What is Project Management?
Alabama is one of the south's up and coming states. It may not yet have a city on par with Atlanta, Charlotte, or Nashville, but it has a robust economy that includes a strong manufacturing sector, professional services, retail trade, and construction industry. It is also home to some of the nation's top colleges and universities, such as Auburn and the Tuskegee Institute, to name just two.
To ensure that Alabama continues its upward trajectory, the state is backing many academic programs, including project management. After all, it's not quite enough to have a strong cadre of information workers or construction teams; they also need project managers who can help put the projects together. They need someone who can see the big picture including budgeting, the client's needs, worker requirements, and more. When a strong project manager is on the case, everyone can do their jobs without needing to take time for administrative matters or writing memos to keep everyone apprised of new developments.
To ensure that Alabama has enough project managers to support local businesses, the state's institutions of higher learning, from community colleges through graduate business schools, work hard to attract the best faculty members possible. They look far and wide to discover those who've done the best cutting-edge research in the field, but they also look in the local economy for professionals who can bring a local flavor to the classroom.Read More
Alabama students who are interested in working in this ever-growing and evolving field are advised to look no farther than the state's colleges and universities. Their education will not only include the very best of academia but will also offer needed insights into the Alabama economy that will help them coordinate teams that are uniquely Alabamian.
A project manager is a business professional whose job is to work with teams on their various projects. The field came to prominence in the consulting arena, which has a strong need for administrators who are able to keep projects on course. To be successful, a project manager needs to have excellent communication skills and be highly organized. This is because they need to be an intermediary between the client and their team. The better a project manager is at facilitating communication between the two, the better off everyone will be.
When it comes to clients, the field is wide open. There really is nothing to say which industry best suits a project manager. However, most tend to work in consulting either with business consultants, such as auditors, or with IT consultants.
Since project management almost always involves managing teams who are in the field, many project management jobs are becoming remote positions. Those managers who are involved with initiating and bidding for new projects may need to travel to meet clients but, these days, much of that work is conducted via video chats and emails.
Project Management Education in Alabama
Associate Degree in Project Management (AS)
An associate project management degree is a great way to get started in the field. Many employers are interested in hiring top project management students from accredited community colleges throughout Alabama. Most associate degree holders will start with an entry-level position, but that sort of experience can be invaluable. An associate degree may also pave the way to special certificates that impress employers and help workers get ahead.
An associate degree is also a terrific start to an academic career. Alabama's community colleges require that all associate degree students complete the core college curriculum. This means that those who decide to return to school for a bachelor’s degree will be able to concentrate on their major courses rather than electives and required classes. However, some courses may have prerequisites that are not covered in the core curriculum.
Bachelor's Degree in Project Management (BS)
A four-year bachelor’s project management degree from an accredited Alabama college or university is probably the best foundation for success in the field. Students who have spent four years concentrating on project management will have had the opportunity to explore the field from a variety of angles. Thus, they will be able to problem solve and otherwise face new challenges with aplomb.
Over the course of a bachelor’s project management degree, students take courses that focus on special topics in the field, but they also have the opportunity to gain real experience. Internship opportunities are often available for bachelor’s degree students, and Alabama firms will often be eager to bring aboard an intern to help with their day-to-day operations. Students might also seek out internships in other areas of the country, such as Atlanta or New York City, during the summer. Many project management students seek part time experience with local firms that help them gain deeper insight into project management.
Master's Degree in Project Management (MS or MC)
Eventually, most project managers return to school for a master’s project management degree, if not an MBA with a project management concentration. This level of academic achievement is very impressive for hiring managers, so undergraduate project management students should start considering graduate school during their third and fourth years of college.
A master’s project management degree helps students achieve a number of goals. First off, these degrees can be useful in earning a promotion in one's current job. It also is likely to help with raises and overall compensation. A master’s project management degree may also help professionals earn more advanced certificates, which only bolster their resumes. Many certificates have degree requirements, which an MS in project management or an MBA with a project management concentration should satisfy. Some project managers also seek out a master’s degree in management or in a field directly related to their work, such as information technology or accounting. Such industry- or department-specific knowledge can help them better understand their projects, team members, and clients.
PhD Degree in Project Management (PhD)
A PhD or doctorate in project management may not be entirely necessary for success in the field. Project managers can usually avoid a doctorate by earning a MS in project management or an MBA with project management as a concentration. When they add a certificate or two, their level of knowledge and expertise soon reaches the level required to gain access to the highest roles in their field, without the need for a PhD. Furthermore, since certificates need to be renewed on an annual or biannual basis, the holder is constantly increasing their knowledge in the field.
However, a PhD or doctorate in project management may come in handy for a secondary career in academia. While many colleges and universities hire instructors at the master’s degree level, a PhD is often required to gain full-time, tenure-track employment. Professionals may seek out employment as a professor but there may be opportunities to work as research faculty, which means that most time is spent researching special topics and often selling reports to firms who wish to improve their approach to project management.
Become a Project Manager Professional in Alabama
Alabama's economy is rife with opportunities for nearly everyone in the state. Its economy is increasingly technology-focused and is in need of project managers to work with IT teams on special projects. However, since project management is still a rather new concept to many, it's important to discover how to become a project manager in Alabama.
The first step is to figure out one's primary talents. For project management, one of the chief talents needed to be an effective project manager is communication skill. This entails not only the ability to convey one's ideas to another but also the ability to listen to the needs of others. Project managers need to be attentive to what the client needs as well as to the needs of their team. When a project manager is able to help their team and the client, everyone benefits.
The ability to communicate is only helped when one learns as much about their field as possible. Project managers should therefore consider a degree, especially a bachelor’s project management degree, perhaps with a minor in a field that interests them, such as computer science or marketing. Alabama's colleges and universities have many accredited project management degree programs to help students launch a brilliant career. Aspiring students should look for project management degrees that hold program specific credentials from the likes of AACSB, ACBSP, or IACBE.
During one's undergraduate degree years, it's vital to not only take the courses required to graduate but to seek those courses that will enhance one's education. Project managers should evaluate their goals and determine what specific area they wish to work in. Then they should investigate coursework in those areas. For someone looking to be a project manager in IT, a few introductory courses in IT could be invaluable. Alternatively, it may be helpful to seek out a certificate course in IT that will help broaden one's knowledge while also boosting their resume.
After graduation, it will then be vital to join a professional association, especially one that offers special certificates in project management. In one's early days this will demonstrate initiative and a true dedication to the field. These certificates may end up being as valuable as a degree, so project managers should strive to maintain their credentials through endless renewal periods. When employers see a long history of continuing education and credential renewal, they are very impressed indeed.
Careers for Project Management Graduates
- Operations Manager:
This job description may be for positions that entail managing entire manufacturing facilities or it may apply to managers who work in offices and ensure that the staff has all of the supplies it needs or that the firm's physical plant is well taken care of.
- General Manager:
This job title goes to professionals who oversee an entire operation. In a restaurant, a general manager oversees other managers who take care of the front-of-house operations and those who manage the kitchen. This position often comes after years of hard work that may include starting at the very entry-level.
- Construction Project Manager:
A large construction project requires a project manager who can ensure that every facet is executed in a timely, efficient manner. To earn this position, it's vital to have a college degree and, ideally, some experience in the field. Construction management students may spend their summers working on carpentry, electrical, or plumbing crews as a way to gain deeper insights into construction projects.
- Engineering Project Manager:
Large engineering projects require managers who can oversee the entire endeavor. To succeed in this field, it is necessary to have a working knowledge of engineering and knowledge specific to the project at hand. Thus, some may have knowledge of civil engineering and others may be more knowledgeable of maritime projects.
- Logistics Project Manager:
These projects are of increasing importance as the world adjusts to new stressors on supply chains. Logistics project managers ensure that goods are shipped through the supply chain channels and reach the desired destination in a timely, efficient manner.
- IT Project Manager:
These professionals may be the most familiar for many. IT projects may involve a thorough overhaul of a client's network or may be a thorough audit of all a firm's cyber security protocols with an eye to overhauling them to safeguard a database. IT project managers need to have a working knowledge of the technologies their teams implement, as well as the ability to communicate the client's needs.
- Manufacturing Project Manager:
These professionals need to have an in-depth knowledge of how to manufacture products within the range of their industry. Manufacturing project managers may also need to be able to pivot and create new products to meet the needs of certain seasons or simply be able to manufacture the same products consistently month after month, ideally while improving efficiency along the way.
- Budget Analyst:
Every project needs someone to oversee and analyze the budget. A budget analyst will review how well the budget has allowed for supplies, payroll, and even for unforeseen expenditures. A budget analyst needs to be able to do more than make sure the numbers line up. They also need insights into the types of projects involved and the various issues that may arise along the way to completion.