Companies have always recognized the value of a good project manager--someone who understands the scope of a project and can marshal all the necessary resources to bring a project to completion on time and within a budget.
Because projects were often intermittent in the past, project management roles often went to outside consultants. But now many companies are choosing to have people on staff with the experience it takes to plan, monitor, and budget for special projects. Companies are often faced with new technology, unexpected competition, and the need to make big changes in a short amount of time, making dedicated project managers more essential than ever.
Project managers are often required to survey company workers to identify a project need and are then responsible for defining the project, estimating costs and time needed, and sometimes recruiting the team members who carry the project to completion.
This is where someone with an MBA in project management becomes an important asset to a company. Employees with an MBA in project management already have a strong background in various aspects of business, and their master's degree in project management gives them additional expertise to pull together diverse resources in order to complete a project in a timely and cost-efficient manner.
Studying for a MBA in Project Management
Many business schools offer both on-campus and online programs. The curricula in both types of programs are generally very similar, but online learning can be an advantage for working professionals because it saves time commuting to school and allows students to study when it's convenient for them.
In addition to business courses in managerial accounting, business law, financial management, economics, leadership, marketing, and quantitative analysis, an MBA in project management introduces you to such subjects as:
- Managing software development projects
- Project costs and schedule control
- Risk management
- Supply chain management
- Contracts and procurement
MBA project management programs can take between 18 and 24 months to complete, and when you graduate, you know how to manage time, cost, communications, risks, and people to complete complex projects on time and within budget. Graduates of project management MBA programs know how to be a good leader and have a firm grasp of technology and general business management.
Many programs also offer a final capstone project in which graduates apply what they've learned to a real-life situation. These projects mimic a real-world work situation and ask students to work in a team, consult with various project participants, and provide updates to instructors.
Job Opportunities for Project Management MBA Graduates
Although the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn't classify project management as an occupation, the job duties of professionals such as information system managers and construction managers encompass many of the responsibilities of a project manager.
Increasingly, project managers are seen as a well-defined and separate management tier in many organizations, and membership in the Project Management Institute has quadrupled in recent years to more than 200,000 members. The one thing all these project managers have in common is that they see projects through from inception to completion, deciding which jobs need to be completed before others and ensuring that the work progresses smoothly and efficiently.
According to the BLS, earnings for project managers vary according to skill level, region, and industry. One BLS estimate from 2006 pegged the median salary for a project manager at $96,000 annually. A 2009 salary survey from Nxtbook Media found the average salary for individuals holding a Project Management Professional certification (PMP) was $109,760.
A good project manager is an excellent communicator and capable of motivating and evaluating people's strengths and tendencies. They know how to research the best materials and approaches to a project, and they have to give clear, direct orders as well as maintain good relations with team members so they feel free to communication problems.