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How to Become a Project Manager

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In simple terms, project management is the practice of planning, organizing, and supervising a project from its start to its end. Indeed, project management requires defining the project's objectives, breaking down tasks, assigning responsibilities, setting deadlines, and ensuring that everything is on track throughout the project.

To become a project manager, you will need a strong educational foundation or practical experience. Many project managers hold a bachelor's degree in business, management, engineering, or a related field. While a degree is valuable, practical experience is equally important. Thus, it is important to seek opportunities to work on projects, even in internships, school projects and entry-level positions. This guide includes the important steps and skills needed for a smooth transition into project management.

What does project management entail?

Project management involves an outline of essential phases to successfully tackle every detail of each project - big or small. In methodologies like PRINCE2, for example, there are 7 phases:

  1. Starting up a Project involves ensuring all the required information is available, designing the Project Management Team, and creating the Initiation Stage Plan.

  2. Initiating a Project marks the commencement of physical project works and requires careful team coordination and open lines of communication among project team members by agreeing on the project’s purpose, establishing a stable management basis, confirming the Business Case, and enabling the Project Board to take ownership.

  3. Managing Stage Boundaries by providing key decision points for the Project Board to assess the project’s viability, approve stage completion, and authorize the start of the next stage, along with recording valuable measurements or lessons.

  4. Controlling a Stage by carefully tracking progress using Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), such as objectives, deliverables, effort tracking costs and overall project performance metrics. This includes monitoring and controlling day-to-day activities by authorizing work, gathering progress information, watching for changes, reviewing situations, reporting, and taking corrective action as needed.

  5. Managing Product Delivery involves ensuring planned products are created and delivered by authorizing and agreeing on Work Packages, confirming work conforms to requirements, assessing progress regularly, ensuring product quality, and obtaining approval for completed products.

  6. Closing a Project marks the final stage in project management cycle, including project handover, client approval, analysis of scope analysis and termination contracts with suppliers as well as compilation of final budget and project report.

  7. Planning involves creating a detailed project plan using methodologies such as SMART (Specific Measurable Attainable Realistic Timely) goal setting or CLEAR goal setting (Collaborative, Limited Emotional Appreciable Refinable) to analyse the risks, identify the activities and dependencies as well as prepare the schedule.

How to Become a Project Manager


1. Identify what project management skills you already have

Have you ever planned a school project? A travel or a vacation? A teamwork or event? If you’ve ever planned, organized, budgeted, or documented the progress of work, chances are you probably some variation of a project manager at some point in your personal or professional life.

To become a project manager, it’s important to take stock of the skills you already have. This includes both soft and hard skills. Hard skills are the abilities or knowledge sets you learn through education and training. For example, computer programming, data analysis, or speaking a foreign language. On the other hand, soft skills, are more related to your personality, such us your qualities, communication abilities, and how you interact with others. For instance, teamwork, communication skills, negotiation skills, adaptability, and problem-solving.

Therefore, hard skills are the technical skills and knowledge you learn, whereas soft skills are more about how you apply and share that knowledge in a social or collaborative setting.


2. Improve your skills and build experience

Now that you know your best project management skills, find a way to maximize their application in your daily life, whether you are managing a team, a project, an event or even a family trip. Here are a few suggestions to continuously improve your skills:

  • Reflect: After each project, task, or event, take some time to reflect on what went well and what could be improved. Consider what you learned from each experience and what could you have done differently to avoid any inconveniences.

  • Seek Feedback: Ask for feedback from team members, colleagues, or family members involved in your projects. This will provide valuable insights for you to improve your skills and will also help you understand different perspectives.

  • Training and Courses: Explore opportunities for project management training or courses. Many online platforms offer courses that can enhance your skills. For instance, the Google Project Management: Professional Certificate or LinkedIn's Project Management Online Training Courses.

  • Stay Informed: Stay updated on project management trends and best practices by reading books, articles, and blogs in the field.

  • Networking: Connect with other project managers or professionals in your field. Share experiences, discuss challenges, and learn from each other.

3. Shape your resume to be PM focused

Once you know what your strengths and weaknesses are in project management, you should adjust your resume to cater to project management roles.

Include in your work experiences, descriptions that talk about how you managed past events or projects. It’s essential to focus on the process of how they were planned, organized, led, documented rather than just citing the outcomes.

Get inspired from ready-made project manager resumes or add sentences like these in your previous experiences:

  • Collaborated with cross-functional teams to define project scopes, goals, and deliverables.

  • Developed comprehensive project plans, including timelines, budgets, and resource allocation.

  • Monitored project progress, identified potential risks, and implemented mitigation strategies to ensure successful project completion.

  • Conducted regular meetings with stakeholders to provide updates, gather feedback, and address concerns.


4. Consider a professional certification

Maintain a dynamic mindset as project management is an evolving discipline that demands continuous adaptation to ensure its success. A great boost to begin or elevate your career as a project manager is gaining a professional certification.

Not only do professional qualifications increase your knowledge and skills, but they can also significantly enhance your resume and increase your earning potential. Some of the best project management courses to consider, include:  

  • Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM): for individuals starting out in project management, this certification gives you the basic knowledge and skills you need.

  • Google Project Management: Professional Certification: a comprehensive course that covers project management using Google tools, perfect for those seeking a practical approach.

  • Project Management Professional (PMP): this certification helps you use the best methods to make sure your projects succeed, if you already have experience in project management.

  • Certified Scrum Master: this certification emphasizes collaboration, adaptability, and iterative development, it's great for those interested in agile project management.

  • ICAgile Certified Professional (ICP): this certification is for professionals looking to enhance their agile and adaptive project management skills, fostering a dynamic mindset in an evolving discipline.

  • PRINCE2 Foundation: this course is ideal if you are just starting your career as a project manager. It helps you gain an understanding of key concepts of the PRINCE2 method.

  • PRINCE2 Practitioner: the next step up from the Foundation level, the Practitioner course helps you understand how to apply the PRINCE2 methodology in real situations.


As project management becomes more dynamic, its requirements keep evolving. The future of project management lies in aligning projects to organizational strategies by balancing technological advances with people-centred approaches, ultimately leading to successful project outcomes.

If this sounds like a line of work you would be interested in, focus on how you can become a project manager by taking the above steps into account and start today.

Develop your project management career and enrol on a PRINCE2 qualification with Acacia Learning.