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Foot in the Door! - Transition into Project Management

As someone who has made the transition from Service Desk Analyst, to Systems Engineer, to Project and Senior Project Manager, I often get asked the steps required to make the transition into Project Management. It's a competitive industry and it's certainly not easy to get that initial "foot in the door". In this post, I will be outlining the steps I took to transition from a technical role into a Project Management role, not just from my own experience but also from speaking to employers. Understanding what they would look for in order to take a risk on someone with little or no Project Management experience.

Step 1 - Job Description Gap Analysis

If you are not currently working in a Project Management role there will be gaps between your current capabilities and those required as a formal Project Manager. Review job descriptions of similar roles you will be applying for and pull out key elements or similarities between these descriptions. You will need to demonstrate to employers how you have closed these gaps through similar experiences or more likely in the absence of experience, through formal training.

Some examples of similarities between Project Manager job descriptions:

  • Defining project schedules, allocation of resources and monitoring of progress

  • Proactively manage project risks & issues, escalating where necessary and taking corrective action as required

  • Manage multiple projects

  • Manage project budgets

  • Prince2 / AgilePM Qualifications

Step 2 - Invest In Yourself

Why do you expect an employer to invest time and money in you if you are not first willing to invest in yourself!?

As you would have seen after your analysis in Step 1, most job descriptions call for some sort of formal project management certification. There are dozens of opportunities to quickly and cheaply obtain Project Management qualifications, most through self-study and proctored exams through the comfort of your own home.

  • Prince2 (more suitable for IT Infrastructure roles)

Pass Mark: 55%

Self Study Time: Around 20 Hours

Foundation Exam Cost: £299 (Home Proctor)

Practitioner Exam Cost: £414 (Open Book!) (Home Proctor)

Manual: £85

  • AgilePM (suitable for both IT Infrastructure & Software Development roles)

Pass Mark: 50%

Self Study Time: Around 20 Hours

Foundation Exam Cost: £231 (Home Proctor)

Practitioner Exam Cost: £350 (Open Book!) (Home Proctor)


  • Scrum PSM I (generally more suitable for Software Development roles)

Pass Mark: 85%

Self Study Time: Around 25 Hours

PSM I Exam Cost: £113

PSM II Cost: £182 (Open Book!) (Home Proctor)

Learning Path:Free

  • MoR (Management of Risk) (suitable for both IT Infra & Software Development roles)

Pass Mark: 55%

Self Study Time: Around 16 Hours

Foundation Exam Cost: £299 (Home Proctor)

Practitioner Exam Cost: £414 (Open Book!) (Home Proctor)

Manual: £45

  • Managing Successful Programmes (MSP) (suitable if looking to expand knowledge beyond Project Management and into Programme Management)

Pass Mark: 55%

Self Study Time: Around 16 Hours

Foundation Exam Cost: £299 (Home Proctor)

Practitioner Exam Cost: £414 (Open Book!) (Home Proctor)


Other than showing employers you are serious about Project Management, the understanding you will gain from completing each of these qualifications will increase your confidence and allow you to start holding serious conversations around the benefits of different techniques and methodologies.

Step 3 - Use your Professional Differentiators

Focus on Project Management roles that leverage your existing experience!

For example, I reduced the size of my transition by first moving from an engineering role into a Technical Project Manager role. The risk for an employer is less if you can evidence you are an expert in the subject matter you will be managing and the gap is limited to project management experience. Add a couple of Project Management qualifications, throw an unmatched level of enthusiasm into the mix and the risk for the employer continues to reduce.

Step 4 - Be Patient, Stay Positive & Compromise!

Project Management jobs are very competitive so don't be disheartened if you apply for dozens of jobs and don't receive a response, it only takes one! Make sure you adapt your CV for different roles, I personally have a CV for each project specialism and ensure my specific skills are highlighted in each, i.e. Data Centre, Cloud, End User Compute.

Keep applying, reach out on Linkedin, call people directly, don't give up!

Depending on your experience it may also be required to compromise and start off in a supporting role, i.e. Project Coordinator or within PMO Support. Don't be disheartened, enjoy the opportunity, learn and within 12 months you will be in a much stronger position to finally take that step into Project Management.

I got the job, I'm a Project Manager, what next?!

Firstly, focus on your new role. Hopefully, you are working with experienced delivery experts and now have an opportunity to learn the plethora of skills required to be a truly competent and best in breed Project Manager. It's important to note here, how critical it is to be likeable. Leave the ego at the door, maintain enthusiasm and ensure your superiors are engaged to mentor you. Invest the hard hours and Senior Project Manager roles and eventually Programme Manager roles will be within your grasp.

Now loop back to Step 1 and repeat this process! If your next step is Senior Project Manager, review those job descriptions, assess the gap, study, learn and good luck!

If you have any questions at all or would like any advice or support let us know at!

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