How to Become a Project Manager in Alabama

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What is Project Management?

Project managers take control of large projects being completed by their companies. They are responsible for using the right processes and tools to get the project to completion as planned, without going over budget.

In the construction managers grouping, land development project managers supervise projects that include acquiring property and beginning construction of planned buildings (industrial, residential, or commercial). They work with local government officials as well. A construction project manager oversees construction projects from the time they start all the way through to their completion. Part of this managers role is to make sure projects are completed on time and without going over the budget.

An engineering project manager handles the creative tasks, producing new materials or devices, installing new systems, or improving existing devices. This manager uses engineering, prototyping, detailed design, conceptual analysis, technical documentation, and other processes.

An IT project manager is responsible for completing complex IT projects, either in a department or unit. They will use a variety of disciplines while working with a team to complete these projects. They may also manage several projects at the same time.

Ranking colleges, universities, and their degree programs begins with huge list of institutions and their respective degree programs. It means, not only at the degree programs, but accreditation standards at each school, retention rates, graduation rates, costs, and student reviews among other things. Once this is done, schools and degree programs that don’t meet required metrics are eliminated.

Schools and project management degree programs range from the associate level, bachelor’s level, and the graduate level. No matter your level of interest in the field, one of these degree programs will give you the boost to get your career started.

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Project Management Education in Alabama

Associate Degree in Project Management (AS)

At this level, a project management associates gives you an understanding of business analysis, principles of finance, customer services, human resource management, and an introduction to functional and business management.

Is a degree that you can complete in 18 to 24 months really worth your effort? While you may not manage a full project while in school, this degree will help you learn about business management. Better yet, it may help you find an entry-level position in the field. However, you’ll need to put a few years in at one of these positions before you’ll begin to progress up the management chain. The biggest thing to remember when you enter a management degree program in community college is that you need to make sure you find the field for which you have the most passion.

You could work as a relationship banker, administrative assistant, customer service associate, assistant store manager, store manager, sales support specialist, executive assistant, retail sales associate, sales supervisor, or sales consultant.

Bachelor's Degree in Project Management (BS)

At the project management bachelor’s level, you’ll still find yourself working in an entry-level position, but it will also be easier to move your way up into a full management position.

If you work in a construction company, your project management role may involve working with procurement of needed supplies or, if you are on an IT project management team, you may be a project management administrator. If you want to gain experience in project management, you may decide to join a project management office (PMO), where you’ll focus on tools, processes, and procedures.

After you’ve gained some experience in an entry-level position, you may move up into a mid-level project management position. Here, you’ll oversee project teams and run projects along with other managers. With the experience you’ve gained, you may work within an organization or you may work for a consulting firm. The job titles you’ll have access to could include construction project manager, IT project manager, or engineering project manager.

Master's Degree in Project Management (MS or MC)

Once you complete a degree at the master’s level (MBA with a concentration in project management), you’ll be ready to take on and manage a full, multi-level project. You’ll have the knowledge and understanding you need from the business side and you’ll also know how time management, strategic planning, and organization apply to the successful completion of your projects.

Your role will be to manage all aspects of your assigned projects - from the planning through to completion – but instead of working with individuals or contractors, you are likely at this level to be overseeing a group of lower-level project managers, staff and vendor managers, and the budgetary office. You’ll ensure that all of them complete the project in compliance with the guidelines established by your client or company

You’ll ensure that budgeting, planning, motivating employees, problem solving, and more are done well, within time frame, and within budget. This gives you a huge responsibility, as you may have solitary veto power or the ability to change the project in order to maintain the timeline or budget that has been set out by the companies board of directors or CEO. You should have top-notch communication skills because you’ll be working with many different types of people. You need to know what you expect of each team member and why you expect it. This is a fast-paced field that throws challenges your way.

PhD Degree in Project Management (PhD)

Earning your doctorate of Business Administration-Project Management means you’ll be able to take your current knowledge and expand on it. Once you’ve graduated, you could find yourself working at the highest levels of business, taking on challenging project management assignments. However, in reality, many in these types of careers only earn a doctorate if they choose to go into academia. After all, someone needs to be prepared to teach the next generation of project managers and business elites.

Become a Project Manager Professional in Alabama

Have you learned the skills you need, both in school and on the job? Maintaining a budget, satisfying customers, and delivering a high-quality project can all be difficult things to achieve.

This is especially true when you work in or for a government agency. A good example is NASA, which is a spacecraft and propulsion research center located in Huntsville, Alabama. They employ a scientific approach when they are working to meet strategy objectives. Working in a for-profit organization, or completing a project for one, means you’ll be given a project of temporary duration. Either way, you can expect to follow a particular process: initiation, planning, execution, monitoring and controlling, and closing.

You need to plan for your project’s success; define what will be in or out of scope and objectives; plan for inevitable changes—stakeholders or clients will change their minds, so you should have that in mind as you are planning deliverables for the project or the scope of the job will change; communicate regularly as you track progress and report it; and always be transparent about risk. Your specific responsibilities may vary based on the industry you are in and what type of project you are working on.

Alabama employs over 3,600 construction managers, 2,300 engineering managers, 3,300 industrial production managers, nearly 1,000 purchasing managers, and maintains over 80,000 management positions on average. If you’re looking to get into the local business scene as a project management professional, your best bet is to earn a degree from a local, recognizable school and work your way up through the business world. No matter what degree you start with, you can make it all the way to the top if you have the drive to keep going.

If the project is large in scope, you’ll have to keep track of several moving parts. Here, you’ll rely heavily on project management software so you can update tasks, track and delegate them.

If you are working for a non-profit, your challenges may be different. This involves budgets, human resources and project stakeholders. In this environment, expect to recruit volunteers who have the skills you need to carry out project tasks. Non-profits employ small groups of employees. And these employees develop teams of volunteers to coordinate and deliver programming.

Top College Programs in Alabama for Project Management

These rankings focus the most on the best project management degree programs at colleges and universities throughout Alabama. University HQ highlights the best universities in our college rankings.

  • Columbia Southern University:
    This large, private university offers four-year degree programs and has a student population of 20,823 students. CSU also offers 40 degree programs to its students. Students earning their business degrees can opt to earn an additional certificate in project management. Forty-three recent graduates earned their project management certificates.
  • Athens State University:
    This school offers bachelor’s and master’s business degrees to their small student body of just under 3,000 students and also provides an undergraduate certificate in project management.
  • Spring Hill College:
    This school is a private, 4-year college offering degrees to just under 1,300 students each year. They offer several bachelor’s and master’s in business and a master’s degree in project management.
  • University of North Alabama:
    This school is another small school, located in Florence, Alabama and offering a variety of business degrees to its 7,700 students. This also includes a postgraduate certificate in project management.

Careers for Project Management Graduates

  • IT Project Manager:
    As an IT project manager, you’ll oversee projects related to information technology, networks, computer systems, and more. You’ll need to be ready to act as a liaison between stakeholders, executives, and others. You’ll provide information that others need, as well as making sure projects are completed correctly, within the established budget, and on time. Because IT departments are located in a range of industries, you could find yourself working in nearly any industry you choose.
  • Construction Project Manager:
    As a construction project manager, you’ll be working on large construction projects, perhaps making updates to old infrastructure or helping to build new shopping malls. Your role means you’ll divide a large task down into the tasks completed in every phase of the project. You’ll work alongside subcontractors, architects, and engineers; and you’ll ensure that everyone complies with legal, safety, and zoning regulations.
  • Chief Marketing Project Manager:
    In this position, you’ll take responsibility for your team creating the marketing campaigns that your company wants or needs. You need to ensure that the campaign marketing materials that are created communicate the services or products the company offers. You need to think ahead and be able to innovate materials in the direction your company is seeking.
  • Product Manager:
    As a product manager, you’ll establish the long-range vision for your company’s services or products. You have to communicate the desired strategy to everyone who will be involved: stakeholders, CEO, CMO, and others. What do you know about the product? What does the market need? Who are competitors and customers? And what are the other market influences? Your role could have an established beginning and end or it could be more open-ended.
  • Supply Chain/Logistics Manager:
    Your responsibility in this position is to provide front-end support to incoming business developments. You’ll also offer strategic alliances related to supply chain management, including operational delivery and contract negotiation. Your role works closely with all areas of the company but will focus on operations, sales, and finance. A logistics project manager is similar to the supply chain project manager. In fact, if you are or will be a logistics project manager, expect to do some of the same work a supply chain project manager does.
  • Non-Profit Director:
    In this role, you’ll be working with more volunteers who believe in the mission of your non-profit as well as a board of directors who control the vision of the company. As a project manager, you may also be holding the reins of the daily operations: developing projects, designing the processes that offer support so you can implement the strategic priorities of your NPO, etc. You’ll communicate often with community partners, stakeholders, entrepreneurs, innovators, investors, and leaders in your community and around the world.
  • Architectural Project Manager:
    In this position, you’ll manage and oversee every portion of the design of a building and develop and review building plans, making sure the project meets environmental and zoning standards. You’re likely to be working under a construction manager who will make sure that your blueprints are followed to the letter by contractors who know what they are doing. You’ll need a professional degree, such as a Bachelor of Architecture and to take and pass the Architect Registration Exam for licensing by your state.
  • Engineering Project Manager:
    Here you can expect to use your expertise and knowledge to plan the development of new processes, products, or designs. You’ll also direct and coordinate their development. Other responsibilities are leading the research and development stage of all assigned projects and creating highly detailed project plans. You may also be looked at to help develop the budget, equipment, and staffing needs.
  • Agile Project Manager:
    The Agile project management model is more modern and versatile. While it isn’t a precise methodology, it allows you to break the entire project up into smaller parts. This way, you’ll be able to change from one part to another as needed. These managers work in a variety of industries depending on their interests, skills and previous experience.

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