Project Management Degree

By Henry R. Steele - May 1, 2017
Reading Time: 7 minutes

The field of project management concerns itself with the experience, skills, knowledge, methods, and processes required to ensure a project is completed to satisfaction. Projects are endeavors that are transient and unique, and that have a clearly defined outcome, usually within a clearly defined time scale. A project is deemed as “successful” if it is completed within a set amount of time and a set budget, and that the outcomes are those that were previously defined.

Project management is different from regular management, because it has a finite time span and final deliverable. Regular management, meanwhile, is an ongoing process. Project managers, therefore, also require very specific skills, such as good business awareness, people management skills, and technical skills. They must understand why a project is necessary, what it needs to be completed, how it can be prepared, how it is agreed on, what its risks are, how to motivate the team, how to manage a business, how to communicate with all stakeholders, and how to close the project itself.

Opportunity

A recent analysis by the Project Management Institute (PMI) has estimated that there will be about 234,883 open project management jobs per year between 2016 and 2020. This would reach a total of 939,532 jobs during that period. They expect key industries with demand to be utilities, oil and gas, manufacturing, information services, finance and insurance, construction, and business services. The PMI also reports that this will translate into a $156 billion investment into the country. Globally, there will be 1.57 million available jobs per year by 2020, translating in $661 billion per year.

Interestingly, even the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has started to accept that project management is a field to be watched. As a result, they have announce that by 2018, they will create the “Project Management” occupational category.

Career Paths

According to a recent report by Payscale.com, those who hold a master of business administration (MBA) with a project management concentration can expect to earn a substantial salary depending on the job title. The report showed that:

  • Project Managers, (Unspecified Type / General), earn annual salaries of between $54,117 and $119,437.
  • Project Managers, Information Technology (IT), earn annual salaries of between $56,171 and $115,991.
  • Project Managers, Engineering, earn annual salaries of between $61,277 and $114,901.
  • Project Engineers earn annual salaries of between $54,631 and $118,136.
  • Project Managers, Construction, earn annual salaries of between $46,401 and $128,222.
  • Senior Project Managers, IT, earn annual salaries of between $69,317 and $123,291.
  • Project Managers, Operations, earn annual salaries of between $51,651 and $99,141.

Salaries

Geographical location is a key factor of importance in terms of how much someone can earn. That being said, it is essential to understand that areas with relatively higher salaries also often have a higher costs of living.

The Payscale.com report also looked at locations in which project managers are frequently employed, showing that:

  • Dallas, Texas pays an average annual salary of $93,425.
  • Atlanta, Georgia pays an average annual salary of $82,402.
  • Chicago, Illinois pays an average annual salary of $71,257.
  • San Francisco, California pays an average annual salary of $111,880.
  • New York, New York pays an average annual salary of $84,163.
  • Houston, Texas pays an average annual salary of $84,373.
  • Tampa, Florida pays an average annual salary of $95,000.

Employers

What is perhaps of greater importance than geographical location when it comes to salary for project manager is the company that someone works for. The Payscale.com report has also looked at the various popular employers for project managers, showing that:

  • Northrop Grumman Corporation pays an average annual salary of $63,319.
  • The U.S. Air Force (USAF) pays an average annual salary of $81,389.
  • Booz, Allen, and Hamilton pays an average annual salary of $107,233.
  • Virtusa Corp. pays an average annual salary of $100,000.
  • The U.S. Department of Defense pays an average annual salary of $114,373.
  • Cardinal Health, Inc. pays an average annual salary of $79,617.
  • Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation pays an average annual salary of $113,942.
  • The U.S. Army pays an average annual salary of $72,218.
  • Johnson Controls Inc pays an average annual salary of $119,000.
  • Sensata Technologies, Inc. pays an average annual salary of $92,250.
  • AT&T Inc. pays an average annual salary of $124,775.
  • Accenture pays an average annual salary of $96,650.
  • Securitas Security Services USA, Inc. pays an average annual salary of $55,955.
  • L-3 Communications pays an average annual salary of $82,000.
  • Medtronic, Inc. pays an average annual salary of $85,307.
  • The Boeing Company pays an average annual salary of $75,000.
  • Lockheed Martin Corp pays an average annual salary of $96,000.
  • Caci International Inc. pays an average annual salary of $77,000.
  • General Electric Co. (GE) pays an average annual salary of $84,000.
  • UnitedHealth Group pays an average annual salary of $91,000.
  • Veolia Water pays an average annual salary of $56,000.
  • Atlantic Testing Laboratories pays an average annual salary of $60,000.
  • Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems pays an average annual salary of $134,525.
  • Moffatt and Nichol pays an average annual salary of $68,250.
  • Ford Motor Company pays an average annual salary of $73,500.
  • Hks, Inc. pays an average annual salary of $85,000.
  • CenturyLink pays an average annual salary of $87,000.
  • Mission Support Alliance pays an average annual salary of $67,514.
  • Coroplast pays an average annual salary of $106,651.
  • First Data Corporation pays an average annual salary of $107,442.

Bachelor’s Degree

A good education is vital in a project management career, and this starts with a bachelor’s degree. Fortunately, this has become more convenient because many programs have now been made available online, although on-campus studies remain popular. One example of a bachelor’s degree in project management is that offered by Colorado Technical University. This degree is ACBSP accredited, one of the top standards in the field of business education. Furthermore, it has accreditation from the Global Accreditation Center for Project Management. It is also highly ranked by the U.S. News & World Report. The curriculum of this program includes:

  • Technical and Professional Writing
  • Speech Communications
  • Principles of Macroeconomics
  • Principles of Microeconomics
  • Introductory Written Communication
  • Professional Written Communications
  • American Government and Public Affairs
  • Modern American History: 1950 to the 21st Century
  • Introduction to College Math
  • Algebra for Business
  • Data Driven Statistics
  • Data Driven Decision Making
  • Introduction to Ethics
  • Introduction to the Sciences
  • Science and Technology- Laboratory Course
  • Environmental Science and Sustainability
  • Academic and Career Success
  • Humanities Elective
  • Accounting
  • Research Design Methods and Applications
  • Global Managerial Economics
  • Financial Statement Analysis
  • Management of Human Resources
  • Managing Organizational Change
  • Spreadsheet Applications
  • Management Fundamentals
  • International Business Communications
  • Organizational Behavior Principles
  • International Business Practices
  • The Legal and Ethical Environment of Business
  • Business Law
  • Operations Management
  • Business Policies and Strategies
  • Business Capstone
  • Introduction to Marketing
  • Introduction to Project Management
  • Introduction to Logistics/Supply Chain Management
  • Career Planning and Management
  • Introductory Business Practices
  • Project Risk Management
  • Contracts and Procurement
  • Project Performance and Quality Assurance
  • Project Cost and Scheduling
  • Human Resources within Project Management
  • Organizational Leadership
  • Project Management Tools

Master’s Degree

Of course, if you really want advance your career, you should consider having a master’s degree in the field of project management. This will give you the opportunity to gain advanced skills and knowledge in project management, and set yourself apart from the rest of the crowd. Just like with the bachelor’s degree programs, many master’s degree programs are now also offered online, which is even more important here because graduate degree students are often employed so they would like only a minimal disruption in their work schedules as they pursue their master’s degree.

An example of a high respected master’s degree in project management, and one of the few that still focuses on project management as an individual discipline rather than a concentration area within the master of business administration, Penn State World Campus, who have developed the Master of Project Management, which is available online.

Admission Requirements

Admission requirements have some differences depending on the college or university.. However, they are usually quite similar because these are needed to demonstrate whether or not someone has the academic capacity to complete a program at graduate degree level. For example, the requirements for Penn State World Campus for those seeking a master’s degree are:

  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution
  • All official transcripts
  • A minimum GPA
  • GMAT/GRE scores
  • TOEFL/IELTS for non-native English speakers
  • Two letters of reference
  • Statement of purpose

Curriculum

Schools are allowed to specify the components of the curriculum for each degree program as they see fit. This is why it is a good idea to study with an accredited university as this guarantees prospective employers that the completed degree included courses that meet the minimum requirements for the profession. The curriculum at Penn State World Campus includes:

  • Project Management
  • Cost and Value Management
  • Planning and Resource Management
  • Commercial Law and Project Procurement
  • Organizations
  • Interpersonal and Group Behavior
  • Strategy: Corporate, Business, and Project
  • Management of Projects
  • Enterprise Architecture Foundations
  • Enterprise Modeling
  • Engineering Across Cultures and Nations
  • Engineering Product Innovation
  • Project Team Leadership
  • Introduction to ERP and Business Processes
  • Operations Planning and Control
  • Purchasing and Materials Management
  • Electronic Business Management
  • Supply Chain Management

Financial Assistance

It is common to seek financial assistance when pursuing a higher education, especially for the master’s degree, as it requires a substantial amount of both time and money. Fortunately, colleges and universities will usually be able to signpost you to financial aid, and they may also have scholarships and grants available that you can apply for. At the same time, there are a number of external scholarships that you may want to consider, such as the:

  • Colorado Technical University’s Colorado Springs Campus Only Scholarship, to the value of $10,000.
  • University Institutional Scholarship from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, to the value of between $500 and $5,000.
  • University of Alaska Anchorage’s Hawk Consultants PM Scholarship, to the value of $2,000.
  • Purdue University’s College of Technology’s ProSTAR Scholarship Program, paying a third of a student’s weekend courses expenses.
  • University of Houston’s College of Technology’s Ted R. Akin Endowed Scholarship and the Mathew P. and Leslie Watford Verghese Endowed Scholarship, to the value of $750.
  • Centerpoint Energy Alumni Scholarships, to the value of up to $6,000.
  • William and Florence Fitzgibbon Memorial Scholarship, to the value of $3,500.
  • CIA Undergraduate Internship Program, paying between $38,815 and $41,033.

Take note that each scholarship will likely require you to meet certain requirements. These include studying at a certain school, taking on a certain concentration, aiming to work in a certain field, supplying proof of financial need, having a minimum GPA, belonging to a certain minority group, being a member of a professional organization, or being of a certain gender.

Certifications

While having a certification in the field of project management is not a requirement, it is advisable. This is because it shows expertise in a particular aspect of this field. Obtaining certification does require time and money, and you often have to maintain certification through continuous education credits, but it can open new career doors. Some certifications that you may want to consider in the field of project management include:

  • Project Management Professional (PMP)
  • Program Management Professional (PgMP)
  • Portfolio Management Professional (PfMP)
  • Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)
  • Professional in Business Analysis (PMI-PBA)

Associations

It is a good idea to become a member of relevant professional organizations as soon as you decide to study towards a project management degree, even at the bachelor’s level for a number of reasons. First, they often offer scholarships and grants. Second, you will always be updated about new developments within your field. Third, you may be able to complete certifications and continuous education credits. Finally, you can build a professional network that will certainly be helpful in furthering your career.

Some of the associations in the field of project management you may want to consider becoming a member of include:

  • Association for Project Management (APM)
  • Project Management Institute (PMI)
  • International Project Management Association
  • Association for Project Managers (APM)
  • International Association for Project Managers (IAPM)

References

Henry R. Steele
Henry R. Steele
Managing Editor
Henry is Managing Editor of BusinessStudent.com. He is a seasoned business professional who regularly consults with local business's throughout Southern California. Henry pursued his undergrad in Business and Economics at the University of San Diego and gained valuable life changing experience through a unique internship upon graduation.Follow on Twitter.com

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