How to be an IT project manager

IT stands for information technology. A career in IT means a job working with computers and the information they store and use. A project manager organizes projects and tasks and the people that do them. Find out how to become an IT project manager.

 IT project manager in his office

What is an IT project manager?

An IT project manager in a medium-size business oversees the IT systems (computers and networks) in all departments. He or she supervises the tech staff and plans new systems as the company grows. The project manager makes sure all systems are working and secure.

Other names for this job are computer and information systems manager or just IT manager. More and more companies are looking for IT project managers as their companies change and grow.

About the job

What can you expect in the job of IT project manager?

Duties of an IT project manager

An IT project manager spends a lot of time dealing with people. Most of these people are carrying out computer-related tasks and projects. The project manager makes sure staff know what to do and that they do it on time. IT project managers also communicate with people who want the projects done. They report to their employers and keep them up to date.

Any project manager solves problems when they come up. So an IT project manager solves problems in hardware, software, security, or in his or her company’s computer network.

Duties also include:

  • Managing schedules
  • Writing reports
  • Sending emails and making calls
  • Helping the IT team fix problems
  • Setting priorities
  • Creating new systems
  • Preventing future problems

Workplace

IT project managers work in medium-size to large organizations and businesses. Most IT project managers work in an office with the rest of the IT staff.  Some may work remotely using video and phone connections. Most project managers are employees, but others may be freelance (hired for a particular project). Project managers work long hours at busy times.

Salary for IT project managers

The salary for project managers depends on experience and qualifications. It ranges from $60,000 to $200,000 a year, with most managers earning about $140,000.

About the person

What kind of person makes a good IT project manager? If you like computer technology, solving problems, and dealing with people, then IT project manager may be a good career for you.  

Qualities you should have

  • Good at analyzing information
  • Great communication – IT project managers must communicate constantly with team members and give clear instructions
  • Good at planning and organization
  • Able to resolve conflicts
  • Able to make presentations
  • Being cautious and careful of details

Skills you will need

  • Computer skills
  • Leadership skills
  • Up-to-date understanding of hardware, software, and security issues
  • Contract management
  • Risk management
  • Budgeting
  • Report writing

Get qualified

What training, certification and experience do IT project managers need?

Training for IT project managers

An IT project manager will need a degree. Basic computer degrees are information technology, computer science, and computer engineering.  

A degree in management information system (MIS) will combine management and computer technology. Consider an MIS degree if you want to be an IT project manager. It will train you well for the job.

You can study for one of these degrees at your local community college or at a university. If you are working during the day, you can also study online for these degrees. Find a community college near you and learn more about getting an MIS degree online.

Certification

You need a degree, but you can also get certified in specific areas of the job:

  • Project management
    A Project Management Professional (PMP) certificate shows you know how to manage projects.
  • Security
    CASP and CISSP certificates show you are qualified to handle advanced cybersecurity issues.
  • Software frameworks
    AGILE and SCRUM certificates show that you know the framework that many software developers use. These certificates are for people who are already IT professionals.

All these certifications are for people who already IT professionals. Do you really need these certifications? If you work in certain areas, such as healthcare and government, they may be useful. Read more about IT and project management certifications and find statistics and details about the job of IT project manager.

Experience

You will need experience in IT or in management before you become an IT project manager. You may have had another job in IT and bring your computer skills to the job. Or perhaps you have managed other kinds of programs, and you are bringing your management skills to IT.

What if I have no experience yet? Where do I start?

You can find an entry-level job in computer technology. Learn basic computer technology skills, such as coding or programming. Then you can get an entry-level job and gain the experience you need.

Find out more how to start your career and get jobs in computer technology. For example, you can:

  • Find jobs at Dice, an online employment site for tech workers
  • Find work at Upwork, a job noticeboard for internet-based freelancers

Learn more

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