How to Become A Technical Project Manager
Every company, big or small, has several projects running simultaneously. It’s impossible for managers to look into each project and run them all efficiently. There’s just too much work to do.
That’s why companies hire project managers. A project manager takes care of the day-to-day workings of a project, assumes responsibility for liaising between clients and the company, and sustains all project-related communication internally and externally.
A technical project manager works largely within the company and usually under a project manager. However, they frequently speak with the clients too. For instance, picture a company that outsources education services to clients. This company handles projects on content creation for various school subjects ranging from English to mathematics, physics, history, and geography. Their project manager would acquire clients who pay for content creation services. A technical project manager then handles individual projects for specific subjects and makes sure that the deadlines are met.
Apart from expertise in project management, technical project managers must have knowledge of hardware and software installation, troubleshooting techniques, site maintenance, upgrading, and application and program development.
If those responsibilities sound appealing, you probably want some more details on this career path. In this article, you’ll learn about the responsibilities and job profile of technical project managers. So let’s get into it.
Responsibilities of a Technical Project Manager
First, let’s go over the responsibilities you’d hold as a Technical Project Manager.
Management – You’d be responsible for overseeing a project from its inception until its completion.
Follow Guidelines – You’d have to make sure that the project’s strictly within the budget, scope, and timeline of the company. You’ll need to recognize the client’s needs as well as the company goals to make sure that the two meet.
Coordination – You’re responsible for coordinating team managers and technical professionals across all phases of the project. You’ll also also execute each phase of the project, communicate with all the stakeholders, and coordinate between department heads to ensure smooth implementation of the project.
Stay Ahead of the Game – You must also predict the future requirements of a project and keep tabs on any new developments in the field.
Delegation – You’ll be responsible for brainstorming and planning projects and allocating project tasks to various team members.
Reporting – You’re also responsible for preparing periodic reports regarding project deliverables.
Negotiations – The last important responsibility we’ll note, is that you’ll oversee the acquiring of resources that are needed throughout a project and negotiate the price of resources with suppliers and vendors.
Qualifications Required to be a Project Manager
Usually, a technical project manager works in the IT field, and so, you have the option of getting a degree in computer science, engineering, or other related subjects. Many professionals in this role also have a bachelor’s degree in management information systems. If you choose to go the degree route, an in-depth knowledge of computer programming, software development, and mathematics are also needed. You should be proficient in at least one of the most relevant web development languages like Python or Ruby.
If you want to take your university degree a step further, you can go for a master’s degree which can give you an edge in the job market. Generally, an MBA is preferred, but since it takes two years to complete, many professionals pursue this while they’re employed. It’s important that this is completely optional, and you can even get work without spending years and years at university.
Another great option if you don’t want to spend a lot of time and money at school is bootcamps. Bootcamps are a fast-tracked way to launch your career because they squish a ton of information into a short amount of time. Ours at Thinkful also includes practical experience, 1-on-1 mentorship, and career counseling. So, if you want to land your first career position in less than a year, bootcamps are the way to go.
Certifications aren’t a requirement in this field either, but with more competition, another certification never hurts. If you want to get certified, Project Management Professional (PMP) through the Project Management Institute (PMI) is a good option. If you aim to work at a tech firm, then agile certifications like Certified Scrum Master are what you should go for.
A Technical Project Manager likely won’t be the first job you land fresh after graduation; you’ll have to work towards it. In this case, your previous work experience also matters greatly. Knowledge of computer systems, manufacturing environment, development work, and other IT-related profiles are particularly important. Additionally, you must ensure that your previous work experience encapsulates traits through which you can display your background in leadership, management, teamwork, and interaction with customers.
Skills Technical Project Managers Need
To land a job in project management, you’ll need a few key hard and soft skills.
As mentioned above, you’ll need to learn at least one programming language like Python or Ruby to be considered ready for this field. It’s also important that you’re good with numbers and enjoy math. You should hold process management skills like budgeting, resourcing, invoicing, project launch, project delivery, reviews, reporting, and evaluations. You must be confident in project initiation which involves pitching, preparing documents and plans, holding discovery sessions, or simply coming up with a business area that is relatively less explored.
Project planning is essential to this role and you must be able to architect a course of the project that meets the objective of both the client and your company while remaining well within the budget and other constraints. For this, you’ll need to formulate timelines, estimates, briefs, meeting plans, and statements of work. You’ll stay on top of documentation development which involves recording the process and keeping tabs on costs, timeline, scope, stakeholders, and the contract for the project. It’s crucial that you nail task management, which includes the skill of scheduling, monitoring, and then assessing the progress of your project as well as its quality.
You’ll want to learn basic wireframing, copy, design, and coding. Also, some tools you’ll want to be familiar with are Agile tools like Kanban, Scrum, or XP.
Some soft skills you’ll want in this role are:
- Excellent analytical skills
- The ability to work under pressure with strict deadlines.
- Competent decision-making skills.
- Excellent business acumen.
- Strong leadership skills.
- Excellent communication and interpersonal skills.
- Superior organization.
- Teamwork and problem-solving skills.
Technical Project Manager Salary
We get it, we’re all curious about how much we can make in our potential career path. Salaries are important, so here are the top employers in the United States for this role along with their locations and salary information.
- Selby Jennings, New York, $190,372 average Project Manager salary
- Apex Systems, Maryland, $154,279 average Project Manager salary
- Walmart, California, $148,752 average Project Manager salary
This chart represents the companies who’ve hired the highest number of Technical Project Managers. However, other companies tend to receive more Technical Project Manager applicants. The following companies get a lot more applicants because of a combination of factors apart from compensation packages like opportunities for growth, work culture, reputation, etc. AT&T Inc. Nokia, Inc. Decagon Devices HCL America, Inc. Booz, Allen, and Hamilton Cerner Corporation Applied Materials Inc International Business Machines (IBM) Corp.
Technical Project Management Career Growth
Another great aspect of Technical Project Management is that you can progress into other roles as you gain more experience. Some titles you may be able to land after some time in the field are Project Manager, Senior Project Manager (IT), and Technical Program Manager. These positions will allow you to have a greater responsibility, and you’ll make more money. So, if you want to pursue a field with room for growth, technical project management’s a great direction to go. When we look at financial earnings for Technical Project Managers based on skills, then we can see that team leadership, Agile software development, and strategic project management are skills that help you increase your salary. On the other hand, if you only hold simple technical analysis and project management skills, you’ll likely make a lower amount compared to the average pay rates. However, you’ll still make a comfortable living.
Tips for Starting a Career in Technical Project Management
If you’re ready to get into the field of technical project management, we’ve got a career-focused bootcamp designed for you. We’ve built all of our bootcamps to achieve impressive career outcomes for our students, and that’s why we have a money back guarantee. If you don’t land a job in your field making at least $40,000/year within six months post-graduation, you don’t pay a cent for your education. So, if you’re interested, reach out to a member of our team and we’ll give you all the details you need to succeed.
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