PM job candidate trends


An analysis of 300 job listings recently published by Software Advise, reveals what employers are looking for in project managers. A recent PMI report estimated that 6.2 million new project management jobs will be created in the US from 2010 to 2020.

79% of listings preferred or requested PMP certification

To better understand the requirements of these jobs, project management researcher at Software Advice analyzed 300 current job openings for project managers to find:

  • 79% of listings preferred or requested PMP certification;
  • 50% of all project manager job listings require a college degree; and,
  • 60% of IT project managers jobs will accept relevant experience in lieu of a college degree
  • 38% of IT positions accept relevant work experience in lieu of a bachelor’s degree.
  • Aerospace project manager positions have the highest minimum education and experience requirements.

This research is not really surprising to me. My interpretation is that Project Management as a profession, and the role of the project manager, is being more defined and clear as an important function within organizations. My belief is that (project mature) organizations prefer certified professionals, as this provides a competence recipe on candidates, and injects the organization with standardized methods and a professional culture. Yet, referring to earlier posts on the blog, there is somewhat an immaturity surrounding the profession and the expectations surrounding it, as discussions over the value of certification is continuing. Still, my opinion is not that you need to have 10 years of team leading experience to become a good project manager. I have seen proof that you can be junior and still get things done, by introducing new perspectives, injecting new energy to a team and coaching people to think outside of the box. This is very important within development of both software and hardware, where innovation and design might be the key to success – or even survival. Seniority and experience might, as shown in the report, be more important in conservative industries with high complexity or regulatory demands.

 …mid-level IT project manager stated that 3-5 years of experience would be considered equivalent to a BA/BS

With relevant experience at hand, the survey shows that organizations are looking for certified professionals (PMP in particular). I agree that relevant experience and higher education might, to some extent (but not completely), be viewed equally as degrees such as BA in higher education. Higher education within development or manufacturing is about preparing the students for qualified work. Still, higher education (example Master of science in engineering) prepares you with critical and analytic thinking, and exposes you to company-neutral values, the latest research and best practices. I can really understand that companies within aerospace or automotive have higher requirements on both experience and education. Most of us have read or heard about GM’s worldwide recall of 2.6 million cars, blamed for at least 13 deaths – working with development of products that might cause a car to crash if done poorly, naturally set higher demands on both project management methods and corresponding engineering processes, then development of software code for web applications. Its not like you just release a new software update for a ignition switch.

So my final thoughts; The profession is getting recognized and certification demand indicates that organizations value passionate and professional project managers. There is still a long road to go in regards where project management meet with different industry cultures, agile processes and engineering processes. However, I will leave you with a true outside of the box project – using agile and modular thinking to build a 100 mpg car in 3 months.

For the full report from Software Advice, click here.