The Day-to-Day as a IT Project Manager
IT Project Managers are responsible for successfully accomplishing an organizations’ IT goals by planning, organizing, and budgeting resources. IT Project Managers lead teams to complete projects, such as software and application development, hardware installations, network upgrades, cloud computing and virtualization rollouts, or business analytics and data management infrastructure. They work with hardware, network, business, service management, help-desk, and information security teams to organize and complete projects.
IT Project Managers work with: Engineers, Developers, Analysts, Administrators, stakeholders, and other tech professionals. IT Project Managers typically work for software or tech companies, cybersecurity organizations, IT firms, medical companies, consulting firms, financial services corporations, and other organizations that implement IT systems. They usually work a 40-hour week but will work overtime during certain phases of their projects. There are remote and onsite IT Project Manager positions.
Each project brings its own unique challenges and tasks to the table. For the most part, though, the IT Project Manager’s job is quite formulaic. You’ll find IT Project Managers meeting with their team, attending meetings with stakeholders, staying on top of emails and project management tickets, strategizing and planning, hiring new staff, training new employees, researching the best technologies for their project, communicating with employees to make sure the project stays on track, planning and creating timelines for projects, handling delays, and solving problems.
What Skills Should IT Project Managers Have?
IT Project Managers must be organized, resourceful, and able to lead. They should be a strong communicator because they’ll be managing a team and collaborating with upper-level management, as well as hiring and training new staff. A key skill for this role is the ability to translate technical knowledge into language non-IT staff can understand.
A technical understanding of hardware, software, network, infrastructure, security, coding languages, frameworks, libraries, and technologies is expected for this role. The IT Project Manager must be proficient in Microsoft Excel and Project, and many companies also use other project management and data analysis software that a Project Manager will be expected to learn and use. While not every organization or project uses these methods, proficiency in Agile project management style and Scrum is beneficial.
The IT Project Manager should have a deep understanding of every stage of project management, from initiation to closing. They are responsible for: keeping the project on track, the results of the project, the quality of the final product, staying on budget, coordinating resources, testing and auditing throughout the project lifecycle, solving issues, and recommending strategies. Technology changes rapidly, each project brings new challenges, and methodologies can be optimized for efficiency. As such, IT Project Managers should expect to constantly learn on the job. They will also gather, monitor, and analyze data on efficiency, quality, progress, research, and more throughout the project.
Learn the Skills You Need to Become a IT Project Manager
Project management is the practice of leading a team's work through planning and team management to meet a goal and deadline with a completed project.
IT stands for information technology. It is the study and use of computer and telecommunication systems for storing, retrieving, and sending information. IT is primarily used within the context of business operations and usually comprises the maintenance, set up, and protection of computers, hardware, servers, networks, and infrastructure within a business enterprise.
Project Management Certification
The most common project management certifications are awarded by the Project Management Institute (PMI). These professional certifications ensure your ability to meet the demands of projects and employers by creating rigorous standards based on ongoing research. Some certifications include Project Management Professional (PMP), Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM), and the PMI Professional in Business Analysis (PMI-PBA).
Project is a project management software product by Microsoft. It is both a desktop computer program and a cloud-based program. Project is used to track projects, assign resources to tasks, develop a project schedule, manage a project budget, and analyze workloads.
IT Project Manager Salaries
A IT Project Manager in the United States makes, on average, $96,431 annually, according to Indeed.com.
Salaries for IT Project Managers vary by region within the the United States. Listed below are some IT Project Manager salaries for specific areas with the United States compared with the average national salary:
- U.S. Average $96K source n/a
New York City
Los Angeles, CA
Orange County, CA
- U.S. Average $96K source n/a
Typical Qualifications to Become a IT Project Manager
Most employers are seeking an IT Project Manager with a bachelor’s degree in project management or computer science. Some IT Project Managers have even completed their master’s degree in IT project management. It is possible to land an IT Project Manager job without a bachelor’s degree, but the candidate will need to have equivalent work experience.
Certificates are not required for this position, but an aspiring IT Project Manager can look into a Project Management Professional (PMP) or Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) certification from the Project Management Institute (PMI). Depending on the technology they are working with, they should also consider the Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) certification from The Scrum Alliance and the CompTIA Project+ certification from CompTIA. Certificates are a great way for Project Managers who do not have degrees to land a job.
Searching for IT Project Manager Jobs
IT Project Managers typically work for software or tech companies, cybersecurity organizations, IT firms, medical companies, consulting firms, financial services corporations, and other organizations that implement IT systems. They usually work a typical 40-hour week but will work overtime during certain phases of their projects. There are remote and onsite IT Project Manager positions. It is possible to work on a contract basis as an IT Project Manager but it is less common unless this work is through a firm or recruiter.
Tips to Become a IT Project Manager
There are three paths you can take to land a job as an IT Project Manager. If you’re already in the tech industry in any capacity, talk to your supervisor about your intentions to become a Project Manager. They’ll be able to either: help you make a development plan to get you prepared for an internal promotion, or they’ll let you know that you won’t be able to move up within the company. If you can’t move up within the company, you can ask if they’ll still help you create a development plan, or you can create one on your own. As you work on sharpening your skills for the new role, start searching for a project management position at another company. Hopefully, your current employer will be able to give you a good recommendation.
If you’re not in the tech industry already but you have leadership experience, you’re on the right path! However, you’ll still need to upskill and learn specific methods and knowledge that are unique to IT projects. You should also consider getting a project management certification if you don’t already have one. If you’re not in the tech industry and you have zero leadership experience, it’s best to find a way to break into tech and work your way up through the ranks. Getting certificates while you work your way up can be helpful in this process. You can also go for more education through an online program, higher education, or simply upskilling in certain areas.
Anyone, including people who are already in the tech industry, can look for stepping stone positions, like Developer, Engineer, Quality Assurance Engineer, DevOps, Business Analyst, or Scrum Master and work your way into a Project Coordinator, Associate Project Manager, or Business Analyst position before becoming an IT Project Manager. These positions are all great starts to a tech career, but might not be the exact positions you’ll need to gain foundations for an IT Project Management position at every organization. Every company will have its own pathway to this position, so it helps to vocalize your intentions to become an IT Project Manager to your supervisor as early as possible so that they can help you get there.
Once you’ve found a path and made a plan for upskilling, try joining LinkedIn and Facebook groups for IT Project Managers and Project Managers, in general. You’ll find helpful tips, mentors, and even job postings there. IT-specific job boards will also be useful in your search. Lastly, networking is a must. Tell anyone you know in IT, including your current manager, that you’re looking for a position as an IT Project Manager. If you already have some experience in any of the positions listed above, look for positions on smaller projects. There’s a big difference in responsibility between a start-up, an enterprise project, and one module within a larger long-term project.
The last step to landing the job is acing the interview. Prepare yourself for technical interviews with mock-interviews either online or with a friend. You must be ready to: speak the jargon, answer situational questions, understand the technologies you’ll be discussing in the interview, and present yourself as a good leader.
What Job Titles Would a IT Project Manager Hold?
IT Project Managers can focus on specific types of IT projects such as software and application development, hardware installations, network upgrades, cloud computing and virtualization rollouts, or business analytics and data management infrastructure. Some IT Project Manager jobs will note those specializations in the title or the method of project management that the company uses such as Agile or Scrum.
IT Project Managers can look for these job titles:
- IT Project Manager
- Junior Project Manager
- Associate Project Manager
- Agile Project Manager
- IT Project Leader
If you’re interested in working with networks and databases, you can work your way up to an IT Project Manager job through roles like Cybersecurity Engineer, Database Administrator, IT Security Specialist, or another IT role.
If you’re already an IT Project Manager and you’re looking for a change, consider specializing in another form of project management such as construction, software, or product. The most closely related position would be Software Project Manager. However, this role may earn more annually than an IT Project Manager–depending on your employer. The Software Project Manager will need to know methods such as Scrum or Agile, coding languages, and software architecture.
The Product Manager oversees the development of large and complex products, the team that develops the product, as well as the budget and timeline of the product in development. Some Product Managers work with physical products. A position that works with non-technical physical products would not require as much technical experience.
In an unrelated industry, IT Project Managers could try their hand at construction. They’ll need to rise through the ranks, usually within one company, before being qualified to land a position as a Construction Project Manager. Construction Project Managers oversee every stage of the building process and are responsible for keeping construction projects on budget and within the scope of the plan. They are responsible for: hiring and managing subcontractors, planning, budgeting, and remaining compliant with regional laws.
Nearly all of these positions require at least a four-year degree in computer science or information technology, except for Construction Project Manager. Obtaining a Project Manager role in another industry may be difficult, however, demonstrated experience can be enough if you’ve worked your way up through any of these stepping stone jobs. Each of the listed roles here will likely result in an increased annual Salary for an IT Project Manager, except in some cases Construction Project Manager.
Salary Comparison to IT Project Manager
Project managers bear the responsibility of managing projects from launch to closing. They work in a variety of industries, from construction to information technology. With broad oversight on budgeting, planning, risk management and scheduling, project managers provide leadership and guidance throughout the project term. Project managers are in high demand and enjoy competitive salaries and compensation.Learn about becoming a Project Manager
Product managers guide product development from ideation to market. Starting with consumer and market research, they use their understanding of customer wants and needs to inform product development and go-to-market strategy. They will work closely with engineering, marketing, sales, and other teams to launch products. After launch, they solicit and analyze feedback on the product to inform future iterations.Learn about becoming a Product Manager
Software Project Manager
Software project managers lead software development projects from concept to completion. Using their deep expertise in scheduling, budgeting, sequencing, and resource allocation, software project managers are critical in a software project's success. Software project managers must be able to understand and interpret customer and client needs and deliver a completed, functioning product. After development, they will continue to solicit and incorporate user feedback into future iterations.Learn about becoming a Software Project Manager
Construction Project Manager
Construction Project Managers oversee every stage of the building process and are responsible for keeping construction projects on budget and within the scope of the plan. They are responsible for: hiring and managing subcontractors, planning, budgeting, and remaining compliant with regional laws.Learn about becoming a Construction Project Manager