In a post last month, I discussed the drivers of project management salaries, based on statistical analysis. The summary of that research was that years of experience and management seniority were the only attributes that could be statistically shown to increase salary of project managers. So the conclusion was that if you want to earn more as a project manager, the best thing to do is to get into management.
Today, I’d like to broaden the analysis to look at skills that are specified on project management job postings in the US. These skills won’t necessarily earn you more money, but they will increase the range of possible jobs you are eligible for.
Here I am focusing on skills that are verifiable. For example, a lot of job postings include vague terms such as “written and oral communication skills” or “attention to detail”, I don’t consider these verifiable skills, you may have them, but it’s hard to prove it either on a resume or in a job interview. I am not saying these skills aren’t important, just that they aren’t verifiable and so I exclude them from the analysis.
The chart below shows the percentage of project management roles in the US in March 2010 requiring particular verifiable skills. I’ve used the cut off point as 5%, because there were a number of ‘long tail’ skills (such as knowledge of SharePoint, Primavera or a CPA among many others) that were mentioned in some job postings, but didn’t exceed 5%.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, an undergraduate degree was the number one required skill for a project management position. In fact, the number of jobs that need this may be greater than 54.4% because a number of the job listings were as short as a paragraph and likely omitted key requirements. Next on the list, is the PMP certification, as I mentioned before, I can’t prove that this will earn you more money, but it will open up significantly more jobs to you than if you don’t hold the qualification. After that “risk management” was the one skill that was cited frequently, more so that estimation, requirements management, budgeting, portfolio management and estimation that didn’t make the 5% cut, again perhaps due to poorly written job postings. Beyond that the focus on technology tools was interesting, with Microsoft Office and Microsoft Project mentioned in about 1 in 10 postings. Interestingly, SQL was listed in a significant portion of postings, for organizations that use databases in their project management process. Finally, the agile methodology was mentioned in about 1 in 20 postings. Many postings referred to awareness of project management tools and methodologies – but the language used was vague.
Conclusion – if you want to broaden your range of jobs as a project manager first get an undergraduate degree, then get a PMP. Finally, familiarize yourself with the basic technology tools.
A second (more anecdotal) conclusion, is that a number of job postings out there are poorly written and a call to the recruiter to a get a little more detail on the specifics might be worth it before sending in your resume.
Percentage of US project management positions requiring the skill specified
March 2010, publically advertized positions only