Project Manager Job Description (Duties, Salary, Skills, Certifications & More)
By Mike Simpson
I don’t know about you, but the first thing that comes to my mind when I think of a project manager is …
Oh, you are not familiar with the world famous juggler and holder of several Guinness Book of World records? Among other things, Gatto juggled 9 balls at a time for 55 seconds… 9 balls!
Now, before my analogy completely derails us, let me explain.
Being a great project manager is a bit like being my juggling hero Tony (i call him tony). You start by ‘juggling’ a few tasks, and before you know it you’ve got 6 flaming rings in your hand, and a little slip and the whole show is ruined (and you wipe the fire extinguisher foam from your eyes. ).
Point is, being a great project manager means being a master of multitasking… someone who is able to think on their feet, organize everything and deliver results on time and on budget.
Now let’s dive into the project manager job description to learn a bit more about this coveted role.
What is a project manager?
Do you want to hear something crazy? A project manager is literally someone who manages projects.
Thank you Captain Obvious!
Joking aside, a project manager is usually responsible for “planning, procuring and executing a project”. Translated into English, this basically means that as a project manager, you are the person most responsible for ensuring that a given project is planned and executed on time and on budget.
What are the missions of a project manager?
So like my mate Jeff Gillis says, “… At any point in the life of the project you may need to be a leader, planner, budgeter, organizer, politician, etc.“
So as you can see (and as anyone who has been a project manager will tell you), this position can be a lot more nuanced and complicated than just ‘plan and execute’.
Depending on the industry, the size and scope of the project, and the amount of money involved, the tasks of a project manager can be very different. Not only do project managers exist across all industries (i.e. construction, healthcare, new media, financial services, to name a few), but these different industries often have different responsibilities required of their PMs.
More often than not, however, the main tasks of a project manager might include:
- Piloting the planning and preparation of the project
- Manage the resources and personnel necessary for the execution of the project
- Monitoring of project planning and milestones
- Coordination with external project participants
- Management of project-related contracts
- Facilitate all documentation
- Project progress report
- Management of team members
- Risk management
Now, remember that this list is not exhaustive. As mentioned, the task list may vary from industry to industry. Therefore, if you are interviewing for a project manager position, be sure to research the position thoroughly.
What skills do project managers need?
Just like our mate Anthony Gatto, being able to balance several things at once is one of the most important skills required for a successful project manager. In the non-juggling world, we tend to call it multitasking. If your ability to multitask at the same time is non-existent, you might want to consider exploring a new area, or better yet, spend some time starting to train your brain to multitask effectively.
Here is a list of other skills required to be an effective project manager:
- Software expertise
- Team management
- Problem solving
- Critical mind
What training or certification is required?
Like most industries these days, a bachelor’s degree of some sort is almost always considered a requirement. It’s also an added benefit if your degree is in the field for the job they’re applying for. For example, it doesn’t hurt to have an engineering degree if you are applying for a project management position in construction.
Don’t let that put you off though. Like so many other industries, many of the best project managers don’t necessarily have a degree in the exact field in which they work. The most important thing is to have mastered the skills that allow you to be effective as a project manager.
As for certification, it is not absolutely necessary to have a specific certification to apply for an entry level project management position. However, the more qualifications you add to your portfolio, the more likely it is that you will stand out from your competition.
For project managers, the best known and most universally accepted certification is the Professional Certification in Project Management (PMP). Indeed, certified PMPs “report earning up to 25% more than uncertified project management professionals.“
What are the salary expectations?
As with any job, there are many factors that go into the salary you can expect from working as a project manager.
The good news for you is that the average salary for a project manager in the United States is $ 136,268!
Now, before you go put a down payment on that new Aston Martin that you’ve had on your mood board since college, weary of what I just said.
This number will be greatly affected by your experience, the level of education you have achieved, the skills and certifications you have, and the industry in which you work.
Being a project manager for a real estate development company in Manhattan is definitely going to have the potential to make more money than a project manager for a tourism website for a city in northern Montana.
Having said that, it does show that there is huge potential for growth if you are able to gain experience as a project manager.
How to use the job description for your job interview
When interviewing for a Project Manager role, the most important thing to remember is that the job description (here is an example you can look at) is a gold mine when it comes to your interview. . It’s a “treasure map” that leads you to the pot of gold, or in our case, to a job! (Ok, that’s enough the analogy with gold 😉)
The job description will contain the skills and qualities sought by the recruiting company, and it is your responsibility to ensure that you demonstrate that you have these skills during the job interview.
How is it done?
Use the personalization method when answering your interview questions of course!
You want to answer the interview questions you face by highlighting the skills and qualities that prevail in the job description, and use a “success story” from your past that provides concrete evidence that you are demonstrating the skill. (Especially for behavioral interview questions.)
As my colleague Jeff put it in his Top 45 Interview Questions with Project Managers article, “… Chances are, the hiring manager will ask you to discuss past projects you’ve worked on. This is why it is essential to have specific examples. The key is that you want your success stories to be clear, concise, and highlight the qualities and skills that you know they are looking for.“
As we learned above, when interviewing a project manager, these qualities will most likely include (but not be limited to) organization, Planning, Communication and direction. You should therefore begin your interview by having prepared answers that clearly show that you demonstrate these qualities. This will be the key to showing the hiring manager that you are the best fit for their project management role.
Do you see how powerful this strategy is ?? Most job seekers take a quick glance at the job description and say to themselves, “Yes! I want this job and I should get it! and then never look at him again.
You are going to be different. You will explore the job description for skills and qualities. Take the skills and qualities you find there and have, then craft killer answers to interview questions by showing the hiring manager that you are the perfect fit!
Put it all together
As you can see, being a project manager requires multiple skills and sometimes a fair amount of education and certification.
The good news is that with a little dedication and patience, the payoff (at least in terms of potential salary) can be hugely rewarding.
If this is your chosen career path for yourself and you are about to start an interview for a Project Manager role, Remember that basic skills are especially important for this type of job, and you need to remember to tailor your job interview to the skills that the company values the most!
Discover our others “Job description items” if you are exploring career options: