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What is Project Management?
A degree in project management (PM)can prepare you for various employment opportunities in Mississippi. Graduates tend to possess knowledge and skills that are applicable in nearly any industry, making them competent hires by companies and organization of every type. Notably, however, the majority of positions available are found in the construction, marketing, information technology, biotechnology, and sustainable energy sectors.
Project managers are hired by companies and organizations to supervise and lead other employees as they work to complete assigned tasks within a specific project that has a limited timeframe associated with it. This is different from general management roles, in which they aim to keep their department working efficiently for an indefinite amount of time. Their primary responsibility is to ensure the process runs smoothly and efficiently.
These professionals must be able to provide expansive project oversight for their employers, from creating work schedules to coordinating budgets. Specific expectations do vary, however, depending on the industry. No two jobs are exactly alike, with some project managers spending the majority of their time interacting directly with clients and others focusing exclusively on administrative efforts. As a result, project managers are typically capable of and prepared to complete a wide variety of tasks. These commonly include developing comprehensive plans for funding, staffing, and scheduling, as well as identifying, reviewing, and selecting relevant vendors and/or consultants for jobs. They may also delegate duties to other staff members, monitor costs, identify possible issues, and troubleshoot problems that arise.
The stage of the assigned project also impacts the roles filled by project managers. At the beginning of a new project, these professionals are likely to spend the majority of their time planning. This often includes assessing data, finding useful resources, generating cost estimates, identifying potential risks, and designating projected completion timelines. As the project progresses and responsibilities are delegated to others, they focus more on ensuring established goals are met. This generally means monitoring the progress of others and helping to resolve issues. In the final phase of a project, these professionals tend to work on various administrative tasks. These often include ensuring financial statements, contracts, and other documentation is organized properly.
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Online Project Management Education in Mississippi
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for PM 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 fifth largest industry in Mississippi. It accounts for $8.3 billion of the state’s revenue each year. Employment opportunities for project management experts are likely to exist in many of Mississippi’s other top sectors, however. Companies and organizations involved in manufacturing, real estate, educational services, healthcare, retail, business, wholesale, finance, entertainment, transportation, and construction may seek out workers in this field.
As of May 2021, Mississippi employed 2,100 PM specialists and 59,950 other management professionals. The annual mean wage for project management specialists was $84,310, while the annual mean wage for other management professionals was $89,250. Both of these wages are significantly higher than the state’s annual mean wage of $45,180 for all occupations.
Project management degree programs are offered by colleges and universities throughout the United States, with some available in Mississippi specifically, as well. While prospective students can choose to study anywhere, those who plan to seek employment in the state should strongly consider giving preference to local institutions. These schools offer the most geographically relevant curriculums, often offering instruction in subjects most pertinent to potential employers in the region. It’s also common for higher education facilities to have established relationships with nearby companies and organizations, which can make finding suitable internship and employment opportunities easier.
Those who intend to seek project management (PM) employment opportunities in Mississippi are likely to require some level of higher education. While entry-level positions may be obtained with limited academic experience, most professionals in the field expect candidates to possess degrees of some kind.
Many colleges and universities throughout the state and nation offer degree programs in PM, with options generally available at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate levels. Notably, the type of higher education pursued typically has a direct impact on the jobs available after graduation. Those with more advanced educations tend to have the best prospects.
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. The majority of undergraduate programs like these are comprised of both general liberal arts and major-specific classes. This means that students typically study basic communication, mathematics, and science subjects in conjunction with major-specific content. As a result, those enrolled often develop strong academic foundations for future learning, as well as a basic introduction to the field. While curriculums vary by institution, project management programs at this level often cover topics in professional communication and business law.
Those seeking to save money on their educations may be particularly drawn to associate degrees. These programs are typically offered by community colleges, which charge lower tuition and fee rates than traditional four-year institutions. It’s important to realize, however, that relatively few community colleges actually offer PM as a possible major. As a result, those seeking to study the field at this level may need to enroll in in general business management or business administration programs instead. These options tend to cover many of the same topics.
Graduates with degrees in these subjects may qualify for entry-level employment as project coordinators, administrative assistants, and event planners. Opportunities are likely to be limited, however, as those with bachelor’s degrees often compete for the same jobs and employers tend to prefer candidates with more education.
It’s worth noting that many associate degree graduates choose to continue their education in hopes of qualifying for better jobs in the future. Enrolling in bachelor’s degree programs is even more alluring because undergraduate course credits are often transferrable. Most colleges and universities accept up to 60 credit hours from properly accredited schools. This is roughly half of a four-year degree program. As a result, those with associate degrees generally only require two additional years of education before they can graduate with more advanced degrees.
Online Bachelor's Degree in Project Management (BS)
A bachelor’s project management program generally consists of 120 credit hours of coursework that take full-time students approximately four years to complete. As undergraduate programs, most continue to be comprised of both general liberal arts and major-specific classes. In addition to basic communication, mathematics, and science subjects, a project management program of this kind often covers topics in leadership principles, critical thinking skills, project scheduling and control of complex projects, project management processes, risk management, and assessment. Those enrolled can still expect to receive a basic introduction to the field, although classes may be slightly more intensive than at the associate level.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most project management specialists throughout the nation possess bachelor’s degrees. Graduates also often qualify for employment opportunities as operations managers, purchasing managers, product development managers, non-profit managers, emergency management directors, and environmental project managers.
Alternatively, graduates can choose to continue their education by enrolling in master-level programs. This can lead to even more employment opportunities, as well as higher pay. Prospective graduate students should 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. Notably, some accelerated programs may take as few as 12 months to finish. It’s also important to realize that graduate programs no longer incorporate general liberal arts classes. Incoming students may, however, be required to possess certain undergraduate prerequisite courses prior to enrollment. This ensures students have the basic knowledge needed for advanced study of specific topics relevant to the field, such as experience leading of complex projects, large project teams, being a project leader or project coordinator, working in a difficult project environment, etc.
Curriculums vary, but some of the most commonly explored topics include cost and value management, procurement, and commercial laws and regulations. Students may also be given opportunities to select concentrations in engineering, human resources, healthcare, marketing, and construction. Choosing a specialty like this further direct learning and can help those enrolled prepared for work in certain sub-fields.
While rarely explicitly required, master’s degrees can be extremely beneficial for those seeking advanced positions with larger companies and organizations. Graduates often possess a variety of applicable skills that can be used in most industries. While job prospects are numerous, some of the most commonly sought positions at this level include senior project manager, health services manager, construction project manager, information technology (IT) manager, and PM consultant.
A common alternative to pursuing a master’s degree in PM is to enroll in a master of business administration (MBA) degree program. As MBAs cover similar concepts, students still acquire knowledge and skills that are applicable to the field. This is most appropriate for individuals interested in business and/or who plan to pursue supervisory positions.
Online PhD Degree in Project Management (PhD)
Doctorates and PhD programs related to project management (PM) generally consist of between 90 and 120 credit hours that take full-time students four to seven years to complete. As terminal degrees, they represent the highest level of education available in the field. It’s important to realize that doctorate and PhD programs in PM lead to different employment outcomes, however.
Doctorates in PM prepare students for work as executives at major corporations. Curriculums typically incorporate advanced topics in leadership theory and applied action research. As a result, graduates are generally prepared to help companies and organizations plan for long-term organizational growth.
A PhD prepares students for employment in research and/or higher education. Curriculums typically incorporate multivariate analysis, curriculum design, and organizational theory. Notably, business administration PhD programs are more prevalent and prepare graduates for similar career outcomes.
Become a Project Manager Professional in Mississippi
Mississippi is home to many companies and organizations eager to hire PM professionals of all kinds. Opportunities can vary significantly throughout the state, however, depending on the type of work you want to perform. Identifying your ultimate career goals early ensures you are familiar with the standards and expectations associated with your preferred occupation(s). Not only will this help you select the most appropriate degree program(s), but it will make picking applicable elective courses, minor areas of study, concentrations, and/or internship opportunities easier, as well as ensuring your ability to create project success.
It's worth noting that not all employers expect job candidates to possess degrees in PM specifically. Related subjects are generally acceptable. That said, the best course of action is to major in a subject that directly corresponds with the work you intend to perform. Some popular alternatives include business management and information technology.
While not always necessary, many project management professionals choose to pursue one or more relevant certifications in the field. They are a great way to show dedication and often demonstrate specialized knowledge and skills. Employers often give preference to candidates who possess these additional credentials, and some even require them.
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There are many certifications to choose from, depending on the type of work you plan to perform. Most are offered by professional organizations and associations. A particularly prominent example is the Project Management Institute (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 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)
One of the most popular certifications offered by PMI is the Project Management Professional (PMP) credential. This is a favorite among employers, as PMPs typically have all the necessary knowledge and skills needed to manage most projects successfully. Those seeking this credential must meet several academic and professional standards. In addition to earning a four-year degree, candidates must also complete 36 months of experience leading projects and have an additional 35 hours of project management education and training. They will also need to pass a 180-question examination.
PMI also offers professional memberships that can help further demonstrate dedication to the field, as well as offering various continuing education opportunities. Becoming a member has many benefits including access to exclusive publications, valuable knowledge and resources, and networking events. With a significant network connecting over one million global project management peers and experts throughout the world, this is a great way to engage with other professionals. Members can also view and utilize thousands of helpful tools, templates, articles, and guides.
PMI manages over 300 local chapters hosting events, topical sessions, and information meetups. Mississippi residents can join the Central Mississippi Chapter after becoming PMI members. The Central Mississippi Chapter seeks to promote project management to professionals in the area through networking, education, and various social activities.
Potential Careers for Project Management Graduates
- Business Administrative Services Manager
Administrative services managers are hired by companies and organizations to ensure operations run smoothly and efficiently in assigned office spaces. These professionals typically supervise staff responsible for answering phones, distributing mail, storing paperwork, and scheduling meetings. They may also be tasked with performing various administrative operations, from hiring and training new employees to 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 work for various types of companies and organizations, overseeing and managing image development in magazines, newspapers, product packaging, and entertainment productions. These professionals have the knowledge and skills to complete designs themselves, but they may also supervise other workers. In either case, they spend a lot of time talking to clients, reviewing ideas, and approving completed assignments. Additionally, art directors are often tasked with establishing project timetables and maintaining associated budgets, as well as presenting finished products to their employers. According to PayScale, art directors make an average base salary of $72,326 per year.
- Construction Manager
Construction managers plan and coordinate various types of construction projects for the individuals, companies, and organizations that hire them. Every job is different, but this type of work generally entails preparing cost estimates, explaining contracts, collaborating with architects, selecting subcontractors, and maintaining budgets throughout the building process. These professionals must also supervise workers, monitor overall progress, deal with delays, and respond to any emergencies, as well as ensuring that all activities comply with related legal requirements. According to PayScale, construction managers make an average base salary of $80,035 per year.
- Digital Marketing Manager
Digital marketing managers are hired by companies and organizations to promote brands, products, and/or services. This generally entails planning and overseeing advertising campaigns and actively participating in the art design process. They also spend a lot of time performing data analysis to identify potential trends among intended audience members and overseeing associated social media platforms. According to PayScale, digital marketing managers make an average base salary of $71,038 per year.
- Engineering Project Manager
Engineering project managers are typically responsible for overseeing the work performed by engineering teams on assigned projects. In addition to ensuring daily operations run smoothly, they also make sure that all the engineers, designers, and manufacturers involved coordinate their efforts. They may also be tasked with managing project budgets and performing regular cost analyses. According to PayScale, engineering project managers make an average base salary of $97,842 per year.
- Facilities & Organizational Manager
Facilities managers are hired to ensure all health and safety standards are met for the building(s) they are assigned. They may be responsible for carrying out a wide variety of duties such as cleaning, catering, general hospitality, security, and/or parking services, as well as responding to needs and concerns as they arise. In some cases, they are also tasked with overseeing operations and maintenance for multiple locations. According to PayScale, facilities managers make an average base salary of $69,785 per year.
- Supply Chain Manager
Supply chain managers work for companies and organizations overseeing various logistical details. This often includes analyzing overall operational performance and resolving issues that arise, as well as coordinating various details with vendors and supplies. They also ensure that all shipping, delivery, quality, and safety standards are properly met. According to PayScale, supply chain managers make an average base salary of $84,999 per year.
- Training and Development Manager
Training and development managers are hired by companies and organizations to ensure their other workers are sufficiently prepared to properly do their jobs. They are generally responsible for coordinating various training and professional development opportunities, during which employees learn new skills and develop existing ones. These professionals frequently oversee planning, management, and budgeting for training programs, as well as producing applicable learning materials, verifying content, and delivering information. According to PayScale, training and development managers make an average base salary of $80,407 per year.
- Project Management Specialists. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
- Management Occupations. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
- May 2021 State Occupational Employment and Wages Estimates: Mississippi. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
- Project Management Institute (PMI) Central Mississippi Chapter