How To Become A Project Manager In Australia: A Complete Guide

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Students want to know how they can become project managers in Australia and what qualifications they need.


Do you have good communication and organisational skills and enjoy multitasking and working with people? Then a career as a Project Manager could be ideal for you.  


Project Managers lead project planning and oversee the team to ensure the project delivers within time and the agreed budget. From ideation to completion, they coordinate all the aspects that make a project successful.


You usually need a tertiary qualification in project management or a related field to be a Project Manager in Australia. Employers value industry certifications for this role.


While you may know the importance of project management in a specific industry, starting a career can be confusing, especially when you need help figuring out where to start. 


Read the post below to learn how to become a project manager in Australia, the qualifications and skills required for project management, the courses to study, the salary, what they do, and much more.



1. What Is A Project Manager?


A project manager is an individual who leads the projects and is in charge of creating a team with the necessary skills to effectively execute and deliver a high-quality project on budget and schedule.


Project managers may also be responsible for handling external projects on behalf of their clients or internal projects for their company. The perfect example of an external project is developing a new website for a client or constructing a new house.


On the other hand, an internal project may include upgrading the organisation's IT infrastructure or developing a new product.



2. What Does A Project Manager Do?


The primary tasks and duties of a Project Manager are as follows:


  • Overseeing all stages of project management.

  • Motivate, mentor, and supervise project team members.

  • Prioritise project tasks.

  • Define the project's overall scope. 

  • Track and coordinate various projects throughout a project's life cycle.

  • Align multiple teams to ensure that deliverables are of high quality.

  • Establish effective communication.

  • Manage and set project expectations with internal and external stakeholders.

  • Manage billings and budgets. 

  • Maintain accurate daily timesheets and track work times.

  • Create a comprehensive project management plan to track project progress.

  • Evaluate team performance.

  • Handle projects through KPIs (Key Performance Indicators).

  • Make sure team members get all the necessary information.

  • Develop professional business relationships.

  • Conduct daily stand-ups, project status meetings, and retrospective meetings.

  • Collaborate with other departments to ensure work is done correctly and meets all the demands.

  • Develop the project documentation and keep it up-to-date.

  • Make suggestions for project improvements.

  • Ensure project tasks are accurately reviewed and well-executed within the predefined scope.

  • Develop accurate forecasts for resource and revenue requirements.

  • Follow up on the project's risks, progress, and opportunities regularly.

  • When required, notify and escalate concerns to the management.

  • Measure project performance using the right tools, systems, and techniques.

  • Serve as the primary customer contact for project activities.



3. Project Manager Skills


It's not just a single skill, but rather a combination of technical and soft skills that define greatness in project management.


You need to master the following skills:


  • Communicate well

  • Manage projects and people

  • Offer support

  • Empower teams and, most importantly

  • Perform several not-so-easy jobs simultaneously



Soft Skills


  • Leadership skills

  • Creative

  • Openness to new ideas and processes

  • A learning attitude (Like continually reflecting and learning from past experiences before responding to a situation)

  • Decision-making skills

  • Communication skills

  • Task and time management skills

  • Planning and Execution skills

  • Critical thinking skills

  • Empathy 

  • Patience

  • Problem-solving skills

  • People and team-building skills 

  • Coordination and delegation skills



Technical Skills


Along with the soft skills, you also need:


  • Subject matter expertise

  • An ability to assess and mitigate risks

  • Knowledge of industry-level quality standards and ability to deliver projects as per those standards

  • Able to manage costs and deliver projects within the agreed budget 

  • Proficiency in working with different tools and software to streamline workflows, document the team member's progress and enhance the team's productivity)

  • Documentation and reporting skills



Specific Inherent Qualities


Though you can acquire the above skills and knowledge, you require certain qualities you are born with. These include:


  • Competitive attitude

  • Logical and Reasoning mindset

  • Curious

  • Like taking challenges and overcoming them

  • Readiness

  • Self-assured

  • Not get swayed easily

  • Self-motivated and like inspiring people 

  • Appreciate the excellent work of people

  • Confidently advocate for their team

  • Tech-savvy and Innovative

  • Skilled at Negotiation

  • Able to navigate uncertainty

  • Adaptability

  • Integrity



4. What Qualifications Do I Need To Be A Project Manager?


Aspiring Project Managers require formal qualifications in Project Management, relevant industry certification, and several years of experience to work in this managerial role.

Here are the steps to qualify for a Project Manager role in Australia:


  1. Complete a Certificate IV in Project Management Practice. 

  2. Consider advancing your skills by completing a higher qualification, such as a Diploma of Project Management, Bachelor of Business (Management), or Master of Project Management.

  3. Consider earning an industry-recognised certification like the Project Management Professional certification to validate your competency and readiness for project management roles to potential employers.

  4. Register with the Australian Institute of Project Management to obtain national accreditation as a Registered Project Manager.



5. Steps To Become a Project Manager in Australia


Here are some common steps you can follow if you are eager to start a career as a project manager:



Step 1: Talk To People


Gathering all the project management information is vital before starting a new career. You can do this by connecting with experts with project management experience.


Talking to professionals will help you learn about the profession's fulfilling aspects and the challenges that come with it.



Step 2: Pursue a Project Management Course


Complete a Certificate IV in Project Management Practice (BSB40920) that equips you with the skills to work in the project team. As it is a managerial-level role, you also need a higher qualification to advance your skills.


Some good study options include - a Diploma of Project Management (BSB50820), Bachelor of Business (Management), or Master of Project Management.


This Certificate IV qualification provides you with specialised knowledge and skills in areas including the application of project scope, quality management, and time management techniques. The course also teaches about procurement and stakeholder engagement procedures.


The Diploma course is a high-level qualification that gives you the advanced skills and specialised knowledge to elevate your career in project management.


Through practical and theoretical coursework, students learn to confidently manage a project's scope, risk, budget, time, and quality in a professional work environment.



Both courses are six months long and available to study on campus and online.


Online project management courses save time and assist you with starting a successful career. Furthermore, such courses ensure that you cope with the challenges, gain essential knowledge, and get an introduction to the subject.



Step 3: Get A Graduate Degree In The Field


After building conceptual knowledge, you can focus on getting a higher degree in project management. A Diploma in Project Management is a pathway to higher Management degrees such as:


The courses above will help you obtain more in-depth business knowledge and advanced expertise. Earning a degree will also help you get a better role in the field.



Step 4: Gain Industry Experience


Considering the role's seniority, experience is essential when pursuing a Project manager position. Several ways can help you gain job experience and skills to kickstart your career in this role.


  • Look for volunteering opportunities to build the required technical, organisational, and personal skills to excel in this field.


  • Enter a junior-level role in a company and take on hands-on responsibilities to understand the ins and outs of the work and learn how to empathise with team members and approach a project. 


  • For example, a software development project manager might start as a software developer. In contrast, a construction project manager might begin their professional journey as a civil engineer. To work as a project management consultant, consider getting exposure to business processes and sharpen your management skills.


  • As you build foundational knowledge and skills in the field, you are ready to start in an entry-level project management position. 


Launching your career in a junior-level position such as Project Coordinator, Assistant Project Manager, Associate Project Manager, or Junior Project Manager will help you understand planning and overseeing a project's success. It will boost your work experience before you apply to Project Manager positions.



Step 5: Obtain Industry-Level Certifications


You should always stay updated with your management skills as a project manager. One practical method is to earn more project management certifications that add to your competence.


The Australian Institute of Project Management offers numerous globally recognised project management certifications across various career stages that showcase your management, innovation, and leadership skills.


Some of the Project Manager certifications you may consider:


  • Certified Practicing Project Practitioner certificate (for team members who work in project teams and have minimal project management experience)

  • Certified Practising Project Manager (For project managers)

  • Certified Practising Senior Project Manager (For senior project managers)

  • Certified Practising Project Director (For Project Managers who regularly direct projects)

  • Certified Practising Project Sponsor (For project sponsors)


As you gain experience, consider earning an AIPM's Project Management Professional certification. It is one of the most prestigious certifications for all those who aspire to be a Project Manager in Australia.


However, to earn this globally-recognised certification, you must have a certain amount of formal education and three or more years of project management experience.



Step 6: Register For National Accreditation


The final step is registering for national accreditation at AIPM (Australian Institute of Project Management). The registration requirements at the AIPM may vary, depending on the level you want to apply for.



6. How Many Years Does It Take To Become a Project Manager?


Your study duration depends on the learning pathway you choose:


  • Six months Certificate IV in Project Manager practice followed by six months Diploma in Project Manager Practice

  • Six months Certificate IV in Project Manager practice followed by a three years full-time Bachelor of Business Management / Bachelor of Project Management

  • 3-year full-time Bachelor of Project Management followed by 2-year full-time Master of Project Management


Once qualified, you must complete an industry-recognised certification, such as the Project Management Professional certification from AIPM.


Thus, getting qualified and becoming a Project Manager in Australia may take 1 to 5 years. However, most prefer gaining a few years of industry experience and specialised skills before launching their career.



7. How Much Does A Project Manager Earn in Australia?


According to PayScale, the average Project Manager in Australia earns AU$102,163.


Several factors may vary their average salary, such as:


  • Industry

  • Skills

  • Level of Industry experience

  • Company 

  • The job location 

  • Education level (Project managers with a postgraduate degree may earn higher salaries)

  • Nature of employment (employed in a company, freelancer, or consulting project manager)

  • Any industry certifications like Project Management Professional certificate.


On top of the annual salary, Project Managers also receive various benefits, including paid time off, health, vision, and dental insurance, 401k plans, vision insurance, and employee stock ownership plans.



Salary Based on Experience


  • Entry-level (< 1-year experience): AU$74,190 per year 

  • Early career (1-4 years of experience): AU$86,325 per year 

  • Mid-career (5-9 years of experience): AU$107,673 per year 

  • Experienced (10-19 years of experience): AU$122,117 per year 

  • In late career (20 years and above): AU$123,772.



Highest-Paid Industry For Project Managers


  • Engineering

  • Finance

  • IT

  • Construction



Highest Paying Cities for Project Managers in Australia


  • Macquarie Park: $148,189 per year

  • Sydney: $137,398 per year

  • North Ryde: $135,718 per year

  • Melbourne: $131,917 per year

  • Sydney Central Business District: $124,336 per year

  • Townsville: $123,646 per year

  • Alice Springs: $115,550 per year

  • Palmerston: $110,389 per year

  • Ballarat: $109,903 per year



8. What Are The Highest Paid Project Manager Jobs in Australia?


 Some of the highly lucrative job roles for a project manager include:


  • IT Project Manager: $120,885 per year 

  • Construction Project Manager: $120,609 per year

  • Marketing Project Manager: $107,601 per year

  • Project Management Consultant: AU$81,049 or $53,417.12 per year      

  • Engineering Project Manager: $100,306 per year



9. Are Project Managers in Demand in Australia?


Effective project management is necessary rather than a luxury in the modern, fast-paced business world.


Any formal project requires a skilled Project Manager to professionally manage it, including handling the project teamwork and responsible completion as per the agreed budget, time, and quality standards.


Considering the significant contribution of Project managers to a company's productivity and revenue growth, their absence can result in substantial losses for any organisation.


In Australia, the employment outlook for skilled project managers is favourable. Based on the Australian Government's Job Outlook service website, around 60,000 job openings are expected to be created in areas of contract, project, and program administrators over the next five years.


Industries that would see high demand for Project Managers include:


  • Information technology 

  • Construction and infrastructure 

  • Business improvement and transformation



10. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)



What is The Salary of an Entry-Level Project Manager?


The entry-level Project Manager (<1-year experience) salary in Australia is AU$74,190 per year.



What Age Are Most Project Managers?


According to Labour Market Insights, the average age of Construction Project Managers is 42 years, with most between 35 and 44 years.



How Many Hours Do Project Managers work?


Approximately 93% of Construction Project Managers dedicate themselves to full-time work, investing an average of 49 hours per week. This figure surpasses the average of 44 hours per week observed across all occupations.



How to Become A Project Manager in Australia for International Students?


Overseas students must meet the course-specific English language and Academic Entry requirements to study Project Management at universities in Australia. 


You can complete most of these courses on-campus and online learning. Some of them include:




What is 90% of a Project Manager's Job?


The project Manager spends extensive time in:


  • Overseeing the progress of several projects and 

  • Written communication includes meetings, emails, phone calls, coordinating, status reporting, and completing documentation. 



How Many Projects Can a Project Manager Handle at One Time?


Generally, a project manager manages three to twenty projects at a time. However, it depends on three main factors:



1. The Employee's Experience and Expertise


Entry-level project managers may take longer to complete the project as some time goes into familiarising themselves with the work. On the contrary, an established project manager can quickly handle and complete several projects.



2. The Complexity of the Allocated Projects


Working on similar projects or those that require finishing a few tasks a month is less time intensive than complex assignments.



3. Project Deadlines


Projects with strict upcoming due dates may finish faster than those with longer flexible deadlines.



What Should A Project Manager Not Do?


Project managers often perform various tasks, some of which they should NOT do. These include:



Requirements Engineering


Requirement gathering and assessment are significant in any software development project, as collecting incorrect, incomplete, or inappropriate requirements can cause the project to fail.


That's why Business analysts or Requirements Engineers should only perform requirement collection and not Project Managers.





The job of a Project Manager is to deliver products that provide the desired outcomes timely. However, some also perform unit, integration, and acceptance testing to ensure functions as expected.


It is not the job of a Project Manager. They should leave the testing part for skilled testers who create test cases and scripts to test the developed products.



Contract Negotiation


Project contract creation, negotiation, and agreement should be entrusted to a qualified legal professional rather than a Project Manager.





Communication with people, team members, senior management, and stakeholders often forms the critical activity of any Project Manager.


However, some projects require communication of sensitive messages to groups of people outside the project. Such type of communication should be handled by trained and experienced communication teams.



What Are Some Disadvantages of Being A Project manager?


A role of a Project Manager involves specific challenges, such as:


  • Project managers monitor all aspects of a project and are often accountable for its cost, schedule, and results. It may cause stress but also motivate them to do the job well.


  • Though the profession allows you to work with diverse people as colleagues, it may also lead to differences in opinion and disputes. Clarification of expectations at the start can help prevent futile conflicts.


  • Furthermore, Continuous learning can be another challenge for a project manager. As they work with several clients at companies, they must learn their company's policies and cultures to oversee projects properly. Specialising in a particular industry where companies share similar cultures can help them deal with this challenge.


  • A project may have several stakeholders with a vested interest or stake. These include executives, project sponsors, customers, end-users, and team members. Collaborating and managing their expectations is an unending process. It becomes even more complicated when they have conflictual relationships, different/ hidden agendas, or don't share the same interest in the project.


  • People may run in different directions in a project with other motives or drivers. Leading to one direction and goal becomes uncontrollable.


  • Every project holds a certain level of uncertainty about the project's accomplishment. The pressure of changing requirements and the inability to handle the project outcome may cause anxiety in most Project Managers.


  • Project work starts by estimating the cost and time required to complete the project. However, a poorly defined scope may cause budget overruns and missed deadlines. Dealing with such situations is a real challenge for project managers.



What Does an Entry-Level Project Manager Do?


Newly graduated Project Managers often start their career in the below entry-level project management positions:


  • Junior project manager 

  • Project Coordinator 

  • Assistant project manager

  • Associate project manager


During the starting phase of your career, most professionals assist project managers in planning and monitoring a project's success in varied industries, including software, construction, real estate, etc.


The experience they gain in these roles enables them to widen their field-specific knowledge and improve their employability for project manager positions.



Who Is Higher Than The Project Manager?


Here is the career path for a Project Manager:


  1. Entry-level project management  - Similar roles - Project Coordinator/Assistant project manager/Associate project manager/Junior project manager

  2. Project manager

  3. Senior project manager

  4. Director of project management

  5. VP of operations, COO - Similar roles - Vice President of operations, Chief Operating Officer



Which Certification Is Best for Project Management?


Certifications prove your ability as a project manager. The best project manager certificate is the one that accurately shows your project managing skills. It depends on your:


  • Education

  • Knowledge of project management 

  • Management experience


Aspiring project managers with a basic understanding of project management and minimal experience in managing teams who are still part of a project team can consider a basic-level certification such as a Certified Practicing Project Practitioner certificate.


If you have experience managing project teams and leading companies, then the Certified Practicing Project Executive certificate could be your best option. As you progress in your career, consider the Six Sigma certifications.



Is a Project Management Certificate Worth It?


Project Management Professional certification by the Australian Institute of Project Management is among the top-rated certifications to boost your career prospects in Australia.


So, if you are wondering why you should be a certified project manager, here are the top benefits of earning an industry-recognised project management certification:


  • Gain recognition across professional industries regardless of your career stage.

  • Validates your skills, experience, and commitment to professional development in an ever-evolving industry.

  • It helps formalise your skills and enhance your competitive advantage and earnings.

  • Showcase your leadership and management capability to deliver project outcomes at a certain level.



What Are The Three Most Essential Skills of a Project Manager?


Having the below skills are crucial to succeed in a Project Manager position:


  • Strong communication

  • Organisational and leadership abilities

  • Problem-solving skills



What Personality Type is a Project Manager?


Different professions require people with specific types of skills. People who are enterprising, curious, and natural leaders with remarkable influential and persuasive abilities make the best Project Managers.



Why Would I want To Be a Project Manager?


To answer this question, you must first know the benefits of being a project manager:


  • Being constantly involved in planning and developing something new, cooperating and knowledge-sharing with miscellaneous people to overcome challenges, and watching your efforts become measurable success can be immensely satisfying.


  • Rather than working with a team of colleagues, project managers might coordinate with individuals from various departments to gather content, learn how they function, and track development. It makes the job interesting.


  • You regularly interact with external entities such as C-level management, teams, and stakeholders to help build solid business relationships.


  • The role involves empowering teams to make them stronger, more functional, and more autonomous. The feeling you get when you see every member is proactive, engaged, and going the extra mile is fantastic.


  • Unlike a monotonous job, project managers manage several projects at once and experience new challenges regularly. They apply creativity and problem-solving to achieve their milestones and help companies achieve their business goals.


  • Working in this role, you grow on personal and professional levels. You learn diverse business, personal, and project skills that are transferable to different careers outside project management. These include –  Problem-solving, Leadership, Communication, and Budget and schedule management.


  • The job outlook for Project managers is positive. They are in high demand across different industries, including health care, finance, construction, and government departments like education, technology, and retail. This variety in their career path gives them plenty of opportunities to shape their trajectory.


  • Executing projects to deliver business value and contributing to the growth and well-being of business makes it a highly satisfying and worth living profession. 



Is Project Management A Stressful Career?


Yes. Like any other career, a few things can lead to stress and exhaustion in this profession. In most cases, newer project managers tend to go through higher levels of "negative stress" as they encounter certain situations for the first time.


  1. You handle project resources, deadlines, budgets, and stakeholder management.

  2. Negotiating (or saying No) with strong/senior/overpowering stakeholders with different opinions can be stressful. 

  3. Running multiple simultaneous projects and switching between them constantly instead of focusing on one project is challenging.

  4. There is always a face of fear and uncertainty about the project outcome, particularly when handling major or complex programs at a time.

  5. The working environment or the way of communication can also be the reason for stress.

  6. The availability of limited financial resources to facilitate various projects can cause a strain on the development process. 

  7. Inadequate technical knowledge and expertise when dealing with multiple professionals from varying industries may result in anxiety.

  8. Another reason for stress could be delivering projects within tight time and budget constraints. 

  9. Adherence to numerous frameworks and processes or when dealing with a lack of defined processes and frameworks 

  10. Hosting and leading discussions in committee meetings and workshops and having to answer for project performance

  11. Lack of responsiveness, unfair attitude towards the project and project team members, and absence of agreed working relationships can make the job stressful.



Is it Easy To Get a Job as a Project Manager?


Becoming a Project Manager takes work; however, the below five simple tips will improve your entry into the role.


  1. Develop a good understanding of project management by undertaking Certification and Diploma courses in this field.

  2. Learn project management principles and tools like Microsoft Project, Trello, Jira, or Asana. 

  3. With basic project management knowledge, you can start working in a junior (non-managerial) position. Apply the project management principles, working strategies, and tools to your projects. It will help you naturally grow into a Project Manager's role without realising it.

  4. Look for opportunities for progression to managerial roles. There were several instances when people transitioned from a purely administrative function to a project/team/program leadership role via an internal promotion. By showcasing a project-focused mentality, project management capabilities, and leadership qualities, you can advance your career to a managerial role. 

  5. Become a resource for your co-workers. It will foster emotional quotient and leadership skills that are highly desirable in Project Managers.


Thus, working on the right skills and applying a Project Manager mindset to your projects will open the door to project management opportunities. 



How To Become a Project Manager Without Experience?


Although most project manager positions require experience, you may enter the role without experience if you have the required job skills and can show your commitment to the industry. 


Consider the below steps to help you build a career in project management with no experience:



Step 1: Take Leadership Courses


Your professional journey to becoming a Project Manager starts at the school level—study in business, psychology, communications, and finance. Volunteering and participating in leadership programs and events are beneficial.



Step 2: Display Foundational Skills


Project Managers need a range of skills that most employers look for. So, the first step to prove your capabilities for this role is to highlight the following skills during the hiring process:


  • Oral and verbal communication skills 

  • Attention to detail

  • Organisation skills to ensure the project stays within schedule and budget. 

  • Leadership skills to motivate and lead team members to ensure timely completion 

  • Interpersonal skills to work closely with colleagues and resolve conflicts 

  • Time management skills

  • Problem-solving skills



Step 3: Find a Mentor


Look for someone who has succeeded in a project manager role and can guide you through your career. Some of the best places to find a mentor could be your current company or a professional association.


Signing up with a mentor lets you learn project management best practices and methodologies to further your understanding.


Additionally, you can ask the project manager on your team if you can oversee certain parts of the project. It can help build relevant skills and experience and strengthen your resume



Step 4: Become Certified


Most employers seek candidates who hold a globally recognised certification in project management. If you choose to enter a role without experience, you must have industry certification that validates your skills and knowledge in project management.


Completing the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) certification requires minimal experience. A CAPM certification shows a potential employer your seriousness and dedication to growing in the position continuously.



Step 5: Undertake Training 


Most Project managers develop experience working on the job. However, to become a Project manager without experience, you can undertake project management courses at accredited project management agencies.


These courses will familiarise you with a project manager's role, commonly used methodologies, and professional project managers' tools.


Also, you can read books on the subject, join online platforms, participate in webinars and conferences, and sign up for a trial of popular project management software to expand your knowledge.



Step 6: Earn Your Bachelor's Degree


It is common for project managers to have at least an undergraduate degree majoring in project management. By earning this qualification, you can have the same basic qualifications as other candidates.



Step 7: Apply for Jobs


After you complete the relevant bachelor's degree, you are ready to apply for an entry-level Project Manager position in their area.


Suppose you can't qualify for entry-level project manager positions. In that case, consider roles that can help you gain essential project management skills. These roles include project coordinator, operations specialist, office manager, or marketing assistant.


You may get promoted to a project management position as you work hard and grow in this role.



Can Anyone Learn To Be a Project Manager?


Yes. Anyone can learn to be a Project Manager; however, only those with the much-needed job skills and inherent attributes will succeed.



How do I Start a Career in Project Management in Australia?


The ideal pathway to a career in project management is to gain adequate project management knowledge and start in entry-level roles in a field where you can develop relevant skills and experience.


Gradually work your way up from a non-managerial position or junior position to a Project Manager role.



Is it Hard To Be A Project Manager?


Due to being a high-demand profession, you may face tough competition when starting in this role.


However, suppose you are competent and possess relevant industry certification and experience when applying for this role. In that case, you will have an easier time landing a job in this field.



11. Conclusion


Now that you know everything about becoming a project manager in Australia, you are ready to secure a job in any sector requiring project management services.


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