The role of project managers is changing rapidly in today’s professional landscape. To be a successful project manager in 2024, it’s essential to expand your technical project management skills to learn new frameworks and software, as well as fine-tune your soft skills.

Here are 10 essential skills you need to work towards mastering to be a rockstar project manager in 2024.

Table of Contents

What does a Project Manager do?

What skills should you learn to become a Project Manager?

What training do you need to become a Project Manager?

How long does it take to become a project manager?

What does a project manager do?

This is one of the rare job titles that’s a fair description of the job itself. Being a project manager means managing projects — seeing them from conception to completion with hands-on work and team leadership.

It’s a little like being an orchestra conductor. The plan for a new product or service in development is like sheet music, and it’s your job to ensure that what comes out, in the end, is pleasing to your paying customers.


What are the top qualifications required to become a project manager?

While it’s not necessary to complete any specific schooling or hold certifications to become a project manager, these things can make it easier to find success in the role.

Some companies will have prerequisites for experience and training. That said, project manager qualifications don’t just come from textbooks. Companies are looking for proven skillsets and abilities, such as leadership skills, creative thinking, and delivering under pressure.

Remember that certifications and training demonstrate that a project manager or prospective project manager took time, effort, and money to learn best practices and refine their skills.

While companies want people with the right temperament, certifications can suggest that candidates will be well suited for the job.


10 Skills you need to launch your Project Management career

While one can earn degrees and display documents demonstrating completion of a course, these skills are the foundation of what courses teach and what companies expect.

If you want a career in project management, you’ll need:


1. Project and process management

This is, after all, the role of a project manager. Project managers should be experts at mapping out the steps it takes to complete a project or process. Effective project and process management should eliminate confusion, simplify processes, and communicate well.


2. Leadership and teamwork skills

Being a good leader is helpful in many different roles, but it’s especially important for project managers. A great project manager can balance being a leader and taking charge while cultivating a team environment and motivating everyone to complete their goals. Someone who has strong interpersonal skills and people skills is usually a natural leader.



3. Critical thinking

The nature of project management will involve tough decisions and course correcting if necessary. Project managers need to be able to think clearly under pressure to make informed decisions. Critical thinking involves coming up with unique solutions, making objective conclusions, and being an expert problem solver.


4. Communication and interpersonal skills

Project managers will work with a variety of different people and backgrounds during the life of a project. It’s crucial to be able to understand and be understood well.

Some people are naturally better communicators than others, however, communication is a skill that can be learned and worked on. Having a clear communication plan and communication tools is extremely important. To work on developing these soft skills, practice active listening and analyze how you interact with other people. 


5. Time management

Meeting deadlines is one of the most important roles of a project manager. They should be experts at not only managing their own time but the time of their team as well.

They are responsible for deciding how long a project should realistically take and taking the necessary steps to ensure it’s completed on time and as expected. Milestones should be utilized to break a large project into a series of smaller tasks and care should be taken to ensure these smaller tasks remain on schedule. 



6. Risk management

Part of a project manager’s role is identifying and mitigating risk throughout the life of the project. It’s important to have foresight when planning a project and be able to identify potential risks, to avoid hiccups in the future. A successful risk management plan would involve identifying potential risks and coming up with effective mitigation plans early in the project. 


7. Project management software

Most people find learning project management tools easier than learning some of the other soft skills it takes to be a project manager. These tools are important to be able to assist in the organization of projects, the administrative side of projects, and the success of projects.

While there are many different tools, the right tool will depend on the job at hand and it’s important to have general knowledge of the different tools available and have the skills to be able to learn new tools quickly.


8. Organizational skills

Strong organization skills are arguably one of the most important soft skills a PM can have. With a lot of moving parts to a project, it’s vital to be able to keep everything organized, easy to understand, and on track. Poor organization in a project will be the downfall of it and reflect poorly on the project manager.


9. Attention to detail

Project managers need to be able to see the big picture of a project while also focusing on the small details. One aspect of a project can change the entire outcome of a project and have a direct impact on its success. Missed details lead to change orders, and change orders lead to schedule delays and increased financial burden. 


10. Analytical skills

To really fine-tune your skills as a project manager and excel, you’ll need to dive deeper into the technical side of the job by developing skills like project scoping and project scheduling. However, if you can master the skills listed above, you’ll have a solid foundation for being a successful project manager in 2024. 



Getting hired

While securing a role as a project manager doesn’t require a specific degree, certifications in project management show potential employers and hiring managers that you’re qualified and know how to learn and work hard. Companies are looking to hire candidates with the necessary technical skills to complete the project, along with the softer skills such as creative thinking and working well under pressure that can take you from “good” to “great”.

There are many types of training out there. These opportunities include:


Formal and informal training

Project management courses and certifications abound, but there are also opportunities to be mentored by good project managers to get hands-on experience.

These opportunities can be formally attained or simply asked an existing project manager to “show you the ropes” of the process. Informal training can also come from self-guided research and examination.



Sometimes, the best education is to do the work! Entry-level positions such as Junior Project Manager exist specifically to ease people into being project managers. With hands-on experience, you’ll benefit from being involved in a project without being fully responsible.


Certifications or degrees

Many businesses that are looking to hire someone want to see candidates who have relevant project management experience and training. They may want to see certifications such as Project Management Institute’s (PMI) Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) or Project Management Professional (PMP), Global Association for Quality Management’s (GAQM) Certified Project Director (CPD), or the Asana Project Management Certificate.

With these courses, you’ll learn project management skills and get trained in using project management software, monitoring and controlling teams, project planning, and more.



How long does it take to become a project manager?

There are multiple ways that a person could be hired as a project manager. Sometimes, the process is as quick as onboarding, but in most cases, it comes after years of experience, training, and certifications.

No matter which way you go, achieving a project manager position means having proper project manager qualifications, whether they come from education or the school of hard knocks.


Becoming a project manager

It will take training and self-improvement if you’re interested in getting that corner office as a project manager. A career as a project manager is a demanding one, but the rewards can be significant. The average project manager salary in the U.S. is over $79,000 per year, and you can also enjoy the satisfaction of leading a team to create something new.

A project manager role may not be easy or quick to achieve, but it’s well worth the effort for those who have a passion for it.


Asana Project Management Certificate

Pathstream’s Asana Project Management Certification covers the fundamental skills needed to become a project manager in 2024 in less than 5 months. With dedicated instructors, a part-time, flexible schedule, and personalized career coaches, you can jumpstart a new career in project management. Hear from other students who completed this certificate and recently landed project management roles.


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