How to Become an IT Project Manager

Discover the key steps and skills necessary to become an IT project manager with our comprehensive guide. Learn about relevant education, certifications, experience and more.

How To Become an IT Project Manager (1)Are your project management skills, leadership skills and communication skills strong? Do you consider yourself a visionary who can stay calm under pressure and help others keep their cool as well? If so, you could make a great IT project manager.

This is the ideal time to consider a career in project management as the need for IT project managers is expected to grow, in conjunction with emerging and other miscellaneous tech roles, reaching about 485,400 by 2033. The 10-year projected growth rate for this occupation category is 61% above the national rate, according to CompTIA State of the Tech Workforce 2023, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and Lightcast data.

Not only is the new job outlook for IT project managers good but IT project manager salaries are great. Per Lightcast 2022 data, the median advertised salary for IT project managers in the United States is $103,250 – 126% higher than the median national wage for all occupations.

For the right candidate, a career in IT project management can be the adventure of a lifetime. Ready to learn how to become an IT project manager and get answers to FAQs? Let’s dive in.

What Is an IT Project Manager?

Many information technology professionals possess project management skills. However, that doesn’t mean they can act as an IT project manager or get hired as one. So, what exactly is an IT project manager, and what does a project manager do?

Just as the name implies, IT project managers are individuals who plan and execute projects to help organizations reach their business goals. IT project managers work in every sector, including healthcare, finance, tech, education and more.

IT project managers have many responsibilities. First, they create timelines for group projects and ensure their team members stay on track with projects. Other tasks and responsibilities of an IT project manager include:

  • Choosing the right people for their project team
  • Utilizing project management integrations
  • Organizing project phases
  • Managing workflows
  • Creating schedules for the development of deliverables
  • Ensuring projects are kept within a set budget
  • Delegating assignments to project team members
  • Organizing project plans
  • Creating and managing strategic initiatives
  • Communicating with project stakeholders
  • Preparing reports
  • Tracking the progress of projects and project team members

IT project managers spend a lot of their time communicating with team members and stakeholders. They build rapport with stakeholders and set expectations. Then, they communicate that knowledge to the project team and oversee the project from start to finish. IT project managers also collaborate with other IT pros such as product managers, IT managers, program managers and project coordinators.

Required Skills and Traits for an IT Project Manager

IT project managers need the right skill set to complete their tasks and responsibilities. These IT pros should possess professional skills such as problem-solving, communication, leadership, negotiation, accountability, goal setting, adaptability and time management.

They also may require technical IT project manager skills such as:

  • Risk management
  • Project management
  • IT management
  • Budgeting
  • Project planning
  • Project scoping
  • Drafting project briefs
  • Contract management
  • Monitoring and evaluation
  • Agile management
  • Knowledge of IT infrastructure
  • Knowledge of project management methodologies
  • Cost management
  • Change management
  • Project portfolio management
  • Knowledge of project management software (such as Kanban boards and Microsoft Project)

Having the right skill set isn’t enough to be a successful IT project manager. In addition to having the hard and soft skills listed earlier, IT project managers are often people persons and enjoy working with others. They are excellent managers but aren’t controlling, allowing individual team members to complete the tasks assigned to them and develop their talents.

IT project managers are good at providing direction and keeping projects on track. They are patient, professional, organized and can handle a fast-paced work environment. Most have perfected the art of time management. Many IT project managers are also committed to learning and are continuously seeking opportunities, such as training and certifications, to become better at their job.

Do you have the know-how and traits IT project managers need? Do you have the traits and soft skills required of an IT project manager but lack the technical skills? Are you willing to learn those technical skills? A career in project management might be closer than you think. Keep reading to find out exactly how to become an IT project manager.

3 Steps to Becoming an IT Project Manager

Wondering how to become an IT project manager? The process includes three steps: Get educated, get experience and get certified.

1. Get Educated

As you’ll note from most IT project manager job descriptions, the majority of employers expect IT project managers to have a degree in computer science, management information systems (MIS) or a related field. Some may just require an associate degree, but most will want a bachelor’s or master’s degree.

If you already have significant experience in IT project management, you might not need a degree. In fact, you’ll earn bonus points if you have project management certifications. Some employers will scrap the educational requirements for job candidates with years of IT work experience and certifications. Keep this in mind as you consider getting a degree.

2. Get Experience

To land even an entry-level role in IT project management, you’ll need sufficient work experience. Preferably, the work experience will be in project management. However, IT pros often start out at the help desk or in another supportive, entry-level IT role. This work experience translates to foundational IT knowledge.

An internship can also help you get project management experience. Whether you are enrolled in a degree program or not, you should be looking for internships in project management or a similar field. If you’re in school, try to work a part-time job in some type of IT role. This will help you gain experience. If you have already earned your degree and just need additional work experience, make it your mission to land a full-time IT job. Stick with that job for several years as you gain essential skills for your future role as an IT project manager. And use that time to get at least one professional certification.

3. Get Certified

The next step to becoming an IT project manager is to get certified. If you want to manage small- to medium-sized projects, CompTIA Project+ is perfect for you. Those who earn this certification learn to:

  • Manage the project lifecycle
  • Ensure appropriate communication
  • Manage resources and stakeholders
  • Maintain project documentation

The certification exam also covers project basics, project constraints, communication and change management and project tools and documentation.

CompTIA Security+ is another valuable certification for IT project managers. This is because data insecurity is a massive issue for nearly every organization and cybercrime is on the rise. There is no doubt that this can affect the outcome of projects.

With CompTIA Security+, IT project managers can assess the security of an organization and recommend and implement appropriate solutions. They can also:

  • Monitor and secure hybrid environments, including cloud, mobile and IoT
  • Operate with an awareness of applicable laws and policies, including principles of governance, risk and compliance
  • Identify, analyze and respond to security events and incidents

Considering today’s cybersecurity landscape, having CompTIA Security+ could make the difference between getting a job as an IT project manager or getting overlooked.

Other project management certifications to consider include:

  • Project Management Professional (PMP), offered by Project Management Institute (PMI)
  • Certified Scrum Master, offered by the Scrum Alliance
  • Certified Associate in Project Management, offered by PMI

Learn about the difference between CompTIA Project+ and the PMP certification here.

How Long Does It Take to Become an IT Project Manager?

There isn’t a definite timeline to becoming an IT project manager. It varies based on individuals’ work experience, education and certifications, as well as the expectations and requirements of employers.

Do you have a bachelor’s degree in computer science, management information systems or a related discipline, plus several years of experience in project management or a similar field? If so, you can immediately apply for an IT project manager role. Don’t forget to get certified to boost your project manager salary and get noticed by employers.

Do you have several years of experience in project management plus at least one project management certification, but no degree? Go ahead and apply for an IT project manager position. Some employers may be willing to waive their educational requirements for the expertise you’ve gained from your work experience and certifications.

Are you starting from scratch, with no IT education, experience or certifications? Don’t let that overwhelm you – you can still get on the IT project manager career path. Look into bachelor’s degree programs in management information systems, computer science or a related field. While you are in school, work an IT job as time allows and seek internships in IT project management. And if your degree program doesn’t include them, earn project management certifications like CompTIA Project+.


CompTIA Project+ is an essential certification for anyone who is or wants to become an IT project manager. Here’s everything you need to know about CompTIA Project+.

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