Your Complete Guide To Becoming a Project Leader
With an average salary in the six figures, it’s no wonder so many people are flocking to this specialist field. But what does it take to become a project leader? What kind of skills do they need? And what do they actually do?
We’re going to cover all of this and more in this complete guide to becoming a project leader.
What does a Project Leader do?
A project leader heads up specific projects for organisations, managing all aspects including dividing up tasks and overseeing the project from ideation, to planning, testing and then implementation.
They usually manage multiple teams falling under the purview of the project tasks and they are responsible for keeping everyone to the proposed timeline.
Where do they work?
There are all kinds of jobs for project leaders, mostly in large organisations, educational institutions and the public sector. Project leaders could be responsible for rolling out new funding initiatives or heading up large scale structural changes in an organisation. There’s a wide and vast variety of roles for project leaders which means they tend focus on a niche or specialty area where they have already gained experience in their career.
How much do Project Leaders make?
This role requires a lot of know-how and dedication, all responsibility falls on your shoulders, so the average salary is high. According to the Glassdoor, the average salary for a project leader is $102,767 per annum. With lower salaries reported around $79,000 per year and the top end salaries going up to $197,000 per year.
What kind of skills do you need?
Project leaders have often worked their way up in their field, completing additional study and proved their value in previous projects as a project coordinator or project officer prior to achieving this management position. Much of what is needed for this role can be learned but certain innate skills will give you a leg up on the competition.
Excellent time management
As a project manager you’ll need exceptional time management skills. Overseeing all aspects of the project you will need to make sure all staff and departments involved in the project are completing their parts in line with the overall project plan and timeline.
In addition to this larger responsibility of overseeing everything you will also need to jump between different tasks, meetings and workloads a lot in this position, so managing your time on a day-to-day basis will be crucial to meeting your completion deadlines.
While you are in charge of the project and responsible for overseeing all aspects of it, you will need to be a team player within the company. You need to be making sure to collaborate with different departments to achieve the best possible outcome. Including hearing criticisms and completing testing where required, using all the skills of those working with you to get expert opinions and suggestions for improvement.
Creative Problem Solving Skills
The thing about this role is that you are often innovating something new, a new piece of technology, new product or new system. Because it is new, there are often more obstacles or challenges that the company may not have had to face yet with other systems, products or initiatives. This means you need to bring your creative problem solving skills to the situation and think outside the box, look for new ways to solve the issues you find and be prepared to adjust the plans for the project as needed. This ability to pivot and get creative with your approach will help to ensure the best outcomes.
This role requires you to lead a lot of different people, from different departments and areas of the company. You may also need to oversee outside consultancy firms and specialist teams who provide work that can’t be completed in house. You will need to have excellent leadership skills, understanding how to get the most out of each employee or collaborator and how to ensure that it all leads towards the best possible outcome for the project.
What do Project Leaders study?
The course that would be best for someone looking to move into project leadership/project management is the Diploma of Project Management. This course is available to study completely online. This course is self-paced and you can enrol and start at any time, with up to 12 months to complete. You can complete your study around your work and family commitments.
In the course you’ll learn how to:
- Manage project scope
- Manage project time
- Manage project quality
- Manage project cost
- Manage project human resources
- Manage project information and communication
- Manage project risk
- Manage project integration
- Interpret compliance requirements
- Manage business resources
- Manage personal and professional development
- Manage team effectiveness
Want to know more?
If you’re thinking about getting into project management or leadership and you want to know more about how to get there, you can check out our course here or get in touch with our course advisors and get some advice on which course would best suit you at this stage in your career.