How Long Does it Take to Learn Microsoft Project?

Aspiring Project Managers looking to learn Microsoft Project can anticipate a learning curve influenced by several factors like prior experience, understanding of project management principles, and familiarity with other Microsoft Office products. A career in project management is an increasingly popular choice, with the Project Management Institute predicting a 33% increase in jobs over the next five years, offering an average salary of $116,000.

Key Insights

  • Microsoft Project is the most widely-used project management software in the world, making it a vital tool for any aspiring Project Manager.
  • The Project Management Institute predicts a 33% increase in Project Manager job roles over the next five years, making it a promising career path.
  • Microsoft Project assists Project Managers in task prioritization, delegation, resource tracking and management, budget creation and tracking, and team calendar sharing, among other features.
  • Mastering Microsoft Project's advanced features is crucial for managing complex projects, a key skill for successful Project Management.
  • Microsoft Project is fully integrated with other Microsoft Office programs, emphasizing the importance of proficiency in the entire suite for those pursuing project management as a career.
  • The average salary for a Project Manager is $116,000 annually, more than double the national average across all occupations.

Like many aspiringProject Managers, you might want to learn Microsoft Project but worry that it will take too much time. Microsoft Project comes with a learning curve, but that doesn’t mean you can’t master it. Of course, how long it takes you to learn Microsoft Project will depend on several factors. Keep reading about how you can learn Microsoft Project and some resources to help speed up the process.

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. 

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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.

Average Time it Takes to Learn Microsoft Project

There is no set amount of time to learn Microsoft Project. It will vary based on the individual and other factors affecting learning. Some factors include prior experience, familiarity with project management principles, familiarity with other products from the Microsoft Office family, and your chosen learning method. 

Some Microsoft Project experts report that many users have misused Project for years because they never learned how to use it properly. Using Microsoft Project correctly to manage complex projects can take time and training. 

Other Factors

There is no set schedule or timeline for learning Microsoft Office. It will vary based on each person’s experience, learning style, reason for learning, and motivation. 

Some factors can affect the amount of time it takes to learn Microsoft Project, including which learning method you choose, familiarity with other products in the Microsoft Office family, your understanding of project management principles, and the complexity of the projects you’re completing. 

Factor #1 Which Learning Method You Choose

The learning method you choose will most likely be the biggest factor affecting the length of time it takes you to learn Microsoft Project. For example, someone who takes structured courses will probably learn faster than someone who watches tutorials and learns independently. 

The most significant factor that affects how much time it takes to learn Microsoft Project is how you choose to learn it. For example, taking a structured course will probably take less time than watching video tutorials on your own. 

A structured course in Microsoft Project streamlines the learning process and eliminates any unnecessary roadblocks or confusion. For example, you might spend hours attempting to master Project using free resources. At the same time, NYIM’s two levels of Microsoft Project training provide around 12 hours of comprehensive hands-on instruction using real-world projects. 

Factor #2 Your Familiarity with Project Management

Aspiring Project Managers are expected to become proficient in Microsoft Project and Microsoft Office, but they must also learn about project management methodologies, practices, terminology, and concepts. The Project Management Institute (PMI) has defined these as the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK). Knowledge of PMBOK is required for all aspiring Project Managers. 

Knowing PMBOK is also helpful when learning Microsoft Project. Projects created in Microsoft Project are organized around PMBOK’s ProjectLifeCycle, which tracks the lifespan of a project through five stages, including initiation, planning, executing, monitoring, and completing. Familiarity with managing products through these stages is helpful when creating trackable projects in Microsoft Project. 

Factor #3 Your Familiarity with Microsoft Office

In addition to Microsoft Project and PMBOK, aspiring Project Managers must demonstrate a solid understanding of Microsoft Office. Proficiency in Microsoft Office is a more requested skill for entry-level Project Managers than a college degree. 

While most people are familiar with Office products, such as Word and Excel, professional Project Managers will need training beyond the fundamentals. Project Managers may also be required to use Word for communication and reports, Excel for budgeting and analysis, and PowerPoint for stakeholder presentations. An advanced-level understanding of these programs is an excellent skill for any aspiring Project Manager. 

NYIM offers comprehensive live online courses in Microsoft Office and its programs. All of their courses come with a Certificate of Completion, which is shareable on Linkedin and can help you get hired. Familiarizing yourself with other programs in the Microsoft Office family should help your ease with Microsoft Project’s interface, which looks like the rest of the programs in Office. 

Factor #4 The Complexity of Your Projects

One of the most significant variables in learning Microsoft Project is the complexity of the projects that you’ll be managing. More complex projects will increase the time it takes to master Microsoft Project. 

Don’t let this intimidate you, though: Microsoft Project’s greatest strength is its ability to manage multiple complex projects. While it may take you a little bit longer to learn Project than other project management software programs, its power is one of the reasons it's been the most popular project management program on the market for decades. Suppose you’re already managing complex projects or plan to use Microsoft Project as a professional Project Manager. You’ll need the power of Project and the training to harness that power effectively. 

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.

Watch a Free Microsoft Project Online Course

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.

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.

Key Insights

  • There is no set amount of time to learn Microsoft Project. Many long-term users misuse the program because they never received proper training. 
  • Some factors that can affect how long it takes you to train in Microsoft Project include your chosen learning method, your familiarity with project management and Microsoft Office, and the complexity of your projects.
  • You can receive comprehensive Microsoft Project training through an in-person or live online course with NYIM.

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