How to Become a Project Manager Without Experience: Enthusiasm vs Professional Degree
Project management is not a simple and straight direction; this discipline requires a unique combination of skills and abilities.
Project managers in 2020 should manage their own fields of responsibilities and also teams, deadlines, all processes, and scopes of work. They should motivate and engage young talents to build a dream team able to perform efficiently, constantly thinking about project profitability.
It should be important for project managers without experience to not allow numbers to stifle the creative vibes of team members. They need analytical and budgeting abilities as well as a number of soft skills, so popular today. Without paying much attention to these skills, let’s simply remind the main of them:
- Leadership. It’s really crucial for project managers without experience to be able to inspire others, set the vision, and lead effectively.
- Communication. Effective communication and being understood are also important for people involved in project management, as this ability is the key to any relationship’s door.
- Negotiation. A project manager with good negotiation skills is an asset to the team as he/she seeks to resolve conflicts by finding the win-win scenarios.
- Trust building. Good project managers easily earn the team’s trust and can trust the team without a doubt.
- Motivation. One of the project managers’ responsibilities is caring about the personal and professional needs and goals of their team members and be able to satisfy them.
- Active listening is directly aligned with communication. Good listening allows PMs to learn more about their team members and clients and be more engaged.
- Decision-making. During the decision-making process, project managers with no experience should care about how others will be affected and consult their colleagues if needed.
- Influencing. When project managers are able to get people to change their minds, it increases their value and weight in the team.
- Conflict solving. The lack of conflicts is about an ideal world. Every project manager without experience should also evolve conflict management skills.
- Managing risks. Project managers should always stay on top of their projects by controlling risks and actively mitigating against them.
- Coaching is the skill that helps PMs to discover their own potential and elevate from their current skill level to the next step.
- Cost control or budget management. Those project managers have no this skill will be at a disadvantage because budgets are tight. It is critical for them to be able to deliver projects within the cost constraints and managing finances intelligently.
In the modern software development environment, a high-skilled project manager is not the only key to success. However, if he or she knows how to manage the main lever, their efforts can make a big difference in the project outcome.
Professional experience is also a key aspect of success in 2020. Just look at the screen from Payscale with the PM’s salary in the U.S. based on the professional experience:
How to become a project manager?
Can you be a project manager with no experience? The process of becoming a project manager is not a classic and canonical case, just because this position is quite a young one.
Some talents choose taking classes and getting certified, while others decide to be a project manager with unrelated degrees or experience, without formal training. Which path is the most effective? Which one is faster and painless?
It all depends on the globality of your goals. Becoming a project manager without experience may be a lofty purpose or just mere steps away. Anyway, the good news is that you have a choice.
The choice at the crossroad
Knowledge opens doors: the role of professional education
As you can guess – the first way is about getting project manager education and certification. In fact, this way consists of the following steps:
1. Initial decision
How to get a project management job with no experience? If you decide to become a certified PM, not an informal PM, it is worth investing time to learn about the day-to-day project management routine. Then you can start working towards a certification.
2. Which certification will appropriate better
The Project Management Institute (PMI) is the center that provides the best and high-quality education for project managers. The institute offers two common certifications:
- CAPM – the Certified Associate in Project Management.
- PMP – the Project Management Professional certification.
The key difference between them is that you can get a CAPM certification without PM experience, while the PMP certification requires some experience – at least 4,500 professional hours. Both ways require taking and passing exams.
Evaluate your chances first and figure out which of the certifications you are able to get.
3. Starting professional education
There are several ways on how you can obtain hours of project management education. The main idea is that they must be completed before you sit for your exams.
You are able to choose training through the registered providers across the world to get these certifications. It’s also possible to add related university and continuing education classes towards your hours. Do not forget to track every hour. The next step is the most exciting… Yes, it’s about the exam.
4. Taking the certification exam
At this stage, you have to study the entire Project Management Body of Knowledge Guide published by PMI to succeed in both the CAPM and the PMP exams.
There are additional materials available to purchase that may help you prepare for the exam.
- The CAPM includes 150 questions and can be taken online or offline.
- The PMP has 200 questions and must be taken in a testing center.
5. Maintaining certification
Do not leave your certificate dusting on a shelf. Both certifications require maintenance in different ways.
- The CAPM requires passing the exam every five years and this exam itself changes periodically.
- The PMP requires completing 60 professional development units each year.
Would you like to get anything other than just a theory, for example, a third-party opinion? Here is an interesting case about getting a certificate and its importance:
Self-education is also education: how to become a project manager without a degree
The second path to being an accidental project manager is also very popular nowadays. You may take on the responsibilities of a PM without training and certification and you know what – you have great chances to succeed. Taking your training into your own hands is a widespread practice.
Many managers perform without getting any specific training, no matter what industry they represent – from construction project management to the IT-sphere. They come to this profession from completely different fields, but most often from development, marketing, or product management. The main idea is to be 100% sure that you want to find a way to how to get into project management without experience.
By the way, we’ve recently written about how to become a product manager without any experience as well.
If this option is what you need, just follow some steps in this process:
1. Evaluating your own experience
Thinking to dive into a project management role without preparation, you may already have some of the soft and tech skills required to be a PM.
Many specialists perform the things that certified PMs do in the course of their work, from planning schedules to sticking to budgets.
It will be useful to research formal project management positions and interview the experts in PM, develop a list of skills and experience you have that you will use.
2. Defining white spots
Identify what experience you lack and be prepared to learn a few technical skills. When you have a full picture of what you still need to learn, you will be able to create a plan of attack and take advantage of opportunities to fill in the gaps in your knowledge.
3. Looking for new opportunities
At this stage, it’s high time to start looking for opportunities to fill out your skillset.
If informal and self-guided learning is right for you, then try the classes offered by PMI or any online learning platform.
Remember that you may pursue a certification any time you want. In any case, take advantage of all of the learning opportunities and resources you can.
4. Implementing what has been learned
Any theory should be continued by the practice. You will definitely notice many opportunities to use your new skills and apply resources effectively. Project management requires close cooperation and communication between team members, so do not hesitate to start using the skills you’ve learned in the course of doing your own work.
Another area for continuous development is the use of professional online tools. Every year more and more new project management software appear. Choosing the most suitable one is also a great talent.
How to become a project manager without experience: the industry does matter
The industry that a project manager represents may have a significant impact on yearly earnings.
For example, PMs in the following industries report the highest median income in the nation (according to the Project Management Institute):
- Resources (for example, agriculture) – $134,577
- Consulting – $134,149
- Pharmaceuticals – $133,246
- Aerospace – $129,732
- Food and Beverage – $124,559
By the way, the IT sector only ranks eighth on this list with $122,245.
Due to the rapid growth and demand in such industries as science, technology, engineering, and math, project management salaries look especially high. In top-paying project management industries such as the government, projects are more complex. They usually require specialized skills and knowledge of particular software, making PM salaries higher than average.
Mastering project management skills is a process that may never end. However, one day you will see a clear picture of what you want to do next.
The most logical way if your learning was self-guided is to pursue some more formal training or get a certificate. You will probably start looking for a formal project management position with advanced benefits and you’ll be right.
Keep learning and make sure you don’t get left behind. The career of project management is not the most difficult objective in the world and you have all the chances to succeed, no matter which of two ways you choose.
Hopefully, all the thoughts mentioned above were helpful for you in case you wanted to learn how to be a project manager without experience.