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Project management Career Path

If you want to become a project manager in the software engineering field it’s important to know the path.  What are some good career moves after project management, apart from the obvious programmer or product management? What training or certification would be helpful to show credibility and get hired for that role by another company? Great questions hopefully this break down will start you off on the journey for answers. 

A typical “clear-cut” path looks like this:

Support > SME > Project Manager > Program Manager > Director > VP

There’s a lot of room for exploration or branching out, but if you focus only on climbing the ladder, your career likely looks like the above.

To get to director, you need to understand and act upon the differences between leadership and management on a regular basis. You must move comfortably between strategy and tactics, and represent your organization with everything you do.  Make sure you have an understanding of finance and are able to lead your teams in a manner that suits them, even if it goes against your nature.

At the VP level, you’re focused almost entirely on strategy. You’re a figurehead and need to act like it because everything you do has an impact. Expect excellent knowledge of financial information, the industry as a whole, and of continuous improvement. Again, no piece of paper will get you here, but you won’t survive here without a strong understanding of many things. If you aren’t a lifetime learner, you won’t be a lifetime leader.

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