Just about any military command will deal with some level of project management. It may range from ensuring that the mess hall feeds all of the troops to leading the motor pool to keep the troops mobile and equipped to orchestrating special operations missions overseas. 

The skills and attributes required for successful project management can mesh well with the leadership and focus developed during military service. Added to the experience gained serving in the armed forces, earning an MBA in Project Management from a respected and accredited university can be an excellent path to a career in the growing field of project management.

Earnings and Job Outlook

Almost 600,000 project management-related jobs are expected to be created in the United States from 2010 to 2020, the Project Management Institute® (PMI) has reported. Those positions will be part of a worldwide expansion of more than 15 million jobs in project management during that period.

Globally, the median salary for project management practitioners topped $88,000 as of 2013, according to a survey by PMI. In the United States, annual salaries for the top 25% of those professionals exceeded $116,000.

Strong employment growth also is forecast for project management professionals working in the construction field. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that jobs for construction managers, also known as project managers, will increase by 16% between 2012 and 2022. That compares with an average growth rate of 11% for all occupations.

As of May 2014, the average salary for construction managers nationwide was almost $95,000, according to the BLS.

Salary potential and employment opportunities are determined by multiple factors, including regional market conditions, and an individual’s educational qualifications and work history.

Project Management Tasks

The applications for project management skills in the military and in civilian life are numerous and varied. Every project will have different specifications, goals and financial considerations. Let’s take a look at some typical job duties for project managers, whether in military or civilian roles:

  • Review project plans and proposals, and work with management to develop project objectives; identify project responsibilities by determining the phases and elements of the project; and calculate time-frames and sequences for stages of the project.
  • Prepare and distribute a description and timeline of the project. 
  • Study product design, customer requirements and performance standards to determine project specifications; present cost estimates and performance standards; conduct tests to ensure satisfactory product performance.  
  • Review contractor bids; assign personnel to specific phases and elements of the project; oversee and coordinate technical aspects of the project.
  • Prepare status reports and regularly monitor budgets, contractors and schedules; allocate project resources; approve expenditures and contracts; maintain accurate records and electronic databases.
  • Present procedures, rules and regulations to project stakeholders; enforce procedures to maintain safe and productive environment; ensure project integrity through compliance with state and federal regulations.

Knowledge, Skills and Abilities

Project managers in any sector must demonstrate knowledge of a variety of principles, practices and methods, from budgeting and personnel management to regulatory compliance and scheduling.

Project management practitioners must be flexible and adept at working in a fast-paced environment. Excellent analytical, mathematical and communication skills are critical, as is the ability to multitask while maintaining focus on a project’s benchmarks and overarching goals.

Education and Experience

There are a number of options for individuals pursuing educational and professional qualifications in project management, including an MBA with a specialization in Project Management and certification as a Project Management Professional (PMP) through the Project Management Institute.

Although a bachelor’s degree in Project Management or a related discipline may be a minimum requirement, some employers will prefer candidates who have earned a master’s degree.

In addition, companies may place a premium on candidates with experience in the field, and demonstrated aptitude in coordinating resources, analyzing data and solving problems. These attributes are often developed through military service, meaning active-duty servicemembers and veterans may be excellent candidates for a career in project management.

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