Project manager: job description

Project managers are responsible for the planning, management, coordination and financial control of a project.
They are employed in a range of industries from IT to construction.

What does a Project manager do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Project managers ensure the project is completed on time and within budget, that the project's objectives are met and that everyone else is doing their job properly. Projects are usually separate to usual day-today business activities and require a group of people to work together to achieve a set of specific objectives. Project managers oversee the project to ensure the desired result is achieved, the most efficient resources are used and the different interests involved are satisfied.

Typical responsibilities include:

  • agreeing project objectives
  • representing the client's or organisation's interests
  • providing advice on the management of projects
  • organising the various professional people working on a project
  • carrying out risk assessment
  • making sure that all the aims of the project are met
  • making sure the quality standards are met
  • using IT systems to keep track of people and progress
  • recruiting specialists and sub-contractors
  • monitoring sub-contractors to ensure guidelines are maintained
  • overseeing the accounting, costing and billing

Depending on the project, responsibilities can cover all aspects of a project from the beginning stages through to completion. Project managers typically lead by example, so expect to be working at least the same hours as your staff. Wages for this role can be lucrative.

Typical employers of project managers

  • Construction companies
  • Architects
  • Software producers
  • Commercial retailers
  • Engineering firms
  • Manufacturers
  • Public sector organisations

Qualifications and training required

You will need a good degree, preferably in a topic related to the industry you wish to move into. You often need a significant body of experience in the appropriate field, although some graduate schemes start you off in an 'assistant PM' role. You may also be required to be part of a professional or chartered body. Some professional bodies such as the Association of Project Management offer industry recognised qualifications – these are not essential but would be advantageous. It is also likely that you will need a full, clean driving licence.

Some employers run graduate schemes and internship programmes in project management. While some specify degree subjects, others don't. Entry requirements depend on which industry you want to work in. You can find such opportunities online at TARGETjobs, The Association for Project Management and through university careers services.

Key skills for project managers

  • Organisational skills
  • Analytical skills
  • Well developed interpersonal skills
  • Numeracy skills
  • Commercial awareness
  • Communication skills
  • Teamworking skills
  • Diplomacy
  • Ability to motivate people
  • Management and leadership skills

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