How to Become Project Manager

How to become project manager is the question that some analyst, coordinators and experts ask to them selves.

Having the first assignment as project manager is not always easy.

I did the switch from business analyst to project manager.

There are 3 areas that you should focus on if you want to become a project manager sooner:

  1. Get project management certifications
  2. Increase your knowledge about project management
  3. Gain project management experience before you become a project manager

It is not about one or the other, these 3 focus areas are complementary.

1. How to Become Project Manager? Get Certifications!

Why to get project management certifications if I am not project manager?

There are 2 reason for getting certifications even if you are not a project manager:

Firstly, the most trivial reason is because it is a new keyword in your CV. This makes even more sense if you are planning to try the move in another company.

Second, the most important about certifications from my point of view, the certifications give you the framework and the methods.

For this second point, it is not the certification itself that give you value, but the process to get certified, specially if you need to invest time studying to pass the exam.

Certifications are the outcome of the collective intelligence: knownledge and experience in put together to define a common way of working.

If you want to wear the shoes of a project manager, the certifications will help you to think as project manager.

Which certifications should I get first?

I strongly recommend to start with these two:

  • PMP from the Project Management Institute – PMI
  • PSF – Professional Scrum Foundations

The PMP certification give you the framework.

There is a never ending discussion about PMP vs Prince 2. I have both, but I find PMP easier to apply inmediately.

Scrum give you the method.

Scrum is a way of working. The ceremonies and roles are so well defined that can be used out of the box.

I think we must be ready to use the best of both: PMP and Scrum.

I use both in my projects, give a look to PMP vs agile project management: which one is better?

2. Increase Your Knownledge about Project Management

Project management is more than coordinating activities, preparing a plannings and creating reports.

The PMBOK defines 10 project management knowledge areas. Increase your knowledge about.

The knowledge areas includes what people think about project management: planning, coordination, reporting, but there is much more that you must to consider.

On top of the certifications and reading the PMBOK, I give you this list of 5 must-read book to increase your project manager knowledge.

The 10 project management knowledge areas in a nutshell:

Scope management: Helps you to define how to manage the scope, how to build a product oriented work breakdown structure.

Time management: Helps you to define how you will manage the planning, makes the difference between plan and planning, give you the processes to identify what to do, and how to follow up the work.

Cost management: Helps you to define how you will manage the cost of the project, how you will estimate the cost of the project, how you will monitor the cost of the project.

Communication management: Create your communication plan and monitor its efficiency.

Human resource management: This is about you will find people for your team, how you will create a team and how you will put them in conditions to succed.

Risk management: A structured way to identify, assess, define risk management actions and monitor the risks

Stakeholder management: Identify and analyst the impact of stakeholders on your project. The goal is to make stakeholders supporters of your project.

Quality management: This is about the quality of the product, but also about the quality of your project management processes. Continous improve your system to produce good things in the good way.

Procurement management: Resources don’t just appear, therefore, you must be ready to work with suppliers or partners and identify the right contractual relation to work with them.

Integration management: Put all the pieces together and ensure that decisions about how to manage a specific knowledge are is not creating problems for another one. This is integration management.

3. Gain Project Management Experience Before Becoming Project Manager

You don’t need to be a project manager to start acting as project manager, doesn’t matter the role you have.

This is about how you apply in the field the project management knowledge areas.

Some examples:

  • If you are analyst or expert:
    • Build a work breakdown structure for each of your deliverables
    • Create a communication plan for your deliverables
    • Prepare scope statement documents and wbs dictionaries
    • Identify and assess the stakeholders engagement
    • Create a risk log
    • Etc
  • If you are coordinator:
    • Use a work breakdown structure to monitor the scope of your iterations
    • Document how you manage communication in a communication plan
    • Run retrospectives and document the lessons learned
    • Align the planning with the work breakdown structure
    • Document the process to manage the team and monitor that these are applied correctly
    • Etc

Put in value all these project management activities when you are in an interview or you are looking for a project management assignment.

To be even more concrete, give a look to these 5 actionable tips for new project managers. Use them whether or not you are formally a project manager.


How to become project manager is not always easy but it is possible.

To accelerate the move, focus on these 3 areas:

  1. Get project management certifications as the process to get certified give you value
  2. Increase your project management knowledge, whether or not you are certified
  3. The most important, start acting as project manager regardless the role you have

When I hire analyst, I want them to become owners of their deliverables, end-to-end. I expect them to act as project managers.

I know that by doing these, the day they will have officially the title, they will already have the experience.

And you, what else do you think we can do to become project manager?