In the earliest days of proto-humans two million years ago, Homo Erectus began hunting cooperatively, employing stone tools and teamwork to catch, trap and kill their quarry. The leader of the hunting party, the hominid who assessed risk, assigned roles and led the development of strategy, who tracked time and arranged retrieval of the prey, that ancient pre-human was a project manager.
Indeed, project management has always existed. It wasn’t until the early 1960s that it was recognized as a discipline within other kinds of work. Someone might be assigned to manage a project, but they could have any title or role inside an organization.
In recent years, business has recognized the value of employees with specific project management skills, and project management has grown from a function within other jobs to a distinct career. Companies large and small in a variety of industries employ teams of people who are led by a project manager.
The job market for project managers has blossomed post-Great Recession. Globalization, outsourcing, and the rise in enterprise technology have accelerated the growth of project management jobs, particularly here in the Lowcountry where manufacturing and tech are booming.
Recruiter.com reports that job listings for project managers nationwide has increased 30% in the past five years. The Project Management Institute projects that 1.3 million project manager jobs will open by 2020.
A project manager must master the technical skills to schedule and run the operations of a project, the financial skills to track its costs and the people skills to forge collaboration among diverse team members.
Most project managers obtain other skills before learning the specific craft of project management. They are engineers, software developers, health care administrators, etc. In the Lowcountry, they can obtain a master’s degree in project management from The Citadel and then take a separate exam for Project Management Professional (PMP) designation. Dr. Chuck Skipper, chair of the Department of Engineering Leadership and Project Management at The Citadel, says 95% of the students who graduate from the program pass the PMP exam.
“Employers realize that if you have a master’s degree in project management you must know what you’re doing,” he said. “The PMP is like a cherry on the sundae.”
The Citadel’s Project Management master’s degree is designed for working professionals, with a mix of book study and hands-on practice. The courses are offered at night through the Lowcountry Graduate Center in North Charleston, convenient to the entire Lowcountry. The program offers four core Technical Project Management courses, two core Project management-focused leadership courses and four electives of any kind that are appropriate to a student’s field of interest.
In addition, students accrue real world experience in their Capstone course, where they design and plan their own project. Among past Capstone projects: developing a wedding business, manufacturing affordable automobiles using 3D printers, installing solar panels on the SC Aquarium and debuting a micro-brewery. Skipper says a quarter of the students implement their Capstone projects after they graduate.
All individuals seeking a career path that exposes them to the full spectrum of an organization’s processes and a wide variety of personnel, and that provides enviable career opportunities, project management is a great way to go.
To learn more about the opportunities offered by The Citadel to improve your project management skills at the Lowcountry Graduate Center, click on the banner below.