Getting on the PM Career Path
In the business and IT fields, the project manager is often promoted after having spent years rising through individual contributor ranks. Most organizations prefer to have project managers who have experience in the associated business and/or technical area. Even though many project managers are trained to "solely manage the project" in the face of scarce resources in most organizations today they are usually expected to perform other roles on the projects as well. Through this combination of roles a project manager can take on management responsibilities while staying current in the functional or technical environment.
There are various levels of project managers, and various sizes and complexities of projects. As more experience is gained on smaller, less complex projects promotions to more senior levels become possible.
Often a project manager begins as a project administrator or project coordinator providing support for the tracking and communication processes required to manage a project. After experience has been gained working with more seasoned project managers, a promotion through multiple roles is possible.
Even Microsoft has established a new role for project management professionals within Microsoft Services, with potentially 150 new project management positions. Microsoft alone has created four job levels, from Project Manager I to Project Manager IV, with specific responsibilities, roles and training requirements. In order to get on the project management career track, candidates need to be extremely technical and have obtained at least a senior consultant designation at Microsoft Services. This senior consultant level has three distinct career paths - management, technical or project management.