Please Share

13 Reasons to Take up a Project Management Career

Why take up a Project Management Career

Why should you choose a Project Management career? This seems a foolish question to ask. Especially as my audience is probably made up of project managers and aspiring project managers.

Project management is a well-paid professionalism (Reason 1). It offers substantial status (Reason 2). And for many people, its main attraction is the pleasure of knowing that, by delivering projects effectively and efficiently, we create the assets and changes that drive growth and prosperity (Reason 3).


But is there a Demand that Makes a Project Management Career Attractive?

Some recent Project Management statistics underline that Project Management is a great career choice. The Association for Project Management reported in their quarterly journal, Project’* (Spring 2016), that:

15.7 million new project management roles will be created world-wide, between 2010 and 2020 (Reason 4).

There is no reason to think that this rate of production – 1.5 million jobs a year – will slow.

Indeed, I suspect it will grow. I have been looking recently at Jerry Ihejirika’s blog, in which he talks about the importance of promoting Project Management in Africa. He says:

‘There’s still a low-level of awareness of the project management education and profession in Africa. The governments and many organisations in Africa are yet to understand the value of project management.’

I agree with Jerry: this needs to change, and it will change. The potential of Africa and Africans seems to me to remain largely untapped. This will create many more project management jobs, and hopefully as strong a project management community as elsewhere.

And then there is the pressure from the industry…

Organizations that invest in project management waste 13 times less money because their strategic initiatives are completed more successfully.

So says MarkLangley, the President of the Project management Institute. But this is not just a sales pitch for our profession. Mark is commenting on hard data that the PMI presents in its 2016 Pulse of the Profession Report, which we have summarized.

So that’s it then…

Job done: end of article.

Or is it?

I still think of myself as a project manager. However, the truth is that I have not managed a ‘proper’ project for years. So what use is it to me? I have been wondering.

The mental block that I had for a long time was that it all seemed too obvious. My Project Management skills are self-evidently essential. But then, surely, that is the point.

Why take up a Project Management Career

A Project Management Career as a Platform

A Project Management career is an exceptional platform for whatever you choose to do next (Reason 5). This may be:

  • developing deeper project and programme delivery skills,
  • focusing on related disciplines like risk management or stakeholder engagement, or
  • moving away, into other areas of business, public service, or voluntary work.

When I think of all of my experiences as an active project manager, I can see that it was a phenomenal platform for learning almost everything I apply daily in my work.

Building a Business

Consequently, I built my whole business on the foundation of skills I gained as a project manager.  This is because the skills of Project Management are eminently transferable to other professional and social contexts.  I have used my experiences as a foundation for

  • training people in project management (reason 6), and
  • writing books on the subject (Reason 7).

But also, my experiences in project management gave me my understanding of:

  • team leadership (Reason 8), communication and influence (Reason 9),
  • personal effectiveness (reason 10), and
  • the management of change (Reason 11).

So, clearly, a Project Management career will give you the chance to learn, practice, and hone to a huge breadth of workplace skills.

How we Do Things

Project Management hasn’t just given me skills: it has influenced my attitudes to everything. I approach pretty much anything I do with a project management mind-set. I fundamentally believe that this makes the dominant contribution to my:

  • productivity,
  • effectiveness, and therefore
  • success (Reason 12).

Project Management is not a business skill, it is not a professional skill, it is not workplace skill. Project Management is a life skill. I have been busy observing the ever-increasing number of managers, supervisors, and staff members who manage projects in their workplace. While doing this, I was neglecting the reality that we need to manage projects in all areas of our lives (Reason 13). So, perhaps there is a huge potential market for OnlinePMCourses among people who have no desire to be workplace Project Managers, let alone to have a Project Management career. Maybe you’ll want to ask yourself the question: ‘will I make a good Project Manager?’ Happily, we have an article that addresses exactly this question, called: ‘Will You Make a Good Project Manager?’ Why not check it out?

Openness to Project Management

I have always found that the participants on my courses are very open to project management methods. They are also familiar with its core ideas. This is even when they have no prior training and don’t know the jargon. These people seem to  prove the point. We learn to manage projects at a young age, because our lives are full of projects. What we need to do is to formalise some of that learning, so we can continue to get better at it. In which case, maybe you’ll like ‘Ten Revealing Questions to Ask to find the Right Project Management Course‘.

So, Are you Ready?

So, there you have it. I have offered you thirteen reasons to pursue a Project Management career. For me, the case has been compelling for many years. I enjoyed being a Project manager. And I enjoy training Project Managers. And I enjoy writing and speaking about Project Management. It is a rich an fulfilling career.

If you are ready to consider a Project Management career, what next?
The next two articles to read are these:

Or maybe it’s time to look at our core Project Management courses.

* I have to declare an interest. I have had a regular column in Project since Spring 2015.

About the Author Mike Clayton

Dr Mike Clayton is one of the most successful and in-demand project management trainers in the UK. He is author of 13 best-selling books, including four about project management. He is also a prolific blogger and contributor to and Project, the journal of the Association for Project Management. Between 1990 and 2002, Mike was a successful project manager, leading large project teams and delivering complex projects. In 2016, Mike launched OnlinePMCourses.

follow me on:
  • I received a pingback on my blog, followed through and found myself here. Great article. Truly, Africa is still largely untapped when it comes to creating project management jobs. The more awareness we create about the profession in Africa, the more companies would want to adopt formal project management practices and the more project management jobs that would be created.

    • Mike Clayton says:

      Jerry. I wholly agree. Indeed, I think there are two issues for Africans to promote.

      One is the value of project management as a discipline that will allow African businesses, voluntary sector organizations, and Governmental bodies to create the wealth, social infrastructure, and assets the countries and communities need. It seems to me there is a ‘chicken and egg’ problem: the organizations need to express a demand, and Africans need to learn the skills. (And let’s not forget that this will need local educational infrastructure.

      The second issue recognises that project managers have been leading the construction of large infrastructure assets in Africa for a long time. They have been Greek and Roman, British and French, Italian and Belgian, Chinese and Indian. It’s time more of the biggest projects in Africa were led by Africans.

  • >