Four skills project managers need for success

Man sitting at a computer

Have you thought about becoming a project manager but aren’t sure if it’s the right career for you? Project management is an exciting and rewarding career area. It’s also in demand. “As an industry, project management has been growing, and is continuing to grow,” says Alan Martin, Project Management program coordinator at Sheridan’s Faculty of Continuing and Professional Studies. “Every organization does projects, but not every organization does projects well. So skilled project managers are in demand.”

Project management skills are also transferable across industries, and can lead to career advancement or entrepreneurship. “Understanding how projects are managed is critical to a senior management role,” says Martin. “That’s how change is implemented in an organization. And organizations don’t survive if they don’t change.”

If you’ve been thinking about a project management career, here are four essential skills that will help you succeed.

  1. Juggling different people and priorities. Project managers are often the liaison between different departments. This means dealing with many different people who have competing priorities. “Project managers need to be good at juggling a lot of different needs and interacting with a lot of people,” says Martin. “Because you’re often working with people that you’re not a direct manager for, you need to be able to manage people indirectly.”
  1. Good communication skills. The people you manage can make or break your project’s success, so excellent communication skills are essential. Conflict resolution, motivational and team building skills are all critical communication skills project managers need to help keep projects on time—and on budget.
  1. Expect the unexpected. Unexpected challenges and changes happen with every project. Project managers need to be able to plan for and deal with unforeseen issues and change requests that happen during the project in a relatively seamless way that minimizes delays.
  1. Staying organized with a suite of technical skills. Project managers are often managing large projects that can quickly be derailed if they’re not organized. To help keep projects on track, there’s a variety of project management software These project management tools can help project managers with project times and schedules, scope and costs. “Project management is a broad role, and it requires skills across a whole range of tools, technologies and methodologies,” says Martin. “You need to have a suite of technical skills around managing schedules, contracts and human resources.”


Microsoft Project and Primavera are two widely-used project management tools. In addition, web-based tools such as Asana Project Management, Zoho Projects and Confluence Project are also popular. “More and more, web-based tools are becoming available that project managers can use to collaborate with their teams in more flexible ways,” he says. “Over the last five years, I’ve seen a lot of evolution in online, cloud-based project collaboration tools.”

These web-based project management tools allow project managers to assign tasks and keep track of to-do lists. Team members can now update their status, and the project manager can make changes accordingly, says Martin.


Sheridan’s Faculty of Continuing and Professional Studies offers the Project Management certificate, which will prepare you for a career in this exciting field. Visit for more information