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What is Project Management?

Earning a degree in project management can lead to a wide variety of employment opportunities in Kansas, even an undergraduate degree. Companies and organizations across many industries seek to hire professionals in this field. While job availability varies, positions are often available in construction, marketing, information technology, biotechnology, and sustainable energy.

In general, these managers oversee the various details associated with projects they are assigned to by their employers. These professionals often supervise and lead other workers, while also serving as contacts for clients and/or customers. Overall, it is their responsibility to ensure that everything runs smoothly and efficiently, from creating work schedules to coordinating budgets.

Expectations vary from job to job, often depending on industry type and employer preference. As a result, these managers can be tasked with a wide variety of duties. In most cases, these professionals interact directly with clients regarding project requirements and objectives before developing comprehensive plans for funding, staffing, and scheduling. They may also be expected to identify, review, and select relevant vendors and/or consultants when necessary, as well as delegating tasks to other staff members. Other common responsibilities include monitoring costs, meet deadlines, identifying possible issues, and troubleshooting problems.

The role of these professionals also tends to change depending on the stage of the project they are involved with. At the start of a project, these professionals often focus on creating actionable plans using various activities, data, and resources. They also generate cost estimates, identify potential risks, and designate projected timelines. When projects reach a midpoint, however, it becomes necessary to delegate work so that goals can be met. Much of their time is spent monitoring progress and helping to resolve issues that arise. The final stage of projects generally calls for more administrative efforts. At this point, they make sure all financial statements, contracts, and other documentation is properly organized.

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Online Project Management Education in Kansas

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.

Professional and business services is the third largest industry in Kansas. It accounts for $18.1 billion of the state’s revenue each year. Notably, project managers also tend to be employed by other top industries in Kansas. Prospects are likely to exist in manufacturing, real estate, healthcare, education, wholesale, retail, finance, transportation, information, and construction.

As of May 2021, Kansas employed 2,180 project management specialists and 67,810 other management professionals. The annual mean wage for project management specialists was $82,300, while the annual mean wage for other management professionals was $104,590. Both of these wages are significantly higher than the state’s annual mean wage of $49,680 for all occupations.

Many colleges and universities in Kansas offer degrees in project management. Prospective students are generally encouraged to attend school in the state where they intend to reside and work professionally after graduation. There are also benefits to enrolling with local academic institutions. Not only do they incorporate geographically relevant material into their curriculums, but they often have connections with nearby businesses that can lead to internships and professional employment opportunities.

Those interested in project management professions typically require some amount of higher education in Kansas. Both local and international students can choose from relevant degree programs at every level – associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate. Some options, however, provide better prospects than others. Those with advanced degrees often have the best professional opportunities and earn higher salaries.

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. As undergraduate programs, students typically enroll in both general liberal arts and major-specific classes.

It’s important to realize, however, that associate degrees in project management are hard to find. Most colleges and universities do not offer this major at this level. As a result, it may be necessary for those interested in pursuing two-year degrees to enroll in general business management or business administration programs as these tend to cover many of the same topics. Most programs are designed to provide students with a basic introduction to the field and higher education as a whole. In addition to English communication, mathematics, and sciences, students are likely to study professional communication and business law.

While this type of degree can lead to entry-level positions in the field, opportunities may be limited. It is, however, 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.

It’s also fairly common for graduates to pursue further education by enrolling in bachelor’s programs, which they can do through online learning platforms while they gain experience in the field. With strong foundations in higher education, they are often perfect candidates for further learning. Many colleges and universities also accept undergraduate course credit in transfer. This can significantly decrease the amount of additional time needed to earn a more advanced degree.

Online Bachelor's Degree in Project Management (BS)

A bachelor’s degree in project management generally consist of 120 total credit hours of coursework that take full-time students approximately four years to complete. Timeframes may be shorter for those who possess prior undergraduate credits earned during associate degree programs and/or other higher education learning. Like associate programs, these programs are comprised of both liberal arts and major-specific classes at the undergraduate level. In addition to English communication, mathematics, and sciences, students can expect study applied leadership principles, project scheduling and control, and risk management and assessment.

This type of degree is ideal for individuals interested in pursuing most professions in the field. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, most project management specialists throughout the nation possess bachelor’s degrees. Employers in marketing, human resources, and training and development also tend to hire candidates with four-year undergraduate degrees in relevant subjects. Graduates may also qualify for employment as operations managers, purchasing managers, product development managers, non-profit managers, emergency management directors, and environmental project managers.

Not all graduates join the workforce right away. Instead, some choose to enroll in master’s degree programs. Advanced degrees can lead to more employment opportunities, especially in supervisory positions. 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.

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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 colleges and universities do offer accelerated programs that may take as few as 12 months to finish. Undergraduate credits are not applicable at this level, although some programs designate certain classes as prerequisites for admittance. While curriculums vary, students can typically expect to focus their studies solely on advanced concepts in the field such as cost and value management, procurement, and commercial laws and regulations. Instruction is often meant to help students develop a wide variety of specialized skills that can be applied to most industries. Notably, some institutions allow those enrolled to select concentrations in engineering, healthcare, marketing, and construction.

This type of degree is not necessarily required for project management professionals but may prove very beneficial when applying for jobs. This is particularly true for advanced positions at larger companies and organizations. Graduates at this level are often given preference during hiring processes and eventually earn higher incomes than those with bachelor’s and associate degrees. Some of the most common career options available include senior project manager, health services manager, construction project manager, information technology (IT) manager, and project management consultant.

It is worth noting that many undergraduates who studied project management opt to diversify their learning by enrolling in master of business administration (MBA) degree programs. These programs explore various aspects of business and are highly appropriate for individuals who plan to pursue supervisory position. Curriculums vary, but often place significant emphasis on the technical aspects of planning and execution.

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. These are terminal degrees and represent the highest level of education available in the field. While similar, there are distinctions between these two options that prospective students should be aware of.

Doctorates in project management place emphasis on practical training in order to prepare students for work as executives at major corporations. Curriculums vary, but typically cover advanced topics in leadership theory and applied action research. Graduates are generally prepared to help companies and organizations plan for long-term organizational growth.

A PhD is more appropriate for individuals planning to pursue employment in research and/or higher education. Students typically receive instruction in multivariate analysis, curriculum design, and organizational theory. Notably, it may be necessary to enroll in business administration PhD programs, as these are often easier to find and can prepare graduates for similar outcomes.

Become a Project Manager in Kansas

The first step to becoming a project management professional in Kansas is determining your ultimate career goals. As previously mentioned, there are many different jobs available in this field, with various specialties to choose from across numerous industries. With so many options available, it is often very helpful to narrow your focus early. This not only helps you select the most appropriate degree type and program, but it also ensures you pursue applicable elective courses, minor areas of study, concentrations, and/or internship opportunities. This way, you can develop the most direct and efficient pathway to career success.

Companies and organizations tend to establish their own hiring standards, but most professionals in this field obtain at least bachelor’s degrees. Major areas of study often vary, however, depending on the occupation sought. The most common options include project management and business, though information technology and engineering may be applicable as well. Notably, some employers do have higher expectations than others, preferring or requiring candidates who possess various graduate certificate options and/or advanced higher education degrees.

There are many undergraduate and graduate certificate options available to project management professionals. These can be extremely beneficial, especially when applying for employment. Additional credentials are a great way to show dedication to the field, as well as demonstrate specialized knowledge and skills.

Most project management graduate certificate options are offered by professional organizations and associations, such as the Project Management Institute (PMI). As the leading professional association for project management, PMI is an authority for workers in the field around the globe. This organization oversees a variety of unique credentials designed specifically to help professionals meet the qualification remands of employers at every career stage.

Some of the best-known options 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)
  • Certified Revenue Cycle Executive (CRCE)
  • PMI Scheduling Professional (PMI-SP)
  • PMI Project Management Ready
  • Construction Professional in Built Environment Projects (PMI-CP)

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One of PMI’s most sought-after certifications is the Project Management Professional (PMP) credential. It recognizes managers who have the necessary knowledge and skills to manage most projects successfully. Applicants must earn four year degrees, complete 36 months of experience leading projects, and have 35 hours of project management education and training. Candidates must also pass a 180-question examination prior to becoming certified. Notably, those with the CAPM credential are exempt from the education and training requirement. Additionally, those with high school diplomas and associate degrees may still qualify. In these cases, more experience leading projects is necessary.

Project management professionals can also become members of PMI. Memberships can help demonstrate how serious you are about continuing education and development in the field. There are also many benefits to joining such as receiving copies of exclusive publications, access to valuable knowledge and resources, and invitations to networking events. The association’s network connects over one million global project management peers and experts throughout the world. Additionally, members can view and utilize thousands of helpful tools, templates, articles, and guides.

PMI manages over 300 local chapters hosting events, topical sessions, and information meetups. Kansas residents can join the Wichita, Kansas Chapter for only $35 a year. There is also a Kansas City Mid America Chapter serving the Kansas City metropolitan area, eastern Kansas, and Western Missouri.

Careers for Project Management Graduates

  • Business Administrator
    Administrative services managers are often responsible for ensuring their office space operates smoothly and efficiently. As a result, they oversee all administrative department operations including establishing, reevaluating, and altering departmental systems as needed. They  supervise staff members as they answer phones, distribute mail, store paperwork, and schedule meetings. Additionally, administrative service managers are often charged with hiring, and training new employees. According to PayScale, administrative managers make an average base salary of $67,605 per year.
  • Art Director
    Art directors are responsible for overseeing and managing the development of images used in magazines, newspapers, product packaging, and entertainment productions. They are often tasked with reviewing and approving designs, talking to clients about their artistic needs, developing budgets, and establishing project timelines. Depending on the job, they may create designs themselves or supervise other workers as they make designs and/or layouts instead. Additionally, art directors are also expected to present final product imagery to their employers for approval According to PayScale, art directors make an average base salary of $72,326 per year.
  • Construction Manager
    Construction managers are responsible for planning and coordinating construction projects. Every job is different, but this generally entails preparing cost estimates and budgeting throughout the job, as well as explaining contracts, collaborating with architects, and selecting subcontractors. Once projects begin, they are also in charge of supervising workers, monitoring progress, dealing to delays, responding to any emergencies, and ensuring all associated activities comply with legal requirements. According to PayScale, construction managers make an average base salary of $80,035 per year.
  • Digital Marketing Manager
    Digital marketing managers plan and oversee advertising campaigns intended to promote brands, products, and/or services for the companies and organizations they work for. These professionals are often responsible for designing projects, analyzing data, and identifying potential trends among audience members. They are also likely to actively participate in the art design process, as well as manage related social media platforms. According to PayScale, digital marketing managers make an average base salary of $71,038 per year.
  • Engineering Project Manager
    Managers oversee engineering teams working to complete allocated tasks. They ensure daily operations run smoothly and that all assigned engineers, designers, and manufacturers coordinate efforts well. These may also be responsible for managing project budgets and cost analysis. According to PayScale, engineering managers make an average base salary of $97,842 per year.
  • Fundraising Manager
    Fundraising managers are responsible for securing donations and applying for grant money for their employers. This often entails developing and managing campaigns and events, as well as maintaining communication with regular supporters. They must be good at identifying and interacting with potential and current donors. In most cases, these professionals are also expected to provide regular updates regarding funding goals to stakeholders. According to PayScale, fundraising managers make an average base salary of $56,790 per year.
  • Training and Development Manager
    Training and development managers oversee training and professional development for workers, ensuring they are adequately prepared to do their effectively. They often coordinate the learning of new skills and the continued development of existing ones, and are typically tasked with managing training programs. This may include creating plans, managing budgets, producing learning materials, verifying content is correct, and delivering information. According to PayScale, training and development managers make an average base salary of $80,407 per year.

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