From Initiating To Closing: What Does a Project Manager Do?


When Aristotle, in his book Metaphysics, defined a person with rationality that knows how to live well and be happy, he talked about the importance of having “a definite, clear, practical ideal; a goal, an objective” and “the necessary means to achieve your ends.” Although it is improbable that Aristotle was describing a project manager, many of the qualities he listed are attributes that anyone interested in project management must possess.

So, are you someone who knows how to live well and be happy? Or at least, can you guide a team towards achieving a common goal? If so, continue reading as we go through some of the essential questions one might have when contemplating pursuing a career in project management. What is it exactly? What does a construction project manager do? Is this a good career choice? Let’s find out!

What Is Project Management?

The term “project” indicates an individual or team’s attempt to create a product or service through activities involving planning, research, design, and monitoring tailored to achieving the desired outcome. Generally speaking, project management refers to a group of interrelated processes used to fulfill the requirements and goals of such attempts.

For companies of any size and industry to work, they have to complete the tasks they set for themselves. So, project management is needed to ensure that all teams and departments involved in company projects do their job correctly. By applying knowledge, skills, tools, strategies, and techniques, professionals in the project management field guide other team members towards their shared goals and processes within a time frame.

What Does a Project Manager Do?

Before we go through the responsibilities and duties of a project manager, we must first answer the question, “what is a project manager?”. The project manager’s role comprises many characteristics found in leaders, entrepreneurs, administrators, mediators, coordinators, and arbitrators. Fundamentally, they are professionals who direct project inputs, outputs, and everything in between those two.

Since most project management processes can be categorized into initiating, planning, executing, monitoring, and closing processes, project managers have to deal with tasks and duties specific to each one. But, what does a project manager do for each category? Let’s find out as we go through the five phases.



Project initiation is the first step towards successful project management as it helps set the foundation of projects. Since every project has to start as an idea, project managers are responsible for working with team members to bring forward innovative concepts, creating project charters or business cases, identifying the key stakeholders, and pitching the project idea to them. At this phase, they also have to work on broadly defining the project’s scope while considering the client’s expectations and requirements and the resources available to them.


In this phase, project managers begin to create and set clear goals by using project roadmaps. Three common strategies for planning goals are the SMART method, CLEAR method, and OKRs. Once they define their objectives, project managers start to think of the course of action required to complete them. When necessary, these professionals also use reports on the added procedures to help clarify details for the stakeholders.


In the execution phase, after doing the necessary preparatory work and assigning tasks to team members, project managers launch the projects and focus on reaching the objectives they set in the previous phases. Here, project managers are also responsible for updating the work schedule, sticking to the original timeline, and helping guide the team members for the project to be on pace.


In the monitoring stage, project managers are responsible for regularly observing the performance to notice any variances from the management plan. When needed, they take corrective action so the project can get back on track. Project managers have to be diligent and find solutions even when faced with challenges or failure. Then, they must report everything, including what went right and wrong, to the stakeholders.


Lastly, when the time to finish a project comes, project managers must ensure that the whole process is documented through project briefs, templates, design files, etc.  Some project managers might take time to acknowledge the challenges and mistakes made. In contrast, others prefer to begin with new ideas and projects right away, so the cycle continues.

Skills for Successful Project Managers

Project managers must have the proper skills to do their job, including launching a project in time, staying within budget, and completing the set goals. Some of the critical skills required are:

  • Organization and time management
  • Communication
  • Negotiation
  • Leadership
  • Critical thinking and problem-solving
  • Risk management
  • Budget management
  • Researching and reporting

When you combine such skills with a knowledge of project management and its methodologies, you become a successful project manager.


Education in Project Management

As with many other professions, the most secure route to pursue a career is by gathering knowledge through the academic degrees required. You can start working in the field of project management by earning a BA and MA degree in business administration and accumulating a few valuable certifications.

BA in business administration & management

You can start your project management career by earning a Bachelor’s degree in business administration, business management, or another related field. Depending on the university you attend, some even offer specialized programs in project management.

Generally, you can complete your Bachelor’s degree in four years and earn the necessary skills and knowledge to land an entry-level position in your desired line of work.

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Master of business administration (MBA)

Earning a Master’s degree in business administration or another related field can be crucial to your career. Commonly, employers require this degree, but you can benefit from learning more about how to best manage and lead others, even when that is not the case. A post-graduate degree will demonstrate to employers that you are hard-working and dedicated to bettering yourself and typically can be completed in two years with full-time enrollment.

PMP certification

The Project Management Professional (PMP) certification, provided by the Project Management Institute (PMI), is one of the world’s leading project management certifications. The test for this certification, designed by project professionals, consists of 200 multiple-choice questions and costs $405 for PMI members, whereas $555 for non-members.

However, not everyone can sit this test. Its requirements include three years of work experience as a project manager, a four-year degree, and 35 hours of project management training. If you do not meet that criteria, you can be eligible for the test by having a high school diploma or an associate’s degree, at least five years of work experience leading projects, and 35 hours of project management education.


The CAPM (Certified Associate in Project Management) certification is another credential designed by the PMI to prepare candidates for project management positions. Its exam consists of 150 questions and costs $225 for PMI members, whereas $300 for non-members.

To sit the CAPM exam, you must have a secondary degree (high school diploma, associate’s degree, etc.) and at least 23 hours of project management education or training.

Job Outlook

Project management is one of the highest growing fields, with a job outlook that exceeds almost all other occupations. According to reports, the job outlook for project manager positions from 2017 to 2027 is projected to be 33%. Around 22 million new jobs will display this high percentage, as those who have pursued this field will have plenty of positions to consider.

Project Manager Salary

In addition to the promising job outlook, there is also a gap for talented project managers. So, what happens when you combine a highly required position by employers with a shortage of people who can do the job? High salaries, of course!

According to reports, the average salary for a project manager in the United States is $95,555 per year. However, the numbers can range from $41,000 for the 25th percentile to $230,000 for the 75th percentile.

To conclude, being a project manager is not the most straightforward job; you will be responsible for initiating, planning, developing, supervising, and finalizing various projects, plus guiding the team members. But, as with many other things you have to struggle to complete, it is all worth it. Of course, there is a promising job prospect combined with a favorable salary, but the true worth of the job lies in the numerous projects you complete.

So, if you like to be involved in your work, then a career as a project manager might be ideal for you. With every successful project, you can take pride in knowing that you played a crucial role in bringing that idea to life.

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