Getting Started in Project Management

by Josh

How to become a project manager

I get many questions from people who want to enter into project management as a profession.  After all, this is pmStudent.  One of the most common questions is “how do I get started”?  I received an email from a reader today with this question, and so I would like to share some thoughts with everyone else, too.

Let me start off by saying that there are many, many ways that very successful project managers got their start.  There could be plenty of PMs out there who began by earning a business degree online and others who earned better degrees. I can tell you about my personal experiences and share some pointers.  This is all just my opinion, (just like the rest of everything I write!) so take it with some skepticism.

Experience First, Education Second

If you have to choose between formal project management education or real-world experience, go with the experience.  In reality, this is not an either-or choice however.  Go with both but always emphasize your opportunities to gain real-world experience.  The optimal in my humble opinion is if you can be in a position where your projects are small enough that you have the flexibility to try out new concepts you are learning in real time. Volunteer efforts are wonderful for this type of flexibility.

  • Volunteer at work, school, and non-profit organizations you may not even belong to yet
  • As you learn, apply the concepts
  • Seek a project management mentor by asking questions of project managers.  Take them out to coffee or lunch as a way to tap into their experience and build professional relationships.
  • If you are already part of a project team, start paying attention to what the project manager does.  Offer to assist them in any way, even if you find it menial, and ask lots of questions.

That said,

Education is Very Important

  • Read books and blogs (see links in the lower-right corner of the home page)
  • Listen to podcasts (PM Podcast, PM411, Controlling Chaos-archives only, PM Prepcast)
  • In particular you may find Episode 62 “How can I become a Project Manager” and Episode 65 “BS and MBA in Project Management” helpful podcasts.  I’m interviewed in episode 65.  Since that was recorded, I’ve decided to NOT pursue an MBA in project management.  I’ve earned my BS in Project Management and am focusing on gaining experience and getting my PMP very soon.  An advanced degree just didn’t pan out in the cost-benefit analysis for me at this point in my career.
  • Know the tools: there are tons of computer resources that go hand-in-hand with being a project manager. One such example is workforce management software, which lets you keep track of every tiny detail and stay on top of things during any project. Do some research online and find out what’s being used in the industry today.
  • Join PM organizations.  My experience so far is with the PMI.  Join your local chapter, and some SIGs that look interesting.  I can recommend the ISSIG in particular, they have a monthly webinar that is usually on topics that apply broadly to all project managers.
  • PMP Prep material can be very valuable even if you’re no where near ready to take the exam (as long as the material is geared to you understanding it, not memorizing it).  The best one I’ve found for this is the PM PrepCast™ where I feel I learned a ton even if you set aside the PMP aspect of it.
  • Ask your management at work about helping you with a project management career track in the way of project management training, special assignments, etc.  It never hurts to ask!

    Leave a Comment

    { 213 comments… read them below or add one }

    Bruce October 14, 2008 at 9:47 am

    Another great learning platform is Prince2. This PM methodology started in the UK government but has been adopted extensively in the private sector. Here is a good introduction on WikiPedia.


    Dr. Paul D Giammalvo October 14, 2008 at 8:15 am

    Hi Josh and all,
    PLEASE……. Project management is NOT a profession!!! Project management is nothing more than a PROCESS, SYSTEM or METHODOLOGY, and that process, system or methodology is embedded in nearly everything we do. (See Zwerman et al, 2004, “Mapping the Past to Explore the Future” and Giammalvo, 2007, “Is Project Management a Profession? And if not, what is it?”)

    However, I pretty much concur with your advice on the experience first, degrees second, although I would contest your calculations on the benefit: cost ratio of a MS in PM.

    I hold an undergrad degree in Civil Engineering, majoring in Construction Management, my Masters in Project Management from GWU and my PhD in Project/Program management along with 40+ years of experience, and I can tell you first hand that while the experience is what teaches you project management, it is the degrees that boost your billing rates.

    Bottom line- some organizations, PMI in particular, have, IMPO, made project management into something much bigger than what it is or should be. And my major concern lies in the fact that so many projects continue to finish late, over budget, failing to meet quality standards or worse yet, failing to fulfill the purpose for which they were undertaken in the first place. As “professionals” we owe it to the practice of project management to focus our efforts on identifying and fixing the causes of what can only be described as something inherently wrong with the process to produce consistently abysmal results.

    Dr. PDG, Jakarta


    Al-Nisa Harris September 28, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    Hi Dr. Giammalvo,

    I like your straight forward advice. I’m actually interested in understanding ALL that there is to learn/know about PM and yes I agree it is a system. I am currently in the pharmaceutical industry and will like to go out for a position doing what I now do (quality control/ensuring accuracy) as well as becoming a project coordinator for a medical device. I am honestly a little lost but I would love to turn this confusion/fear around and become confident. What advice would you give someone like myself who’s education is in science but want to learn about project management?

    Thanks for your time,

    AL-Nisa Harris


    DrPDG September 28, 2011 at 6:59 pm

    Hi Al-Nisa,
    First, if you are in science, I guarantee you that to get there, you have been “doing” project management. How do I know that? My wife is an 8th grade science teacher and she used my PMBOK Guide to help set up experiential based science projects for her kids.

    The “processes” of project management (initiating, planning, executing, closing and controlling) were originally based on the “scientific method” meaning that you probably already have solid grounding in applied project management based on your training and experiences in the life sciences.

    Having said that, IMPO, the single best book ever written on “step by step” project management is Humphrey’s “Project Management Using Earned Value”. My suggestion would be to pick up a copy of this 900 page tome which includes hundreds of questions and dozens of case studies and at the end of finishing the book (which is actually quite interesting to read) you will have mastered enough of the fundamentals to be able to actually manage a project with considerable confidence.

    Put it this way- Humphrey’s is the textbook of choice that I use for ALL my courses on project management, not PMI’s PMBOK Guide.

    Once you have gained confidence in using the tools and techniques, then just start using them on your current job (surely in your current job you are given “projects” to do? Or at least an assignment you can TREAT as a project?) Or if you DON’T have any opportunity to do project work in your current job, VOLUNTEER to take on project work, either in your company or in your persona life. Then as your reputation grows as being someone who gets things done on time, within budget to the expected standard of quality, you will soon be in high demand.

    Pretty simple, actually, so don’t let anyone (or allow yourself!!) to make it more complicated than it need be.

    Hope this has helped you and best of luck!!

    Dr. PDG, Jakarta, Indonesia


    Joe March 2, 2013 at 4:07 pm

    I recently began a Dip in Administration Project Management course as I want to try and begin a career in this area. I have a Construction backround and I studied Quantity Surveying in college although unfortunately I was unable to finish my BSc! I have an opportunity to gain some experience from a friend of mine who owns and runs a successful Construction Management and P.M company but I want to try and really gain as much knowledge as I can about Project Management. I read your comments regarding good texts to purchase but I am not sure exactly which one you were referring to as they have a number available .
    Also I was wondering if you could give me some advice on how to develop the necessary knowledge and skills needed to be successful in this area.
    Any help would be fantastic!



    DrPDG March 2, 2013 at 5:50 pm

    Hi Joe,
    First, here is the latest link to Humphrey’s “Project Management Using Earned Value”…

    And my best advice would be to take the job your friend offered you. Arguably enough, construction project management is the most mature of the various incarnations of applied project management and from that basis, you can branch out in just about any direction you want to go with your career.

    Lastly, what you want is more than just knowledge and skills- you need to build COMPETENCY, which is defined to be “the quality or state of being functionally adequate, characterized by marked or sufficient aptitude + attitude + skills + strength + knowledge” (Merriam Webster and Oxford dictionaries) Skills and knowledge is only one part of being a competent anything.

    Here are two recent articles I’ve published, on the behavioral profiling of “successful” project managers and the second shows a competency assessment approach for cost estimators, but the concept can be applied to any occupational specialty or job title.

    Hope this has been some help to you?

    Dr. PDG, Jakarta, Indonesia


    Kelly September 21, 2013 at 12:54 am

    Hi There,
    I’m looking for information on how to transistion from construction worker to project management. Any suggestions will be helpful.


    Elijah Fox November 3, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    Hello, im only 16 so i don’t have anything to worry about until a graduate or am close to but i am in need to find a career with a left arm disability and project control management looks like a great choice. good pay good communication skills math and leadership skills i could obtain in the next 6 years but im wondering what i would have to major in(college) to end up in the project management position and if it just isn’t worth it and i should find a different career.

    but consider the main factor i want a job without physical labor or demanding tasks because of my arm.

    i am looking to be ether in construction PM or in the pharmaceutical industry.

    Thank you for your time it is much appreciated


    Josh November 3, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    Glad to hear you are looking into this so young, and that you have some idea about what industry you want to work in.

    There shouldn’t be any barrier to working as a project manager with a physical disability in nearly all cases. The exceptions may be where the type of project management requires ‘paying your dues’ in a role you wouldn’t want or be able to do.

    Because I don’t get a lot of teenagers actively seeking out information about project management, I’m pretty darn impressed with you Elijah. I’ve given you free access to one of my premium online training programs for PM Career Coaching. Please go through the modules and exercises (print fill out the worksheets!) and you’ll be 20 steps ahead of everyone else entering the workforce when you graduate from college.


    Satish Babu November 21, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    Iam really impressed with the article and the discussion.However I Request to get some suggestions and advices from the people out here.

    I have 5.4 years of Work experience as Windows System Administrator working for CSC and IBM and recently I completed MBA in HR & Finance thru Distance Learning last year.I left my Job at INDIA last month and Now Iam persuing Masters in International Business at Singapore.To become the Project Manager what kind of Qualifications that I need ? Is that the Qualifications that I have is sufficient to become PM ? Where to Start up and Which kind of roles i need to take up to become Project manager or directly I can apply for PM role?I donot have any Experience in Project Management.

    Please Suggest me something for my Career.



    Josh November 21, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    Thanks for the question! Check out to help you get started.


    satish babu November 22, 2011 at 4:12 am

    Hi Josh,Could you please be more specific on your comment please. As Iam not understanding what i have to do based on my qualifications, unless only the like i have is to get into Project management.So can u comment more on that please.



    Josh November 24, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    Satish, I had to put together an 8-hour course because questions like these can not be answered in text. I have to give you the tools to evaluate your situation and the resources to formulate a plan and execute on it. That’s why the platform of an online course at is the best answer to your question.


    Steve Beckering January 5, 2012 at 11:41 am

    Hi Dr. Giammalvo,

    I too like your straight forward advice. It’s refreshing to see a professional shoot straight instead of giving someone the run around. I am looking to get into the project management field and do not have any experience. I hold a dual degree in finance and hr management from an AACSB school and am looking to go back to school to get my MBA in Project Management. This school would be online through a non-AACSB school. Is it worth it to spend all that money without any experience? Am I just wasting my money, or will I find a job relatively quickly once I finish my degree?

    Thanks and I hope to hear from you,

    Steve Beckering


    Josh Nankivel October 14, 2008 at 10:07 pm

    Dr. Paul, thanks for the comments. I’m afraid you’ll have to bear with me calling project management a profession, for I use the term generally and not in the specific formal manner you do. Frankly, I don’t care to screen my use of the term on your account.

    When I spoke of the MS in PM, I was mainly referring to my personal family and financial situation. As I said, at this point it does not make sense for me, but it may later on.

    I agree we should be trying to improve the success of project management….one way to do that is build up a formal discipline or “profession” around it to identify best practices and improve upon them. Decrease the variation in the PM processes, etc.

    You seem to shoot down attempts at making things better without offering an alternative…


    Bill Duncan October 15, 2008 at 2:20 am

    To Bruce … PRINCE2 is really more product-oriented than project management oriented. It focuses more on documenting what the customer wants than on how to actually plan and manage the process of delivering it.

    To Paul … when you assert that PM is not a profession, you really need to note that you are using a very specific and narrow definition of profession. According to the definition in most English (and American) language dictionaries, project management is a profession.

    To Josh … maybe you should recommend (or even join) asapm. For a newcomer, there are many more opportunities with a start-up.


    Bruce October 15, 2008 at 2:38 am

    To Bill:

    I agree that PRINCE2 does not focus on specific techniques such as Critical Chain management, but is does cover the following aspects of a project:
    - Starting Up a Project
    - Initiating a Project
    - Planning
    - Directing a Project
    - Controlling a Stage
    - Managing Product Delivery
    - Managing Stage Boundaries
    - Closing a Project

    PRINCE2 does not focus on Product development as such but rather uses products as a metaphor for the outputs of a project, be they services, applications, processes, products, houses, moon rockets, etc.


    LouisvillePM October 15, 2008 at 3:44 am

    Josh I agree with volunteering as a way of getting some sort of basic understanding of and experience with project management. Volunteering at your local PMI chapter is a great way to get your chops and meet up with other local PMs that could potentially open doors.

    I’m finding that writing about the subject really helps me to understand past successes and failures and work on improvement.

    One other key to getting a foot in the door as a PM is learning how to stay organized and track things. I put together a Risk / Action / Issue / Decision (RAID) Log that I use as a single place to store everything related to a particular project, here:

    RAID Log


    Bruce October 15, 2008 at 3:52 am

    To Chris,

    We provide a suite of online tools for project managers including Risks, Actions, Issues, Budgets, Expenses, Change Requests, WBSs, Timesheets, etc.

    You can get more info over here: Programme & Project Management


    PotPeyProject October 17, 2008 at 6:47 am

    To Paul D. Giammalvo,

    Please sir, give us any reason why you think PM is not a profession? I have not seen any of them in your arguments.

    There are projects, right? Every business activity should be managed, right? Projects are business activities, right? So what?…



    Alex S. Brown, PMP IPMA-C October 23, 2008 at 6:44 pm


    Nice article on getting started. I would add two major additional recommendations: Find a role model and get help from a mentor.

    I have had a number of professional role models over the years. They are not famous people, but people whom I respect and admire in at least one important area. I asked them about their career (or researched it in magazines in books), and it helped me chart my own career plan.

    I have also had great mentors. I asked people for help and advice. I have only rarely asked for an official “mentoring relationship”. Usually it grew out of questions and replies with some kind of role model. Over time they were helping more and more and becoming a true mentor. I have been extremely fortunate to have a few bosses and coworkers who served as great mentors.

    Because there are so many ways to become a PM, it is good to find role models and mentors. Intuitively, I think you will be drawn to people who offer a viable path for you. It is a personal and difficult journey for many people, and a completely accidental journey for others. I wish you all the best of luck in your travels. If I can help anyone along that journey, please contact me.

    I would also add that Dr. Paul Giammalvo has great material on the professionalization of project management. He and I have argued over the years, and there is a lot of truth in what he says. Bill Duncan makes an excellent point that Paul is working from an academic definition of “profession”, not the common-language one. It is an interesting topic. Personally I avoid referring to project management as a “profession” out of respect for true professions like doctors and lawyers.



    Al-Nisa Harris September 28, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    I like this…well I can appreciate this. My interest is a medical device-product. How/Who can I use as a mentor to get started with this?? Should i start approaching family members/friends that have a pacemaker??? No seriously, how would I approach this unborn experience I long for.


    DrPDG September 28, 2011 at 10:08 pm

    I am not so big on this mentoring thing……. It can help, but is not “the solution” or “the answer”.

    The best advice I can provide for you would be to build a “brand image” as a person who undertakes projects and can deliver them consistently, on time, within budget at the quality desired. The formula is very simple, but to make it happen is not so easy.

    Ultimately, the key is whether you can deliver the goods. Build a reputation as a “doer” and people will be beating down your doors, begging you to help them with their projects.

    IF you want to get started immediately, then why not start taking classes at night in project management from a local university? While working during the day doing projects? I offer this because it is how I got going…… I was a carpenter by day but went to school at night to get my undergrad degree in construction project management. Tough way to do things, but it worked…..

    Dr. PDG, Jakarta, Indonesia


    Spencer November 11, 2008 at 8:39 pm

    Am I in over my head?

    I am a recent graduate with a degree having little to do with Construction Management and Project Management, nor am I an Engineer. However I have moved into a position as an entry level estimator for a Regional Prime Contractor. We primarily take on the horizontal construction of the project including but not limited to mass excavation, clearing, grading, utilities: domestic water, fire, sewer, storm drain, asphalt and concrete paving. I have hopes of moving into a project managment position, and personally I would like to earn a certification in Project Management and even a PMP certification. I just started researching this topic and found the PMstudent website today. I have already found a lot of usefull info and hope to begin my career path towards project management. may i ask though. Is this something attainable in the near future or a goal i will need to chipaway at over the years? By near future i will assume 1 to 2 years.

    Aiken, SC


    Josh Nankivel November 12, 2008 at 4:01 am

    Spencer, thanks for reading and congratulations on your decision to become a project manager!

    First, you are probably not over your head as long as you are willing to learn and grow professionally. Be sure you are learning the most from the job and the experienced professionals in your field (that’s everyone, not just the project managers!)

    Certifications are ok, but they should be for demonstrating knowledge and experience you already have. The PMI CAPM is an exception, and perhaps the entry level of IPMA. Those are knowledge-based certifications. The training and study you go through for any certification can be helpful if you apply it to your day job. I found this to be true with the training I bought for the PMP exam, which you can find here if you are interested. I bought it before I was ready to take the PMP, and it was a good general learning tool for the “PMI way”.

    For general project management wisdom and especially for construction, you can’t go wrong with Reforming Project Management. In you situation, I recommend you go back through the archives and read Hal’s posts. There is a lot of wisdom in there.

    I have other posts about my personal journey into formal project management, you can search or browse around the site to find them. Many PM’s start as estimators, project controllers, coordinators, or as a member of a project team. You can come into it from just about any direction. Feel free to email me anytime as well at

    Best of luck!


    Dr. Paul D. Giammalvo November 12, 2008 at 12:10 pm

    Hi Spencer,
    I wouldn’t even bother with PMI and the PMP. That organization is dominated by IT and Telecommunications people, and much of what they preach has a distinct IT/Telekom bias.

    IF you are serious about staying in construction, I would recommend that you get certified by the Construction Management Association of America or if you are happy with project controls, AACE has some of the better globally recognized technical certifications in terms of cost estimating, scheduling and project controls.

    Another suggestion would be the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) credential. While UK based, it does enjoy significant global recognition and respect.

    Bottom line- for construction, CMAA, AACE and/or RICS would be my recommendation over PMI and the PMP.

    Dr. PDG, Singapore’s Changi Airport


    Dr. Paul D. Giammalvo November 12, 2008 at 12:19 pm

    I don’t believe you have read my PhD dissertation?

    I looked at “profession” from the legal, sociological, economic, and semantic perspectives (full 360 degree view, based on 22 intrinsic and extrinsic attributes!!) and there simply is no way that project management qualifies as a profession. (noun)

    Are there professional project managers? Yes, absolutely. But just because there are professionals doing what we do for a living does not make what we do for a living a profession.

    I published a survey which some 400 respondents stated very clearly that project management is NOT a profession. It is a PROCESS or METHODOLOGY, and there has never been a profession founded on a process.

    Using the data from those 400 global respondents, I was able to determine where project management stands vis a vis other occupations, from electricians and plumbers (we are higher than they are) but lower than MBA’s.

    For anyone interested, email me privately as and I will send along the full dissertation…..

    Dr. PDG, from Singapore’s Changi Airport….


    Alex S. Brown, PMP IPMA-C November 12, 2008 at 3:42 pm


    I would disagree with Paul’s assertion that PMI is all IT&T people. It is a little over 50% IT and software people, as far as I have seen. It is a membership of over 200,000, so there are many, many construction people in that group.

    I recommend getting involved with the College of Scheduling if you join PMI. They have the largest concentration of construction, aerospace & defense, and other non-IT members. You will also find some of the real leaders in construction project management there – Plotnick, O’Brien, and others.

    I would recommend getting involved in AACEi and some construction-specific organizations as well. There are many things that I do not like about PMI, and I find that belonging to multiple organizations helps to mitigate those problems.



    Dr. Paul D. Giammalvo November 12, 2008 at 5:19 pm

    Hi Alex,
    You can disagree with me all you want….. According to the latest information I have from PMI, their membership stands at ~265,000 and ~27% were IT/IS; ~10% were Telekom; Business Mgt was ~7%; followed by Financial Services, at ~5%. Construction came in below 5%.

    And I never said that there were no construction people. What I said (and I stand by) is that PMI is DOMINATED by IT and Telekom people, and that their bias (through sheer numbers) is evident.

    However, I am happy to see that we agree that no one “professional” organization has all the answers and that it would behoove others to experiment around.

    For my American colleagues, I recommend that you contact Bill and find out more about asapm. This organization was founded by at least a few of the disaffected/disenfranchised former PMI leaders. asapm (the initials are intentionally in lower case to signify the members are more important than the organization) is the US representative for IPMA and more importantly, is ONLY US focused. Unlike PMI et al, asapm is not seeking global hegemony…..

    Dr. PDG, back in Jakarta


    Dr. Paul D. Giammalvo November 12, 2008 at 5:45 pm

    Dear PotPeyProject,
    The simplest answer to your question “Why isn’t PM a profession?” lies with the fact we do not own or control the Body of Knowledge. Regardless of which perspective you research- Legal, Sociological, Economic or Semantic, all researchers agree that unless you can define and control the body of knowledge, then you will be unable to call what you do a profession. (If you are interested, Andrew Abbott has researched seminal writings on this topic, as has Eliott Friedson)

    There are other serious obstacles, such as fiduciary obligations to the put the needs of the customer over those of our boss or employer; financial liability in the event we screw up; restricted use of the title “project manager”; and a host of other pesky issues, but when all is said and done, project management meets none of the extrinsic or intrinsic markers or attributes associated with a “profession” such as medicine or piloting an aircraft or law or teaching to a sufficient degree to warrant calling what we do a profession.

    At the risk of boring Alex, Bill and others who have seen this before to tears, the best analogy I can offer is this:

    Tiger Woods is unquestionably a talented golfer. One would be very hard-put to dispute the obvious, which that he is very competent at what he does,perhaps one of the best ever. Therefore he meets the first dictionary test of being a professional (n) – skill and competence. In fact, he is sufficiently competent that he makes a very handsome living performing for pay what most of us consider a hobby; hence, applying the second dictionary criterion, he meets the‘earnings test’ to be considered a professional (n). He is not an amateur. Having met both tests (highly competent and earning a living at what most do for a hobby) entitles him to be termed a professional (adj.) golfer.

    However, just because Tiger Woods meets the criteria to be called both a professional (n) and a professional (adj) golfer, does not necessarily mean that golf qualifies as a profession, although Woods might call it his profession (his paid job).

    Like you, I too would say “so what” except that some organizations, (PMI being the most egregious) are making claims in their marketing and other materials which claims very clearly that project management IS a profession. (I forget exactly, but I think if you check the PMI Code of Ethics/Code of Conduct you see the word “profession” like 11 times?)

    Given that initial research by Bill Zwerman and Janice Thomas as well as my own follow on research established that project management is NOT a profession, for PMI (and anyone else) to claim that it is, borders on false and misleading advertising or worse yet, delusional thinking.

    But even if we put all that aside, the fact that so many projects still “fail” (late, over budget, not meeting specifications or failing to deliver what they were intended to do) should tell us that project management is today where medicine was back in the 17th century. IF we want to professionalize what it is we do, then we need to EARN the trust and respect of the consuming public, and the only way to do that is through consistently delivering projects more successfully.

    Dr. PDG, heading to bed in Jakarta


    Spencer November 17, 2008 at 5:34 pm

    A respectful Thank You to all you, for your insite and opinions.
    Cant wait to get started.



    Hassan July 17, 2009 at 9:06 pm

    YOU’RE AN ANGEL. Thank u so much!!


    jamsid July 31, 2009 at 12:32 pm

    Hi Josh Nankivel,

    I’m from Srilanka(May b u might not heard of it), anyway i’m a Beginner. My ambition is to become a PM. I haven’t start anything yet. I’m waiting and searching to begin my self in a proper way. can u please help me out with my questions. i would be really thankful to you. e-mail me

    thank you.


    Josh Nankivel July 31, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    You can contact me at



    Joseph September 27, 2009 at 4:38 pm

    For those who says PM is not a profession, i totally dis agree. Let me state the fact that Project Management is a Profession, the process and etc. are just makes it a profession. There are courses now adays that directs individuals to become a Project Manager like any other managers do. schools and universities teaches these. I need everyone of you to understand that you are on the process your are working on your process and that your process is a profession, youre just not aware of it. cuz maybe your just overprocessed! Till then, it is a Profession!!! Period….


    Glen B. Alleman September 27, 2009 at 11:16 pm


    The self proclaimed heritics amoung us want us to accept that PM is not a profession. While at the same time those self proclaimed heritics sell PM training, conduct PM processe seminars for money (lots of money), and consult (for money) on how to improve PM process for global clients. Go figure.

    Stick with what works for you – behave in a manner that reflects “PM as a profession, act professionally, treat your team and customer in a proffesional manner, and ask ‘what would a true professional do in this situation?’”

    There is a small hand book for a former employeer (CH2M Hill) on how be act professionally while performing the companies business. That was the start for me of seeing my role as a Program Manager as more than a job and as a profession.


    Scott Norris March 8, 2010 at 10:32 pm

    Hi guys

    I know nobody has posted anything on here for a while, so I thought I would be the first for 2010!

    I was pleased to come across this site and to see Project Managers from all areas coming together to discuss and help new people onto the Project Management ladder.

    Many of the comments on here have really inspired me and the articles Josh has posted have been very useful to me.

    I am currently studying to become a project manager – the course is: CAPM and MCTS. It is a home study course and I am doing it in my spare time.

    I used to be an Air-Conditioning engineer but it wasn’t the right path for me. I am now working for myself doing property maintenance etc.

    I am really keen and desperate to get my first step onto the ladder. But I am struggling to find anywhere or anyone to take me on. Obviously, I would need to start at the bottom but right now that is hard because of the current recession.

    I would like to be in the construction side of project management as I have a great deal of experience in this area.

    Any tips or advice you guys could give me, or anyone you could put me in touch with would mean the world to me. I haven’t had much luck this year so far and I would really like that to change.

    Any response would be hugely appreciated.

    Kind regards

    Scott Norris (Surrey – UK)


    Josh Nankivel, BSc PM, PMP March 9, 2010 at 1:52 am
    Asad March 16, 2010 at 11:14 pm

    Hello I am new to america the promise land. I am thinking of becoming project manager after i finish my english course. But what would be the first thing i do. I am also young 20 years old. But no experience.


    Ozzy March 29, 2010 at 1:25 pm

    I am a financial services professional who would really like to start in the project management field. In previous post it was asserted that the pmi certifications are dominated by IT professionals. Do you konw if there are any other associations that are more specific to Finance?


    Josh Nankivel, BSc PM, PMP March 29, 2010 at 2:01 pm

    Thank you for the question Ozzy!

    While it is true that many project managers in general have an IT background of some kind, many do not. I’ve worked in financial services myself, but I was in an IT/IS projects role there. Some of the projects I did were solely process improvement though… many times technology was part of the solution, but sometimes it wasn’t.

    If you don’t have much or any experience managing projects yet, I recommend you don’t get caught up in the certification whirlwind yet. That’s putting the cart before the horse.

    If you’re into finance there are several ways to go.

    You could be a PM in a financial services firm doing all kinds of process improvement, automation, implementation projects, etc.

    Or if you’re a really analytical person who loves the numbers, there are all kinds of groups specializing in scheduling, cost management, Earned Value, etc. Depending on what part of projects you really love, the roles of business analyst, project controller, or project scheduler may be for you too. On larger projects this kind of specialization is common.

    I recommend you sign up for my free newsletter, it’s designed for someone just like you:


    Mariah April 3, 2010 at 3:08 am

    FYI…I’m only a 3rd yr high school student from MUN SCI here in the Philippines and i don’t know much (i mean a lot) about project management but i do like like to become a project manager. I just wanted to know what course should i take to become one. Sorry because I’m not such a good speaker. But I’ll be waiting for the reply so i hope you could accommodate me…hehe.


    Josh Nankivel, BSc PM, PMP April 3, 2010 at 4:21 pm

    Mariah, what is it that you like about the idea of being a project manager?

    Do you like the technical side of things?

    If so, then a technical path with some management/project management/business courses might be right for you.

    If the IT or software development is not your gig, then you may want to take a path with business courses, especially those that focus on operations and communication.

    Those are my thoughts based on your question.


    Mariah April 6, 2010 at 8:51 am

    Thank you Mr. Nankivel for the reply. I’ll just try to see both sides to figure out what I am inclined to.


    Joe August 7, 2011 at 11:22 pm

    Hey josh, how are you doing.

    based on mariah’s question, can you explain more about technical path in PM and what business courses that needs to be taken? and what are the job positions this could lead to?

    Thnx josh, You and Dr PDG are the best and the experts.


    DrPDG August 8, 2011 at 12:15 am

    Hi Joe,
    Thanks for the vote of confidence!!!

    I know you addressed this to Josh, but perhaps I can help you some. There are two “schools” that project management usually falls under. Either BUSINESS schools or ENGINEERING schools. To get an idea of what courses are expected from the BUSINESS end of things, check out the curriculum for the GWU MScPM program.

    And to get an idea of the TECHNICAL side, check out the course offerings from the Purdue Master of Science in Construction Management.

    What I think you will find is the only SIGNIFICANT difference to be the focus. While the topics are more or less the same, looking at the similar programs offered by Stevens Institute or Embry Riddle, I am fairly confident that you will find the topics to be the same (more or less) but while the business programs tend to more generalist, the technical degrees are more application specific.

    To share a first hand career path progression, I started out in the trades as a carpenter, earning my Bachelors in Civil Engineering, majoring in Construction Project Management- a very application specific degree. Then went on to get my MSc in Project Management (from GWU), which, while covering nearly EXACTLY the same topics as my undergrad degree, was more generic and business focused, than application. Then I went on to get my PhD in Project & Program Management (from SKEMA) which was much more general and broad in scope. Summarized, I went from specialist to generalist.

    So if you look at my career path progression, I EXPANDED the breadth of my expertise rather than narrowing it. Quite different than many, who tend to narrow their focus as they progress in their career path. (From generalist to specialist)

    Hope this makes some sense to you? And I will be curious to see Josh’s take on this as well……

    Dr. PDG, Jakarta, Indonesia


    Richard April 22, 2010 at 12:36 am

    thanks for the helpful information!
    I have received a couple of graduate offers from various firms and have been pretty undecided about where to go…
    Project management has also been a contender, and after reading your insight, I think I have the right education and company to start it off!
    Thank you


    Josh April 22, 2010 at 1:38 am

    That’s awesome Richard! Let me know if you have any questions I can help with.


    glispmi May 18, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    Hi there,
    I am seeking some guidance about taking new challenge in IT Infra PM job also this job includes regional responsibilities …I am having IT background but not much exposure in PM & virtual team management

    What I am looking for is PM tips like
    a) What question/information PM must ask on 1st joining day or during indexing …?
    b) what would be PM daily/weekly/monthly/quarterly /yearly task list
    c) what kind of question need to ask subordinates / peers in general…
    d) how to advice/guide/suggest/ tips the solutions of the problem quickly…
    e) handling vendors tips
    f)what templates etc are most important…
    g)reporting methods & samples

    help would appreciate in advance
    best regards


    Josh Nankivel May 19, 2010 at 1:11 pm

    I've written about most of these at one time or another; my recommendation is to use the search bar on the top right pane and you will be able to find posts on these topics.


    sarah February 23, 2011 at 10:33 am

    Hi Josh-
    I have been searching for a project management philosophy to subscribe to and bring back to my family-operated company. I came across your site and it seems like this is just what I am looking for. As of now, we do not have a professional Project Manager and I have been filling the role as best as I can. I believe that we could benefit greatly by implementing proven and practical PM strategy. I am hoping to become a student of the discipline and fill this need in my company. Can you briefly tell me about your personal theory on Project Management and suggest which of your products/services I should start with?




    Josh May 31, 2011 at 5:16 am

    Sorry for the late reply Sarah, but I believe we’ve been in email contact since…

    My approach to project management is lean in process, focused on interactions and people, with a constant question of “Does this add value?” – My training is at


    Roin Safi May 31, 2011 at 2:00 am

    Dear, all
    many thanks, for such a brilliant website. today 31 May i have a presentation in my university based on (How to Be come Project Manager) and i am in need of some notes and comments which i find here.
    now i m very happy, thanks to all.
    wish i could follow in future as well.


    Peter July 25, 2011 at 7:43 am

    Despite what could have been an excellent resource for individuals wanting to enter the area of project management, the only thing I can take from this page is that while Dr. Paul D. Giammalvo is perhaps experianced, his knowledge, to me, was lost amongst his poor mannerisms and extreme arrogance. I’m sure this opinion would be shared by many.

    However, to everyone else that left helpful comments for those aspiring individuals out there, thank you.


    DrPDG July 25, 2011 at 8:07 am

    Peter, “you can please some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time, but…….”

    There are a LOT of people out there who I have mentored, trained and developed over the years, who are very thankful and appreciate of my “tough love” style. and just because I have little patience for what I perceive as BS, does not mean I am not passionate about and fully committed to better project management, nor that I am not always available to help mentor those who are open minded enough to listen and not take offense.

    Dr. PDG, Jakarta


    Rick R July 30, 2011 at 9:45 am

    Hi all, I got a job as a PM but I have no formal experience. I am in need of PM education, any recommendations. Gantt charts look extremely useful; how could I set one up myself? Should I purchase one for steel fabrication and customize it myself?


    Josh July 30, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    If you want to learn how to manage projects the way I do, see Http://


    DrPDG July 30, 2011 at 8:22 pm

    Hi Rick R,
    My recommendation would be to go to the Construction Management Association (CMAA) or to the Association for the Advancement of Cost Engineering International (AACEi).

    AACE in particular offers our Recommended Practices (RP’s) at no cost to either members or the general public and while I don’t recall anything SPECIFIC on creating steel fabrication schedules, many of the members in AACE (myself included) are coming from a background in the oil, gas and mining sector where steel fabrication is a huge part of our projects. (If you join the organization as a member of either organization, you can post your request on one of the internal forums)

    Another OUTSTANDING reference (“a masters certificate in a box”) is Gary Humphrey’s Project Management Using Earned Value Management”. IMPO, it is the single best book ever written on project management, at least as it applies to a construction environment. At 900+ pages, it is not something you are likely to finish in a weekend, but I can assure you, that his book sits right on the corner of my desk and I use it as a reference in running our property development and management projects, as well as the basis for most of my training classes.

    Hope this helps you and if you have any further questions, don’t hesitate to post them here or email me….

    Dr. PDG, Jakarta, Indonesia


    PAOLA August 3, 2011 at 10:19 am

    I wanna become in a project manager but I´m not sure if take a master o just a course… Can you help me?


    Josh August 3, 2011 at 8:56 pm

    It’s important that you become familiar with what the role of a project manager consists of and put yourself into a position to gain experience. I wouldn’t jump into a masters degree just yet. An introductory course can be a good option, or you can read books, blogs, listen to podcasts, etc. I offer some introductory training as well.


    Anthony Edwards August 3, 2011 at 7:37 pm

    I am in Telecommunications and have been working as a Broadband Team Lead since 2008. I also act as a project coordinator for many Data projects. I just graduated from UMASS, Boston with a degree in General Business and I am accepted to Northeastern University for a Master of Science in Project Management.

    Would you recommend me to pursue a specialization in Information Security Management, Geographic Information Systems or Construction Management? The school did say that I don’t need a specialization.


    Josh August 3, 2011 at 8:54 pm

    Anthony, for my perspective read this:

    Additionally, I think if you do decide to pursue an advanced degree immediately instead of waiting, that specialization is entirely up to what domains excite you. Do you plan to stay in telecommunications?


    Anthony Edwards August 3, 2011 at 9:11 pm

    Hi josh,

    I do intend to stay in telecommunications industry because it is the only field I am familiar with. I would to land a better job opportunity within private sector or public sector. I do think that specializing in construction would allow me to earn more income but I have no knowledge or any interest in the field of construction.

    Northeastern University has a specialization in Information Security Management and it is by far the only option that is closer to Telecommunications and offers courses in WANs, LANs, Data, Voice etc…..


    DrPDG August 3, 2011 at 8:03 pm

    Hi Anthony,
    I too am from the same area (Northern Worcester County) with an undergrad degree from WPI….. We also support the major telecom equipment suppliers. (Ericsson, NSN, Nokia, Huawei, ZTE etc) So I can commiserate some….

    Your question is one of risk management….. The more you specialize, the narrower the job market, but usually, the higher the pay. Conversely, the less you generalize, the more appealing you are to a broader range of potential employers, but you will miss out qualifying for those niche jobs.

    Ultimately, the questions become: 1) What do I want to do with the rest of my working life? and 2) What sector is going to provide a reasonably decent income and provide some level of job security?

    Answer those questions first, then find out what those sectors are looking for in degrees and that should help answer your question for you.

    Dr. PDG, Jakarta, Indonesia

    Keep in mind these are GENERALITIES and there are always exceptions to every rule


    Anthony Edwards August 3, 2011 at 9:18 pm

    Thank you, Dr. Paul.
    Ericsson is actually one of my company’s customers and I am managing a project for them at this moment. I do not deny that higher income is very attractive and help putting decent meal on the table. However, for me , it is much more than how much I am going to make but it is how much I like to do what I do. I find that Telecommunications is the field for me and I would love to stay within this industry. As for job security, i am not sure what sector would guarantee a perm job based on the nature of our economy at this moment.


    Josh August 3, 2011 at 10:05 pm

    Telecom isn’t going away anytime soon Anthony. If that’s what you love and where your desires lie, I say pursue that. If you decide to go for a graduate degree, you may be able to find a program with an IT/Infrastructure Mgmt focus which would lend itself well to your career goals if you are on that side of telecom as I was in the early 2000′s – or if your niche within telecom happens to be development or fabrication those may lead down a different path for what will be a benefit to you in the years to come. What’s your niche within telecom?


    Anthony Edwards August 3, 2011 at 10:31 pm

    I am in the operations side of telecommunications and I manage a team of 20 people. My daily activities involve accepting work projects (ADSL, IDSL, SDSL, TS1, TS3, FIOS, CABLE) from account managers and distribute these projects to my team. I have to follow these projects from the begining to end to ensure all services are up and running for the customers as well as to apply billing rates to each accounts, produce reports etc for upper management. So I can not really say that I am in development or infrastructure areas.


    DrPDG August 4, 2011 at 1:01 am

    Hi Josh,
    I agree, telecom isn’t going away soon, but with the Chinese (Huawei, ZTE et al) and Indian (Tata, Birlyansah Group et al) getting into the picture and becoming really GOOD at innovating on the backs of the patents and IP they stole from Cisco, AT&T, Lucent et al, I see the role American’s playing as diminishing.

    At least 5 or more years ago, most of the big names put nearly all expats on local hire contracts, and now even some of them have been cut in favor of nationals. Why? Because of all the training we have been giving them for the past 15-20 years, they are now very capable of standing on their own two feet with not a whole lot of support from expatriates.

    Explained another way, if a trainer really did their job right, we were (and continue) to essentially develop ourselves right out of a job……

    Which is why we have moved BEYOND PMI (everyone and their donkey has a PMP these days) and are focusing on the more demanding or competency based credetials.

    Something to think about as America seems to be hell bent on following the lead of Europe…….

    Dr. PDG, Jakarta, Indonesia


    FAISAL PATEL August 15, 2011 at 4:55 am




    DrPDG August 15, 2011 at 5:28 am

    Hi Faisal, looks to me like you are doing exactly what you should be doing…….

    Get a job with a future (and energy CERTAINLY has a bright future, pun intended!!) then work your way into a position as project manager…..

    NORMALLY, to become a project manager in the construction sector you will need at LEAST 5 years experience in varying positions, and in that sector, certifications generally don’t play a major role in determining whether you get or hold a job as project manager.

    One suggestion I am providing to the younger engineers I come in contact with is not to look ONLY at the position of “Project Manager”. There are many other job titles, such as Cost Engineer, Cost Estimator, Scheduler/Programmer and Risk Manager which pay just as much if not more money (cost estimator in particular) without the stress. Plus there are a lot more of these SUPPORTING roles than there are project manager jobs, so you probably would be safer in terms of job security.

    Hope this helps you some?

    Dr. PDG, Jakarta, Indonesia


    FAISAL PATEL August 15, 2011 at 6:15 am



    Mickoloy February 21, 2012 at 12:04 am

    Firstly I must say that I have learned alot by reading these posts,

    I have recently completed a Construction Diploma and looking to do a BSc in Project management, Are there any entry level positions where I can gain some valuable experience?


    DrPDG August 15, 2011 at 6:49 am

    Hi Faisal,
    YES, of course the project coordinator position is good. Why wouldn’t it be? If you are sharp, you probably can build it, expanding your formal authority to “morph” it from a project coordinator to project manager position.

    As for an MBA vs Technical Masters, it all depends what you want to be when you grow up…….. If the corner office, C-level position is what you aspire to be, then sure, the MBA is the ticket. If you love engineering and want to stick with engineering, then you probably should consider an Master of Science in project management or engineering management…..

    See where I am going with all this? You are asking Josh’s readership for answers/advice that only you can provide…… And it all starts with what do you want to be doing in 5, 10, 20 years?

    Sorry if I come across as being blunt, but there are so many combinations and permutations one can take over 30 or 40 years, that no one can possibly predict the future.

    Dr. PDG, Jakarta, Indonesia


    Erin August 16, 2011 at 8:57 am


    Was reading the insightful posts. I am a recent graduate in Business Admin and was looking into project management. Is there the same amount of opportunity for jobs and a decent income if you are not with a background in construction or engineering. What other industries employ project managers? And would anyone know the most ideal entry level position for someone with no experience. ( I have however taken a course on project management)

    Thanks so much in advance!


    Josh August 18, 2011 at 4:37 pm

    Erin, all industries have project managers – even if they don’t call them by that name.

    There are many great entry-level roles for getting into project management. Not one of them is ‘ideal’ over another, it depends on the circumstances. What industry are you in currently, and do you plan to stay there? If not, what excites you?


    Robert Parson August 28, 2011 at 5:54 pm

    I too am curious like Erin is. I have graduated in Computer Science and want to pursue something along those lines. I’ve seen many positions for project management / project lead / coord but I’m unsure of how to approach those with my ordinary degree.

    Would it be better to go back to school for something in business in order to branch off to project management? I’m not sure if being able to work with the products has anything to do with managing projects & such.

    TIA Josh,

    Robert Parson
    “Eager Beaver”


    Josh August 28, 2011 at 8:07 pm

    I wouldn’t recommend going back to school until you’ve landed positions and and gaining experience managing projects Robert.

    Don’t underestimate your technical education and background. If you have a desire to excel at project management, you actually have an advantage over some others because you have a foundation technically in your field. I’ve written a lot about transitioning from a technical role into a project management role before, and provided training on the same.

    Check out the “Career” category – page through using the links on the bottom to go back further into the archives.

    There you will find tons of articles, many of which will be very relevant to you.

    In general, what I teach is much more about building relationships and targeting specific organizations/departments and getting away from the old, ineffective method of blasting your resume out to whatever job postings seem slightly relevant. My advice is the same in your case; but you have some additional technical background to rely on than someone coming out of school with just a business degree.

    In short, I’d say you are BETTER positioned now than others without the technical background.

    Furthermore, you can make the decision about going back to school in a few years, once you’ve lived this a bit. See this article and the comments:


    Satish Babu November 21, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    Hi Josh,

    Even Iam also in same confusion as Robert Parson have.Could you please comment on Transitioning from Technical Role (I have 5 years of Windows System Admin ExPerience) to Project Management Role. ?

    I have checked your link
    However,I couldnot able to find the Exact link to guide me the Transitioning from Technical role to PM role.
    Please help me.


    DrPDG August 28, 2011 at 9:33 pm

    Hi Eager Beaver Robert,
    I am in substantial agreement with Josh on his approach, but I consider “continuing education” one of the prime ways to build your “brand image” while expanding your network.

    Just last week, I received an advertisement (I recall if was from BU or BC??) that was offering an IT masters MAJORING in Project Management. (Shame on me for not saving it!!)

    I think this is a positive thing as this is the model I started out with 40+ years ago in construction project management- I had to learn the TECHNICAL SKILLS of Civil Engineering, but by majoring in Construction Project Management, I also got good exposure to the management side of things.

    So my additional recommendation would be to go get that advanced degree in project management, but USE that time and opportunity to develop those soft skills and build your network and brand image. IF you do an outstanding job in the classroom environment, (and most of these courses involve heavy team based project assignments) I know (being a professor) that I refer my top students to good companies and because I have developed a reputation for sending them good people, a few of our clients will hire people I recommend even though they may not have a position open for them.

    A little different perspective from that of Josh, but certainly something I urge you to consider.

    Dr. PDG, Jakarta, Indonesia


    DrPDG August 18, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    Hi Erin,
    Elaborating on Josh’s response, because project management is a PROCESS, and because that process is embedded in just about anything and everything we do, nearly all management positions incorporate some or all aspects of project management.

    Using PMI’s somewhat over simplified definition of a “project” as being “a temporary undertaken to produce a unique product, service or result” we can begin to appreciate how pervasive, ubiquitous and broad “project management” is.

    Some examples-
    For an ACCOUNTANT, his/her “project” is each client’s tax year, and if he/she has the client for more than one year, it would be a program;

    For a DOCTOR, his/her “project” becomes each procedure or intervention, and in the case of a family physician or GP, each patient over time, becomes a “program”.

    For a LAWYER, each case becomes a project and like the accountant and doctor, if the same lawyer handles more than one case for the same client, that client becomes a program for the lawyer.

    For a COMMERCIAL AIRLINE PILOT, each “project” is an individual flight from City A to City B, and the pilot’s “program” could be each type of aircraft he/she is qualified to fly OR it could be his/her tenure with any single company;

    For a PLUMBER or ELECTRICIAN, each “project” is a contract or work order…….

    For a MOM or DAD, each “project” is teaching their kids something new- toilet training them; teaching them to tie their shoes, helping them graduate from elementary, middle, high school and university; and the collective results of all these “projects” become a PROGRAM. Or how about the annual family vacation? Isn’t that a “project” by just about any definition?

    When we stop looking at “project management” as a job title and understand it for what it is- a process, we find that the “processes of project management” are embedded in just about everything we do. Which means that one way or another, to some degree or another, we are all “project managers”.

    Hope this helps give some insight into understanding that as Josh said, if you want to get into “project management” you need to be more specific in terms of what it is you want to do for work. Once you make that decision, then you can begin to explore how “project management” is used or applied in that context. Explained another way, as you can see from all the examples above, while the fundamental processes are the same- initiating, planning, executing, controlling and closing- they are very much context specific.

    Dr. PDG, Jakarta, Indonesia


    Kishia August 24, 2011 at 11:20 am


    In May 2012 I will be have complete the PM Certificate Program and in May 2013 my Ms in Project Management . For several year I have been working in Human Resource,. I Have been seeking a entry-level positions In the PM field, and it has been very difficult. I’m getting discourage a little. Does anyone have any suggestion on how to go about this ?

    In need of help,


    DrPDG August 24, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    We deal quite a bit with the HR departments and project management hasn’t really become “popular” yet within that sector. Do they “do” projects? Yes, of course. But do they recognize project management as being something separate or as a unique skill set as a requirement to be in HR? I don’t think so, at least not in most organizations.

    So what would I suggest? Given you are coming from the “soft” side of project management, have you considered getting involved with the International Development community? You know, the projects funded by the World Bank, USAID, AUSAID, UN, Red Cross, OxFam et al? That is a really interesting application of your project management skills and you can actually make a difference with your training in Project/Program Management as this sector tends not to be doing as good a job in managing their projects as they could or should.

    To help you get started, I would urge you to subscribe to DEVEX and to the Relief Web You should also consider PM4NGO’s or the World Bank Institute . There are a LOT of jobs in this field and they do tend to pay reasonably well, but the competition for these jobs is pretty fierce.

    Actually for ANYONE who is looking for a career change and is free to travel (tough job with children in tow) the International Development community offers some really interesting projects, ESPECIALLY if you are a woman or coming from a minority group. And the nice thing is, it gives you the opportunity to work on some very interesting and exciting projects, provided you don’t mind living/working in places you see on CNN….

    Hope this helps you, Kishia?

    Dr. PDG, Jakarta, Indonesia


    Tonaya August 25, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    Hi there,

    Does anyone know of resources for those who want to learn and develop project managements skills in the publishing industry?


    Josh August 25, 2011 at 4:43 pm

    I haven’t worked in the publishing industry Tonaya, however my online project management course is geared towards the fundamentals of project management, which apply in just about every industry out there.


    DrPDG August 25, 2011 at 6:47 pm

    Hi Tonaya,
    Wow, that is a new one for me as well!!! Yes, absolutely, publishing incorporates the project management fundamentals, but I don’t recall ever seeing or reading any white papers on the fundamentals PM processes applied SPECIFICALLY to printing……

    Just a GUESS would be that any decent operations textbook on printing should sufficiently define the process (which seems to me to be pretty linear?) and then if you matched the process you are using in your company to something like Josh’s fundamentals, you should be able to “projectize” what is an operational process. (I have helped do that for an underground mining client, but never for a printing company)

    Again, just a shot in the dark, but try Googling on “Job Order Contracting” or “Work Order Contracting” and you may come up with something to help you as well.

    Dr. PDG, Jakarta, Indonesia


    Tia September 28, 2011 at 9:05 pm

    I have been a biotech researcher for 5 years and I want to switch to PM.I have been implementing some of the techniques of PM in my day to day activities.But now I want to get into it full time.I see job ads for Project management positions.I need a way to market myself as PM material, but as I mentioned my background is lab research.I would be competing with others who do nothing but PM for a living.How do I make my meager experience standout utilizing my science background?Dr.Giammalvo, your insight and advice would be most appreciated.Merci!


    DrPDG September 28, 2011 at 10:22 pm

    Hi Tia,
    My advice to you would be pretty much the same as for Al Nisa above…..

    The fact that you are in a laboratory environment is an indication that you already are a “project manager” to some degree or another (each test, each process is unique, is a unique, one time event?)

    Once you recognize that project manager is not just a job title, but a PROCESS and that process is embedded into most everything we do, both in our working life and our personal lives (raising kids, planning vacations, running a household) then it becomes much easier to appreciate that in order to get the job title, we first have to master the processes of project management. And how do we do that? By starting with small projects (assigned or volunteer) and doing such an outstanding job that we build our “brand image” as professionals who make things happen. For ultimately, that is what project management is all about- being able to deliver the goods- quickly, as inexpensively as possible and meeting the quality standards.

    How to get started? The best way is to be sure you know and understand the process of project management and for that, I recommend Humphrey’s Project Management Using Earned Value Keep that book right on your desktop (which is where it sits on my desk) and follow the step by step approach. Then VOLUNTEER the next time one of your bosses is looking for someone to take on a shitty assignment. (or volunteer in your community, church, or kids school to do the “project” no one else wants to do) Then you do a bang up job of it and poof, you are on your way to building your brand image as a can do, make it happen project manager.

    Hope this helps you some?

    Dr. PDG, Jakarta, Indonesia


    zara khan September 29, 2011 at 7:31 am

    Hi there,
    I want to step into this profession but i dont know how much time does it takes to complete my education and im an Intermediate student (12 grade) in commerce, so if some1 can help me out plz do tell me that what do i have to study after this and is this the right profession for me or not or you guys can prefer me something else to get into.

    please do tell me that do i have to study for 4 more years to reach there or what?i mean do i have to do graduation or what? please explain me everything.xxxx



    DrPDG September 29, 2011 at 7:46 am

    Wow Zara,
    First of all, project management is NOT a profession. It is a PROCESS. But don’t despair for even though it is not a profession does not mean there are not professional project managers.

    The big question is what do you want to do with your life? Engineer? Medicine? Commercial Airline Pilot? Banker? Doctor? Lawyer? Accountant? Actor/Actress? Once you select the PROFESSION you want to be a part of, then the PROCESSES of project management that go with that profession will become evident to you.

    For example, my background is construction project management. I obtained a 4 year degree in Civil Engineering, majoring in construction project management. So my PROFESSION is Civil Engineering and the PROCESSES I use to build bridges or buildings or dams or whatever are those associated with construction project management.

    I am also a private pilot. And if I were to become a commercial pilot, my profession would be just that, and the processes I use to initiate, plan, execute, control and close out each flight from City to City would be quite different than those I would use to build a bridge. Yes, at the highest levels there is commonality, but at the level that really matters, where the work is done, the processes are quite different .

    Bottom line- discover what you think you want to do and first, and if possible, take courses or even minor in project management as it applies to your chosen work and you will be all set for a career as a project manager.

    Dr. PDG, Jakarta, Indonesia


    Larry C October 2, 2011 at 10:12 pm

    Hi, I am a project engineer for a safety certification company with 5 years of experience. I would like to become a project manager for international projects, and I am not sure if I should go back to school to get a Master in Management or should I just go for a Certificate in Project Management?


    Josh October 2, 2011 at 11:06 pm

    Thanks for the question Larry. Definitely search for the term ‘degree’ on and you’ll find some interesting articles on this topic. “project manager for international projects” is pretty vague…in what industry and what type of projects specifically?

    Additionally, my training at is designed to help you through these questions too, and much more.


    DrPDG October 3, 2011 at 12:04 am

    Hi Larry,
    Your question is vague, as Josh noted. There are two general categories of “International Projects”- those funded by the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, UN Projects Office etc and if you are interested in those, then DEVEX is the place to start looking These jobs are BRUTALLY tough to get into, unless you know someone. They tend to pay well but are in tough places, like Darfur, and countries whose names end in “stan”.

    The other “International Jobs” are in your field of expertise and for that, you would have to sign on with one of the major oil, gas or mining companies and for that, I am pretty confident there are a lot of jobs, especially in Australia, Africa and Asia but NOT as a project manager, only as as “subject matter expert”. To get jobs as a project manager you usually need quite a few years experience with the company, before they will entrust you with one of their projects.

    My suggestion would be to join Linked In, and join groups that do what you do OR that represent expats in the countries you would like to work in.

    Dr. PDG, Lagos, Nigeria


    Larry C October 3, 2011 at 4:52 pm

    Hi Josh, and Dr. Giammalvo,
    Thanks for replying to my post, and sorry that I was not clear. The industry is product safety certification, and what I meant for “international projects” was projects that can run simultaneously in two different countries. My company has clients that have manufacturing facilities in other countries, like China, Brazil, France, Mexico, etc.



    DrPDG October 3, 2011 at 11:06 pm

    Hi Larry,
    OK, that is better, but it really doesn’t change my advice all that much. ALL developing nations have a dire need for better product safety so I think that would be a wide open field.

    The part I am fuzzy about is if your company is already doing that, then why not just volunteer or work your way onto a project team serving these countries?

    Another option would be to build your reputation as a subject matter expert, then hire yourself out to help the developing nations improve their product safety?

    Bottom line- given your company is already doing this, then my best advice would be to find out what is necessary to work on the factories in the developing nations and develop your skills in that specific area? What am I missing here?

    Dr. PDG, Lagos, Nigeria


    Ana October 12, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    Hi All,
    It was really a pleasure reading every insights of each comments.
    I too would like to pursue Project management as a profession, and will start attending a 36 hrs class of PMI courses. What I need to understand is if this course will help me with my field, Iam an Architect but practicing Interior Designing for few years now. I have noted in previous comments that PMI are mostly for IT/Telekom field as Dr. PDG, is it worth continuing the course? if not, which one should I take? I will very much appreciate your help.

    Many thanks,


    DrPDG October 12, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    Hi Ana,
    First, project management is NOT a profession, but a process…. (Just presented a paper on that topic at the IPMA/AIPM conference in Brisbane, Australia yesterday) Architecture is your profession, and project management is the methodology, tools and techniques you use to deliver your projects. To find out the rational behind this, scan over my dissertation

    But to answer your question, given you are coming from construction, I would recommend that you get the CMAA, CSI or AACE credentials. While the PMP is known in construction, it generally does not have the respect accorded that of the more technical approaches found by CSI, CMAA and AACE.

    If you want to explore this in more detail, email me privately at and provide me with a list of your career path objectives and I can provide more detailed suggestions.

    Dr. PDG, GAPPS Workshop, Brisbane, Australia


    Ronan October 14, 2011 at 6:07 am

    Hi all,

    Firstly, I’d like to say that I’ve found this site most beneficial in getting a better sense of what PM is, and how it can be applied.

    I am a secondary school teacher (high school) in Ireland, and have been for the past four years. I’ve been involved in youth work and development work during my summers and in previous employment. While I enjoy the teaching, I found working on educational projects, in school, or in the developing world to be challenging and very worthwhile. I am looking at enrolling in PMI’s CAPM course, which is jointly accredited by the Irish Education Authority to ensure a practical project is undertaken for the duration of the course. My knowledge base is in Humanities, Education, and development. I would like to take on a course that will stand to me if I try to branch out of the classroom, but I am just not fully sure if a teacher can go onto a PM course with no obvious PM experience. Maybe it is the best thing to do though, in terms of opening up a whole new area, and gaining worthwhile accreditation.

    I intend to stay in the social, public service, education, development sectors, but I just haven’t seen an referencing of these sectors in relation to PM suitability. I do think it will benefit me, but there appear to be some very in the know people on the forum here, so just wondering if anyone has any thoughts of the relevenacy of a PM course (CAPM), coming from an educational background.

    Looking forward to hearing from you, and thanks for the breath of fresh air on the subject so far!!



    Josh October 14, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    I agree with Paul, the only time I recommend CAPM to someone is if they are targeting organizations to work for who they know for a fact value or require that certification for entry-level PM roles. With that credential, you are really just certifying that you understand PMI’s framework.

    You certainly are a specific sort of project manager as a teacher, and it sounds like you’ve done some specific projects separate from the normal cycle of teaching work too. Project management is very context-specific however, and while many experiences can be applied elsewhere, the foundation of understanding how a particular context and type of project is very critical too. You can leverage your experience since you intend to stay focused on the areas you cited.

    As I teach in my online course, when you are making decisions about certifications, higher education, gaining experience, etc. it’s important to first understand the context in which you plan to contribute (industry, region, project size/type) and then target specific candidate organizations. If PRINCE2 is important to them (and as Paul said, for public UK work it probably is) then you can focus your efforts for maximum benefit.

    I’ve seen many people with graduate degrees in PM and no experience, finding it very hard to get employment. You need both, and in general I recommend at least an undergraduate degree (not necessarily in PM) and 3-5 years of experience before pursuing higher education. There are exceptions, but only if you’ve done your homework and understand very clearly your career path. Personally I’d only do a graduate degree without experience if an organization were sponsoring me via a internship so I had a clear place to go get the experience while going through school and afterward.

    I’ve also seen a lot of people waste time and money on a certification only to find out the companies they want to work for don’t really care about them.


    DrPDG October 14, 2011 at 4:11 pm

    Hi Ronan,
    I would argue quite strongly that you already ARE a project/program manager, simply by being in the classroom.

    You create and follow lesson plans, don’t you? You close out each semester with grades and student evaluations, yes? At the end of the year, you do a final review and then issue grades for each student? During the year, you guide and mentor your students with THEIR “projects”. That surely makes you a project manager AND a program manager. (Managing more than one related project over a number of years)

    FWIW, my wife is a middle school science teacher and she has adapted the PMBOK Guide as the basis for her students science projects.

    Bottom line- my advice, don’t waste your time or money on the CAPM. You should have enough hours of experience to at least sit for the PMP. Another option, given you are from the UK would be to look into PRINCE2. That credential was developed by the UK’s OGC and given you want to stay in the public sector, that probably would be your best investment in time and money.

    Good luck to you!!

    Dr. PDG, GAPPS workshop, Brisbane, Australia


    DrPDG October 20, 2011 at 1:57 am

    Not clear what point you are trying to make?

    The day of the “real job” is probably over, at least for the foreseeable future. Which means all of us are more than likely going to be “contingent” or project based contract employees.

    Suggest you read Tom Peter’s “Reimagine” or Tom Malone’s “The Future of Work” or Tom Osenton’s “Death of Demand” to get a pretty good picture of what the next 5-10 years probably will look like…..

    As long as people are prepared for this kind of lifestyle, it actually is quite nice, BUT, you have to be willing to follow the work and learn to manage your career as an entrepreneur, not an employee, and that means taking responsibility for your own retirement, health care and recognizing that you need to save up for those slow times between gigs…..

    Dr. PDG, Jakarta, Indonesia


    Sheik Shafiulla November 3, 2011 at 6:59 am

    Hi Mr.Josh.. Happy to chat with you,

    I am from India.. I have bachelor degree and more than three years experience in construction field as a project executive, interested to make my career in PM field.. Then am looking for MS Project Certification and Primavera Certification.. kindly tell me the procedures to develope myself.. Thanks in Advance..


    Josh November 3, 2011 at 9:37 am

    Tell me more about your background…is your degree in construction management?

    Also you need some more specific goals. What industry/project size/domain are you interested in pursuing?

    I would not go get certifications of any kind until you are clear on your goals and know in advance that those certifications are going to benefit your chosen career path.

    It’s important to have a vision and strategy in mind before jumping into the tactical activities like certifications, graduate education, or even directly pursuing roles. Otherwise you can waste a lot of time, money, and energy on things that won’t benefit what you REALLY want to accomplish for yourself and your family.

    For in-depth coaching is always an option for you too. In that online course I have exercises and video training to help you get crystal clear on your starting point and goals before proceeding.


    DrPDG November 3, 2011 at 9:43 am

    Oracle offers all kinds of training courses in P6 and just a quick Google search turned up a course in Delhi… And I would hazard a guess that there are plenty of MSP trainers in India as well?

    Another suggestion- sign up with Planning Planet. This is a dynamic, new global “virtual organization” which looks like it is starting to compete against AACE, PMI et al in the area of project controls?

    Lastly, given that construction project management is perhaps one of the more mature of the incarnations of project management, why not consider getting a masters in Construction Project Management? And lastly, the US Construction Management Association (CMAA) offers the CCM- Certified Construction Manager credential.

    Bottom line- no shortage of options to consider given our shared interest in construction….

    Mubarak Eid ul Adha….

    Dr. PDG, Jakarta, Indonesia


    keerthi November 10, 2011 at 12:18 am

    Hi.. am keerthika from INDIA, i have completed MBA Software Project Management through distance… is it valuable????… i want to build my career in that path Project Management.. what should i do… i have won a good grade with 84.14%…. seeking advice…. i want to do certification in PMI and Prince2 what step should i take for it… Thank you for your time it is much appreciated


    DrPDG November 10, 2011 at 1:11 am

    Hi Keerthika from India……. Congratulations on getting your MBA….. Now what?

    Not to be a skeptic, but isn’t it a bit late to be asking whether getting your MBA is valuable AFTER investing all that time and money? Did I miss something here????

    The FIRST thing you need to do is get a job!!! With a degree in software project management, you should be able to find work, BUT, unless you have prior experience, I seriously doubt that anyone will hire you as a project manager. More than likely, you are going to have to start out in some sort of supporting role.

    SECONDLY, to apply for the PMP, you need 4500 hours of project related experience in some sort of leadership role. IF you have that, then you can apply for your PMP. If not, then you can apply for your CAPM and/or your PRINCE2 Practitioner.

    But adding another credential to your MBA is probably not a wise move, as what you need are not more credentials, but some solid EXPERIENCE.

    Bottom line- I think experience is what seems to be missing from the equation right now and if you cannot find paid work, then the next best option is to volunteer your time to some worthy cause (Temple, Mosque, Church, NGO etc) ANYTHING that shows you not only are SMART, but can actually produce work that people need or want.

    Does this make sense to you?

    Dr. PDG, Jakarta, Indonesia


    Satish Babu November 21, 2011 at 3:25 pm


    Iam Satish Babu from INDIA.

    Iam really impressed with the article and the discussion.However I Request to get some suggestions and advices from the people out here.

    I have 5.4 years of Work experience as Windows System Administrator working for CSC and IBM and recently I completed MBA in HR & Finance thru Distance Learning last year.I left my Job at INDIA last month and Now Iam persuing Masters in International Business at Singapore.To become the Project Manager what kind of Qualifications that I need ? Is that the Qualifications that I have is sufficient to become PM ? Where to Start up and Which kind of roles i need to take up to become Project manager or directly I can apply for PM role?I donot have any Experience in Project Management.What kind of Roles that i have to attain before heading to PM.I think as i donot have work experience, nobody gives me the PM role.

    Please Suggest me something for my Career.



    DrPDG November 22, 2011 at 2:38 am

    Hi Satish,
    First of all, you got your MBA, right? Isn’t that a “project”? When you stop thinking of project management as a “job title” and start looking at it as a process, I would hazard a guess that you have been a “project manager” many times during your life and didn’t even realize it.

    Here is what I would to do get started. First, download PMI’s PMP Exam Content Outline Do a self assessment against these criteria to at least get an idea of what you SHOULD be able to do as a project manager.

    Secondly, if you don’t mind investing $100 or so, take the Harrison Assessment Instrument compared to the Project Manager Profile See how you score on that.

    Then if you still want to be a project manager, the next step is to start volunteering in your company or your home community to take on projects. IF you are good at it, your reputation will grow and soon people will be banging on your door to lead their projects for them. If you suck at it, you will find out soon enough and start to look for other avenues in management. (Project managers often don’t make good operations managers and vice versa)

    Hope this gives you some help in getting started?

    Dr. PDG, Jakarta, Indonesia


    Satish Babu November 23, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    Hi Sir,

    Thanks for your reply.As I mentioned above my Complete Total experience was into Windows Server Admin Position and I think Project Management Team is a different team now altogether.I request please read my profile once again and let me know from Which positions I have to takeup. I think I should start up some middle level roles of Project management team to become the project manager.What are those middle level PM team roles i can apply for ?OR is that the profile which Iam holding is enough to get into that PM ?

    Iam ready to do PMP Course as well. Kindly clarify my doubts.



    DrPDG November 23, 2011 at 5:55 pm

    Not sure how much more I can do to help you……..

    If you are looking for “other” roles, then “Project Controls” (cost estimator; scheduler/programmer; document control; claims analyst; contracts management) are all roles which normally play an important part of any project. Go here and look at Slide #11 to get an idea of the various options.

    Normally, the project controller sits at the right hand of the project manager, and is often the best route to getting a job as a PM.

    The other option is to volunteer to be the project manager on small jobs and work your way up that way? Not sure what the culture is in your company, but I would hazard a guess that most people in the IT sector do not follow the project controls route, but build their career starting with small projects and building up from there.

    This help you some?

    Dr. PDG, Jakarta, Indonesia


    Satish Babu November 24, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    Thank you Very Much for your Reply PDG.

    This is what the exact answer I was looking for.So getting some experience in the roles you mentioned will take me to the PM role in couple of years! Sounds good. and also I will try to get PM role with Zero yrs of experience in small companies as well to get some experience in Project Management Field.

    However the company Iam working at present at IBM and its IT services company and I donot belive that they offer me some roles in PRoject management , ofcourse iam on leave right now as Iam persuing Masters in International business at Singapore and its just been 2nd month here now and still 10 months suppose to go to complete.Iam really unsatisfied with this course as my intrest is towards the Project Management,All I was thinking is after having 5 years of experience in Windows System Admin, I would had tried for above mentioned roles at INDIA only.So I decided to stop my course here in Singapore and iam planning to goback to india,get some certificate course in Project MAnagement and planning to search for Junior level roles in PM.

    Would you recommend me to do as above ?



    Josh November 23, 2011 at 6:33 pm

    Getting some experience is key, and there are many ways you can open up doors for yourself.

    The best resource I’ve put together for helping you do this is at — that’s exactly what I designed it for.


    Satish Babu November 24, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    Hi Josh,

    Thanks for your reply. I was just trying to know what kind of roles that I can start up with to get into PM as I donot have PM experience.Anyways the link which you pasted me looks it as payable.however to manage my expenses itself being tough here.So Would please able to comment on what kind of roles i need to start up with as only I worried that i donot have experience in PM, however as 5 years of exp in Windows System Admin field.



    DrPDG November 24, 2011 at 6:59 pm

    Seeing how you are already on leave, why not switch your major and get your MBA in Project Management? I haven’t checked recently, but I believe several of the Uni’s in S’pore offer Masters with focus in Project Management?

    Ultimately, when all is said and done, a degree will trump any certification and a track record of project success will trump any degree or certification.

    Did you take the Harrison Assessment instrument against the PM Profile? If I were in your shoes, that is where I would start, before spending any money on certifications or further education. If not, contact John Suermondt and tell him I sent you. Invest $100 or so to find out if you have a behavioral profile that is likely to enable you to be successful as a project manager. If the answer is no, then you need to seriously consider other options.

    But at some point, you need to be able to plot your own course…… Don’t expect me or anyone else to be able to tell you step by step what to do and when to do it….. That alone to me is an early indication that you may not have the right personality to be successful as a project manager. (pay special attention to those top 7 traits!!)

    Dr. PDG, Jakarta, Indonesia


    Satish Babu November 27, 2011 at 7:03 am

    Hi PDG,

    Thanks for your Reply.I will follow your advice.I will plot my own course in Project Management. As I already paid fees now for this Masters in International Business, I cannot able to Switch the college or Course to MBA in Project Management.So Already 1 month passed in this course I will continue to finish this Masters course and later take some Short term course exclusively in Project MAnagement and will start my career with Level 0 from Project MAnagement.
    Also,Iam really sorry if my messages would gave you the impression that Iam asking for step by step process for my career growth,. its just the confusion thats rolling around my mind as I already paid the fees for this Masters course and i need your suggestions kindly.Please let me know ur comments.




    Bakare sheriff Adisa December 2, 2011 at 5:20 am

    Please. I am a graduate of Business Administration but willing to become a project manager. How possible is that? And do i go about it?


    DrPDG December 2, 2011 at 5:58 am

    First, my best advice would be to read over all the previous postings…… THEN if you have a question that is somehow different that has not been answered above, then I can be of some help to you.

    I hate to appear to be so tough on you, but one of the core competencies of a project manager is to be a problem solver which means you need to be highly motivated and largely self directed.

    Take a look at the research I’ve done in regards to behavioral profiling of “successful” project managers and see if you think you have those traits. If not, then probably project management is not for you. Better find work in a functional, not project environment.

    Bottom line- read over all the advice that Josh and I have shared and then see if you have something more specific.


    Dr. PDG, Jakarta, Indonesia


    Shahad Ashoor December 15, 2011 at 8:06 am

    Thank you for posting this artical Josh, I am considering becoming a PM but not sure of how qualifed I would am. I have been in the Tourism industry for 7 years now, mainly in the customer service side of it. I have a college degree in Tourism Management and Business Development and extensive volunteer work.

    What advise would you have for me?

    Thank you


    Josh December 15, 2011 at 11:46 am

    Thanks for the question! The best thing I can offer is not a simple answer, but full guidance on the many questions you’ll need to answer for yourself and techniques you can implement to move forward.



    Frank December 22, 2011 at 11:56 am

    Dr. PDG,

    First I would like to thank you and Josh for the tremendous wealth of knowledge you give on this site. I’m currently studying to obtain a PMPC – only because the jobs i’m interested in prefers it (according to the job descriptions I read). I figure this would help give me the edge over the competition. I’m currently an operations manager and seeking to become Asst/Assoc Director of Operations. I was hoping you would expound on your comment (11/22/11) that “project managers often don’t make good operations managers and vice versa.”
    I would love to hear your take on this. Thank you.



    DrPDG December 22, 2011 at 8:38 pm

    Hi Frank,
    Glad to hear you enjoy our comments. Josh has provided a great platform and given we both share a tremendous passion for project management, it offers an opportunity to share the perspectives of two generations.

    To answer your question, what I have discovered over the years is that operations managers (in general- there are always exceptions!!) tend to seek out a steady state- that is, operations people do NOT like change or uncertainty. They work to get the operation functioning smoothly and then work hard to maintain that laminar flow of work. Disruption is their enemy.

    Given that project management is anything BUT laminar, I have found that operations people get frustrated over the fact that they are never really able to achieve a laminar flow of work….. That by the time “the work processes” are functioning the way they want to see them, the project is over.

    Explained another way, operations managers have no problem going to do the same job, exactly the same way for 20 years or more and are perfectly happy doing so. Project managers on the other hand would go crazy doing the same thing over and over again. (I have a hard time with any project lasting over 2 years)

    You may find this research I did a few years back exploring the behavioral profiling of “successful” project managers to be of some interest to you. If you email, I have an updated version incorporating what we have learned after having tested this instrument on several of our clients, validating the findings. I presented this updated version at the joint IPMA/AIPM conference in Brisbane, Australia back in October of this year to a standing room only crowd.

    Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas/Happy Chanukah and a safe, happy, healthy and prosperous 2012. Let’s just hope and pray the Mayan’s somehow got their calculations wrong!!

    Oh, and one last comment- if you want to gain competitive advantage, you need to DIFFERENTIATE yourself from the crowd. If I were in your shoes, I would get your PMP, but then ADD another credential from ASAPM; INCOSE AACE

    Dr. PDG, Jakarta, Indonesia


    Joseph Opene January 19, 2012 at 8:42 am

    Hello all,
    Due to my interest in this field or profession, i have just passed my Prince2 Foundation course and hope that in no time, i might find a company willing to take me on. Although i have not been directly involved in any business or project, i have handled small scale business take offs for people and worked within an organisation where i played a major part in a change process.
    Are there any entry level or project officer roles where experience can be garnered as a lift off to the main field? I think this is always the question we non project people are hoping can not only be answerd but find a solution to. Can anyone help?


    Josh January 19, 2012 at 8:57 am

    Please read this post about targeting organizations and networking to find and land these entry-level roles:

    Thanks for the question!


    Dean January 28, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    Thank you for this post,
    Our company drives a number of small projects, but nobody here has a real PM’s degree. I can tell you that it seems to be a problem as our management guys really don’t value project timeframes and hence cannot cope with project scope management (regular scope creep is a “normal” thing for all our projects), so we never can say for sure when we are going to complete them. Some things have changed since we use collaborative software for project management – we have selected VIP Task Manager for keeping our projects on time – everyone in the team has tools to control commitments, prioritize to-do lists and report quality for better results. I think you are right – workforce and project management applications really make great sense.


    Michael Mahalik February 9, 2012 at 8:27 am

    Hello Josh,
    I am going to back you up even futher than the decision to becoming a CPM… there is apparently prerequisites to even applying for the PMP course? what are those prerequisites? I’ve heard something about 4500hrs of project work? and second to that – What if you have like 4000hrs of project time and need to get that last 500hrs… if you’re not gainfully employed in a PM environment, how do you get PM hours?

    Thanks, Michael


    Tanvi Gulati February 10, 2012 at 2:39 am

    Hello Mr.Josh
    First of all I would like to appreciate for the article,which is a great point of discussion on useful points.I have completed my Engineering in Computers last year,and presently working with TATA Consultancy Services.I have an experience of 6 months and now I have got my admission in Skema Business School,Paris in Masters in Project and Program Management and Business Development.This will be a work and study program,where we will have to work in various organizations and apply the thesis of work during our study process.It is a 1 and half years course and will be starting inMarch,2012.
    So I request you to give me tips as how I need to start up the career and stating if I have taken a good decision with this.
    Best Regards
    Tanvi Gulati


    Josh February 10, 2012 at 8:29 am

    Sounds like you are in a good position. The very best thing I can offer for career advice is my inexpensive course:


    DrPDG February 11, 2012 at 5:18 pm

    Hi Tanvi, FWIW, I got my PhD from SKEMA and I still teach part time for them in the PhD program, so I think you have chosen a reputable and credible program. As with any distance learning option, much of what you get out of it depends on how much time and effort you are willing to put into earning it.

    Given you work for Tata, I would think there are plenty of opportunities to start doing projects. If nothing else, start by volunteering to participate in their Corporate Social Responsibility programs. Establish your leadership and competency as a project manager there, and I am confident senior managers will take notice of your contributions.

    Dr. PDG, Jakarta, Indonesia


    Vanessa January 16, 2013 at 9:27 am

    Hello Dr. PDG

    I see you are an alumni of SKEMA. That’s wonderful. I plan on applying for their Msc in Project and program management and business development this year. As someone who has both a masters and a PhD degree in the field of project management, in your personal opinion have these degrees opened more doors for you in the industry.If so, why? In other words, do you think you would have had access to those job opportunities& experiences if you merely possessed the PMP/PRINCE2 etc certifications? Thanks



    DrPDG January 17, 2013 at 4:11 am

    Hi Vanessa, I got my MScPM from George Washington and then my PhD from SKEMA…..

    The GWU program was VERY good but very expensive.

    I have also taught at SKEMA (MScPM program) and frankly speaking, I don’t think the program is as good under Professor Turner as it was under Professor Bredillet. My best advice would be to follow Professor Bredillet, who is now at Queensland University of Technology.

    Same with the PhD program at SKEMA. Recently, they have graduated several people who I do not believe deserved or earned their PhD, but the new faculty did not have the guts to reject them.

    Bottom line- the SKEMA program is “OK” but not the same high level of quality that it was under Professor Bredillet.

    Dr. PDG, Jakarta, Indonesia


    DrPDG January 17, 2013 at 4:17 am

    PS: My MScPM was of little financial added value, but for my PhD I got a return on investment of less than 9 months.

    As for certifications, if you hold a PhD in project/program management, I don’t think it is necessary that you get any of the certifications, but it certainly doesn’t hurt…….

    Dr. PDG, Jakarta, Indonesia


    Tanvi Gulati February 12, 2012 at 1:30 am

    Dear Dr.PDG
    I would Thank you for the comment.But I won’t be staying TATA’s anymore,as I am doing the full time course.So I will be coming to Paris in March for this course,and I will be studying there an will work in the organizations there.
    It is good to know that even you have done your studies from Skema and still a part of it.It would be nice to meet you there in Paris.
    And We will be getting all the certifications there like Prince2 ,PMP and Six sigma.As I am new to this,so I would request you to guide me what all certifications should I emphasis on and what all things Would be helpful for me, as this would be a new beginning for my career.

    Best Regards
    Tanvi Gulati


    DrPDG February 12, 2012 at 1:52 am

    Hi Tanvi,
    When you start class, talk to the Grad Program Coordinator, Ms. Sarah Ross. Tell her you spoke with me. SKEMA used to offer internships with various companies in France and given you will be full time, then you should at least explore what SKEMA can offer for internships.

    It may add another 6 months to your degree program, but it will give you the opportunity to build your CV on project related work.

    Another option- SKEMA is a highly respected university and there is a robust network of graduates. From the beginning, start to play an active role in the SKEMA Graduate Network and that too may provide you with some opportunities to move directly from grad school into project related work.

    Dr. PDG, Jakarta, Indonesia


    Vanessa January 16, 2013 at 9:07 am

    Hi Tanvi

    I too plan on applying to SKEMA’s Msc in project & program management course. I am particularly interested in the work-study nature of the program. As someone who is currently a student at SKEMA, could you please tell me what your experience has been like so far? Thanks



    victor February 17, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    hi josh and DRPGD
    thanks to u guys 4 opening my eyes on what it takes to be a project manager. But there is one thing i want you guys to help out with. Am a graduate of PM tech (BTECH) with no specialty in any particular field, and i want to pursue my career in that field, specifically in the technical aspect of it. What do you advice me to do, since am not specialise in any particular field? Can i pursue my MBA in civil to be able to fit in, in a that field. Pls this is urgent and candid advice will be appreciated. Help for i am totally confuse on what step to take.


    Josh February 17, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    Victor, which specific industry do you want to work in, and what kind/size of projects are you interested in working on?


    victor February 18, 2012 at 4:38 am

    i will like to work in a construction industry. As for the size of project, i will like to start with any size and grow from there and make a remarkable landmark in construction industry. But rememeber what i said earlier, that am not specialise in any particular field for the moment and that i want to do my master in civil engineering. How possible is that?


    DrPDG February 18, 2012 at 7:55 am

    Victor, you are in sort of a tough situation….. Most construction people start out either with trade background (as I did) or get an undergraduate degree in construction management. (And that is true in Africa as well as North America) So the competition for these jobs invariably will go to those with specialty undergrad degrees.

    To get a Masters in Civil Engineering probably won’t do you a whole lot of good, as that is usually focused on Structural, Environmental, Water or some other engineering specialty. (A masters in Construction Project Management might, but without at least 2 years of field experience, I seriously doubt you would be accepted into any credible MSc CM program)

    My best advice, given the limited information you’ve provided, would be to work your way into construction management through the “project controls” functions- Cost Estimator, Scheduler, Document Control or Construction Contract Management- collectively known as “project control”- (Scroll down to the bottom of the page to see a detailed career path progression)

    From any one of these “specialties” you can make your mark (and earn some serious money along the way!!) and work your way into the role of construction project manager.

    And FWIW, there is a big demand for these skills right now, especially in the oil, gas and mining sectors of Africa, where they are eager for local talent.

    Hope this helps you some?

    Dr. PDG, Jakarta, Indonesia


    victor February 18, 2012 at 2:24 pm

    Dr pdg am very grateful for your advice, thanks a million. But i will like to know if the masters in construction project management will earn me a specialty that is a profession. Finally am from Nigeria and will like to have my masters degree outside the country. How possible is this? Considering that my 2 years experince will be from here, and if that will not be a barrier, Which country will you advice me to get the masters degree from?


    DrPDG February 18, 2012 at 5:36 pm

    Victor, construction project management, like project management or even management in general is NOT a profession and probably never will be.

    On the other hand, if you want to be professional, then that is something you can be regardless of what field of expertise you choose. For an occupation to be considered a profession there are some 22 attributes which have to be fulfilled in whole or in part, while being professional is an attitude. i.e. you can be a professional barber or even a professional garbage collector, even though neither of those jobs is a profession.

    If you are serious about wanting to get into construction project management, I am running another AACE certification course starting in May of 2012 in Lagos. This is a VERY tough, 2 semester, graduate level “blended learning” (combined face to face and distance learning mode) course which will qualify you to sit for and pass any or all of the following AACE exams- Certified Cost Consultant/Engineer (CCC/E); Certified Estimating Professional, (CEP); Earned Value Professional, (EVP); or Planning and Scheduling Professional (PSP). And, this course will be WAY more than enough to prepare you for the PMP, PMI-Risk or PMI- Schedule certifications. One graduate level course to prepare you for 7 potential certifications…..

    But the best part would be as Chevron, the Nigerian National Oil Company, and several contractors will be in this class, it will give you the opportunity to impress these people and possibly get a job in project management as a result?

    Bottom line- my best and most sincere advice would be to focus less on getting degrees and invest more time getting experience and building your reputation as a can do, make things happen person. THAT is the approach I recommend.

    Dr. PDG, Jakarta, Indonesia


    victor February 21, 2012 at 6:01 am

    DR PDG,
    i must say am very grateful for your advice. It is much appreciated. I don’t think may will be possible because, i will be going for my NYSC in June. But i will like to know when such program is coming up again and the likely fee, because am interested and will like to attend. Finally i will like to be clear on this, because most of my friends having been saying different things on the issue. The issue is this; considering my situation as i have made known to you, is it possible for somebody in the same shoe with me to run his or her masters straight in civil engineering?


    Joseph Brennan February 28, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    I am 39 years of age and I have been in construction for 13 years. I would like to become a Project Manager, but I do not know how to go about this goal of mine. Any suggestions would really help. Thanks for your time.


    DrPDG February 28, 2012 at 7:00 pm

    Hi Joseph,
    As you aren’t clear what your current role is, it is difficult to advise you very effectively.

    IF you are a tradesman, then you will need to go to school and get at least an associates degree in construction project management. Alternately, you could go to the AGC or ABC and take some of their management courses, OR another option would be to get certified by the Construction Management Association of America (CMAA)

    FWIW, I was 42 when I got out of the trades (carpentry and concrete) and into training/consulting, but I had followed a traditional trade route- Apprentice>Journeyman>Master>Foreman>Superintendent>General Contractor. Is there a reason why you didn’t or hadn’t followed this pretty common career path?

    Dr. PDG, Jakarta, Indonesia


    Josh February 28, 2012 at 8:58 pm

    Joseph, I don’t know much about construction aside from working at an outfit specializing in cement when I was a teenager. I do have a good deal of experience with systems and software projects though.

    I will be offering a free course soon, in March, online. It’s an overview of project management concepts and my experiences in practice. Watch this space and/or join the email list at the top to get notified when it’s available.


    Chloe Penn March 29, 2012 at 5:04 am

    hello, im currently 17 and in yr. 12.
    im looking at getting into project management in university next year and just heard somewhere that its better to specialise in a specific area before trying to become a project manager of it. im just wondering how actual project managers have become where they are today and which would be the best way to try and become a PM. my aim is to work in the construction area. im currently doing my cert III of PM.
    im basically looking for advice on how to become a PM



    DrPDG March 29, 2012 at 5:43 am

    Hi Chloe,
    Yes, I agree…. IMPO, Project Management is VERY much context/application specific, so if I were you, (and my background is also construction) I would recommend you get a bachelor’s degree in construction project management. Purdue has an outstanding program, as does the Dell E Web School of Construction Management at Arizona State University.

    Important part of construction project management degrees is ALL of them require work experience in the field as a prerequisite to getting your degree, so these internships enable you to build a good reputation as a hard worker and fast learner.

    But also keep in mind you are unlikely to get a job as a construction manager on a project of considerable size/complexity until you have at least 5 – 10 years experience under your belt.

    Hope this helps answer your question?

    Dr. PDG, Jakarta, Indonesia


    Elm Lovinho April 12, 2012 at 8:48 am

    i am an under graduate student who in a few months time will be graduating and will like to make a career in project managing. Right now i am studying geography as a social science so would end up with a BSc. in the field. Out of the somany questions i have to ask some include, how do project managers get employed, do they get stable employments or contracts, in which souht of companies or firms can they work and are they job opportunities in the field? would be thankful if u help me out with all this questions.


    DrPDG April 12, 2012 at 9:09 am

    Hi Elm,
    Hmmmmm……. My first piece of advice would be to read over the postings above. Many people in the same/similar situations have been responded to.

    Once you do that, my first impression is you have picked a field with a lot of potential. With Geographic Information Systems (GIS), those with Geography undergrad degrees stand a pretty good shot at finding work and in that world, more than likely project management will play a big role. If you have not taken any GIS courses, you really should get a few under your belt before you graduate.

    As projects are by definition, “temporary” in nature, you probably will have a hard time finding full time work, at least in the beginning, and do NOT expect to get hired as a project manager when you graduate. More than likely, you are looking at 4-5 years of experience before you will start to be given serious project management responsibilities.

    Hope this has helped you get started and after you read over all the posts above, if you can refine your questions to be more specific, the more Josh or I can help you.

    Dr. PDG, Jakarta, Indonesia


    kayleigh April 12, 2012 at 11:05 am

    im a newbie who is looking to project manage my own extension project wereby i will be bulding an extra bathroom and bedroom for my disabled parents, and i need advice on who else would need to be involved? such as trades people, advisors etc.
    i’d appreciate the help thanks :)


    Murray hough April 15, 2012 at 6:26 pm

    Very good advice into project management


    Sarah-Leigh Elago June 27, 2012 at 6:28 am

    i still dont understand, im a PM student through Business Management Training College. i feel i made a huge mistake because the assignments and books are simply too complicated.


    DrPDG June 27, 2012 at 7:05 am

    ???? Sarah, what is it you don’t understand?

    Have you ever planned a vacation? At some point in your schooling, didn’t you complete a science or some other “project”? Isn’t obtaining your degree a project?

    Like it or not, the processes of project management (applying the tools & techniques) are embedded in almost everything we do as humans, from getting an education to managing a home to raising a family.

    Project management is a life skill set, like balancing your checking account or being able to change a flat tire- just something you have to learn if you are to survive. Now, the big question is whether you can become good enough at it so you make a living doing project management?

    Bottom line- do NOT make project management overly complicated. It is little more than applied common sense.

    If you let me know what part you are struggling with, perhaps I can help guide you?

    Dr. PDG, Jakarta, Indonesia


    mehr July 6, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    Hi i have a question regarding Project management. I have recently finished my engineering degree. I would like to be a project manager in the long term. Now I have two job offers, one is as a graduate engineer in a construction company and the other one is as a junior planner in a planning company. i have heard that planners can become project managers as well is this correct? and if so which one is the best choice for me to reach a project management role faster?



    DrPDG July 6, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    Hi Mehr,
    Yes, you are correct, at least in part…..

    A position in “project controls” for at least 2-3 years is considered to be mandatory (at least in construction project management) on the way to becoming a project manager. Go here and scroll down to the bottom of the page to see the various “planning” functions which can lead you to the position of construction project manager.

    So bottom line (and I am coming from the same background as you are) I would recommend you take the job as project engineer to start with, then transition to one or more of the “planning” functions before seeking out jobs as a project manager. Probably you are looking at a 10 – 15 year career path horizon, unless you are REALLY, REALLY good at what you do OR start your own construction company. (Which also requires that you be REALLY, REALLY good, not only technically, but as a businessman)

    Dr. PDG, Boston, MA


    Aidan August 16, 2012 at 10:56 am

    Thanks Josh! Education, especially through real-world experience, is by far the most valuable in becoming a Project Manager. I found that reading books and blogs was incredibly beneficial and I recently read a few books that I would strongly suggest to anyone looking to get in to the industry, or for those who are already PM’s and want to rise to the top of their profession.

    Richard Morreale’s book “Top Gun Project Managers – 8 Strategies for Reaching the Top of the PM Profession” has some fantastic strategies that I feel will really boost the trajectory of one’s career in project management.

    Also, the series “Lessons From History” teaches useful skills in Project Management through historical case studies that are easily translated into modern day projects. Readers learn from mistakes and victories in previous projects and apply those skills in current situations. It makes learning the PM profession exciting and engaging, I definitely recommend any book in this series!


    Marcela October 3, 2012 at 11:54 am

    Hi Dr. PDG

    I graduated as a Biomedical Engineer two years ago and have some technical support experience in a medical device company. I recently accepted an offer as a patent examiner but have realized that I really want to go back to the medical field as a project manager. Is there any advice you can give me as to how to best go back into the field to achieve a PM position a few years down the line? What higher level degree should I pursue? what engineering position should I start applying for? Are there any benefits to staying a the patent office in order to become a PM? Thanks in advance for your help!


    samuel October 20, 2012 at 1:10 am

    i am a fresh graduate from the polytechnic and i offered building technology, i want to major in project management…in this case what do i start with first since i have know experience and also what position in the construction field will be best for me as a fresh graduate to start with. THANK YOU!!


    DrPDG October 20, 2012 at 6:17 am

    My best advice, logically enough, would be to seek out a job in construction. A good way to start is to get a job in sales- working for a concrete company or working for a company like Hilti or Bosch is a great way to get to meet people in the field and once you have a year or two experience in sales, it should be fairly easy to use your contacts from the field to find a job that appeals to you.

    Another approach if you prefer the office to the field is to start in the office as a Junior Cost Estimator, Jr. Scheduler or some other project controls position. Go to this page and scroll down to the bottom of the page. You will see a table which shows a career path for “project controls” and at the bottom is a list of entry level jobs that you should be Googling on.

    One last suggestion- doesn’t the school you graduated from have a placement office? If nothing else, they should be helping you in your last year find an internship and given you’ve already graduated, have you checked with them or with one of your professors about providing you with a referral?

    Best of luck to you,
    Dr. PDG, Lagos, Nigeria


    Lauren October 30, 2012 at 10:00 am

    Hi there,

    I am 22 years of age and am very very interested in going in to Project Management as a career. I have done a foundation degree in Chemistry and completed 2 years of a BSc Hons degree in Chemistry, but there have been some complications so am not sure that I will be taking my third year. I have no clue where to start. I have read many blogs and researched in to it, and am assuming that I need to take some exams before even thinking about applying for a job in project management. Is this the case? And if so, what are the exams that I should be looking at taking?

    Hope somebody can help!

    Many thanks.


    DrPDG October 30, 2012 at 8:29 pm

    Hi Lauren,
    First, it is highly unlikely that anyone is going to give a 22 year old with no experience a job as “project manager”, regardless of how many exams you might take.

    Your best bet is to find some job in the field you are interested in. (Say BioTech? Oil, gas or mining sectors?) Then you will almost be sure to be assigned to one or more projects as an entry level chemist.

    As you build experience working on project teams, you can begin to build your management and leadership skills and probably within 3-5 years, you will have enough experience to be taking team leadership roles and from team leader, if you truly are good as an effective leader/manager, you can move into positions as Project Manager.

    During those 3-5 years while building experience, you should consider taking either the PRINCE2, PMI or AACE entry level credentials, which will depend largely on the sector where you find work. (i.e. AACE is big with Chemical Engineers, while PMI is recognized and accepted in the Bio-Pharma sectors)

    Hope this helps you some?

    Dr. PDG, Jakarta, Indonesia


    Ken Butler November 13, 2012 at 9:52 am

    I didn’t see your full name on the above article, but I wanted to introduce myself and hopefully establish a communication link for advise regarding starting out in project management. I am a 42 y/o retired U.S. Naval Officer living in Jacksonville, Florida. I have started an MBA program with a concentration in Project Management. My undergraduate degree is in electronics technology. In the USN, I worked primarily in engineering billets and want to pursue a career as a civilian project manager ideally working for a US government agency or a government contractor in planning/estimating and quality control. Those are my goals. I read your article and intend to follow the advise stated regarding joining PMI and the local chapter. I guess I am just not sure on what else I should be doing. I am not working in an industry that provides opportunities to gain project management experience. Do you have any suggestions?


    DrPDG November 13, 2012 at 10:49 am

    Hi Ken,
    I am not Josh, so I hope you don’t mind me jumping in.

    With your background, my best advice would be to get your PMP if you wish, but the real added value I see is AACE’s Earned Value Professional (EVP) credential.

    Why do I recommend this? Because the market is saturated with PMP’s and if you want to differentiate yourself from the crowd, then the AACE credentials offer you that opportunity.

    Another good reason? Relatively speaking, there are not a whole lot of project manager positions out there, but there are TONNES of project controls/project management office (PMO) jobs available. And in many cases, the project controls positions pay as much if not more than those of project managers. If you want to see the various “project control” job titles, go here and scrolll down to the bottom of the page. That graphic shows you all the different project control job titles and should give you at least something to think about as you chart the next steps in your career path development.

    Dr. PDG, Dubai, UAE


    Josh November 21, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    I like Dr. PDG’s reply and it’s in line with advice I’ve given before:

    I hope that article and video are helpful Ken!



    Stephanie November 19, 2012 at 5:04 pm


    I’m 21 and I’ve just graduated from a 3-year program in Architectural Technology in Canada. I have been working at an architecture firm for 6 months as a junior technologist and I’m starting to think that I would prefer a career in construction project management. My teacher will be recommending me to a few companies so I’m fairly sure I will get a job as a project manager.
    I’ve always been brought up to believe that the best thing that I could ever do for my career is to get into university, but my teacher told me that I don’t need to go to university and that not having a degree won’t affect my salary. As a project manager in construction, is a degree in project management in construction more valued over experience? The reason why I want to get into PM in construction is that I love the planning and scheduling aspect of it and I wanted to make use of my DEC in Architectural technology. Should I go to university and get a Bachelor of Science in Construction management even though I’m dreading the science courses? Or should I take the job as a project manager and work my way up through the years?
    Any comments will be appreciated. I feel very lost and confused.


    DrPDG November 19, 2012 at 5:29 pm

    Tough question, Stephanie…..

    First, I can GUARANTEE you that no construction company will hire you as a project manager only 6 months out of school. (I have been a general contractor for over 45 years now) Construction project managers generally don’t get that title until the late 30′s or early 40′s and on large projects, most of them are in their 50′s or older. With single digit EBIT margins, no contractor can trust their project to someone with no experience. FWIW, my niece just landed a job as a construction project manager for a clothing store company and she is 32, with a masters in project management and 10 years experience in store design.

    Having come up through the trades, (carpentry and concrete finishing) myself and based on my nieces recent experience, I can tell you that having a degree will cut several years off the time it takes to get to a project manager.

    Having said that, if you like planning and scheduling, then why not choose that as your career path? Suggest you go to this link- Scroll down to the bottom of the page and you can see the various options to get into project controls. First, if you want a career as a construction project manager, you are going to have to spend some time in each of these areas anyway. And if you like one area more than others, there are people who specialize in cost estimating or scheduling or claims who make as much, if not more money than the project manager.

    If construction project management is your career path objective, you may want to review the requirements to become certified- CMAA or ICM or CIOB are good places to start.

    Bottom line- you cannot go wrong getting a degree. But instead of focusing first on becoming a project manager, why not focus short term on becoming a planner/scheduler. There are plenty of jobs open in that field and I do agree with your teacher that no degree is required. Then you can go to University at nights part time, to get your degree, while building your skills in scheduling, cost estimating, contract management and project controls, all of which are necessary in order to become a construction project manager.

    Hope this helps un-confuse you and give you some direction?

    Dr. PDG, Jakarta, Indonesia


    Prasanna December 22, 2012 at 8:32 am

    Dear Sir,

    Thanks a lot for the information provided.


    DrPDG December 22, 2012 at 9:01 am

    Anytime, Prasanna. This is why Josh created this forum and why I continue to play an active role helping Josh keep it updated.

    Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a safe, happy, healthy and PROSPEROUS 2013.

    Dr. PDG, Jakarta, Indonesia


    Jordan Stevenson January 12, 2013 at 9:05 am

    Hi guys.

    I’ve spent hours reading all of the comments and information that has been posted here. Im 18 years of age, have just finished my A levels, and have been seriously confused about what to do with my life. I think I have an idea after researching project management and talking to actual PM’s though! I’m doing my PRINCE2 foundation and practitioner this year hopefully. Just wondering if anyone has any advice as to which direction to go next?
    I want to get experience but don’t know where to start!! I know I have little chance of managing a huge project at this point but every little helps so any ideas you have would be appreciated. Thanks

    Jordan Stevenson


    Josh January 12, 2013 at 9:03 pm

    First of all, I was way more confused at age 18 about what I wanted to do with my career than you are!

    Volunteering is an excellent way to get some entry-level project-management chops. This could be for a charitable organization that you care about, or it could be volunteering for little special projects within the company that you work for.

    Also think about things like what types of projects do you want to manage? Also is the management side of it really something that you want to do, or would something like a project controls or scheduler roll be more up your alley?

    I love technology too, and if I had been as self-aware as you at 18 I would have gone for a degree in computer science. But that’s if I knew I’d want to be working in IT or software development. If you wanted to manage construction you might want a construction-related engineering degree and realize it’s going to take steps to get to managing major projects in any domain. You can always follow up a more technical degree with management related masters and/or just good old experience while paying your dues.

    Any follow up questions?


    Satish January 16, 2013 at 9:57 am

    Hi Sir,

    Iam Satish here from India.I have overall 6.6years of experience.Iam into Service Delivery operations.Iam working as Senior System Administrator supporting for Overseas clients.I have done my degree in Electrical Electronics Engineering before getting to this job.Later after few years I felt Iam not techy.but talky so took 1 year Leave and went for higher studies to do Post graduate diploma in International Business at Singapore.
    I have intrest into Project Management area.I just wanted to know I can get into Project management tower,having experience into Service delivery operations.Can I show my support work as projects and can compete to Project manager role ? Or do i need to start my career from Level 0.Tell me an idea how my experience into IT can be useful for getting to Project management role.Please let me know how my experience can be counted into getting PM role,?


    DrPDG January 17, 2013 at 4:01 am

    Hi Satish,
    The best way to get “into project management” is to volunteer to lead a project…… It means you may have to take on a heavy work load (both your technical responsibilities as well as your project management responsibilities,

    And it is VERY unusual to be promoted from a technical role to a project manager role without first building a track record. (See first paragraph)

    Hope this gives you some ideas?

    Dr. PDG, Jakarta


    Jordan Stevenson January 22, 2013 at 12:38 am

    Hi again,
    I’ve got my eyes on a Project Management MSc in the university of liverpool, specialising in Oil and Gas or Information and Technology, not too sure yet. Also, my uncle (the senior fundraising manager for Amnesty Internation in Ireland) has come up with a few small projects that I can work on in the mean time! Another question. Do you think the Prince2 foundation and practitioner are necessary, or will those topics be covered in the degree, do you think?

    Thanks again


    DrPDG January 22, 2013 at 2:12 am

    Hi Jordan,
    Professionally, I do not think highly of the PRINCE2 Foundation or Practitioner credentials. You can see why by reading this article understanding that I am in the process of preparing an update which will appear in the February issue of PMWorld Net E-Journal and the PRINCE2 credentials have not moved any higher in the rankings.

    Essentially, benchmarked against both Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hour rule and the US Professional Engineer license the PRINCE2 credentials don’t even equal PMI’s CAPM or the PE beginning credential, the Engineer in Training (EIT)

    So you need to weigh the commercial value of getting credentials which have little or no substance against putting in more effort to get credentials which actually measure your competence…… Admittedly a tough call sometimes…

    Dr. PDG Jakarta Indonesia


    Chris February 4, 2013 at 3:33 pm

    Hi Paul & Josh,

    I completed my bachelor degree as a chemical engineer and worked for 2 years thereafter as a process engineer designing the utilities for a mining processing facility. I was laid off during the recession and decided to pursue a career that held more meaning for me in developing renewable energies. I have recently completed my MSc in Renewable Energy Management and am looking now to get some experience. Given that I have a chemical background and not electrical, and also the theme of my master’s program, I see this as my most plausible root. I have naturally taken on leadership roles throughout my life, but mostly because I feel like I know the right path and am a good problem solver. I tend not to prefer the spotlight, if you will, that often comes with leading. I was wondering if either of you had insight as to the credentials that may apply specifically to the renewable energy industry? The AACEI seemed interesting. An MBA with a finance focus is on my mind, but at this point I believe that I can benefit most from some real experience. Although, I am now almost 31 years old and was also wondering at what point you become too old for such an undertaking? Thoughts on such matters and any additional comments are most welcome. Thanks in advance,



    Chris June 23, 2013 at 11:16 am

    Am I chopped liver?


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    Joe May 31, 2013 at 5:35 pm

    Hi Dr.G,
    I am currently studying different projects, one type of project has got me confused! An electronic medical records implementation project! What would be internal and external time influences that would affect the planning schedule?!


    joe May 31, 2013 at 7:17 pm

    Hi Dr. PDG,
    I am a student and will be finishing my course in the coming weeks, I wanted to know whether or not you think that once I have obtained my Diploma would it be a good idea to complete the CAPM since I don’t have any experience?! I have looked into the process and read the Handbook but I’m not sure whether or not it is essential as I know that gaining experience is most important.
    What are your thoughts?

    Thanks for your time.

    Best regards,


    Dr Paul D. Giammalvo May 31, 2013 at 8:15 pm

    Joe, doubtful you will go wrong if you start with the WBS as INPUTS to your RISK ANALYSIS. Then for each deliverable, simply ask yourself what can go wrong that would impact time? Make a list. Then after you have brainstormed your list, decide if they are INTERNAL factors (something you have reasonable control over) or EXTERNAL risks (those over which you have no control over)

    The key is to START with your WBS (I know, PMI doesn’t say that, but I am not a big fan of PMI’s PMBOK Guide) If you want to pick up the textbook that I use in all our advanced courses, it is Gary Humphrey’s “Project Management Using Earned Value”. I believe it is the best single book ever written on APPLIED project management. Unlike PMI’s PMBOK, it gives you a step by step approach, INCLUDING case studes AND sample study questions.

    Dr. PDG, Jakarta, Indonesia

    Dr. PDG, Jakarta, Indonesia


    joe May 31, 2013 at 8:52 pm

    Hi Dr. PDG.

    Thanks very much for your quick reply and great advice.
    I wrote a comment also regarding obtaining the CAPM certification! I was wondering what you thoughts were on the matter and whether or not it is worth my while trying to obtain the certification?!
    I do understand that experience is most important though but is the PMP worth following?
    Regarding Gary Humphrey’s “Project Management Using Earned Value”, I will definately be purchasing a copy very soon, thanks again for your help.



    Joe June 7, 2013 at 4:59 am

    I’m working on an assignment and I’m trying to figure out how to determine if a project time limiting or a resource limiting project and how exactly you can determine which!
    Some pointers would be great!

    Best regards,


    DrPDG June 7, 2013 at 5:49 am

    Joe, sorry, but your question is a bit fuzzy……

    By definition, a project is time limited. If it were not, then it would be operations.

    So given all projects are “time constrained” then the question becomes do I have a sufficient number of the right resources available at the right time in order to finish the project within the time allowed or targeted?

    If the answer is no, then you have a RESOURCE CONSTRAINED schedule and you need to inform your management/client that unless you get the resources you need, then you cannot finish the project within the desired time frame.

    Hope this answered your question?

    Dr. PDG, Jakarta, Indonesia


    Bongani June 19, 2013 at 2:00 pm

    I’m going to university next year and was wondering which modules I should take for the course of becoming a project manager?


    DrPDG June 19, 2013 at 10:27 pm

    Hi Bongani,
    Really didn’t us much to go on…….

    What FIELD or APPLICATION are you interested in? If you are interested in CONSTRUCTION PROJECT MANAGEMENT, then there are many institutions globally who offer that as a degree.

    If AERONAUTICAL ENGINEERING is your field of interest, then there are several uni’s which include courses on project management as electives in their AE course.

    Same with Telecommunications Engineering and we are even now seeing some IT majors (Computer Science) which offer courses in project management as electives.

    What you need to understand is that “project management” is not a “stand alone profession” despite what many claim. Project management is a set of processes and those processes are context and application specific. That is, even though BOTH of these examples are considered “projects” the PROCESSES used to fly a plane from city A to city B are very different from the processes to remove an infected appendix. Once you understand that project management is a process and the process has many MANY applications, then it becomes easy to understand that you need to FIRST pick your area of interest (piloting, construction, law, accounting, medicine whatever) and then take courses on the processes to manage projects in those domains.

    Hope this makes sense to you?

    Dr. PDG, Jakarta, Indonesia


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    Dear Dr. Paul,

    I’ve read this entire thread and learned a ton — thank you. I could relate to Irene’s question above about how to make a career change from teaching to PM. I was struck by your comment that with nine years of classroom experience, she could make a case for herself not just as a project manager but even a program manager! This intrigues me because I have ten years of university teaching experience in history and political science, and I completely agree with you on the parallels with PM (e.g., course design, stakeholder engagement, effective communication, monitoring and evaluation, etc.), but it seems to me from my initial job search that these are merely transferrable skills at best rather the actual project management experience. It is for that reason that I am now studying only for my CAPM rather than even bothering with my PMP exam; even if I could somehow convince PMI that this was relevant PM experience, I doubt I could convince an employer in a completely different industry. So my first question is just to ask you to elaborate on how you see a marketable link between teaching experience and breaking into the field of PM as a new career…

    My second question is, I am now a PhD student in political science in the DC area focusing on public administration and comparative politics (especially economic development in the Middle East and Africa). I am interested in researching how project management theory and techniques could / does / should inform international development. Being a scholar of PM yourself, would you be able to give me any guidance here? Just a few names or a book title would be great. And looking down the road a couple years, does this strike you as a viable (albeit obviously broad) dissertation topic?

    My third question is, given that I already have two master’s degrees (history and liberal studies) and a decade of teaching experience but nothing else, and am now doing a doctorate even though I know already that for the future I want to just keep a toehold in academia and instead pursue a career in international development consulting (specifically PM & monitoring and evaluation), how should I proceed? I am very concerned about my lack of experience combined with my age (35) and like everyone else I don’t want to waste any time or money on an ill-conceived plan of action or superfluous training. If experience trumps everything, as everyone here seems to agree, how do I then climb out of this hole while at the same time leveraging my background and education for a new career?

    Thanks for reading this and for any advice you can offer. Your insight and expertise are much appreciated.


    DrPDG July 1, 2013 at 9:45 pm

    Hi Doug,
    FIRST of all, you don’t have to “convince” PMI of anything……. They only audit 10% of the applicants and then they don’t even follow up on those they do audit, so on the first question, I would recommend you skip your CAPM and go directly to the PMP. The important thing is how you structure your application.

    I would treat each COURSE you teach as a separate project. And assuming you are teaching more than one course simultaneously, you need to be careful how you document those hours. (See the PMP Handbook and they explain this clearly)

    As for your second question, coincidentally, I am in DC right now attending the AACE symposium at the Woodly Park Marriott hotel. If you can come here either Tuesday or Wednesday, I can discuss your options with you. Otherwise, email me privately

    Your last question is a tough one. GIVEN you are interested in International Development Project Management, are you aware there is a certification specifically for that application?

    Unfortunately, as you are nearly a pure academic with little or no field experience, finding work as a PRACTITIONER is going to be very tough. Once you get your PhD, you should be able to find work as a CONSULTANT but not as a practitioner.

    Again, I don’t mind talking to you face to face provided you can catch up with me in the coming 1.5 days at the AACE conference. Otherwise, better email me…….

    Dr. PDG, Washington DC


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    Vatsal Patel September 18, 2013 at 4:06 am

    Hello Sir,

    I am working as Deputy Manager in Projects recently. By qualification i am Mechanical Engineer. I want to pursue studies and upgrade in Project Management. So i thought to do MBA in Project Management under distance learning? And i came across PMI certification, which is a global institute. So can you please guide me which would be better weather MBA in Project Management of certificate course from PMI?

    Thanks in Advance,

    Vatsal Patel


    DrPDG September 21, 2013 at 6:46 pm

    Vatsal, please don’t confuse MBA or MSc with any of the certifications, especially the PMP. Not even in the same league- like apples and durian.

    I have an on-going research project benchmarking the various global PM credentials against the US Professional Engineer (PE) license as well as Malcolm Gladwell’s “10,000 hour” rule and you can see that the PMP really is not a professional level credential.

    My best advice to you would be to get your MBA or MSc and there are MANY very high quality Universities offering Distance Learning Masters, including the program I got my Masters from, George Washington University. EXPENSIVE but certainly one of the premier advanced degrees in project management.

    Hope this helps you make your decision?

    Dr. PDG, Jakarta, Indonesia


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    DrPDG September 26, 2013 at 8:40 pm

    You really didn’t give us much to go on…….

    The Construction Management Association offers a “Construction Manager In Training” (CMIT) certificate program- as well as the “Certified Construction Manager” (CCM) credential for those who qualify.

    But this is very much US centric and may or may not have relevancy much less any recognition in your country. South Africa also offers what amounts to a licensing program for Construction Managers as well-

    Bottom line- If you let me know where you are based I can probably be of more help in answering your question.

    Dr. PDG, Jakarta, Indonesia


    DrPDG September 26, 2013 at 8:27 pm

    Folks, here is an EXCELLENT PhD dissertation Jason Bingham has made available his PhD on “Career Paths For Project Managers”.

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    Motaz Hourani October 23, 2013 at 6:54 pm

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    so recently i have been looking for masters degree in project management but people advise me to get some work experience before doing that, so i was wondering what positions should i be seeking for after graduating in order to become a PM in future.

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    Sally March 25, 2014 at 1:03 pm

    I will be graduating with a degree in Project Management in the summer. The only job experience I have is in customer service. What kind of jobs should I be looking to start my career out in?


    Margaret April 16, 2014 at 10:31 am

    Hi Sally,

    What industry interests you? If there is a specific field or industry that interests you, you should consider investigating it.
    You might be ready to start out as a project manager or perhaps you are ready to start out as a project coordinator or project assistant.

    I would not think of it as “I only have had jobs in customer service.” Think of it “I have worked in customer service and because of this I have learned….”

    You have probably learned to work well with others, to manage conflict, to help diffuse tense situations etc. Consider parlaying your people skills and your education and aiming both in the direction that appeals to you the most. Research your industry of choice, go to PMI meetings, talk to people who have the type of job you want in five years and then develop your strategy of how to get there.
    Congratulations on your pending graduation and wishing you every success.

    Margaret Meloni
    Community Leader


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    DrPDG September 18, 2013 at 4:37 am

    Hi Meloni,
    I am getting email messages with people posting legitimate questions but when I go to find their posting to respond, I cannot find their message? Any idea why?

    Also, can you clean up the spam postings please? Or if you want help, give me access and I will be happy to do it for you.

    If you wish, email me directly-

    Dr. PDG, Jakarta, Indonesia


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