Many college students dream of occupying a position of leadership in a business or organization. For them, executive offices have long been the goal.

However, in recent years project management has become another valued career for those who want to work in the most influential positions in a company. In some ways, project managers can have more impact than other, more traditional business leaders.

Because they focus on a specific project or goal, project managers have become sought after by businesses that want to improve both the quality and efficiency of their operations.

The demand for qualified project managers has grown to the point that some schools, such as Concordia University Portland, now offer an MBA with a concentration in project management.

What Project Managers Do

Students should understand that the term “project management” applies to jobs across all departments of an organization. For example, project managers can work in information technology, finance and/or research and development.

What remains unchanged is this: project managers oversee specific projects to ensure the work is high quality, timely and cost efficient. The areas project managers cover include:

Planning. Meeting with executives to understand the goal of a project, then leading a team that works to achieve those goals. This includes the end goal of a project, making sure all the proper people get involved and also managing the budget.

Establishing timelines. As part of the planning process, project managers create deadlines for all phases of a project. They will also take the responsibility of making sure workers meet those deadlines.

Managing teams. In addition to planning and setting deadlines, project managers work closely throughout a project with the various people involved. Depending on the project, team members can come from many different areas of an organization. This means project managers must have excellent communication skills and an ability to problem solve.

Closing projects. One of the main problems with projects in a company lies in completing the project in its entirety. Anyone who has worked on a cross-department project can tell you that seeing it through to the end often becomes an issue. Project managers guide a project until the finish.

Salary and Job Outlook for Project Managers

Project manager salaries vary depending on the exact department in which they work, the scope of the projects they manage and the region in which they work.

According to Indeed, the online job site, projects managers in different areas make the following:

  • IT Project Manager ($92,000)
  • Senior Project Manager ($102,000)
  • Construction Project Manager ($74,000)
  • Technical Project Manager ($91,000)

Overall, the salaries for projects managers rank 55% higher than the average job listing.

Geographically, the need for project managers seems uniform across the country and, increasingly, around the world. The Project Management Institute reported in 2015 that demand worldwide for project managers has increased.

The PMI annual survey reported that these countries paid the highest salaries for project managers in 2015: Switzerland ($130,000), Australia ($108,546), United States ($108,200), United Kingdom ($92,221), New Zealand ($90,442) and the Netherlands ($89,482).

A complex, global business environment drives demand for project management skills. Project managers bring the latest tools and knowledge on how best to accomplish a company’s goals, making it more competitive with rivals.

Education Needed

Some schools, like Concordia University Portland, offer an online MBA with a focus on project management. Earning an MBA typically puts you in position for the top jobs in the industry.

For those who want to use their project management skills in specific areas such as technology, some education in those areas also can be beneficial.

For those who want the top designation in the industry, certification from the Project Management Institute qualifies them to receive the PMP (project management professional) credential. Degree programs such as the MBA program at Concordia University Portland prepare you for the PMP exam. This degree gives you both the qualitative and qualitative knowledge and skills need to earn the respected credential.

Project management attracts the sort of people who thrive in sometimes stressful environments. But, is also attracts those with the personality and skills needed to take a strong leadership role in achieving ambitious goals. If this sounds like you, then a career in project management deserves your consideration.