What Is the Project Manager Career Path?

A lot of professionals aspire to become Project Managers. Most universities at the moment are offering degrees in Project Management, such courses might help someone become a Project Manager, but traditionally there’s a path that people have to follow in order to reach the status of a Project Manager and beyond.

The classic Project Manager career path can be summarized as follows:

  1. Project Management Specialist
  2. Group Leader
  3. Project Management Coordinator (aka Project Expediter, Project Management Technical Manager)
  4. Project Manager
  5. Project Director
  6. Program Manager

Note that outstanding professionals can skip steps in the hierarchy above, for example, a Group Leader can immediately be promoted to a Project Manager position. Naturally, it becomes increasingly harder to skip steps as one moves higher in the hierarchy.

Also note that the positions in the hierarchy above can have different roles and responsibilities depending on the size and the culture of the organization. Some (small to medium) organizations also don’t have some of the lower (PM Specialist) or higher (Program Manager) positions.

Contrary to many people’s believes, it is not easy (at all) to start out as a Project Manager, even if you have the appropriate accreditation (such as the PMP) or the education (such as a degree in Project Management). Hands on experience in Project Management is very important.

© 2009 Project Management Learning – Reproduction of this material is strictly prohibited without the written consent of Project Management Learning.


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