IT project management is in demand, fueled by organizations struggling to keep their technology infrastructures current in order to compete in an expanding global marketplace. Generally IT project managers are responsible for managing large projects involving things such as software development, network issues, product and/or software installations, and Internet/web development and interface. The most unique characteristic of this career, and the aspect that draws many people to it, is its need to blend business and technology within a framework that meets budget, time frame, staff and materials while producing quality deliverables.
Simply put, if you select IT project management as your career choice, you will be busy. The responsibilities can be daunting, bridging almost every area of an organization. You will be challenged with handling both business and technology issues, separately as well as where they overlap.
Here are some of the specific responsibilities of an IT project manager:
- Understand the organization’s business needs: costs and budget, personnel requirements, and internal workings
- Keep up with the available technology products and trends in the industry
- Develop structured processes to achieve the goals or end-products of the project
- Prepare project plans and schedules using project management software
- Manage teams of people that are often geographically scattered and may not work directly for you
- Manage cross-functional teams
- Ensure communication among team members by conducting virtual or face-to-face meetings
- Establish technology tools for collecting information and reporting on status
- Prepare and deliver presentations for upper management
- Perform other duties as necessary
Most often, an IT project manager is a proven entity selected from the existing ranks of the organization. In addition, an IT project management candidate can come from either a technology or business background, depending on the individual’s skills and performance. But on top of their organizational experience, project managers usually have a four-year college degree, most often technology related. Some possibilities include:
- Bachelor of science in computer networking
- Bachelor of science in computer engineering
- Bachelor of science in computer science
- Bachelor of science in information technology
- Bachelor of science in software engineering
Also, a masters degree in business administration in conjunction with a technology-based undergraduate degree is an even stronger preparation for this career.
Additionally, project management certification is also a very strong credential. You can get certification through the Project Management Institute (www.pmi.org).
Areas of Specialization
When talking about specializing, there are two considerations. First is what kind of business or industry you want to work in, and second is what sort of projects you prefer to manage.
Business or industry:
- Education and training
- Financial services
- Information technology
- Risk management
Types of projects:
- Software development
- Infrastructure design and implementation
- Computer-based training programs
- New product development
- E-commerce and website development
IT project managers often make this their career goal, moving onto to bigger and more responsible projects as they prove themselves. However, there are some additional options which include:
- Manager or Director of Project Managers
- Chief Information Officer
- Technical Sales Representative
- Business Manager
The complexity of skills and job requirements for IT project managers is reflected in the median pay rates for the job. An IT project manager averages $81,707 per year and a software development project manager averages $82,564 per year (http://www.payscale.com).
You can find more information about a career in IT project management by contacting any of the following professional organizations:
- American Management Association
- Project Management Association
- Association of Information Technology Professionals
- International Association of Career Management Professionals