what does a project manager do?

  • job profiles
  • September 08, 2020

Project managers are the high-octane, hyper-organized, indispensable administrative overseers to a lot of on-the-job action these days, not only in engineering but in a host of other sectors as well. They’re the ones who get everyone aligned ahead of time on key deliverables, coordinate project launches, allocate resources to support progress toward goals — and report on all of that the whole time.

The bottom line is that productivity metrics at most companies would fall off dramatically without these organizational experts on hand to keep everyone in line. Good project managers can make a world of difference, in other words.

Taking a 30,000-foot view, the core responsibilities of today’s top project managers include:

  • coordinating, directing and overseeing a wide range of projects across all stages, from inception to completion
  • participating in core project planning activities
  • leveraging advanced project management skills and software to ensure projects move forward according to schedule and wrap on time and within budget
  • relaying updates and reporting on other key information to relevant project teams and cross-functional stakeholders
  • planning and allocating resources to projects
  • preparing budgets
  • identifying and reporting on key performance indicators (KPIs)
  • monitoring, controlling and tracking projects to ensure continuous alignment around project scope and goals
  • confirming key deliverables ahead of project launch
  • building strategic relationships to ensure projects meet with success

how do you become a project manager?

Interested in becoming a project manager? You’ve come to the right place. If you’re eager to land your next job — and put your expertise to work — in a project management role, we advocate either of the following two approaches for aspiring project managers:

  • browsing for opportunities on job boards
  • signing up with a staffing firm that can proactively identify relevant positions based on your interests and experience — and if you want, these hiring pros will even email new opportunities directly to your inbox the minute they become available

what are the key skills of a project manager?

Success as a project manager depends a lot on the specific needs of the team or organization you’re part of. Some companies are heavily process-oriented, in which case ongoing reporting and alignment are probably going to be equally important as the deliverables that are shared when the project wraps. At other companies, deliverables are the only things that count. That’s one of many reasons why it’s important to carefully parse the job description of each role before you apply, because that’s the only way to know if you’ll truly be a good fit.

Setting all that aside, the following backgrounds are highly prized by employers when evaluating project managers today:

  • a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university
  • certification in project management
  • experience working in agile environments
  • Lean Six Sigma/Kanban experience
  • expertise with reporting tools, productivity metrics and software, platforms and applications relevant to project management
  • expertise with Microsoft Office (and Microsoft Excel specifically)
  • teamwork and the ability to effectively partner with cross-functional stakeholders
  • attentiveness to detail
  • scheduling expertise
  • strong written, verbal and presentation skills
  • time management and organizational skills

Need to build up your credentials a bit? No worries — in fact, the good news is that there are a ton of resources you can access online right now. Just take a look at the top courses currently available in project management on Udemy, our learning partner, for proof. Getting certified as a Project Management Professional (PMP) from the Project Management Institute (PMI) might be another viable route forward in this career path.

how much does a project manager make?

Salaries for these management pros can be bucketed into three tiers — low, middle and high — depending on a number of factors, including your location, market and level of experience. There’s a lot of variation, as you’ll see:

  • low $77,311
  • mid $105,088
  • high $135,189

Want even more detailed information about compensation in your location or market? Check out our free salary comparison tool. It’ll give you at-a-glance data about pay rates across roles and markets. Plus, it’s always getting updated with the latest salary figures — so you can rest assured that you'll always be looking at the most timely and accurate information for project management roles.

key takeaways

We've covered the ins and outs of daily work for your average project manager. At this point, you should have a pretty clear idea of what to expect in the role, what next steps to pursue if you're looking to evolve your current prospects — or even how to get started on this exciting career path!

Simply to recap, so far we've covered:

  • what project managers do
  • the training, experience and core requirements commonly associated with project management roles
  • essential skills for success
  • salary ranges for project managers
  • … and a whole lot more!

There are any number of career paths open to project managers, so you should feel empowered to take action today. And if you’re eager to take the next step, why not start by searching for project manager jobs with Randstad right now?