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Is a Degree in Project Management Required?

Degree in Project Management

A degree in Project Management isn’t something which is common, and while it’s not a bad idea if you are selecting a degree program for yourself, it’s not something I’d argue you need to go get if you already have a 4-year degree. Especially not a masters degree in project management without any real-world experience.

Dita wrote to me yesterday:

How to Start PM Career without any PM background

Hi Josh,

I am a fresh grad majoring in Psychology, now working as HR Analyst for less than a year.

I am exploring all possible career option for me, and I came across of Project Management. This profession seems to interest me very much!

Now my question is, how do I start to project management without having any PM background. My interest is managing project in oil and gas sector. Do you advice I should take PM training and courses, or I should directly look for PM jobs?

If I were to look for jobs, what position should I start? Project Assistant or do you have better suggestion.

I really appreciate your advice on this. Thank you Josh!

I answered Dita’s question directly, however I want to address something specific I see very often.

If In Doubt, Seek Experience First

I recommend building up a foundation of knowledge of project management while very actively seeking a role (paid or volunteer) in which you can gain exposure and experience of managing projects first-hand.

Knowledge is awesome, but I see too many who have project management certificates or even a post-graduate degree in project management without any real-world experience. In a role like project management, this just doesn’t work out. You need to gain some experience.

Now, how to become a project manager you ask?

  • Take stock of your starting point. I see a 4-year degree as a minimum, then experience rules.
  • Make a plan for your project management career.
  • Learn as much as you can, which doesn’t necessarily mean going back to school.
  • A piece of paper that says you did something is great, but never rely on that for anything.
  • Build and maintain professional relationships, groom your network.
  • Research organizations and target those who value project management.
  • Refine your plan and execute on it relentlessly.
  • Once you have gained several years of experience managing projects, you can make an informed decision about whether going back to school for an advanced degree makes sense.

Any questions you’d like to ask me? Any advice you want to offer from your perspective on this topic? Please leave a comment below.

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