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What is Project Management?

Majoring in project management can lead to a wide variety of employment opportunities in Maryland. Companies and organizations across almost every industry hire professionals in this field, but positions are often most available in construction, marketing, information technology, biotechnology, and sustainable energy.

A project manager works for companies and organizations, supervising and leading other employees as they strive to complete various assigned projects. They are primarily responsible for ensuring that the process runs smoothly and efficiently. From creating work schedules to coordinating budgets, these professionals must provide expansive project oversight.

It’s important to realize, however, that expectations often vary depending on industry type, as well as employer preference. No two jobs are identical, so these managers must be prepared to complete a wide variety of different tasks. While not always necessary, it’s common for these professionals to interact directly with clients regarding project requirements and objectives. In fact, many serve as the primary contact for clients and/or customers. They also often develop comprehensive plans for funding, staffing, and scheduling, as well as identifying, reviewing, and selecting relevant vendors and/or consultants for the job. Other common responsibilities include delegating duties to other staff members, monitoring costs, meeting deadlines, identifying possible issues, and troubleshooting problems that arise.

Additionally, the role of project managers tends to change depending on project stage. When a project first starts, these professionals spend most of their time creating actionable plans using various activities, data, and resources. They also generate cost estimates, identify potential risks, and designate projected timelines. As the project progresses, their responsibilities tend to shift toward delegation in order to ensure that all goals are met on time. They will monitor individual progress and help resolve any problems that develop. Once the project reaches its final stage, project managers focus their efforts on administrative tasks such as ensuring financial statements, contracts, and other documentation is organized properly.

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Online Project Management Education in Maryland

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.

Professional and business services is the second largest industry in Maryland, accounting for $58.3 billion of the state’s revenue each year. Project management professionals are likely to find work in many of Maryland’s other top sectors, as well. Professionals in this field are often employed by companies involved in real estate, educational services, healthcare, manufacturing, finance, retail, construction, wholesale, information, and entertainment.

As of May 2021, Maryland employed 29,810 project management specialists and 221,760 other management professionals. The annual mean wage for project management specialists was $102,250, while the annual mean wage for other management professionals was $130,690. Both of these wages are significantly higher than the state’s annual mean wage of $65,900 for all occupations.

Prospective students should have little trouble finding colleges and universities offering a project management program in the United States. Those interested in pursuing employment in Maryland, however, may want to give preference to institutions located within the state. Enrolling with these schools can often be beneficial as they offer geographically relevant curriculums. Additionally, those enrolled are likely to benefit from the established relationships these institutions have with nearby companies and organizations when applying for internships and professional employment.

Working as project management professionals will require some level of higher education. Many colleges and universities offer this major, with programs available at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate levels that offer project management courses and specializations. While employment opportunities are available for graduates at every level, some degree types provide better prospects than others. In general, those with advanced degrees have the best professional opportunities in the field and are likely to have the highest earning potential after taking pertinent core courses and electives from a regionally accredited institution.

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. These are undergraduate programs, which mean they are comprised of both general liberal arts and major-specific classes. In addition to communication, mathematics, and science subjects, those enrolled can expect to study professional communication, business law, and project planning.

Prospective students are somewhat unlikely to find project management degree programs at this level, however. While most colleges and universities do not offer this this major to those seeking associate degrees, there are other options that can prepare graduates for work in this field. Common alternatives include enrolling in general business management or business administration programs, which often cover many of the same topics.

These degrees are ideal for individuals seeking entry-level employment as project coordinators, administrative assistants, or event planners. Graduates may find that work opportunities are limited, however, as those with more education may be competing for the same jobs. Still, associate degrees are often a fast, convenient, and inexpensive way to gain foundational knowledge and skills in the field. It can also help prepare students for further education.

It's actually fairly common for graduates to enroll in bachelor’s degree programs. Many colleges and universities accept undergraduate course credits in transfer, which can significantly decrease the number of additional classes needed to earn more advanced degrees.

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. These are undergraduate programs, which mean they are comprised of both general liberal arts and major-specific classes. In addition to communication, mathematics, and science subjects, those enrolled can expect to study applied leadership principles, project planning, project scheduling and control, quality management, and risk management and assessment.

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. As a result, this type of degree is ideal for those interested in pursuing employment as operations managers, purchasing managers, product development managers, non-profit managers, emergency management directors, and environmental project managers.

Graduates are also prime candidates for master’s degrees in project management. Many choose to enroll in these programs because they can lead to better employment opportunities. This is especially true for individuals seeking high-level supervisory positions. Notably, 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. Accelerated programs in graduate studies do exist, however, and may take as few as 12 months to finish. These are designed for working professionals. Students no longer take general liberal arts classes at this level, but some undergraduate prerequisites may be required for admittance. Instead, those enrolled focus entirely on subject matter relevant to their major area of study. While curriculums vary, instruction commonly relates to cost and value management, procurement, and commercial laws and regulations. It’s important to note that some institutions offer concentrations in engineering, healthcare, marketing, construction, etc., which can specialize learning further. Graduates often possess a variety of highly applicable skills that can be used in industries, such as knowledge of various quantitative methods.

This type of degree is ideal for individuals interested in pursuing jobs as senior project managers, health services managers, construction project managers, IT managers, and project management consultants. While rarely required for professionals in this field, master’s degrees can be extremely beneficial. This is particularly true for advanced positions, especially those offered by larger companies and organizations. Not only do graduates often enjoy more employment opportunities, but they also tend to earn higher salaries.

Not all professionals in the field choose to pursue graduate studies in project management. Some opt to enroll in a master of business administration (MBA) degree program instead. This type of degree explores similar concepts, but within a business-oriented context. This is often ideal for individuals planning to pursue supervisory positions.

Online PhD Degree in Project Management (PhD)

A doctorate or PhD program related to project management generally consists 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. Notably, a doctorate and PhD program in project management are each distinct from one another. While similar, there are important differences 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 Professional in Maryland

As there are many different kinds of project management professionals available in Maryland, it’s important to consider all your options carefully before deciding on a single occupation. Narrowing your focus by identifying specific and achievable career goals, however, can be very helpful. Not only will this allow you to select the most appropriate degree program(s), but it also ensures you pursue applicable elective courses, minor areas of study, concentrations with certain core courses, and/or internship opportunities.

While it may be possible to find entry-level employment without a bachelor’s degree, this tends to be the field standard for most companies and organizations hiring project management professionals. Notably, however, employers may be less picky regarding your major area of study. The type of degree you seek should correspond with the work you intend to perform, but professionals in this field commonly major in project management and business, as well as information technology and engineering.

It's important to note that some employers have higher expectations than others. In some cases, they require, or at least give preference to, candidates who also possess relevant certifications. There are many additional credentials applicable to the work performed by project management professionals. Obtaining one or more certifications can be quite beneficial, especially when applying for highly competitive employment opportunities. They are a great way to show dedication to the field and often demonstrate specialized knowledge and skills.

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Most certifications in this field are offered by professional organizations and associations. A prominent example is the Project Management Institute, Inc. (PMI), which is the leading professional association for project management around the globe. This organization oversees a variety of unique credentials designed specifically to help professionals meet the qualification demands of employers at every career stage.

Some of the best-known project management certification 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)
  • PMI Scheduling Professional (PMI-SP)
  • PMI Project Management Ready
  • Construction Professional in Built Environment Projects (PMI-CP)

A particularly popular certification offered by PMI is the PMP credential. PMPs are recognized as having the necessary knowledge and skills to manage most projects successfully, making it a favorite among employers. In order to obtain this credential, applicants must meet several academic and professional standards. Not only is a four-year degree required, but candidates must also complete 36 months of experience leading projects and have an additional 35 hours of project management education and training. Further, it is necessary to pass a 180-question examination.

It's also possible to become organization members of PMI. Many project management professionals choose to do this as it helps further demonstrate dedication to the field and continuing education. Membership benefits include access to exclusive publications, valuable knowledge and resources, and networking events. Notably, PMI’s network is significant, as it 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. Maryland residents can join the Southern Maryland chapter after becoming a PMI member. The Southern Maryland chapter seeks to provide a forum for professionals and business community leaders, as well as support certification efforts.

Potential Careers for Project Management Graduates

  • Administrative Services Manager
    Administrative services managers are often expected to ensure operations run smoothly and efficiently in the office spaces assigned to them. This typically entails supervising staff members as they answer phones, distribute mail, store paperwork, and schedule meetings. They are also expected to perform various administrative operations such as hiring and training new employees, as well as establishing, reevaluating, and altering departmental systems. According to PayScale, administrative managers make an average base salary of $67,605 per year.
  • Art Director
    Art directors are hired to oversee and manage the development of images used in magazines, newspapers, product packaging, and entertainment productions. They might be expected to create designs themselves or supervise other professionals as they work instead. Both options often entail talking to clients about their artistic need, as well as reviewing and approving completed designs. They may also establish project timetables, maintain associated budgets, and present final products to their employers for ultimate approval. According to PayScale, art directors make an average base salary of $72,326 per year.
  • Information Systems (IS) Manager
    Information systems managers are typically in charge of IT professionals, overseeing teams of workers as they work to address the various needs for their employers. They’re likely to have many different responsibilities including troubleshooting problems, administering computer system updates, delegating work orders, and installing hardware/software. They may also help hire new employees, train staff members, monitor overall worker performance, research new business technologies, and manage budgets. According to PayScale, information systems managers make an average base salary of $87,717 per year.
  • Construction Manager
    Construction managers are employed by individuals, companies, and organizations to plan and coordinate various types of construction projects. Job specifics can vary, but they often prepare cost estimates, explain contracts, collaborate with architects, select subcontractors, and maintain budgets throughout the building process. They might also supervise workers, monitor progress, deal with delays, and respond to emergencies. Construction managers must ensure all activities are compliant with legal requirements. According to PayScale, construction managers make an average base salary of $80,035 per year.
  • Digital Marketing Manager
    Digital marketing managers promote brands, products, and/or services by planning and overseeing advertising campaigns for their employers. In order to design the most effective projects, they perform data analysis and work to identify potential trends among intended audience members. They also typically play an active role in the art design process for their campaigns and oversee associated social media platforms. According to PayScale, digital marketing managers make an average base salary of $71,038 per year.
  • Facilities Manager
    Facilities managers ensure the building(s) assigned to them meet the health and safety standards established by their employers. They often have many responsibilities including various cleaning, catering, hospitality, security, and/or parking services. They may oversee the operation and maintenance of one or more locations, responding to user needs and concerns as they arise. According to PayScale, facilities managers make an average base salary of $69,785 per year.
  • Fundraising Manager
    Fundraising managers are hired to secure funding for companies and organization in the form of donations and grants. These professionals frequently develop and manage fundraising campaigns and events for their employers. They are very good at identifying potential donors and interacting with individuals already providing financial support. They also maintain regular communication with donors and provide funding goal updates to stakeholders. According to PayScale, fundraising managers make an average base salary of $56,790 per year.

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