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How to Build a Career in Project Management If You Are an IT Professional?

In today’s competitive business environment where there is always more work to do than there is time or resources, project management has been the very crucial and important part of the Business Management. To achieve this, Project Managers at different levels i.e. Project, Program, Portfolio are required.


Project Management and roles associated with it are the fastest-growing area of expertise for organizations to have and hire for. In this environment it’s very important for a professional, aspiring for a career in Project Management to take appropriate steps towards this. In this article we shall touch upon how one can shape/build career in Project Management.


There is not right or wrong approach here, rather there ae different prospective. One of the prospective towards Project Management career in IT industry is as below:


 approach for project management

Evaluate your Experience Level

There is no rocket science here or no magic number. It has to be evaluated by individual. However it has been recommended that growing in management field is not possible or fruitful if it’s done very early. First 2 years it takes to settle down in the job, industry environment. Individual start learning about how seniors are managing the work. This self-learning along with self-study through online sources and free webinars has to continue for 3rd and 4th year. This will make your experience level 4 years with basics of knowledge in the area of management.

The knowledge one gain as beginner is very precious. Doing hands on work and facing challenges in work execution actually refine the work as well make one learn lessons which will be there life long. This foundation is necessary and very important to be built.

Take initiative to learn/lead

One might have already started initial phase of learning. With this foundation, now it’s time to take initiative and show your manager that you can take responsibility of a job and co-ordinate with one or two of your fellow workers to deliver the job. This initiatives will make you learn many management basics naturally. Also in future once you will move to an actual lead role this will help you in doing the job better. This phase is not defined in terms of months/years. For some 6 months are enough for others it may take little longer to a year or two.

It also depends on how much interest you show to you manager towards your future aspiration of lead roles.

Move towards Team Lead

This stage comes when you get team lead kind of role as a fruit of your initiatives. You might have some basics clear now it’s time to implement your knowledge and skills and learn on the job. As a team lead, you will be assigned a project and a team with some targets. Managing project as per schedule and team is what as team lead you will experience. This experience is first step towards Project Manager’s journey as this is the time when officially you start working as leader and apply management thought process.

In parallel to work experience, at this stage little detail knowledge on theoretical concepts of Project Management is also recommended.

Grow as lead/Project Lead

This is one further step from team lead. Generally team lead is for 2-3 persons team and Project lead is managing little bigger project with 4-5 members in the team. Project lead will be sole responsible for one distinct project. At this stage you will learn many management skills like scoping, scheduling, stakeholders management, Human resource management, risk management etc.. this will be first handshake to all these areas of management which was very limited as team lead.

In few organizations Project Lead is sometimes considered equivalent to Project Manager however for the scope of this article we shall take this as pre PM role.

Below two steps can be done in any order i.e. get certification can happen before moving towards Project Manager Role or after. It all depends on the readiness of certification exam preparation and eligibility criteria

Move towards Project Manager

This role comes once senior management feels confident about your experience and capability If you are aspiring for promotion to manager in your current organization then you can do certification after going into the role. Reason is very simple that your promotion to Project Manager role will not be based on certification alone but confident of senior management who have seen your work and confident about you. However if you are trying for this role outside, Project Management certification is recommended before.

This role brings with it accountability of project on your shoulders. You as Project Manager will be the integrator and has to match all the threads to make sure project is executed with in boundaries of constraints applied to it. As a new manager, your learnings from fellows, seniors and peer managers will help you big time to handle peculiar situations. This experience of handling such situation with client/team/management etc.. will make you good at communication, stakeholders management and also will make you good negotiator.

Get certification

Project Management certification is very important for a Project Manager. Even if you are working as a Project Manager, certification will add value for your future in terms of knowledge as well as growth. As a Project Manager if you ask one best certification, it will be PMP. If for any reason you can’t go for PMP, second option is PRINCE2.

Certifications will give you visibility in your own organization as well as outside your organization because the worth of individual’s knowledge and capabilities is already evaluated by certifying authority. Most of the organizations have prerequisite of PMP/PRINCE2 certification for Project Manager positions. I have seen individuals not having certification will be taken back bench at multiple places. So never let that happen, target for certification and get it. Au will realise, the effort you will put will be worth it

Grow as Manager

Project Manager has a very long path to go for. Once you gain experience as Project Manager and complete your certifications, doors of further growth will open. Project Manager II, Senior Project Manager, Program Manager, Portfolio Manager, Delivery Manager and list will go on. Growth will be slow but definitely there but during this journey of building your managerial career, you need to keep working on self-grooming for market trends. Challenges will increase with growth and more you are ready for it, better it will be for you to perform.


Building career in Project Management is a step wise effort where you need to keep your focus on and move ahead. Many a times situation and challenges will make you feel to give it up but that’s the time when you need to get up and roll your sleeves with double the enthusiasm and work towards your goal. Right rigor in right direction will take you towards a successful career in Project Management.

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