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Project Management- Career Change

(10 Posts)
PurpleYoyo Mon 28-Dec-15 11:33:53

Hello All,

I am looking for a career change and I looked into Project Management as an option. It looks like the demand for PMs is increasing with loads of job openings in different sectors.

A little bit about me: I’m 35 and my background is in Further Education and, in particular, teaching English as a foreign/second language (10 years). I have managed and co-ordinated academic programmes (no budgeting involved), developed assessment/ learning materials and overall being involved in teaching and learning. I have an advanced teaching qualification and a MA in Linguistics. I have been on a second maternity leave for the last one year.

I don’t think that there is a lot of money in Education and even that I’ve been in senior positions my salary hasn’t increased a lot and realistically it will be very difficult to earn above the 30k mark. Now that I am a mother of two with a partner who is a good earner I feel that I want to make a good contribution to the family earnings and I am looking to be more stable financially in the long run.

So here are my questions re PM and I’d appreciate any advice and suggestions you may have and apologies if my questions seem to overlap a bit:

1.How does one become a PM?

I fully understand that it will take time to become a PM and I should probably start at a lower level and work myself up the ladder. But what is that lower level and what would be the best place to start considering my background? Do I look for a Project Officer/Assistant/Support and more importantly where? Any suggestions for reputable recruitment agencies/firms that can give me a head start? Most support jobs seem to be very low paid, i.e. around the 20k mark. I am prepared to earn less to start off with but realistically how long may it take to transfer from support to PM? I know it depends on different variables but, from experience, what are your observations?


I understand that there are loads of PM qualifications out there and the PRINCE2 is just one of them. I also understand that you don’t need to be qualified in order to be a PM and experience is what employers would look at first. But I need to start somewhere and was wondering if the PRINCE2 qualification would make me more marketable and give me a better chance in finding a support role. Do I need to do the foundation to start off with as I think that PRINCE2 Practitioner would not make any sense unless I’m directly involved in PM?

3.Progression route?

So with a background in education does it make sense to stay in the field or I can go straight to IT/Finance etc in a supporting role? It makes sense to me to stay in Education but I can’t see many jobs out there and the scope is very limited. I know bugger all about IT and Finance and don’t have the background knowledge. What fields can I move into? I am prepared to learn and I’m not afraid of exploring different fields but I don’t know whether in the real world an IT firm, for example, would employ someone with a background in Education who is PRINCE2 Foundation qualified with no previous experience. Thoughts on how I could best make that link in my career change? What would be the most sensible thing to do?

4.How lucrative is the field?

Again, I know this is a very subjective questions but what are your observations? How much does a PM earn? Does it depend on what sector you’re in? I.e. does IT pay more compared to other fields?

5.Job Search?

Where does one with little or no experience search for jobs and opportunities? Do you know of any reputable recruitment agencies or companies I can look into? Where do I search for support roles for specific sectors? Is an internship an option just to get me started? Any links to websites would be greatly appreciated.

I think that’s all for now and thank you in advance for your comments.

JemimaMuddleDuck Tue 29-Dec-15 20:57:00

Watching with interest although my experience is that project management is a pretty stressful option, not 9 to 5 and PMs are generally not very well liked! You need to be very assertive without pissing people off.

PurpleYoyo Wed 30-Dec-15 10:18:23

Thanks for commenting, JemimaMuddleDuck.

Are you also looking to change a career? It will be good to hear what current or former PMs have to say about how stressful the job. I am looking for a well paid job in the long run and really want to move on from Education.

BestIsWest Wed 30-Dec-15 10:31:35

It's all Agile in my profession (IT) these days. Whilst Prince2 is also useful you may want to look at SCRUM if you're looking at IT. I'm not sure how easy it would be to work in IT as a PM without an IT background though.

Hoppinggreen Thu 31-Dec-15 10:25:14

I know a few PM's, they are contractors so very well paid but work incredibly hard and long and erratic hours. It's not necessarily a family friendly career.
The 2 female ones I know have a full time nanny in one case and a husband who works pt in the other. They often have to work 15 + hour days to bring in a project.
Sorry if that's all a but negative.

eastwest Mon 04-Jan-16 23:04:43

I looked into PM recently, but the impression I have is that how much it pays and how much work there is, is really dependent on industry. So for example,there seem to be a lot of vacancies for people with IT or construction backgrounds, but much fewer for people with arts backgrounds. I think you have to have the relevant background to be in with a chance for the jobs. I am not an expert in this field though!
Just a thought, but had you thought of setting up your own business delivering training in ELT? Could you deliver ESOL/ ELT courses for business? I know a few people who have taught ELT for firms (although to be fair they were mostly based in Europe) and it's better paid than FE by far. You might need to get in at the bottom though to build up the contracts but it sounds as if you have a lot of experience.

PigletJohn Mon 04-Jan-16 23:24:48

If you want to be a PM in the banana business, you need to know a lot about the banana business, and to have worked on similar projects, and to have some experience and training in PM. It is not enough to want to be a PM. You also have to be able to get people to do things when they don't feel like it.

Which business do you know about, and what projects have you worked on? I have met consultants and other people who have received training but have never actually done anything. I like to say it is like learning to drive by correspondence course.

IMO Project Support is not a good route as it is usually not about "doing" the thing.

eastwest Tue 05-Jan-16 00:00:21

You could set up your own project and get experience that way. The reason I looked into it is because I was awarded some money to deliver a development scheme in my art form for a particular group of people, so I ended up doing project management almost by accident. I don't think it will lead to a job though. But you might possibly be able to go self-employed, depending on the opps in your field.

Madbythesea Fri 08-Jan-16 22:17:38

I used to be a TEFL teacher for 6 years after uni. I switched to project Management 12 years ago. I would say teaching really helps with PM work. I have Prince 2, DSDM, and Agile certifications.
I will only work in Agile environments in IT. If you have any friends in the IT industry as developers speak to them they may be able to guide you in the right direction. PM me if you want any further advice and book recommendations.

OctoberOctober Sat 16-Jan-16 21:03:41

I moved into a commercial PM role about a year ago from a finance background. My observations:

Helps to have background knowledge of the industry, so I would concentrate on education to start with, you can change field when you have move experience.

No one in my co is focused on the qualifications for PM, but we don't work in IT where I gather they are pretty std.

It be very stressful; people will look to you to be the expert on all areas of a project and know what is going on. As someone said, you often have to get people to do things they don't want to do, often in rushed tinmelines. You have to be fairly thick skinned at times. I don't like this aspect! Your responsibility is ensuring everyone else does what they are supposed to which can be harder than actually getting stuff done yourself.

Pay wise, it seems like IT PMs get paid the most but I don't know how easy it would be to do this field without IT experience. I feel I would get fobbed off with all sorts of crap excuses that were hard for me to challenge! I earn 70k if that helps. I reckon entry level roles in my org are probably from 40k and directors are on over 100k.


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