Learn Microsoft Project

A Comprehensive Guide to Start Learning Microsoft Project

Microsoft Project is the world’s most popular project management software. Released in 1984 as part of the Microsoft Office family of products, Microsoft Project still maintains a 66% share of the project management software market.

Master Microsoft Project, the most widely used project management software in the world, to elevate your career prospects in the field. This guide is the perfect starting point providing details on how to learn the software, free resources to use, and the various careers that commonly use Microsoft Project.

Key Insights

  • Microsoft Project is a critical tool for Project Managers, assisting in tasks such as defining expectations, delegating tasks, tracking and managing resources, and creating and tracking budgets.
  • The number of Project Manager jobs is expected to grow by over 33% over the next five years, with project management being a rapidly growing field due to an increasing number of companies recognizing the need for professional help in managing projects.
  • Microsoft Project has full integration with other Microsoft Office programs, making it a powerful tool for managing multiple complex projects.
  • The average salary for a Project Manager is around $116,000 annually, more than double the national average across all occupations.
  • Industries that are expected to add the most project management jobs include Manufacturing and Construction, Information Services, Finance and Insurance, and Management and Professional Services.
  • Learning options for Microsoft Project include live classes (both in person and live online), on-demand classes, and free online resources, providing flexibility for different learning preferences and schedules.

Microsoft Project is the most widely used project management software in the world. Aspiring Project Managers will want advanced mastery of Microsoft Project to be competitive in the job market. If you’ve always wanted to learn Microsoft Project but can’t figure out how to get started, this guide is for you. Here, you’ll learn more about the various ways to learn Microsoft Project, free resources to take advantage of, and the types of careers that commonly use Microsoft Project.

What is Microsoft Project?

Microsoft Project is the project management software in the Microsoft Office suite of programs. Microsoft Project is the world's most widely-used project management software and has been since its release. MS Project currently has around a 66% project management software market share. Proficiency in Microsoft Project is a must-have skill for aspiring Project Managers. 

Project management is a booming field: the number of Project Manager jobs is expected to increase by over 33% over the next five years. The Project Management Institute (PMI) predicts that over 22 million new project management jobs will be created by 2027. Project management is growing rapidly because more companies recognize the need for professional help managing projects. However, there are already more Project Manager positions than employees trained in project management. 

Microsoft Project assists Project Managers in prioritizing tasks, defining expectations, delegating tasks, tracking and managing resources, creating and tracking budgets, and sharing calendars with your team. Project also includes project management methodology tools, such as kanban boards and Gantt charts. Some of Project’s major features include tools for project planning, communication and collaboration, progress tracking and reporting, roadmaps for project tracking, financial management and timesheets, and resource management. 

Project is fully integrated with Microsoft Teams, allowing team members to share files, attend meetings, and chat easily. Its scheduling features are automatic, which can help teams stay on track with less direct supervision from the Project Manager. Project also incorporates the cutting-edge Microsoft Power BI dashboard, allowing project teams to visualize and analyze data in real-time. 

While Microsoft Project may seem easy to learn because of its familiar Microsoft Office interface, you will need to learn its advanced features to use it effectively. Senior Project Managers praise its power to manage multiple complex projects. Developing your ability to manage complex projects is the key to a successful career in project management. 

One of the biggest advantages of Microsoft Project is its full integration with other Microsoft Office programs. Microsoft Office is the most widely-used software suite in the world. If you’re serious about pursuing project management as a career, you’ll want to consider training in the entire suite of programs, including Word, Excel, and PowerPoint

Read more about what Microsoft Project is and why you should learn it. 

What Can You Do with Microsoft Project?

Project management is a hot career path: the Project Management Institute (PMI) predicts that over 22 million new Project Manager jobs will be created by 2027. Even without this 33% increase in job positions, there is already a significant talent gap in project management, with more companies seeking Project Managers than qualified candidates. 

Another perk of a career in project management is a high salary: the average salary for a Project Manager is around $116,000 annually. That is more than double the national average of approximately $50,000 across all occupations. Training in project management could lead to a lucrative career. 

Project Managers need to have many skills, including soft skills such as communication, leadership, and time management. Project Managers will also need to have advanced skills using Microsoft Project, the world’s most widely-used project management software tool, for decades. 

Microsoft Project is the industry-standard for managing complex and multiple projects. Its powerful project management features include interactive dashboards for project monitoring, integrated project timeline, task prioritization and delegation, team dashboard, report generation, resource tracking and management, and the Master Project Plan for managing multiple projects.

Careers that Use Microsoft Project

The history of project management goes back to the “megaprojects” of the post-war era, including NASA’s Apollo moon missions, the development of nuclear weapons in the Manhattan Project, and the building of the U.S. Interstate Highway System. Project management originates in the defense and engineering industries, and Microsoft Project is still widely used in the engineering and defense industries. 

The Project Management Institute (PMI) predicts that over 22 million new Project Manager jobs will be created by 2027: a 33% increase over the next five years. The industries that are expected to add the most project management jobs include Manufacturing and Construction (9.7 million jobs), Information Services (5.5 million jobs), Finance and Insurance (4.6 million jobs), and Management and Professional Services (1.7 million new jobs). Anyone working in these fields would be wise to pursue project management and Microsoft Project training.

Why Learn Microsoft Project?

Learning Microsoft Project is required for aspiring Project Managers. Project has been the world's most popular project management software for decades. Harnessing Project’s advanced features for managing complex or multiple projects is a must-have skill for those pursuing project management as a career. 

When most people think of Microsoft Office, they think of Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Microsoft’s popular suite of productivity applications also includes a project management program, Microsoft Project. One of the reasons that Microsoft Project is so powerful is that it is fully integrated with Office’s more well-known programs. 

To manage projects professionally, you’ll need advanced skills in Microsoft Project. Many Project Managers report that training in Microsoft Project improved their project management skills and ability to manage complex projects. Some of Microsoft Project’s powerful project management tools include creating schedules and plans, task delegation, budget creation and financial management, progress tracking, resource management, and project analysis. 

Read more about why you should learn Microsoft Project.

How to Learn Microsoft Project

If you’re an aspiring Project Manager, you’ll need to learn Microsoft Project. Thanks to the internet, there are multiple options for how you can learn Microsoft Project, including live classes, on-demand classes, and free online resources.

Live classes can happen in person and live online. Because these classes are happening live, you’ll be able to ask questions and interact with your instructor and classmates in real-time. If you’re someone who likes the interaction of a traditional course, you’ll want to choose a live option. Noble Desktop’s Classes Near Me tool will show you in-person and live online Microsoft Project classes

A second option for training in Microsoft Project is on-demand and self-paced courses. These courses are typically more structured than teaching yourself but lack a live course's interaction, camaraderie, and mentoring. Linkedin and Udemy offer on-demand Microsoft Project courses which cover the basics, but you won’t be able to ask questions. 

On-demand and self-paced courses are ideal for visual learners who are self-disciplined enough to complete the course independently. While on-demand courses offer greater flexibility, the lack of accountability can cause some students to finish more slowly or not at all. 

If you want to stick with free resources, Noble Desktop offers free online seminars on various topics, including Microsoft Office. In their free online Excel Tutorials, students are guided through developing more advanced skills in Excel, including data validation, creating and formatting charts, projects, PivotTables, array formulas, functions, and beginner macros. Or, you can browse the entire list of free tutorials Noble Desktop offers on their YouTube page. 

Read the full guide on how to learn Microsoft Project.

Free Introductory Microsoft Project Course Online 

If you’re not quite ready to commit to taking an entire course in Microsoft Project, there are free introductory courses online. Because these courses are free, you’ll be able to see if project management appeals to you without investing the time and money for a complete course. 

Noble Desktop is a business, design, and coding school based in NYC. They offer free online seminars on various topics, including Microsoft Office. Project Managers use Microsoft Excel for budgeting projects, resource management, and creating charts and data visualizations. In Top 10 Beginner Excel Tricks You Need To Know, students learn essential tricks for harnessing more of the power of Microsoft Excel. Some tricks include creating charts, data validation, screenshots, navigation shortcuts, text and chart formatting, and tricks for streamlining your Excel workflow.

Free introductory Microsoft Project courses are typically uploaded to platforms like Udemy and YouTube. These courses can offer a great introduction to familiarizing yourself with the interface and features of Microsoft Project. 

Read about more free Microsoft Project videos and online tutorials.

Level of Difficulty, Prerequisites, & Cost 

Microsoft Project is significantly more difficult to learn than most other Office programs. Those programs also have more room for error: a poorly-formatted Word document still communicates the information even if it doesn’t look professional. However, Microsoft Project is essentially a relational database, meaning you have to get everything right from the beginning. 

Many self-taught Microsoft Project learners struggle, especially with the program’s more advanced features. Project Managers must juggle many different tasks, which is why Microsoft Project uses a combination of tables that work together; these tables typically contain tasks, calendars, and resources. Unless the project’s tables are initiated correctly, you will only produce junk data. 

There are no rigid prerequisites for training in Microsoft Project. Some recommend familiarizing yourself with other Microsoft Office products first. However, you can learn Project even if you still consider yourself a beginner in Office or Excel. 

Unfortunately, there are no free versions of Microsoft Project. And although Project is part of the Office family of products, it is not included in the software suite. You can purchase a stand-alone version of Microsoft Project, allowing only one user to work locally without team collaboration. To use Project’s collaboration features, you’ll need to subscribe to one of Microsoft’s cloud-based Microsoft Project subscription plans.

Microsoft offers cloud-based Project plans, including a basic plan for $10 per user per month. However, this plan has fewer features than Microsoft’s more expensive plans, including more advanced project management tools. For $30 per user per month, users also gain access to features such as resource management, desktop clients, demand management, portfolio selection, and enterprise-level resource management. 

Read about how difficult it is to learn Microsoft Project.

How Does Learning Microsoft Project Compare to Other Applications?

Microsoft Project is an industry-standard program for project management. It has been the most popular project management software program since the 1980s and currently holds over 66% of the market. There are now more project management competitors on the market, including Trello, Basecamp, Asana, and Jira. 

Trello is a lightweight browser-based tool preferred by small teams, startups, and temporary projects. Very little training is required to use Trello’s simple and accessible kanban interface. The free version has adequate features for managing simple projects. Premium accounts include more features for around $10 per month.

Basecamp is a project management software preferred by design and digital marketing agencies. Reviews of Basecamp praise that it is easy to use but cannot manage complex projects. Basecamp has more features than Trello, including team chat, file sharing, and client collaboration tools. A monthly subscription for unlimited users is around $100 a month. 

Asana was originally developed for managing projects at Facebook. It uses an intuitive interface that is easy to use and see project overviews. Reviews criticize the lack of task delegation features. Asana charges $10 per month per user. 

Jira is the biggest direct competitor to Microsoft Project in power and popularity. It is preferred by large companies and organizations, including Spotify, Cisco, eBay, and Airbnb. It is highly customizable and, like Microsoft Project, has a learning curve due to the power of its features. Jira offers integrations with Outlook, Github, and Salesforce. Jira charges around $10 per user per month, with a cheaper rate for larger organizations.

How to Decide the Best Way to Learn Microsoft Project

Several factors can affect the best way to learn Microsoft Project. One important thing to consider is your current schedule. If you have a current career and family obligations, you might need the flexibility of an on-demand course. You should consider a live course in-person or online if you want more personalized training. 

The most important thing is knowing what you want to use the skill for:

Free introductory courses are a great option if you want an overview of Microsoft Project and project management without fully committing. 

To gain a strong understanding of using Microsoft Project to manage projects, you should consider a structured course or bootcamp, such as NYIM’s Microsoft Project Level I. In this hands-on course, students master the basic features and functions of Microsoft Project and essential project management concepts. Students are guided through hands-on training in using Microsoft Project to define projects, track costs, allocate resources, manage tasks, delegate, and create and share a project plan. 

If you are interested in learning Microsoft Project because you want to start a new career as a Project Manager, you will want to take advanced courses in Microsoft Project. NYIM’s Microsoft Project Level II provides comprehensive mastery of using Microsoft Project’s advanced features to manage complex projects. Instructors guide students through using Microsoft Project to manage real-world projects, developing skills in executing a project, monitoring project progress, controlling project plans, generating reports, and customizing Microsoft Project. Graduates earn a Certificate of Completion to share on Linkedin and their Project Manager Resume. 

Suppose you’re serious about pursuing a new career as a Project Manager. In that case, you should also consider additional training in project management theories and concepts, such as the Project Management Bootcamp offered by Noble Desktop.

Learn Microsoft Project with Hands-on Training at Noble Desktop

If you’re an aspiring Project Manager, you’ll need to train in Microsoft Project. NYIM is a business, design, and coding school based in NYC. They offer tech courses and bootcamps both live online or at their state-of-the-art campus in Midtown Manhattan. 

All of NYIM’s courses have guaranteed small class sizes and are taught by instructors who are experts in their industry. NYIM uses a unique hands-on approach in which instructors give a “micro-lecture” and then immediately guide students through applying what they learned using real-world projects. Graduates can take advantage of NYIM’s “free retake” option, which allows them to retake the course for free for up to one year to refresh or further develop skills. 

Live online courses are a great option if you don’t live in the NYC area. Because the class is happening live, it works exactly like an in-person class: you’ll be able to ask questions, interact with your instructor and classmates in real-time, and even receive direct feedback on your work using screen-sharing software. 

NYIM offers many options for learning Microsoft Project and the other programs in the Microsoft Office suite. In their Microsoft Project Level I course, students learn essential project management concepts and the fundamentals of using Microsoft Project to manage projects. Some of the Project skills that graduates will develop include defining projects, creating and organizing tasks, analyzing task relationships, creating a work breakdown structure, creating a resource calendar, resource management, creating baselines, sharing project plans, and finalizing project plans. Graduates earn a Certificate of Completion, which is sharable on Linkedin and your Project Manager Resume. 

NYIM’s Microsoft Project Level II covers more advanced techniques, including managing multiple projects. Instructors guide students through hands-on projects to develop skills using Microsoft Project to execute a project, monitor progress, control a project plan, create progress reports, and use advanced customized features. Graduates earn a Certificate of Completion to share on their Project Manager resume or Linkedin. 

If you want to study project management or pursue project management education hours toward CAPM Certification, you should consider a course like Noble Desktop’s Project Management Bootcamp. A PMP-Certified instructor trains students in project management theories and methodologies to help them launch a new career as Project Managers. Topics covered include the Project Management LifeCycle, project scope, project planning, resource management, risk management, financial management, team management, and becoming a professional Project Manager.

Microsoft Office Bootcamp: Live & Hands-on, In NYC or Online, Learn From Experts, Free Retake, Small Class Sizes,  1-on-1 Bonus Training. Named a Top Bootcamp by Forbes, Fortune, & Time Out. Noble Desktop. Learn More.
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