How to Become an IT Project Manager
If you’re a technical expert and find yourself increasingly interested in seeing projects through from start to finish, the role of IT project manager might be just the job for you. But even with years of IT knowledge and experience under your belt, you may wonder what it takes to manage IT projects. First, let’s look at what IT project managers do.
What are the responsibilities of an IT project manager?
IT project managers are responsible for initiating, planning, budgeting, scheduling, executing, and troubleshooting their organizations’ IT initiatives.
Typical projects may include:
- Developing software and apps
- Installing hardware or network upgrades
- Rolling out cloud computing solutions
- Implementing data management and analytics solutions
IT project managers will work with various teams within the organization to accomplish these goals, so in addition to technical expertise, they need excellent communication, leadership, and negotiation skills. According to the American Management Association (AMA), these project managers must be detail-oriented, organized, and pragmatic. They must also be “upbeat and optimistic,” AMA says. “They need to be liked and trusted by sponsors and upper management to be successful. They communicate progress honestly, even when a project runs into trouble. Effective leaders meet challenges with an assumption that there is a solution.”
How can I become an IT project manager?
Typically, an IT project manager will hold a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information technology, or IT project management. Study.com mentions that the coursework for such programs typically covers the following:
- Data management and related systems
- IT security
- Programming fundamentals
- Principles of project management
If an IT project manager doesn’t have a bachelor’s degree in the field, they’ll have equivalent work experience. A great way to get some initial exposure in the area is by completing an internship.
Many IT project managers have a graduate degree or certificate in IT project management, specifically. According to Learn.org, these graduate-level programs “present effective project management as a synthesis of business management, human resource management, and IT skills. Classes might address such topics as risk assessment, cost and time estimating, quality testing, team building, and negotiation.” CIO.com notes that some of the best certificates for aspiring IT project managers include:
- Project Management Professional (PMP) and Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) from the Project Management Institute
- Certified ScrumMaster (CSM), administered by The Scrum Alliance
- CompTIA Project+, offered by CompTIA
- PRINCE2 Foundation and PRINCE2 Practitioner, offered by Axelos