By Sarah Stevenson
You: Someone with an organizational knack and leadership potential.
Project Management: The field that challenges you to use those skills in the workplace.
Project managers are responsible for overseeing a task from beginning to end, coordinating the various groups involved so that they deliver the desired results on time and under budget. It's a career that's in high demand in a wide range of industries, from construction to IT. An online project management degree can get you headed in the right direction, but with all the education options available, where do you start?
Before You Choose a Program
Many project managers attend college before tackling the job market, but if you've already got some project management experience, there's an alternate route you can take. The Project Management Institute offers certifications that require only a high school diploma as the minimum education—good news if you're not sure you're ready for a full project management degree program. Certifications like these can increase your marketability and earning potential. However, you'll be poised for even better opportunities if you also hold a college degree.
Let's say you've decided that an online project management degree is the way to go. There are a number of options available at the 4-year level, including bachelor of arts (BA), bachelor of science (BS) and bachelor of business administration (BBA) degrees specific to project management. Usually, a project-management-specific degree targets more specialized subject matter, while a business degree with a concentration in project management will also include a range of general business curriculum such as management or accounting courses. Here's some of the typical undergraduate coursework you'll take in an online project management degree:
- Business Ethics
- Introduction to Project Management
- Procurement Management
- Human Resource/Team Management
- Change Management
- Quality Assurance
Advanced Online Project Management Degrees
Once you've achieved a 4-year degree in project management, you can seek out entry-level jobs, or you can continue your education into graduate school and get an online master's degree in project management. Master's degree options vary in terms of length of time and level of specialization:
- Master of Science in Management (MSM) with a concentration in Project Management
- Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a concentration in Project Management
- Master of Science (MS) with a Project Management concentration
- Master of Science in Project Management (MSPM)
MSM and MBA degrees include formal business coursework and management training, while the MSPM focuses on curriculum specific to project management. Even PhDs are available with a project management focus, if you decide that advanced research or an academic career is for you.
Now that you've achieved your advanced online project management degree, it's time to consider certification. The Project Management Institute delineates five certification specialties, and those who already hold a degree will need to complete fewer hours of in-the-field experience in order to achieve certification. In fact, it may be possible to receive college credit for some of your certification training—check with your school to find out. The types of certification offered by the PMI, in order of amount of training and experience needed, are:
- Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)
- PMI Scheduling Professional (PMI-SP)
- PMI Risk Management Professional (PMI-RMP)
- Project Management Professional (PMP)
- Program Management Professional (PgMP)
By the time you've earned an online master's degree in project management and a top-level certification like Program Management Professional, you'll be qualified not only to manage a complicated project, but also to oversee a whole series of projects and align them with the overall business strategy of your workplace. All you need to do now is get started!
Source: Project Management Institute