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What is Project Management?

Earning a degree in project management can lead to a wide variety of employment opportunities in Alaska. This major can prepare graduates for work in many popular industries in the United States including construction, marketing, information technology, biotechnology, and sustainable energy. It’s an ideal area of study for those who want to focus their education on business-oriented knowledge and skills while also specializing in motivating others to complete tasks within a specific timeframe and budget.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for project management specialists is expected to increase by 7% from 2021 to 2031. This is about as fast as the average for all occupations and will account for an additional 70,400 job openings each year. Employment in other management occupations is also expected to increase by 8% from 2021 to 2031. This will account for another 1.1 million related positions becoming available each year throughout the decade.

Project managers typically oversee the various details associate with projects of different types, including coordinating budgets and schedules. They are generally responsible for leading and guiding the work of other employees, ensuring that processes run smoothly and efficiently. These professionals also often serve as points of contact for clients and/or customers.

The specific tasks assigned to project managers often vary depending on employer industry, size, and mission. Most of these professionals, however, are expected to work with clients to determine project requirements and objects before developing a comprehensive plan for funding, scheduling, and staff. It is also common for these professionals to identify, review, and select vendors and/or consultants. Additionally, project managers are likely to assign duties to other staff members, identify and resolve issues that arise, monitor costs, and work to meet deadlines. In some cases, it may be necessary to propose, review, and/or approve modifications or original project plans.

It's worth noting that expectations for project managers often shift as projects progress. When first starting a project, they spend most of their time defining its scope and goals. This often entails creating plans that itemize the various activities, data, and resources that will be needed. They typically strive to generate cost estimates, identify potential risks, and designate a projected timeline during this time.

Once projects have officially started, project managers spend most of their time directing the team(s) completing the work. This often entails monitoring progress and tracking milestones, as well as troubleshooting issues. Prior to concluding a project, these professionals must review and organize all financial statements, contracts, and other documentation.

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Online Project Management Education in Alabama

Professional and business services is the fifth largest industry in Alaska. It accounts for $3.3 billion of the state’s revenue each year. That said, project managers tend to work in many of the state’s top sectors. Those interested in this profession are also likely to find employment opportunities in transportation, real estate, education, retail, construction, entertainment, manufacturing, and wholesale.

As of May 2021, the Alaska employed 1,070 project management specialists and 22,750 other management professionals. While this is relatively low compared to other states with larger populations, pay for these professions is above average. The annual mean wage for project management specialists was $94,900, while the annual mean wage for other management professionals was $108,140. Both of these wages are significantly higher than the state’s annual mean wage of $63,480 for all occupations.

Many colleges and universities in Alaska offer degrees in project management. Comparatively, however, there are relatively few academic institutions located within the state. As a result, many prospective students may be inclined to enroll in distance learning programs offered by other schools. Online degree options often offer flexible scheduling and allow those enrolled to complete coursework from nearly anywhere in the world with internet access. Despite this, those who intend on seeking employment within Alaska may be better served by choosing a local college or university. These institutions tend to have a better understanding of employer standards and expectations within the state and are likely to provide more regionally relevant academic plans. Additionally, many schools have pre-established relationships with nearby companies and organizations, making it easier for students to secure relevant internships. Alumni may also utilize these connections when seeking professional employment.

The majority of project management professionals possess some amount of higher education. Prospective students can generally choose from degree programs at every level – associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate. Some colleges and universities also offer relevant professional certificate programs for undergraduate and/or graduate students.

While requirements vary by profession, advanced degrees typically lead to the most prestigious jobs in the field. Ultimately, the type of education needed depends on your ultimate career goals. It’s also important to consider the benefits and drawbacks of every program carefully before enrolling.

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Online Associate Degree in Project Management (AS)

Associate degrees in project management generally consist of 60 credit hours of coursework that take full-time students two years to complete. Notably, however, relatively few colleges and universities offer opportunities to major in this subject area at this level. As a result, those interested in pursuing two-year degrees related to this field may need to enroll in general business management or business administration programs. These cover many of the same concepts and can prepare those enrolled for professional employment or further education.

Undergraduate associate degree programs like these tend to be relatively broad, with students studying both general liberal arts and major-specific topics. They typically serve as basic introductions to higher education and the business field as a whole. Curriculums vary by academic institution, but those enrolled can expect to receive instruction in English communication, mathematics, and history, as well as professional communication and business law.

This type of degree can lead to entry-level positions and is generally considered the fastest and least expensive way to gain the foundational knowledge and skills needed to qualify for basic employment. Graduates are often qualified to pursue work as project coordinators, administrative assistants, and event planners.

Graduates with associate degrees are also better prepared for future learning. As a result, many choose to enroll in bachelor’s programs and have the undergraduate credits already earned transferred to their gaining academic institutions. Most colleges and universities accept up between 60 and 90 credit hours that can then be applied towards graduation requirements. This can mean that those with associate degrees enter four-year institutions as juniors instead of freshmen, with only an additional two years needed before graduating again.

Online Bachelor's Degree in Project Management (BS)

Bachelor’s degrees in project management generally consist of 120 credit hours of coursework that take full-time students approximately four years to complete. As previously mentioned, it may take less time for those who already possess applicable undergraduate credit hours. Curriculums vary, but still include both liberal arts general education and major-specific classes. In addition to communication, mathematics, and sociology topics, students can expect to study applied leadership principles, project scheduling and control, and risk management and assessment.

Notably, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that bachelor’s degrees are the academic standard for project management specialists throughout the nation. A four-year degree is required by most employers in marketing, human resources, and training and development. Graduates may also qualify for employment as operations managers, purchasing managers, product development managers, non-profit managers, emergency management directors, and environmental project managers.

Graduates may choose to pursue further education by enrolling in relevant master’s degree programs. Prospective graduate students must be prepared to meet institutional admissions standards, such as minimum grade point average (GPA) and Graduate Record Examination (GRE) test scores.

Online Master's Degree in Project Management (MS)

Master’s degrees in project management generally consist of 30 credit hours of coursework that take full-time students one to two years to complete. Some accelerated programs do exist, however, which can be completed in as few as 12 months. Curriculums vary, but are typically designed to teach those enrolled various specialized skills that can be applied to chosen industries. Concentrations are often available in many subjects including engineering, healthcare, marketing, and construction. Common areas of study include cost and value management, procurement, and commercial laws and regulations. While outcomes vary, graduates often qualify to become senior project managers, health services managers, construction project managers, information technology (IT) managers, and project management consultants.

A popular alternative to this type of degree is the master of business administration (MBA). These programs explore various aspects of the business field, placing a significant emphasis on the technical aspects of planning and execution. This is a particularly good option for individuals who plan to pursue supervisory positions.

Online PhD Degree in Project Management (PhD)

Doctorates and PhD programs related to project management generally consist of between 90 and 120 credit hours that take full-time students four to seven years to complete. As terminal degrees, the programs represent the highest level of education available in the field.

While similar, these degrees are distinct. Doctor of project management programs tend to emphasize practical training that prepares students for executive positions within major corporations. Curriculums typically include leadership theory and applied action research that will help graduates plan for long-term organizational growth.

Those interested in higher education and research, however, will be better served by a PhD in business administration. These programs prepare students to perform research or teach future generations within the field. Curriculums often include multivariate analysis, curriculum design, and organizational theory.

Become a Project Manager Professional in Alabama

The first step to becoming a project management professional in Alaska is identifying your ultimate career goals. As there are many professional opportunities available within this field, narrowing your focus early can help you develop the most direct and efficient pathway to success. Once you select your preferred profession, you can research corresponding education, training, and experience requirements to ensure you meet all necessary industry expectations and standards.

While education requirements vary by company and organization, most project managers need bachelor’s degrees in project management, business, or a related field. Some employers do, however, prefer candidates to have degrees in technical fields, such as computer and information technology and engineering.

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Once you have earned the necessary degree(s), your career may benefit from earning one or more professional certifications. Although not always required, these credentials demonstrate a high level of competency that prospective employers often prefer. Other advantages include more promotion opportunities and pay potential.

There are many relevant certifications available. Some of the best-known options are offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI). PMI is the leading professional association for project management and an authority for the global community of millions of professionals who utilize project management skills. The association offers certifications for every career stage, helping individuals meet qualification remands of employers throughout the world.

Some prominent credentials offered include:

  • Project Management Professional (PMP)
  • Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)
  • PMI Professional in Business Analysis (PMI-PBA)
  • Program Management Professional (PgMP)
  • Portfolio Management Professional (PfMP)
  • PMI Risk Management Professional (PMI-RMP)
  • PMI Scheduling Professional (PMI-SP)
  • PMI Project Management Ready
  • Construction Professional in Built Environment Projects (PMI-CP)

Of these, the most commonly sought credential is likely the project management professional (PMP). This certification recognizes project managers who have proven they have the necessary skills to successfully manage projects. Those interested must meet certain minimum requirements prior to applying. In most cases, candidates will need a four year degree, 36 months of experience leading projects within the past eight years, and 35 hours of project management education and training (or the CAPM certification). Individuals with high school diplomas and associate degrees may also qualify, as long as they have 60 months of experience leading projects within the past eight years and 35 hours of project management education and training (or the CAPM certification). All candidates must pass a 180-question examination, which costs between $405 and $555, depending on PMI membership status.

It's worth noting that many project management professionals become PMI members. This membership indicates that you are serious about your project management career and development, as well as making available access to valuable knowledge, networks, and resources. Members can benefit greatly from PMI networking, which connects over one million global project management peers and experts throughout the world. The association also offers exclusive publications, as well as thousands of helpful tools, templates, articles, guides, and other resources. PMI manages over 300 local chapters hosting events, topical sessions, and information meetups. Alaska’s chapter is active with approximately 284 members.

Careers for Project Management Graduates

  • Administrative Services Manager
    Administrative services managers oversee administrative department operations and employees, ensuring office spaces operate smoothly and efficiently. They often establish, revaluate, and alter departmental systems. These professionals may also hire, train, monitor, and direct staff members as they answer phones, distribute mail, store paperwork, and schedule meetings. According to PayScale, administrative managers make an average base salary of $67,600 per year.
  • Art Director
    Art directors manage the visual style and images used in magazines, newspapers, product packaging, and entertainment productions. They either create designs themselves or oversee the artwork and/or layouts of others employees. These professionals may also review and approve designs, talk to clients about artistic needs, develop budgets, establish project timelines, and present final products for approval. According to PayScale, art directors make an average base salary of $72,350 per year.
  • Construction Manager
    Construction managers plan, coordinate, budget, and supervise construction projects from start to finish. They are often responsible for preparing cost estimates, explaining contracts, collaborating with architects, and selecting subcontractors. These professionals also monitor project progress, respond to delays and emergencies, and ensure compliance with all relevant legal requirements. According to PayScale, construction managers make an average base salary of $80,050 per year.
  • Digital Marketing Manager
    Digital marketing managers plan and oversee campaigns meant to promote brands, products, and/or services for the companies and organizations that employ them. They are often actively involved in campaign design, as well as analyzing metric and identifying trends. These professionals may also be responsible for art direction and/or social media management. According to PayScale, digital marketing managers make an average base salary of $71,050 per year.
  • Facilities Manager
    Facilities managers oversee the operation and maintenance of the buildings and grounds they are assigned. They are often responsible for cleaning, catering, hospitality, security, and parking. These professionals also respond to user needs and ensure that locations meet all applicable health and safety standards. According to PayScale, facilities managers make an average base salary of $69,800 per year.
  • Fundraising Manager
    Fundraising managers develop and manage campaigns intended to generate donations from various sources. They often spend time identifying and interacting with potential donors, as well as applying for grant money. These professionals are also regularly responsible for developing and executing fundraising events, maintaining communication with regular supporters, and providing stakeholders with regular updates regarding funding progress. According to PayScale, fundraising managers make an average base salary of $56,800 per year.
  • Supply Chain Manager
    Supply chain managers oversee logistics for the companies and organizations that employ them. They analyze operational performance, as well as resolve any issues that arise. These professionals are also regularly tasked with collaborating with vendors and supplies to ensure all shipping, delivery, quality, and safety standards are properly met. According to PayScale, supply chain managers make an average base salary of $85,000 per year.

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