Career options for project managers are escalating with a 150-fold increase in postgraduate courses in the discipline, according to the industry’s global non-profit association, the Project Management Institute (PMI).
The PMI accredits educational institutions with its industry-wide certification for the delivery of courses in project management.
PMI’s president and CEO, Greg Balestrero, says there is a significant trend for undergraduate and graduate work on project management as companies are demanding “more execution skills”.
“Since 2000 we’ve gone from 12 masters degrees in project management to more than 300 today, and we’re accrediting 15 to 20 university programs annually,” he says.
Just this week the University of Sydney announced its Master of Project Management degree at the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technologies was accredited by the PMI global accreditation centre for project management education programs (GAC) for seven years, effective February 1, 2010.
Balestrero says there is a growing trend for graduate interest in project management, and project management certifications for software developers and IT professionals can be quite lucrative in terms of career advancement.
“In federal governments there is a tendency to look for an IT project manager. We have a global standard guide for project management [and] we feel those knowledge centres are applicable to any industry -- construction, IT or healthcare. And the project manager manages diversified teams of technologies.”
Balestrero cited a CNN Money survey in the US of the top 20 jobs for the new decade, where number the number five spot is occupied by IT project managers, as an example of the growing interest in the profession.
In Melbourne for the PMI’s second congress in Australia in three years, Balestrero says there are about 8000 members and 5500 certified professionals in Australia and New Zealand. PMI has also recently open an office in Sydney to better serve the region.
When asked why IT project management has garnered a reputation for a high failure rate, Balestrero says progress has been made, but “not as much as we would like”.
“One factor is the executive sponsor. If that support is visionary and clear and [has] the ability to connect every IT project with a business solution it can enhance the overall performance of the organisation.”
Balestrero added an increasing level of certification has also contributed to an improvement in project success rates.
Keynote speaker Scott Berkun says the interest in project management is also increasing as more organisations move to a “everything is a project” philosophy, not just large projects.
“I wish more people thought about that as a way to attack problems,” Berkun says.
On project management software, Berkun says technology gives you a lot of things “but it can’t change culture”.
“People like to think they can buy a technology and make something happen. Technology can’t change culture, leaders change culture.”
“It’s easy for leaders to make proclamations, but if things don’t change that doesn’t mean anything.”
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