How to Become an IT Project Manager

In 2013, IT project managers earned a median annual salary of $82,340. The median hourly rate was $39.59[vi]

Salary Potential If You Become an IT Project Manager

In 2013, IT project managers earned a median annual salary of $82,340. The median hourly rate was $39.59[vi]

An IT project manager has a mix of passion for technology and business know-how. 

If you become an IT project manager you might  serve as intermediaries between the business side and technology side of a project. IT project managers typically help develop a budget and a plan for IT projects, then work with the IT staff to make sure goals and deadlines are met. So it’s crucial for IT project managers to “speak the language” of both the technical staff and the management staff to make sure everyone understands the project’s scope and goals.

If you have an interest in leadership and management in addition to information technology, take the time to learn more about an IT project manager’s typical duties, potential salary, and recommended qualifications. This position is sometimes also known as IT manager, program manager, technical project lead, and other titles. 

IT Project Manager Job Description

IT project managers may work on diverse tasks and initiatives, but in general, their job is to plan and manage information technology projects. It’s the IT project manager’s job to understand the technical requirements of a project (how the project will be accomplished) in addition to the business requirements (goals, time frame, deadline, and budget). Typical duties include:

  • Developing and fulfilling project requirements, like objectives, technologies, systems, information specifications, time frame, budget, and personnel
  • Managing IT staff members and contractors, including computer systems analysts, software developers, computer support specialists, and others; allocating and overseeing tasks and responsibilities
  • Screening vendors and negotiating to get the highest level of service for the best price
  • Developing work breakdown structures (WBS), tracking project milestones, and submitting deliverables
  • Performing quality control and testing, identifying problems, and working with staff to implement solutions
  • Staying informed about new technology and identifying potential projects, upgrades, and solutions; communicating ideas to upper management
  • Making sure best practices for security and data protection are followed by all project team members

IT Project Manager Qualities and Skill Sets

IT project management calls for qualities and skill sets spanning two areas: information technology and management/leadership. Below are some useful traits and knowledge areas that could be helpful in this career.

  • Understanding tools and software like media drives, pattern design software, development environment software such as COBOL and SmartBear Software Automated Build Studio; project management software such as Zoho, Basecamp, and Microsoft Project, and other software or applications
  • Knowledge of human resources  – recruiting and hiring, personnel training, compensation and benefits, and building a project team
  • Business management skills, including planning, modeling, allocating resources, monitoring spending, and practicing leadership techniques
  • Good communication – IT managers need to effectively communicate tasks and goals to team members, in addition to communicating progress through written reports and oral presentations.
  • Monitoring and assessment skills – monitoring the team’s progress and assessing their performance and results are typically an important part of an IT project manager’s role.
  • A passion for technology – learning as much as you can about your field and embracing new innovations may be inspirational to a team!

Information System Management Degrees & Certifications

What Education do I  need to become an IT Project manager?[i]

The BLS has indicated that an IT Project Manager is similar to Computer and Information Systems Manager.[ii] Typically, employers expect Computer and Information Systems Managers to hold a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information science, or a related field. You may take courses in computer programming, software development, mathematics, and other key areas. Another option might be to pursue Information Technology Management Degree (MIS), which might include business courses as well as computer science courses.

Typical entry level degree for an IT project manager is a bacholor's degree, such as a Information Systems Management DegreeSome employers may also expect you to hold a graduate degree, such as a master of business administration (MBA). IT Project Managers may even pursue an MBA while working, possibly as a step towards new career opportunities.

Training and Career Enhancement[i]

In many cases, IT project managers must have a few years of experience in the IT field before pursuing managerial opportunities. For higher-level positions such as IT Director, 5 to 10 years of experience may be required. The position of Chief Technology Officer (CTO) or Chief Information Office (CIO) may have even more rigorous requirements when it comes to work experience and proven skills. There’s no sure path to these higher level positions, but hard work and the pursuit of knowledge in your field should be any IT project manager’s first step.

Certifications may also be a required or recommended step for pursuing employment or new opportunities. Certifications that could be helpful in an IT project management career include:

  • Project Management Professional (PMP) – this certification recognizes experienced project managers who have completed a certain number of hours in their field and pass an exam.[iii]
  • Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) –this certification is for less experienced project managers who wish to demonstrate their commitment to the field.[iv]
  • Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) – this certification may allow you to demonstrate your skills in a specific area of Microsoft technology, like Windows operating system, Microsoft Exchange Server, Microsoft SQL Server, and more.[v]

IT Project Manager Salary Potential and Job Growth[vi]

So what is the earning potential and projected job growth of a IT project manager? Stats vary by employer, location, and other factors, but here are a few figures to give you a better idea of potential salary and opportunities in IT project management.

  • In 2013, IT project managers earned a median annual salary of $82,340. The median hourly rate was $39.59.
  • Between 2012 and 2022, job growth is projected to be 3% to 7%.
  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistic, job growth for computer and information systems managers is anticipated to be higher in the field of health care, as information technology becomes more widely implemented.[vii]

Sources:  onetonline.org/link/summary/15-1199.09  |  bls.gov/ooh/management/computer-and-information-systems-managers.htm

[i]bls.gov/ooh/management/computer-and-information-systems-managers.htm#tab-4 | [ii]bls.gov/ooh/management/computer-and-information-systems-managers.htm#tab-2 | [iii]pmi.org/Certification/Project-Management-Professional-PMP.aspx|[iv]pmi.org/Certification/Certified-Associate-in-Project-Management-CAPM.aspx|[v] microsoft.com/learning/en-us/mcts-certification.aspx|[vi]onetonline.org/link/summary/15-1199.09 | [vii] bls.gov/ooh/management/computer-and-information-systems-managers.htm#tab-6

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