How to Become an IT Project Manager (Wield the Web Wisely)

how to become an it project manager

If you’ve always been fascinated by the idea of leading technological projects or wondered what it takes to become an IT Project Manager, you’re at the right spot.

In this guide, we’ll delve into the SPECIFIC steps you need to embark on your journey to becoming an IT Project Manager. We’ll discuss:

  • The skills you need.
  • The education that can aid your progress.
  • How to secure a job as an IT Project Manager.

So, whether you’re a tech enthusiast aspiring to step up or an individual passionate about IT management, keep reading.

We’re about to unfold the roadmap to becoming an IT Project Manager.

Let’s dive in!

Contents show

Steps to Become an IT Project Manager


Step 1: Understand the Role and Responsibilities

The first and foremost step to pursue a career as an IT Project Manager is to gain a comprehensive understanding of the role and responsibilities.

An IT Project Manager oversees the planning, execution, monitoring, control, and closure of information technology projects.

The role includes managing teams, allocating resources, planning project scope, assessing risks, keeping a tab on deadlines, ensuring quality standards, and communicating with stakeholders.

It is crucial to understand that the role extends beyond technical knowledge.

You also need to possess strong leadership and communication skills as you will be leading a team and will need to interact effectively with various stakeholders.

Additionally, you need to have a strong problem-solving mindset as you will often be required to find solutions to complex IT issues in a time-efficient manner.

Knowing the responsibilities and skills required will not only help you decide if this is the right career path for you, but it will also guide you in the type of education, qualifications, and experience you need to gather.

Spend some time researching online, talking to professionals in the industry, attending relevant workshops or webinars, and even interning or part-timing in similar roles, if possible.

This will provide you with a real-world understanding of the role.


Step 2: Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

To pursue a career as an IT Project Manager, a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, Information Technology, Business Administration or a related field is typically required.

This degree will provide you with the foundational knowledge in the areas of programming, database management, systems analysis, and network security, which are essential for IT Project Management.

In addition to technical knowledge, IT Project Managers also require a strong understanding of business principles.

Therefore, courses in business administration, management, or finance can prove beneficial.

Some degree programs offer project management as a specialization or concentration, which can be a valuable option to consider.

During your degree program, try to get hands-on experience through internships or part-time jobs in the IT field.

This will not only help you apply what you’ve learned but also give you a real-world understanding of how IT projects are managed.

Remember, while a degree is crucial, it’s just the beginning of your learning journey.

The field of IT is constantly evolving, so continuous learning and staying updated with the latest trends and technologies is a must.


Step 3: Gain Experience in IT or a Related Field

To become an IT Project Manager, it is crucial to gain hands-on experience in the information technology field or any related areas.

This experience is necessary because it provides a comprehensive understanding of the various systems, processes, and challenges that might be encountered during a project’s lifecycle.

You can start by working in entry-level positions like IT Support, Network Administration, or Software Development.

This step is an excellent opportunity to learn and understand the practical aspects of IT operations, such as coding, system administration, network protocols, and software implementation.

Another beneficial step is to work on projects, either as part of a team or leading smaller projects.

This will help you understand the processes involved in project management like planning, execution, monitoring, and closing projects.

It will also help you develop critical skills such as leadership, time management, and problem-solving.

As you progress and gain experience, you may want to move into roles that have more responsibilities and management aspects, such as IT Team Lead or IT Supervisor.

This experience will provide you with a solid foundation for understanding and managing the complexities of large-scale IT projects.

Remember, the more diverse your experience, the better equipped you will be as an IT Project Manager.

Thus, it’s recommended to gain experience in different industries and work on various types of projects to enhance your skillset and expertise.


Step 4: Learn Project Management Principles

As an aspiring IT Project Manager, it is crucial to have a firm understanding of project management principles.

These principles include project initiation, planning, execution, monitoring, and closure.

Understanding these principles will allow you to effectively handle all stages of an IT project from inception to completion.

Project initiation involves identifying a project’s purpose and scope, as well as the resources required.

In the planning phase, you will need to define the project’s timeline, budget, and deliverables, and identify potential risks and mitigation strategies.

Execution involves managing the project’s day-to-day activities, coordinating team members, and ensuring that tasks are completed on time and within budget.

The monitoring phase entails tracking the project’s progress and making necessary adjustments to ensure that the project stays on track.

Finally, the closure phase involves evaluating the project’s success, documenting lessons learned, and ensuring that all project documents are archived for future reference.

You can learn these principles by taking formal education courses, obtaining relevant certifications such as the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification, or gaining practical experience in the field.

Furthermore, studying case studies and engaging with experienced project managers can provide valuable insights into the practical application of these principles.


Step 6: Develop Leadership and Communication Skills

As an IT Project Manager, it’s essential that you cultivate strong leadership and communication skills.

These qualities are crucial as you’ll be responsible for leading a team of IT professionals and ensuring that projects are delivered on time and within the allocated budget.

You will also need to communicate effectively with stakeholders, team members, and other departments within the organization.

Leadership skills can be developed through experience, but there are also various leadership courses and workshops available that you may want to consider.

These courses can help you learn how to motivate and manage your team effectively, make strategic decisions, and handle any issues or conflicts that may arise during the project.

Communication skills, on the other hand, are key to ensuring everyone involved in the project has a clear understanding of their roles, responsibilities, and the project’s goals.

Excellent communication skills can also help you to negotiate, persuade, and influence others, which can be beneficial when managing resources, tasks, or when changes need to be made to the project plan.

It’s also beneficial to have good written communication skills, as you’ll often need to prepare project documentation, such as project plans, status reports, and risk assessments.

You may want to consider taking a course in business writing or communication to enhance these skills.

Remember, being a good leader is not just about having the right technical skills, but also about being able to guide and inspire your team, and communicate effectively with a wide range of people.


Step 7: Understand IT Project Management Tools

As an IT Project Manager, it’s crucial to have a thorough understanding of the various project management tools used in the IT industry.

These tools can aid you in various tasks, such as scheduling, budgeting, resource allocation, communication, and documentation.

Many of these software applications also provide features for tracking progress, managing risks, and handling changes.

Some of the popular project management tools used in the IT field include Microsoft Project, JIRA, Trello, Asana, and Basecamp.

Each tool has its strengths and weaknesses, and the choice often depends on the specifics of the project, the team’s preferences, and the company’s infrastructure.

Invest time in learning about these tools, and get hands-on experience in using them.

You can do this by pursuing online courses, reading user manuals, or even taking part in internships or part-time roles that offer such exposure.

Understanding these tools will not only make your job easier but also enhance your productivity, efficiency, and effectiveness as an IT Project Manager.

Moreover, proficiency in these tools is often a prerequisite in job descriptions, so mastering them can increase your employability.


Step 8: Gain Practical Experience as a Team Lead

Having a solid understanding of the nuances of an IT Project is crucial for a project manager, but nothing is as valuable as real-world experience.

To prepare for the role of an IT Project Manager, you should aim to gain practical experience as a team lead.

This will give you first-hand exposure to managing resources, tasks, and timelines, which are all integral parts of project management.

In this role, you will learn how to delegate tasks effectively, manage team dynamics, and facilitate communication between team members.

This is also a great way to learn how to resolve conflicts, manage change, and guide your team towards achieving project goals.

Leading a team will also expose you to the challenges that arise during the execution phase of a project.

It can be a stepping stone towards understanding larger project scopes, budgets, and stakeholder management which are all key aspects of a project manager’s role.

Keep in mind, leadership roles may not always be formally assigned.

You can also gain experience by volunteering to lead smaller projects or initiatives within your organization, or even in volunteer roles outside of your workplace.

Don’t forget to highlight these experiences in your resume as they provide concrete examples of your leadership and project management skills.

Remember, the ultimate goal is to understand how to work with a team to drive a project from inception to completion, overcoming any challenges that may arise along the way.


Step 9: Build a Professional Network

Building a strong professional network is a crucial step for aspiring IT Project Managers.

Networking can provide you with useful insights, advice, and potentially open doors to job opportunities.

There are several ways to grow your network:


Attend Industry Events: Participate in IT conferences, seminars, and workshops.

These gatherings are a great place to meet other IT professionals and learn about the latest trends in the industry.


Join Professional Associations: Organizations such as the Project Management Institute (PMI) offer networking events, workshops, and certification programs.


Social Media: Utilize platforms such as LinkedIn to connect with other professionals in the industry.

You can also join relevant groups, participate in discussions, and share your thoughts on industry trends.


Volunteering: Offer your skills to nonprofit organizations or community projects.

This not only helps you gain practical experience but also connects you with professionals who share similar interests.


Alumni Networks: Stay connected with your university or college alumni network.

Many institutions have job boards and networking events that can connect you with fellow alumni in your field.

Remember, networking is not just about taking but also giving.

Be ready to offer help, share knowledge, and provide support to others in your network.

By building strong, mutually beneficial relationships, you’ll be better positioned to navigate your way in the IT Project Management field.


Step 10: Apply for IT Project Manager Positions

Once you have acquired the necessary skills, qualifications, and experience, the next step is to start applying for IT Project Manager positions.

Start by identifying potential employers in the sectors you’re most interested in.

There are a plethora of opportunities in industries such as IT firms, tech startups, software companies, financial institutions, and even governmental organizations.

Research the companies and roles you are interested in.

Understand the job description, responsibilities, and requirements of the position thoroughly before applying.

Tailor your resume and cover letter to each specific role, highlighting your relevant skills, experiences, and accomplishments.

Utilize job search engines and platforms like LinkedIn to find available positions.

Networking can also be a powerful tool in your job hunt.

Attend industry events and reach out to professionals in the field to build valuable connections.

Remember, the application process can be competitive, so take your time to prepare for interviews.

Brush up on your technical knowledge and be ready to provide examples of past projects you have managed.

Finally, don’t get disheartened if you don’t land your dream job right away.

It may take time and multiple applications, but with perseverance and dedication, your chances of becoming an IT Project Manager will increase.



IT Project Manager Roles and Responsibilities

IT Project Managers are responsible for planning, initiating, and managing information technology projects.

They lead and guide the work of technical staff and serve as a liaison between the business and technical aspects of projects.

They have the following roles and responsibilities:


Project Planning

  • Define project scope, goals and deliverables.
  • Develop full-scale project plans and timelines.
  • Identify and manage project dependencies and critical path.


Project Execution

  • Coordinate and manage project execution to ensure adherence to budget, schedule, and scope.
  • Monitor or track project milestones and deliverables.
  • Lead quality assurance and review project deliverables to ensure compliance with quality standards.


Resource Management

  • Coordinate recruitment or selection of project personnel.
  • Assign duties, responsibilities, and spans of authority to project personnel.
  • Manage project resource allocation and utilization.


Stakeholder Management

  • Act as a single point of contact for project stakeholders.
  • Communicate project status, progress, and issues to stakeholders in a timely manner.
  • Manage expectations of stakeholders regarding project deliverables and timelines.


Risk Management

  • Identify potential project risks and develop mitigation strategies.
  • Manage changes to the project scope, schedule, and costs.
  • Resolve or assist in the resolution of conflicts within and between projects or functional areas.


Project Closure

  • Ensure project deliverables are completed and handed over to the relevant stakeholders.
  • Conduct post-project evaluation and identify successful and unsuccessful project elements.
  • Document lessons learned and provide recommendations for future projects.



  • Develop and maintain comprehensive project documentation including project charter, project plan, and project status reports.
  • Maintain project artifacts and ensure they are updated and stored properly.


Technical Understanding

  • Understand basic technical aspects of the project to be able to coordinate effectively with the project team.


Financial Management

  • Prepare budget estimates and manage project budget.
  • Track project costs to meet budget.



  • Provide leadership and motivation to the project team throughout the project life cycle.



  • Facilitate clear and effective communication within the project team and with stakeholders.
  • Ensure project team members understand project objectives, specifications, deliverables, timelines, and tasks.


Continuous Learning

  • Stay updated with latest project management methodologies and technologies.
  • Attend training, workshops, and seminars to enhance project management skills.


What Does an IT Project Manager Do?

IT Project Managers are integral parts of any IT team, working within a range of industries or for IT consulting firms.

Their primary role involves planning, initiating, and managing information technology (IT) projects.

They lead and guide the work of technical staff and serve as a liaison between business and technical aspects of projects.

An IT Project Manager is responsible for managing the scope, timeline, and budget of IT projects, ensuring they are completed on time and within the allocated resources.

They are responsible for creating detailed project plans, tracking progress, and adjusting the plans as needed to meet changing needs and requirements.

They often deal with risk management, quality assurance, and change management within the context of their projects.

This includes identifying potential problems or obstacles and coming up with effective solutions.

They also ensure that all team members have a clear understanding of the project objectives, and they coordinate the team’s efforts to achieve those objectives.

Furthermore, they maintain continuous alignment of project scope with strategic business objectives, making recommendations to modify the program to enhance effectiveness towards the business result or strategic intent.

IT Project Managers often communicate with top management, project sponsors, and other stakeholders, providing them with regular updates and ensuring their expectations are managed effectively.

They are ultimately responsible for the successful completion of IT projects, ensuring they meet the specified objectives, deliver expected results, and bring value to the organization.


Essential IT Project Manager Skills

  • Leadership: An IT Project Manager needs strong leadership skills to direct their team effectively. They should be able to motivate and inspire team members, keeping them focused on achieving project objectives.
  • Communication: Clear, concise communication is crucial in ensuring all stakeholders understand the project’s goals and the progress made. This includes communicating technical information to non-technical team members or stakeholders.
  • Problem-solving: IT Projects often encounter issues and setbacks. Project managers must be able to identify these problems quickly and formulate practical and effective solutions.
  • Technical Skills: IT Project Managers must have a solid understanding of the technologies their teams work with, which can include software development, cloud computing, data analysis, and more.
  • Project Management Methodologies: Familiarity with various project management methodologies like Agile, Scrum, and Waterfall is necessary for planning and managing projects efficiently.
  • Risk Management: The ability to anticipate and mitigate project risks is crucial. This can include anything from technical risks to budget or scheduling risks.
  • Budgeting: IT Project Managers are often responsible for project budgeting. This skill involves accurately estimating costs, controlling expenditures, and ensuring the project stays within the allocated budget.
  • Time Management: Managing timelines and ensuring that project milestones are met is a critical part of the role. This requires excellent organizational skills and the ability to prioritize tasks effectively.
  • Vendor Management: IT Project Managers may need to negotiate with vendors and suppliers, requiring skills in contract negotiation and vendor relationship management.
  • Quality Control: Ensuring the project deliverables meet the established quality standards is critical. This involves developing quality control processes and conducting regular quality assessments.
  • Teamwork: IT Project Managers must be able to work effectively within a team. This involves coordinating team activities, resolving conflicts, and promoting a positive and collaborative work environment.
  • Change Management: Projects often involve changes to systems or processes, and an IT Project Manager should be skilled in managing these changes to minimize disruption and resistance.
  • Decision Making: IT Project Managers are often required to make critical decisions that impact the project. This requires sound judgment and the ability to make decisions based on data and information.
  • Customer Service: IT Project Managers must be able to manage client expectations, resolve client issues, and ensure client satisfaction with the project outcomes.
  • Strategic Planning: Understanding how a project aligns with the larger strategic goals of the organization is key. This skill helps in prioritizing tasks, allocating resources, and making decisions that support the overall strategy.


IT Project Manager Career Path Progression

The Foundation: Junior Project Coordinator

The journey to becoming an IT Project Manager often begins with the role of a Junior Project Coordinator.

At this stage, you will be involved in administrative tasks such as scheduling meetings, managing project documentation, and tracking project progress.

Here are some tips to excel in this role:

  1. Learn Continuously: Familiarize yourself with project management methodologies and tools.
  2. Communication Skills: Develop excellent written and verbal communication skills as they are essential for coordination roles.
  3. Organizational Skills: Keep track of multiple tasks and deadlines efficiently.


The Ascent: Project Analyst/Project Coordinator

As you gain experience, you could transition into the role of a Project Analyst or Project Coordinator.

In this role, you will be responsible for more complex tasks such as coordinating with different teams, analyzing project data, and assisting in project planning.

Here’s how to thrive at this stage:

  1. Problem Solving: Develop strong problem-solving skills as you will frequently encounter challenges that need resolutions.
  2. Collaboration: Learn to work effectively with diverse teams to ensure seamless project execution.
  3. Analysis Skills: Gain expertise in data analysis and reporting to monitor project progress and performance.


Reaching New Heights: Project Manager

After gaining substantial experience and expertise, you will be ready to take on the role of a Project Manager.

In this role, you will be leading projects, making crucial decisions, and ensuring that projects are completed within the stipulated time and budget.

To excel as a Project Manager:

  1. Leadership: Develop strong leadership skills as you will be responsible for leading and motivating your team.
  2. Decision Making: Make informed decisions that could impact the project’s success.
  3. Risk Management: Learn to anticipate, identify, and manage potential risks that could derail the project.


Beyond the Horizon: Senior Project Manager and Beyond

As your career progresses, you may transition into roles like Senior Project Manager, Project Director, or even into program management.

These roles involve managing multiple projects or large, complex projects and making strategic decisions.

Here’s what to focus on:

  1. Strategic Thinking: Develop the ability to view projects in a broader business context and make strategic decisions.
  2. Management Skills: Gain expertise in managing larger teams and complex projects.
  3. Continuous Learning: Stay updated with the latest project management methodologies and industry trends.


Pinnacle of Success: Chief Project Officer or VP of Project Management

At the pinnacle of the project management career ladder, you may reach roles like Chief Project Officer or VP of Project Management.

Here, you’ll be responsible for the strategic management of all projects within the organization, driving project management excellence, and making critical business decisions.


IT Project Manager Salary

Entry-Level IT Project Manager

  • Median Salary: $60,000 – $80,000 per year
  • Entry-level IT project managers typically have 0-2 years of experience and may hold a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field. They are responsible for assisting in project planning and execution.


Mid-Level IT Project Manager

  • Median Salary: $80,000 – $120,000 per year
  • Mid-level IT project managers usually have 2-5 years of experience and often take on larger and more complex projects, managing multiple teams and coordinating with various stakeholders.


Senior IT Project Manager

  • Median Salary: $120,000 – $170,000 per year
  • Senior IT project managers with 5+ years of experience are responsible for overseeing multiple projects, making critical project decisions, and mentoring junior project managers.


IT Program Manager / IT Project Director

  • Median Salary: $140,000 – $200,000+ per year
  • These roles require significant experience and often involve overseeing a portfolio of projects, strategic planning, and high-level decision-making.


Chief Information Officer (CIO) / VP of IT

  • Median Salary: $180,000 – $300,000+ per year
  • These high-level positions require extensive experience, deep technical and project management expertise, and often involve setting IT strategies for a company.


IT Project Manager Work Environment

IT Project Managers typically work in office settings, but due to the increase in remote work technology, many are also able to work from home or other locations with reliable internet connection.

They often work for tech companies, software development firms, and large corporations across various industries that have a significant IT infrastructure.

However, they can also be found in government agencies, non-profit organizations, and educational institutions.

An IT Project Manager’s work schedule is typically full-time and may include additional hours to meet project deadlines.

Their role involves close collaboration with various departments such as software development, quality assurance, and upper management, to ensure projects are completed on time and within budget.

Since the role demands managing multiple tasks, prioritizing deadlines, and handling team dynamics, it can be stressful at times.

However, the thrill of problem-solving, creating innovative solutions, and the satisfaction of project completion can be highly rewarding.

Over time, an IT Project Manager may progress to roles of greater responsibility within their organization, such as IT Director or Chief Information Officer.

They may also opt to work as freelance consultants, giving them the freedom to choose their projects.


FAQs About Becoming an IT Project Manager

What is needed to become an IT Project Manager?

To become an IT Project Manager, you typically need a strong background in IT and project management.

This can be achieved through formal education such as a Bachelor’s degree in Information Technology, Computer Science, or a related field.

Further, certification in project management like PMP (Project Management Professional) or PRINCE2 can be valuable.

Key skills include knowledge of project management principles, understanding of IT systems and infrastructure, excellent problem-solving abilities, and strong leadership skills.

Soft skills like communication, team management, negotiation, and adaptability are also critical in this field.


How long does it take to become an IT Project Manager?

The time it takes to become an IT Project Manager can vary depending on your educational path and professional experience.

Typically, after obtaining a bachelor’s degree in a related field, which generally takes four years, you would need to gain several years of work experience in IT and project management roles.

This could mean an additional five to ten years.

Therefore, it could take anywhere from nine to fourteen years to become an IT Project Manager.

However, this timeline can be shortened with relevant certifications and accelerated career progression.


Can I become an IT Project Manager without a degree?

While it’s possible to become an IT Project Manager without a traditional four-year degree, it is more challenging.

Employers often seek candidates with formal education in IT and project management.

However, if you have significant work experience in IT and can demonstrate strong leadership and project management skills, it’s possible to secure a role as an IT Project Manager.

Certifications in project management and IT can also enhance your prospects.


Is IT Project Management a stressful job?

IT Project Management can be a stressful job at times, as it involves managing multiple projects with tight deadlines, resolving complex technical issues, and dealing with different stakeholders.

However, the stress level can vary depending on the organization, the specific projects, and the individual’s time management and coping strategies.

Many IT Project Managers find the job rewarding as it allows them to lead important projects and make a significant impact on their organization.


What are the prospects for IT Project Managers in the next decade?

The prospects for IT Project Managers are expected to remain strong in the next decade.

As organizations continue to digitize their operations and invest in new technologies, the demand for skilled IT Project Managers to oversee these initiatives is likely to increase.

Areas like cloud computing, cybersecurity, AI, and data analytics present significant growth opportunities.



And there you have it.

Setting out on the path to become an IT Project Manager is no small undertaking, but it’s unquestionably worth it.

Equipped with the right skills, education, and perseverance, you’re well on your way to making a significant contribution in the realm of information technology.

Remember, the journey may be demanding, but the opportunities are boundless. Your leadership could spearhead the next innovative project that revolutionizes how we live, work, and communicate.

So, take that first step. Immerse yourself in knowledge. Connect with industry professionals. And most importantly, never stop evolving.

Because the world is waiting for what you can orchestrate.

And if you’re seeking personalized guidance on beginning or propelling your career in IT Project Management, take a look at our AI Career Path Advisor.

This complimentary tool is crafted to provide tailored advice and resources to help you effectively navigate your career trajectory.

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