Q&A Project Management Careers: Age Old Problems

Is age a potential barrier to getting into project management?

If we think about younger workers – no, age is not a barrier however what doesn’t help when trying to get into the profession is often your own expectations. Recently graduating with minimal experience could be a barrier if you are expecting to walk straight into a position managing a project and a team. Organisations do want proven experience in their project managers and recent students are going to lack in this area.


Advice for people wanting to break into the profession can differ. One, find any role within a business that is project centric – build up your business acumen and learn the workplace skills first. You will have probably found out by now that many project managers working today didn’t start out as project managers. Invariably they worked in other operational roles first, building up their managerial experience before moving on to a position within project management.


Two, you can look at the support related roles within project management – the planners, controllers and PMO – in these roles the technical ability counts for a lot and you’ll be gaining valuable project management experience in a non-leadership role. Be aware that these roles are careers within their own right within project management and shouldn’t be used as a mere stepping stone to something better. Use the opportunity to gain guidance and support from working with more experienced practitioners before seeking out more and more responsibility.


Take age out of the equation – what people really need in their future project managers is experience. This is the main barrier you have to overcome.


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