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What is Project Management?

California is the nation's largest, and perhaps most diverse, economy. From being the world's entertainment capital to a primary food source for the nation, California covers all bases. The Golden State even excels in the technology sector. After all, the internet was virtually birthed on its university campuses and the Bay Area's Silicon Valley is synonymous with technology and innovation.

Thus, California's students have many options when it comes to degree and career options. Those who desire a move into the business sector have innumerable opportunities and those who have a fair for computers and technology likewise have the full spectrum of IT to choose from. Those who may be fascinated with tech but not the desire to learn to be a computer programmer or software engineer can approach the field from a business-like, administrative angle.

A project manager is a business professional whose job is to work with teams to ensure that various projects are completed in a timely manner. In the realm of consultation, a project manager works with the client and their team to ensure that projects goals are met for the client while avoiding extra costs for the consulting firm. To achieve their goals, project managers use a number of different approaches to completing a project.

Ultimately, a project manager is involved with each project from the very start. They typically initiate projects, plan their execution, keep tabs on the team, and then close out the project when all is done, reallocating unused funds and now taskless workers. Project managers may be involved in finding clients who need their services. Their compensation can be then based on the overall value of the project and then paid as a bonus or on a commission-only basis.

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Online Project Management Education in California

Project managers, specifically, are in high demand as tech firms need professionals who can oversee projects from an objective, third-person perspective. They also need managers who can anticipate needs in their clients or within the firm. Essentially, they need project managers, experts who can lead teams of technical geniuses to execute projects in an efficient manner. These managers also need to maintain communication with the client and ensure that their needs are met in a timely and effective manner.

California's colleges and universities have stepped up to create project management degree programs at a variety of levels, including master’s project management degrees. They seek out professionals from some of California's, and the world's, top technology firms while also recruiting the best academia can offer. In this way, they create a diverse faculty that can focus on both cutting-edge scholarly research and real-world experiences to instruct and inspire students to become highly qualified in the field.

Online Associate Degree in Project Management (AS)

Since there is no degree requirement for project management, an associate project management degree may be all a person needs to succeed in this field. A two-year project management degree can cover all the basics a student needs to land an entry-level position in a technology or consulting firm. There, they can apply the fundamentals they've learned from their two-year program.

Since any associate project management degree program requires that students complete the core college curriculum, they often find that, though they may not need more academic training, they can choose to transfer credit hours to a bachelor’s degree program whenever they like. They may be able to take additional courses from a professional project management organization. In fact, there are a number of certifications available for project management which will raise any project manager's status in the job market. Given that most certifications require continuing education, many project managers may never even return to complete their full, four-year undergraduate degree.

Online Bachelor's Degree in Project Management (BS)

As the project management field grew, academia rose to meet the demand for highly skilled project managers. Thus, many business colleges developed bachelor’s project management degree programs that would train students for success in the field. This option is likely the best for aspiring project managers who want to hit the ground running.

This is because a four-year project management degree not only requires students to dig deep into their major field, but it allows them to become more well-rounded, too. Thus, students who want to be project managers in a tech firm, for instance, can take introductory courses in software development. They can also take additional courses, if not a double major, in other related fields such as management, finance, mathematics, or even marketing.

One chief benefit of this route is the opportunity to engage in experiential learning. Most project management degree programs should have resources that help students land internships. Plus, a four-year college or university will also host job fairs for project management students.

Online Master's Degree in Project Management (MS)

The business world is increasingly filled with master’s degrees, especially MBAs. And students who are interested in rising to the very top of their profession should consider an advanced degree. These students may want to look for accelerated MBA programs, or an accelerated master’s project management degree program. Accelerated programs are intensive in that they combine a full graduate and undergraduate program in a mere five years.

For those who pursue training at the graduate level, the doors of opportunity swing wide open. In fact, those who want to take their project management careers into the C-suites need to consider an MBA. MBA coursework will provide a fundamental business education with the added knowledge gained in a concentration in project management.

On the other hand, a MS in project management will likewise do great things for a career. Students should investigate their options and determine whether an MBA or a MS makes the most sense for their career path.

Online PhD Degree in Project Management (PhD)

Though the business community doesn't focus too much on PhDs, that may be changing. Given the increasing complexity of our global economy, a PhD in project management may someday be as vital as an MBA or an MS in project management. For now, project managers might want to consider a PhD in related fields such as computer science or whatever core field their teams work in.

However, a project management expert who earns a PhD can go on to great things. The chief option for this degree level is a career in academia. Though universities only require a master’s degree to teach undergraduate students, a PhD can teach both graduate and undergraduate students. Further, a PhD will open the door to a full-time, tenure track position that will provide an ample salary and great job security. Some even pursue a position as a research faculty who only needs to conduct research for various clients while never being called to lecture students.

Become a Project Management Professional in California

California's students are in the nation's largest economy. This includes one of the largest agricultural regions, the hottest tech industry, and an entertainment sector that impacts people worldwide. They thus are likely to be exposed to the complexities of commerce even as youngsters if they grow up in this area.

Students may not be aware that they have a specific talent for project management, so younger students may first think of business management as a career choice. Other students may first explore programming and technology. In either case, students should explore their interests. Those who are interested in business management should explore work opportunities that bring them in contact with businesses that interest them. It may be possible to land an after-school position helping out real estate agents or in an office that needs a hand with various tasks.

Those who are more interested in technology can explore that via a wide array of online resources. There are many free or affordable classes available online that will help any student get started. Some online educational outlets offer web development bootcamps, often for prices under $50, with all resources available for life. Those who dive deep into programming can earn certifications.

Once it’s time to search for a college degree program, students should look for an accredited business program. Ideally, they should seek one with AACSB, ACBSP, or IACBE accreditation. Barring that, they may find that their ideal program holds CHEA-approved regional accreditation.

During their college years, project management students should seek out courses that complement their primary goals. If they desire a career where the projects they manage fall within the tech sector, they might look at colleges that have a strong computer science department. That way, they can take a few computer science courses to inform their project management work.

Students should also find a project management degree program that emphasizes internships. Students need hands-on experience in the business community that will reinforce their career decision while bolstering their resume with real-world knowledge. They should also look for campus job fairs that include firms that may be looking for project management. In fact, they might stop by the career counselor's office and discuss this.

Careers for Project Management Graduates

  • General and Operations Managers:
    These business professionals oversee their firm's departments and ensure that the entire business is running smoothly. General managers receive input from department heads and look for ways to synergize operations between the two. Meanwhile, operations managers tend to focus on things like a business' physical plant, supplies, and other purely practical concerns.
  • Project Management Specialists:
    Project management specialists focus on particular types of projects and/or industries for their careers. For instance, some may focus on projects where a software package is created from nothing. Other projects may involve a thorough upgrade to a piece of software, a network, or a database. Then there are project managers who may help with management consulting or other purely business matters. Over time, most project managers will become specialists.
  • Marketing Manager:
    These business professionals have years of experience and often master’s degrees in marketing. Some hiring managers may also want to see an MBA. Those who have advanced degrees may be able to rise through the ranks from management to the C-suites. Marketing managers need to have a thorough understanding of both sides of the marketing profession – the analytical and the creative side.
  • Sales Manager:
    Sales managers should have a strong record of success as salespeople in a specific industry. While some sales managers may be able to transition from one industry to another, they will also need to learn a whole new product line and supply chain infrastructure.
  • Public Relations Manager:
    Public relations is closely tied to marketing, but it often deals more with representing individual personalities or whole companies rather than products. Public relations managers should have a long history of success protecting their clients' images and reputation. They need to have a strong network of journalists and others who can help their clients in various ways and, like a marketing manager, PR managers need to understand both the statistical and creative side of their field.
  • Fundraising Manager:
    Fundraising managers need to be able to initiate fundraising campaigns from the ground floor. They need to know what sort of donors are most likely to donate and then know how to best reach them. They also need to have a creative flair and be able to conceptualize and execute fundraising events such as auctions, society soirees, and more.
  • Facilities Manager:
    These professionals are in charge of various properties. Some manage properties such as sprawling resorts in exotic locales and others take care of high-rise office buildings. To succeed in this profession, facilities managers need to have a strong understanding of each part of their property. For instance, a high-rise manager needs intimate knowledge of elevator systems, and a resort manager may need more knowledge of swimming pools and sprinkler systems.
  • Supply Chain Manager:
    This profession has gained added visibility in light of the supply chain issues related to the COVID pandemic. Supply chain managers, also known as logisticians, ensure that products are shipped in the most efficient manner from their origin to their destination. This may involve re-routing shipments to avoid weather or other unfortunate events. These days the profession is increasingly tech-oriented and some supply chain master’s degrees may require a background in computer science.

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