The latest project management jobs

Transitioning from military to civilian life

Transitioning from military to civilian life presents unique career opportunities, especially in Project Management (PM). Recognizing “Project Management Jobs for Veterans” as a valuable path, this field appreciates the skills and experiences gained during military service.

In this article, we explore the role of a project manager and the transferable skills you as a veteran brings to this dynamic career. Various sectors seek logical thinkers for open project management roles, valuing the natural skills honed in the military.

These skills, often developed unconsciously while serving, make project management a popular and in-demand career choice us veterans.

Keep reading to discover the essential skills of a project manager. Including the wide range of sectors where veterans can apply these abilities, in a high demand career category.

What is Project management?ย 

Project Management (sometimes shortened to just PM) entails a systematic approach to planning, executing, and finalizing projects of all sizes. It aims to meet specific objectives efficiently.

The Project Management Institute (PMI), a leading authority, defines it as applying knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to meet project requirements. This process involves setting clear, achievable goals and balancing demands for quality, scope, time, and cost (1). This skill set familiar to many of us who have served.

What are Project Managers responsibilities?

Essentially, a project manager’s responsibility is to ensure the job gets done effectively, a principle very familiar to many of us veterans.

Their responsibilities could include leading a team, managing resources, and defining the project’s scope. If you changed the word ‘project’s, to ‘mission’, you will be familiar with the responsibilities.

Project Managers are also tasked to develop detailed work plans, allocate resources effectively, and continually monitor and adjust the plan if necessary.

The core goal is to deliver a product or service that fulfils its purpose and meets stakeholders’ expectations, often within a designated timeframe and budget, perfect for any veteran who is highly organised.

Project management methodologies can vary, encompassing traditional approaches like Waterfall, and more iterative, flexible methods like Agile.

These skills are universally demanded across industries, including construction, IT, healthcare, and finance. For veterans like you exploring project management jobs, these responsibilities resonate with your military experience, demonstrating the transferability of your skills to civilian roles.

What are my transferable skills from the military to Project Management?

Without being aware of it, you probably already posses some key transferrable skills from the military, which can be applied into a Project Management role.

Leadership and Team Management

First up, leadership. Leadership isn’t just about what rank you are or were. It’s about leading by example, mission understanding, and team cohesion.

These are also core skills in project management. As a project manager, you’ll lead diverse teams, motivate them towards common goals, and navigate through challenges, much like you are or did in military operations. Don’t under estimate this skill, its a main reason why companies want you to join them.

Strategic Planning and Resource Allocation

In the military, strategic planning involves considering various scenarios and preparing for multiple outcomes. You’ve had to allocate limited resources effectively, prioritize tasks, and adjust plans in response to changing circumstances.

This ability to think strategically and manage resources is crucial in project management, where you need to plan project phases, budget effectively, and be ready to adapt plans as needed.

Risk Management and Decision Making

Your military training placed a strong emphasis on risk assessment and making critical decisions under pressure. In project management, identifying potential risks, developing mitigation strategies, and making decisive choices are key to keeping a project on track.

Your military experience in analyzing situations, considering various factors, and making informed decisions is a significant asset in this regard.

Communication Skills

We all know that clear and effective communication is the cornerstone of any military operation. This skill translates seamlessly into project management, where you must communicate with team members, stakeholders, and clients across various levels.

Your ability to understand and convey complex information clearly, concisely, and to respond effectively, is crucial in managing projects successfully.

Discipline and Time Management

You must remain disciplined at all times even when the pressure is on, or a project isn’t going well. The skills and life experience that you have developed in the military will serve you well, if you decide this type of career interests you.

Managing a project requires a structured approach, adherence to deadlines, and efficient use of time – skills that are ingrained in military personnel -. Being ‘five minutes early’ is still ingrained in me now, 20+ years later.

Global and Cultural Awareness

Military service often involves working in diverse cultural environments and understanding global perspectives.

This experience is beneficial in PM, especially in projects that have international stakeholders or teams. This is because it aids in navigating cultural sensitivities and fostering a collaborative environment. Often cultural awareness comes from your time abroad, and working with a diverse team which I’m sure you would have experienced .

What qualifications do veterans need for project management?

New into Project Management?ย 

In the beginner phase, your focus will be on transitioning your military skills to the civilian sector and acquiring foundational project management knowledge.

The first step is to recognize these skills, and articulate them into project management context.

For formal education, consider starting with a basic certification like the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI). This certification doesn’t require project management experience and is ideal for those just stepping into this field. It covers fundamental knowledge, terminology, and processes in project management.

Already have some experience and qualifications?

Once the basics are covered, you can move to the intermediate level. This should include focusing on developing more specific project management skills, and gaining practical experience.

The Project Management Professional (PMP) Certification, also from PMI, is recognized globally and signifies advanced knowledge and experience in project management. It requires a certain amount of professional project management experience, and education but is a valuable qualification.

Gaining real-world experience through internships or volunteering in project-oriented roles can be extremely beneficial. This provides practical application of learned skills and a deeper understanding of project management in various industries.

Check out our guide that highlights leading organizations who hire veterans, who might be able to offer you some sort of work experience.

Experienced and want to progress?ย 

At the advanced level, the focus shifts to specialization and leadership in project management. You may have been lucky enough in the military to gain qualifications listed above, and have some real experience. If so then you may be ready to progress even further.

For advanced Certifications and Education, consider specialized certifications like the Program Management Professional (PgMP). Pursuing an advanced degree such as a Master’s in Project Management, or an MBA with a focus on project management.

Depending on rank and service, you may already have sufficient leadership and strategic skills. These could include, developing strategic thinking, advanced leadership skills. And expertise in areas like risk management, agile methodologies, or specific industry knowledge. If so, this can set a veteran apart from the rest of the field and will make you more attractive to companies. One other thing to consider could also be executive leadership programs, just to tune your skill sets further.

Networking and Professional Development will always have benefits. A running theme we have here at VJHย  is to encourage networking as much as possible. Engaging with professional organizations, attending conferences, and building a strong professional network are crucial at this stage. They offer opportunities for you to continued learning and career advancement.

Summary

Your progression from basic to advanced levels in project management is not just about accumulating certifications; itโ€™s about evolving as a professional.

Each step builds on your previous one, leveraging your military experience while equipping you with specialized project management skills.

Remember, the journey is unique for each individual. The military experience you have provides a strong foundation on which to build a successful career in project management. Good luck!

Most Common Questions

What is the job market for veterans in Project Management like?

The overall job market for project management is growing, with a projected increase in employment of 6% from 2022 to 2032. This growth is faster than the average for all occupations. Annually, there are about 68,100 job openings expected in this field, mainly to replace workers who leave. However, specific data for veterans in project management is not detailed separately.

What are the salary expectations in Project Management?

The median annual wage for project management specialists was $95,370 as of May 2022. The top industries paying the highest median annual wages include finance and insurance, professional, scientific, and technical services, and manufacturing. The highest 10 percent in this field earned more than $159,150.

What support and resources are there for Veterans who want to get into Project Management?

This blog post does not provide specific details about support systems or resources available for veterans transitioning into project management. But we have gone into detail on where you can ask for helpย  detailed on our post; ‘The ultimate guide for helping veterans find their next job’. So check it out!

References

  1. Project Management Institute. (2021). “A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOKยฎ Guide) โ€“ Seventh Edition.” Project Management Institute.
  2. Project Management Institute (PMI): PMI.org
  3. Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM): CAPM Information
  4. Project Management Professional (PMP): PMP Certification
  5. U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics: Project Management Specialists