The short answer is no – there are plenty of people working in project management today that haven’t been to university. Not having a degree won’t stop you from entering a project management job yet lots of employers do prefer that their staff have a degree for certain roles – management positions being one of them.
The interesting change in the project management industry in recent years has been “project management, a career of first choice” which means that those entering the workplace for the first time are opting for project management positions whereas traditionally people worked in operational roles for a while, gaining lots of experience before moving into a project management role. They often moved into the position because they had some specialist industry knowledge, were good managers – or there was no one else to do the job!
Times have certainly changed, project management knowledge, best practice, skills, accreditation, certifications, books, training courses – and of course, specific criteria for entry into a project management position. There has been a growth in project management degree courses yet in the UK, there is also growth in the apprenticeship schemes which are about on-the-job training bolstered with classroom training rather than the more academic route of a university education.
Project management as an industry can accommodate both those routes and indeed welcomes talented individuals regardless of their education level.
A degree may be a more favourable route where an industry sector or company that you are interested in working for in the future stipulates that a degree is essential entry criteria. You may find that your career could be stunted by this educational glass ceiling however a lot of practitioners choose to take up a university course later in their careers so that could be an option too.
This article originally appeared in PMI’s PM Network magazine – the magazine for members.
For more information about getting into project management take a look at the graduate focused advice.