Project Management Jobs
Here you will find everything you might want to know about different jobs in project management, including:
- What kind of project management jobs are out there?
- What can you expect from a typical project management job description?
- What do you need to get a job in project management?
What kind of project management jobs are there?
A project manager can be hired to oversee and implement a diverse range of projects. The type of project management job you will be able to get will largely depend on the industry you work in, the qualifications you have, the type of company offering the job, as well as the job’s location and particular specifications.
4 INTERESTING AREAS FOR PROJECT MANAGERS
- Defence: This is a big industry around the world, even in South Africa. Countries pour a lot of money into military and defence projects, as well as military technology development.
- Sustainability: Big companies around the world are undertaking major projects to become more sustainable and environmentally friendly.
- Healthcare: Private healthcare companies are growing exponentially, often relying on expensive and large-scale projects.
- NGOs: Non-Governmental Organisations often launch international projects that need grass-root employment and management.
What industry is the job in?
Each project has a unique purpose and goal defined by the industry or sector it relates to. Because of this, project management jobs are usually integrated into other industries.
Almost all industries make use of project managers. However, the industries where this profession is by far the largest and most profitable are:
- IT or Computer Engineering
These are all industries that rely on the effective execution of large-scale and expensive projects. Other industries that also habitually employ project managers are:
- Marketing and Advertising
And don’t forget about governmental departments or international organisations such as the United Nations, who run major projects all over the world!
What qualifications do you have?
The most successful project managers bring more than just management skills to their jobs – they bring experience and expertise in other fields, too. Likewise, the best-paid project managers have qualifications in engineering or IT (depending on which field they work in) as well.
You can, however, start off with general project management training, and build experience in a specialised field as part of a project management team.
It is important to realise that you don’t have to hold an engineering degree to become a specialist project manager. All the previous knowledge and experience you have can be utilised in your job as a project manager. For example:
- If you organised church bazaars for your community – you have experience that can help you organise expos and events.
- If you have work experience in retail – you have unique insight into what would make commercial projects succeed.
- If you worked in a call centre, you already have expertise that can help you take on corporate sales projects.
Take a look at this project management career path infographic to learn more:
What level position do you qualify for?
There is plenty of work in project management. However, you might struggle to find a position that suits your level of experience and training (with a salary that you want).
The highest paying jobs are those of project directors or senior project managers. Professionals who qualify for these positions are often highly sought after by companies, because they have years of experience. Having PMP credentials, for which you need between 3 and 5 years of lead project management experience, is also something that will allow you to easily find high-paying work.
What about entry-level jobs, then? Entry-level jobs might be harder to find and secure, yet there are plenty of positions available out there. You might need to start off as a junior project management assistant or project management team member, and work yourself up to a lead project management position.
The only drawback is that entry-level jobs are usually not very high-paying. But these kinds of positions reward you with invaluable experience that will allow you to one day find that perfect job.
The type or size of the company
You can find work in an industry-related company as a project manager, or you can find work in a project management company that works with a variety of clients.
Though bigger companies will have more project management positions available, it is often the case that they pick only the best and brightest professionals or graduated students. A great way to build experience and eventually land a high-paying job at a prestigious company, is to start off working for a smaller, more modest employer.
The company’s location
Location also influences the types of jobs available. Firstly, most of the companies offering regular employment opportunities are situated in the major cities. Johannesburg is one of Africa’s biggest business hubs and is consequently home to a lot of companies in need of project managers.
There are also international companies operating in South Africa that need local project managers, especially in construction, manufacturing, energy, and mining.
Likewise, many South African companies expand into the rest of the African continent. It is especially here that project managers are employed to supervise local projects in these neighbouring countries. Companies rapidly expanding in Africa include:
- Standard Bank
And lastly, you can find international jobs by going overseas. There are many high-paying positions for project managers, especially in Asia and the United States of America. You will have to be an experienced project manager to secure such employment opportunities, however.
Project Management Job Descriptions
To give you an example of what different project management job descriptions look like, here are two different descriptions based on real job ads:
1. The first one is for a senior position at a construction company, which means that it’s essentially a ‘construction project management job’:
Position: Project Director
Type of position: Permanent
Salary: R 950 000 per year (Negotiable)
Contracting company based in Johannesburg is looking for an experienced project director to take effective leadership and management of construction projects in Gauteng region.
- Successful planning, execution, monitoring, control, and closure of all major projects with an emphasis on: financial, operational, and technical results.
- Co-ordinating different projects simultaneously.
- On-time delivery of results.
- Reporting to and liaising with company stakeholders.
- Working within target budgets.
- Hiring, managing, and motivating project teams.
- Must have at least 5 years’ experience in large scale project management (projects with management of at least 1000 people).
- Experience in engineering or construction project management environments.
- Degree in construction management, engineering, or related field.
- PMP or relevant project management credentials.
This is a position for a highly-qualified project manager, as can be seen. Maybe you will end up in such a position one day, but obviously you must start out somewhere.
2. The second ad is for an entry-level project management job:
Position: Project Assistant
Position Type: Contract based
Salary: R 7000 per month (depending on experience and qualifications)
A computer training college in Durban is looking for a junior team member in their project management department.
- To support the delivery team of the organisation; designing, developing, and delivering of projects.
- Diary management of projects.
- Ordering and checking resources and purchases for team.
- Documenting and assisting in the evaluation of projects.
- Some project management training.
- Ability to work as part of a team.
- Computer literate.
- Ability to communicate effectively.
- Highly organised.
What do you need to get a project management job?
As can be seen from the two job descriptions above, there are no set prescriptions for what a project manager needs to secure a job. Each company posting a job ad will decide for themselves what unique requirements they want to advertise. However, there are some general requirements that can almost always be expected of a project manager, and these can be categorised as follows:
Project management skills
A project manager can be expected to have certain technical project management skills. These can include things like:
- Knowledge of project management processes and terminology.
- Ability to plan, execute, and close projects.
- Presentation and reporting skills.
- Familiarity with project management software.
- Familiarity with project management documentation and templates.
Other technical skills can be more general, such as:
- Communication skills
- Resource management skills
- Problem solving skills.
While all of these things are important for aspiring professionals, and very important to employers, there are also personal characteristics or skills that need to be considered. A project manager must naturally possess these to succeed, or find a way to develop them:
- Time management ability
- Organisation skills
- Ability to multi-task
- Ability to stay calm under pressure
Project management certification
Project management certification is often a requirement for senior positions, while not really a prerequisite for entry-level jobs. It is, however, especially the PMP (Project Management Professional) certification issued by the Project Management Institute that is in high demand in this profession.
Project management certification is essentially a professional credential you receive after writing an exam set out by certain professional and industry-related organisations like the Project Management Institute.
Project management experience
It is unfortunate that so many of the jobs you will see advertised for project managers will require over 3 years’ experience. If you are new to this profession, this might be extremely discouraging. What do you do if you don’t have experience, and you are unable to get experience because you can’t secure a job without it?
The best 3 ways to gain experience are:
- Get an entry-level job: Get any job that will give you relevant experience. You might not be able to work as a project manager, but maybe you will be able to work as an assistant to a project manager or as part of a project team.
- Volunteer: Volunteer to organise events. Even if it is for a local bake-sale, you will be able to use this as experience.
- Enrol for an internship: Whether you get paid or not, enrolling for a project management internship at a company that handles projects will be great experience and might help you eventually get a job.
Project management training
The first step to getting work in project management is to get the training you will need to be able to do your job. You won’t be able to secure any job if you don’t at least know the fundamentals of project management.
Click here to take a look at the project management courses Oxbridge Academy offers. These are all distance learning courses, which means that they are easy to study from anywhere in South Africa.