated. Our career guide is here to help you get started on your journey. Discover the skills that make a good project manager, the best certifications to pursue, and tips on how to get certified. Plus, gain advice on breaking into the profession.

What is project management?

At its core, project management is a profession that transforms ideas into reality. Project managers apply their knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to deliver a product, service or outcome within a defined time, scope, and budget. Through planning, organizing, and executing tasks, project management drives change that impacts our work, our communities, and our world.

Why pursue a project management career?

A career in project management is about more than managing tasks and timelines; it's about making a positive impact. Project managers are at the forefront of transformative efforts, leading teams who are tackling complex challenges and opportunities.

The demand for skilled project managers is rapidly increasing, with the global economy needing 25 million new project managers by 2030. This presents an opportunity for those early in their careers. Project management offers a dynamic and rewarding career path, with the ability to work in a multitude of industries, opportunities to advance and competitive salaries.

What skills make a good project manager?

Project management skills are valuable no matter the stage of your career. Here are the skills needed for success in today's evolving world of project management:

  • Ways of working. Learning different ways to get the job done is important. Whether it’s predictive, agile, design thinking, or new practices , project professionals need to know when to apply the right techniques at the right time.
  • Business acumen. Project professionals should understand the macro and micro influences across an organization and how their projects align with the big picture of the broader organizational strategy.
  • Power skills. Also called “soft skills”, these are the abilities and behaviors that facilitate working with others and help project managers succeed in the workplace. The top four power skills identified as critical for project success are:
  • Communication
  • Problem-solving
  • Collaborative leadership
  • And strategic thinking

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Why should I pursue a project management certification?

Certifications are an important first step towards becoming a project manager, with 51 percent of organizations requiring project professionals to hold some sort of certification in their role. And wherever you are in your career, getting certified can set you apart.

While on-the-job training is valuable, certifications can help you better understand project management tools and methodologies and show you have foundational knowledge of project management. If you’re new to project management or want to boost your skills and confidence while leading projects the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)® Certification is for you.

Earning the CAPM can lead to career opportunities, help you stand out as a job applicant, and is a great place to start on your path towards becoming a project manager. It’s also a stepping stone to attaining the Project Management Professional (PMP)®, which can lead to more earning potential

How can I gain project management experience?

Nearly all jobs involve some aspect of project management, whether it’s planning, budgeting, scheduling or stakeholder management. So, there are likely a wealth of opportunities to develop and hone your skills right where you are.

Volunteering to work on initiatives for nonprofits and community groups can also help you build valuable project management skills and experience. Project volunteers might manage project budgets, resources and schedules, conduct research to define requirements and engage and manage stakeholders.

Whether working or volunteering, formalizing your project management through courses like Kickoff or certifications like the CAPM will boost your skills, elevate your professional status, and help you score a formal project management role later.

What are some entry level project management roles?

There are many project management roles you can enter with a CAPM. While the titles may vary from organization to organization, entry level roles may include:

  • Project Coordinator. Project coordinators are the people who support project managers and the rest of the team. They might monitor progress, share updates, organize reports, schedule meetings and flag risks.
  • Junior/Assistant Project Manager. Junior project managers typically support the project manager and project team. They might schedule meetings, take notes, track reporting and conduct research.
  • Junior/Assistant Business Analyst. Junior business analysts conduct data analysis, generate reports and define project requirements. They might generate reports, analyze data, define project requirements and raise risks

Where could project management take you?

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Where can I learn more about project management for free?

Check out:

  • Discover if project management is right for you. Learn the essentials with Kickoff—a free, 45-minute course that covers the fundamentals of project management. Earn a digital badge and take your first step towards a CAPM certification. Get started today.
  • Learn from real project professionals. Projectified® Podcast is your go-to source for navigating the world of project management. Listen now.
  • Join our community. brings together articles, webinars, templates and discussions created by project managers for project managers. Join the conversation.
  • Test drive membership. Receive membership benefits including your personal AI co-pilot, PMI Infinity, and access to top-notch content with a 30-day free trial. Sign up now.

Why PMI?

No matter what your journey to becoming a project manager looks like, PMI can help. As the world’s largest association for project professionals, we bring together a passionate global community, advocate for the profession, lead research, and offer best-in-class education and certifications. Our local chapters provide platforms for members to connect and share knowledge. Volunteering with PMI allows you to give back to the community while gaining valuable experience and expanding your network.

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Project Management Institute
Author | PMI

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