What Is the Best Degree Path to Becoming an IT Project Manager?

Even for students who already know they want to study a subject like mathematics or computer science, deciding what to major in requires specific consideration of future career goals. One job to think about is that of information technology (IT) project manager. You might also hear IT project managers referred to as computer and information systems managers or simply IT managers. Regardless of the specific job title, IT project managers are in charge of the planning and implantation of computer technology. Their job duties include choosing, installing, maintaining and upgrading the software and hardware a business uses as well as managing other IT professionals. To succeed in this lucrative career, you will need a college education and professional experience as well as IT and leadership skills.

An IT Project Manager’s Education

Getting a formal education at a college or university is an important part of setting yourself up for success as an IT manager in the future. The first step is to earn a bachelor’s degree in a subject of study like information technology, information science, management information systems or computer science. Whatever major you choose, expect to spend time learning mathematics, software development and computer programming and possibly some business courses, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

A bachelor’s degree is sufficient for finding an entry-level job in the field of information technology, but it’s not be the end of college study for aspiring IT project managers. Management positions often require an advanced degree, like Master of Business Administration (MBA) or a Master of Science degree in information technology. Master of Science and MBA degrees typically require two years of full-time study, but many aspiring IT project managers take courses part-time while working to develop their experience.

Gaining Professional Experience

IT project manager is not an entry-level position. Like many management roles, it requires candidates to have impressive relevant work experience. Aspiring IT project managers can start out their careers in virtually any entry-level IT position. As these new professionals gain job experience, they also have the opportunity to prove themselves and their potential leadership abilities to management. The precise amount of experience needed to ascend to a position as IT project manager varies by organization from a few years in businesses that are smaller in size or that consider IT project manager as a lower-level management position to five, 10 or even 15 years of experience in larger corporations. You may also have to demonstrate experience within a specific industry to be hired as an IT project manager.

Becoming an IT manager requires a good deal of education and experience, and succeeding at the job takes work. However, there are plenty of reasons why ambitious candidates would want to pursue this career. IT project manager is among the top paying jobs for students who major in computer science or mathematics, with experienced IT project managers earning a median annual salary of $93,900.

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