Project management is the discipline of initiating, planning, executing, and managing a team to complete a project under given constraints.

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Imagine taking on the project of building a dream home. You’d need to secure different types of experts, materials and building permits as well as be up to date on the latest regulations and laws. Next, you’d need to juggle the schedule and costs of all the different parts of the project to ensure you’d come in under budget and on time — a daunting endeavor.

Now, imagine that same process, only you’re faced with tackling a massive project within your company. Project management is the discipline of initiating, planning, executing, and managing a team to complete a project under given constraints, usually scope, time and budget. It’s a career path that has exploded in the last decade and shows no signs of slowing down.

Becoming a project manager

Linh Luong is the program director for both the Bachelor of Science in Project Management and the Master of Science in Project Management at City University of Seattle. Before she went into teaching and academia, she spent more than a decade in software development in a project management role, at a time when this career path was emerging.

Like many of her students, Luong became a project manager by accident. She had worked at her company for a long time, knew the environment and the way her organization was moving along and had a good reputation — so she was placed in a project management role because of her subject matter expertise.

Project management opportunities are bubbling to the surface throughout today’s companies, both large and small. Are you ready to seize the opportunity? Many are ready to take the next step in their careers but are simply unaware. Luong adds, “When you have an accidental project manager, they may come with expertise in the area they know, but don’t come with foundational skills to run a project.” However, the foundational skills are easily acquired — and can be completed in as little as one year. “A lot of employees go back to school to learn the fundamentals, which results in a higher chance of success.”

Luong says that getting educated at an accredited institution gives both burgeoning and longtime project managers a leg up. A formal education not only looks good on a résumé but also strengthens skills in leadership, strategy, business intelligence, and communication.

Luong’s students either go through a project management program online — many of her students are all across the globe from Eastern Europe to China to New York — or they go through a face-to-face fast-track program, which is cohort-style.

“That means they move through the program with the same students until they graduate,” says Luong. “Not only do they do the same group work with the same peers, but they also get face-to-face time with industry expert instructors.” All project management instructors at City University have at least 10 years of hands-on job experience. The fast-track program can be finished in as little as one and a half years.

The future of project management

According to a 2017 report by PMI, “Job Growth and Talent Gap,” demand for project managers is growing faster than demand for workers in other occupations.

“The outlook for project management jobs is very good,” says Luong. “If you just go out there and look into job searches today, there are thousands and thousands of organizations and companies looking for project managers.”

In the 2017 PMI report, it was estimated that by next year in 2020, there would be 65.9 million project management jobs to be filled, which is a significant increase from PMI’s previous projection, in 2012, of 52.4 million.

Part of the reason this career path is expanding so rapidly is that as technology advances and changes, new project management-related roles must be created to keep pace.

In the future, everyone will rely more and more on artificial intelligence. Rather than supplanting human workers, Luong envisions artificial intelligence as a tool people will wield to bring projects to market faster, at reduced cost, because it will eliminate human labor related to repetitive, administrative tasks.

“In the future, project managers will use AI to collect and comb through data,” says Luong. “As a human, you don’t have to comb through data yourself. … I think AI will become an advantage and a helper for project managers, to help predict analytics for where a project could go. More jobs would be developed in the realm of project management in new specialties related to AI.”

City University of Seattle’s project management programs are accredited through the Project Management Institute, an organization that sets industry standard globally for project management. Learn more at CityU.edu or 888-422-4898.