What does a Project Manager do?

Coordinators who aim to keep projects on schedule and under budget, project managers are at the heart of any tech company or department. By setting goals, delegating tasks, holding team members accountable, and troubleshooting problems before they arise, project managers ensure that the expectations of upper managers are met.

Project managers are responsible for mapping out the scope and life of a project, from concept to completion. They distill the project into interim milestones, track which departments and individuals are responsible for each, and establish deadlines for when they're due. They also report progress to higher-ups, and act as the representative for the project and its interests within the larger company. So that they can anticipate problems and keep everyone on track, project managers must be well-versed in each team member’s job.

At a Glance

Career Path

As project managers are most common in technology-based industries, they're likely to have bachelor's or master's degrees in computer science, management, informational systems, or a related field. Some employers seek certifications from the Project Management Institute. Many project managers get started as developers who are picked to take the lead on a project and find that they're well-suited to it. Project management is a valuable and in-demand skill, so many choose to continue managing projects for increased salaries rather than progress up a departmental ladder, although that is also an option.

Finding Work

Open project manager positions are advertised on job posting websites like LinkedIn, Indeed, and Glassdoor.

Professional Skills
  • Project management
  • Broad technological knowledge
  • Spreadsheets
  • Scheduling
  • Budgeting
  • Organization
  • Collaboration
  • Problem-solving
  • Written and verbal communication
Interpersonal Skills

Project managers are multitaskers who think one step ahead of potential problems. They must be effective and tactful communicators, as part of the job is communicating information to colleagues and motivating them to stay on track. Most importantly, project managers are deeply organized. Generally speaking, project managers are the sort of people who love making spreadsheets—color-coded, of course—and whose lists have lists. They're also results-oriented, and will do what it takes to keep a project on track. This trait is particularly invaluable in fast-paced tech environments, where project delays can reduce the value and longevity of a product or even render it obsolete.

Work Life

Project managers typically work normal business hours in an office setting, but when projects fall behind—as they inevitably do—project managers are usually expected to put in extra hours to brainstorm ways to get them back on track. Those who run a tight ship might be able to avoid overtime or working from home. However, due to the nature of their job, the best project managers tend to be the kind of people who go above and beyond for their projects, and as such are likely to bring work home on a consistent basis.