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What is Project Management?
Massachusetts is perhaps the most vibrant economy in New England. Its largest city, Boston, is a global hub of finance and is important for shipping, among many other economic activities. Interestingly, Massachusetts' top industrial super-sector is its professional and business services. This is a broad category that covers activities such as waste management, administrative services, consultants, and technical services including laboratories. Where this sector usually falls farther down in a state's rankings, this #1 industrial area brings in $102 billion in annual revenues and ranks 7th nationwide.
The second strongest economic sector in Massachusetts is its real estate industry. Real estate generates over $80 billion annually and is the nation's 8th largest. Given Massachusetts relatively small size, this is impressive. The rest of the state's top five industries likewise impress.
Coming in at #3 is Massachusetts' education, healthcare, and social services industry. Finance and industry together are the state's 4th largest economic driver, with $52 billion in revenue, and the nation's 7th largest such area. Finally, Massachusetts' 5th largest industry is manufacturing, which generates $53 billion and ranks 15th nationally.
A project manager or project management professional is a vital part of any firm's projects. They are specially trained to gather a team of focused experts who are the best for the job at hand. They are the ones most likely to have the skills to create a timeline under which the project must be completed and the expertise in budgeting, or at least understanding how to deliver the desired outcomes below the estimated, budgeted cost.
As part of their job, project managers may seek to attract business to their firm. They may rely on their personal track record, as well as the expertise and credentials of their team members. Thus, the profession veers into marketing and sales, while also relying on certain elements of human resources.
Project managers typically work in office buildings where they manage projects from their computer terminals. However, it's likely that many project managers are now working from a remote location. Occasionally, project managers may need to travel to a worksite to meet with management and discuss various aspects of a project.
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Online Project Management Education in Massachusetts
Given that Massachusetts' top industrial sector is its professional and business services, it's clear that project management plays a significant role in the state's economy. This is because project management is a business service that is often outsourced to consultants. Furthermore, Boston is known as a hub for business consultancies, such as the Boston Consulting Group, perhaps the world's top consulting firm.
Thus, Massachusetts' legislature seeks to strengthen each project management program in its public colleges and universities. They understand the major role project management plays across the Massachusetts economy. After all, project managers are a vital part of manufacturing, software development, IT consulting, construction, and more. Students interested in earning a bachelor's or master's degree from Massachusetts schools, whether they are focused on a project management master, virtual project management, or program management, will have plenty of options across the state.
Online Associate Degree in Project Management (AS)
An associate project management degree is a great introduction to the field. Students in Massachusetts' community colleges can learn the fundamental aspects of the field while simultaneously completing the core college curriculum. This degree may even qualify students for an entry-level position with a Massachusetts firm.
Given that many in the project management field earn certifications to bolster their credentials, a worker with an associate project management degree may be able to do likewise. A person who has landed an entry-level position with a consulting firm, for instance, may be able to elevate their position by combining their associate project management degree with a special certification.
An associate project management degree makes sense for other reasons, as well. One of the chief reasons to start an undergraduate career with an associate degree is the price. Massachusetts' community colleges charge far less per credit hour than four-year colleges and universities. Thus, a project management student will see a significant reduction in the cost of their education versus their friends who only attended four-year institutions.
Online Bachelor's Degree in Project Management (BS)
A four-year project management degree is likely the best foundation for career success in this field. In a four-year undergraduate project management degree program, students dive deeper into the special topics that will eventually guide their professional lives. They may also be able to focus on project management for specific areas, such as information technology or construction. Four-year degree programs and specialization courses offer other features that employers look for and teach you about project scheduling, risk management, professional studies, effective leadership, and more, as well as allowing you to have real world experiences.
One chief strength of a four-year project management degree program is the inclusion of internship programs. Practical experience and knowledge of the field will inform every student's academic work. Recruiters will be eager to hear about the projects a candidate worked on and the lessons they learned.
While a student may focus on project management for their major degree program, four-year institutions typically offer a wide range of options for a minor concentration or other special focus area. Project management students may then be able to augment their core learning with courses in business management, human resources, or information technology.
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Online Master's Degree in Project Management (MS)
Professionals with a master’s project management degree will see their careers rise to new levels. Employers typically reward a master’s project management degree with promotions and raises. These advantages make a master’s degree a no-brainer for anyone who wants to get ahead in their field. These degrees will teach project professionals even more about project business analysis, project evaluation for complex projects, critical thinking in the field, program management, professional development, and more.
Since many project management master’s degree programs are online, professionals don't have to skip a beat. They can complete their coursework at night, on the weekend, or whenever they have the time. Further, many employers offer tuition reimbursement for employees who want to improve themselves. It should be noted that employers may offer more reimbursement for degrees from project management programs that boast program specific accreditation credentials.
Perhaps the ideal approach to graduate school is an MBA with a concentration in project management. This may be particularly true for students who are interested in landing a spot in the C-suites.
Online PhD Degree in Project Management (PhD)
Project management is an up-and-coming field that many firms are coming to rely on more and more. However, most businesses aren't looking for a project manager with a PhD. Businesspeople tend to think of candidates with a PhD as having too much of an intellectual or academic approach. While this may change, given the proliferation of master’s degrees currently, project managers might want to consider another route.
However, a doctorate project management degree could be useful for someone looking to start their own consulting firm. It may also be useful for those who seek a career in academia. In fact, a PhD is a de facto requirement for full-time, tenure track positions in project management degree programs. Students should note that a doctorate can yield a position either teaching or as a research faculty member. Research faculty hardly interact with students at all. Rather, they work hard to attract grants that they fulfill with specialized research that benefits the grantor.
Become a Project Manager in Massachusetts
Massachusetts' economy is led by its professional and business services sector. While this is a broad super-sector of the economy, it includes project managers. These managers may work as contractors in other parts of the Massachusetts economy such as real estate development, finance, information technology, or construction, to name a few. Thus, it seems that project managers are found throughout the Massachusetts economy.
However, many students are still unaware of this career path, and they are even less aware of how one pursues it. While it's not easy to become a project management professional in Massachusetts, the steps are accessible to most who are willing. The first step is to identify one's talents for the field.
One chief talent a project manager should have is leadership. Nearly any student in high school can begin cultivating this quality. Leaders are not only the captain of a sports team or the class president, but leaders are also found in the AV club or the French club. Learning to take control of a situation and direct others to complete projects are at the core of what a project manager does.
Students should also start looking for a specific area where their leadership abilities can shine. Those who are fascinated with computers should start investigating courses in computer programming, including certification courses. Some may be more interested in construction and so might consider summer jobs working with carpenters as apprentices. These experiences will inform their later career.
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In the third and fourth years of high school, students should start seeking out the very best project management programs for them. Given the interdisciplinary nature of the field, they should seek a project management program that is adjacent to degree programs in other areas of interest. For instance, those who are interested in computers might look for a strong information technology program. Students who are interested in finance might look for a project management degree program that they can pair with accounting or finance courses.
Above all, project management students should seek out project management programs that are fully accredited. The minimum standard should be a CHEA regional accreditation. More ambitious students might also look for bachelor’s degree programs that hold program-specific accreditation from AACSB, ACBSP, or IACBE. Once you get started in your career, you might consider earning a certification from the Project Management Institute.
Potential Careers for Project Management Graduates
- Project Management Specialists
These business professionals focus their managerial talents on one project at a time. Rather than overseeing a department from quarter to quarter, they tackle a large project such as a construction project, software development, or a management audit. Project management specialists tend to focus on specific industries, such as construction or information technology.
- Marketing Manager
Where the marketing field is generally divided between the analytical and creative sides, a marketing manager works with professionals from both sides. A marketing manager can lead their team to create dynamic and effective marketing campaigns.
- Computer and Information Systems Manager
This position is found in nearly every firm of any decent size. CIS managers typically will have an MS in Information Technology, if not an MBA with a concentration in IT. These managers have a deep knowledge of hardware and software solutions that suit their firm's needs.
- Art Director
Advertising and marketing firms typically hire art directors to take charge of their creative teams. Art directors are also found in film production companies as they oversee elements of film or video production such as set design and costuming. Art directors typically have risen from the ranks of graphic designers or other entry-level graphic artists.
- Construction Manager
Construction managers may oversee individual crews, such as the electrical or plumbing crew. They may also oversee an entire project. Construction managers keep track of their payroll and materials expenses to complete a project under budget. They may also specialize in certain projects such as home construction, roadway building, or high-rise projects.
- Supply Chain Manager
Since the pandemic's economic woes, this role is increasingly on everyone's minds. Supply chain managers work to ensure that goods are shipped efficiently from point to point. They are often known as logisticians and may work for firms such as an E-commerce distributor or a freight company such as FedEx or UPS.
- Software Developers/Engineers
These tech workers focus on building brand new software packages for specific purposes. They may develop software packages such as consumer-level applications that everyone uses, such as web browsers or word processors, but most will work on back-end software that help to facilitate various functions on a network. To succeed in this field, software developers specialize in specific computer languages and types of software.
- Database Administrators
Every firm relies on its database to conduct business. Database administrators oversee the day-to-day operations of a database. They may review the database's security systems and they might keep the database up to date with new information. Administrators also oversee database permissions. That is, they allow users access to certain parts of the database and then monitor each user's use of the data.
- Sales Manager
A sales manager is often a salesperson who had decided to take on more of a leadership role in their sales department. Sales managers often forgo the opportunity to make commission income for the security of a salary and dependable benefits. Sales managers are leaders who coach their team members to make the most sales.