13 November, 2023

Why Project Management? 13 Great Reasons to Go for a PM 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 professional skill (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).

Let’s start with a video I made recently, that used data from the Association for Project Management Salary and Market Trends Survey, 2023…

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

Yes, there is – in every region. The Project Management Institute (PMI) creates a variety of job, talent, and market reports. The most recent is their 2023 Global Project Management Job Trends Report. This is well worth reading, and what follows is my summary. Where I have interpreted their data and commentary, the interpretations are mine.

Breakdown by Region

  • Hiring of Project Managers across the Asia-Pacific region is increasing – most notably in Australia, Singapore, and Japan.
  • There is massive economic growth in South Asia, especially in IT, EdTech, e-commerce, and healthcare. This, along with high job turnover rates in India, makes this a buoyant market for Project Managers.
  • In China, there are a huge number of massive infrastructure projects – but also a record number of graduates entered the job market in 2023.
  • In Europe, growth is low, with broadly stable needs for professionals. However, there is a real skills gap that offers opportunities. The biggest uncertainty at the time of writing (autumn 2023) is the threat of escalation of the impacts of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
  • Middle East governments are investing massively in infrastructure, yet are short of home-grown talent. If the culture is suitable for your preferences, there are plenty of contracting opportunities here, particularly in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
  • Energy, IT, and construction are all big sectors in sub-Saharan Africa, with e-commerce, agtech, and fintech rising rapidly. The big global players in technology are opening up in this region, so opportunities are buoyant.
  • In Latin America, businesses are struggling to attract and retain talent in the technical, legal, and health sectors. PMI does not indicate a reason for this. It adds that the manufacturing sector is also likely to be an opportunity.
  • Rapid investment in new technology, along with an aging demographic make the future for project professionals very bright in North America. Especially as the (current) US Government has committed to massive infrastructure projects and made net zero a priority.

Summary of Demand for Project Managers

In 2017, the PMI published a 10-year forecast report, ‘Job Growth and the Talent Gap, 2017-2027‘. This had the remarkable forecast that:

‘By 2027, employers will need 87.7 million individuals working in project management-oriented roles.’

Whether the actual number holds up, the sentiment remains a fair one. Employers need – and will continue for the foreseeable future to need – Project Managers. Indeed, according to PMI’s most recent (2021) Talent Gap Report, 2.3 million people will be needed each year to fill all of the project management-oriented positions expected to open by 2030. (Reason 4)

Why Project Management? 13 Great Reasons to Go for a PM Career

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 Project Management 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.

A Project Management Career as a Platform

You may not choose to be a Project Manager for your whole career. I didn’t. But a Project Management career is an exceptional platform for whatever you choose to do next (Reason 5). This may be:

  • Developing deeper project and program delivery skills
  • Moving out of your organization into a contracting, consulting, or interim career
  • Focusing on related disciplines like risk management or stakeholder engagement
  • Stepping up to PMO or project or program director roles 
  • Or stepping further upward into business leadership roles
  • Applying your project skills to other areas like training, coaching, or writing
  • Building a portfolio career based on applying your PM skills in multiple ways (my path)
  • 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 managers, supervisors, and other professional in project management (Reason 6), and
  • Writing books and articles on the subject (Reason 7).

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

  • Team leadership and building effective collaboration (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 expertise, 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 mindset. I fundamentally believe that this makes the dominant contribution to my:

  • Productivity,
  • Personal effectiveness, and therefore
  • Success (Reason 12).

Project Management is not just a business skill, it is not just a professional skill, it is not just a 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 workplaces. 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 formalize 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.

Summary of the 13 Reasons to take up a Project Management Career

Here are the 13 reasons I have listed:

  1. Project management is a well-paid professional skill
  2. …that offers substantial professional and social status
  3. Project Managers create the assets and changes that drive growth and prosperity
  4. So, there is a huge and growing demand for Project Managers
  5. A Project Management career is an exceptional platform for whatever you choose to do next
  6. You can use your skills to train others
  7. And they give you material for writing books and articles
  8. You will learn fundamental and valuable skills like Team Leadership,
  9. Also, communication and influence
  10. You’ll develop high levels of personal effectiveness 
  11. And you’ll learn skills in the management of change
  12. Project Management can make you more productive, effective, and therefore, successful
  13. We need to manage projects in all areas of our lives

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 and fulfilling career.

If you are ready to consider a Project Management career, what next?

We have a huge amount of articles and videos to help you.

Starting a Basic Project Management Career

Advancing Your Project Management Career

Variations on a Theme: Career Variants for Project Managers

Help with Those Pesky Job Interviews

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

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Mike Clayton

About the Author...

Dr Mike Clayton is one of the most successful and in-demand project management trainers in the UK. He is author of 14 best-selling books, including four about project management. He is also a prolific blogger and contributor to ProjectManager.com 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.
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