How do I Become an IT Program Manager?
The job of an IT program manager involves managing a number of projects within one large program or division of a company. Information technology program managers are typically part of upper management, so this position requires a combination of education and experience. Before you can become an IT program manager, you may need to work in the information technology field for 10 years or more.
Technical skills required to become an IT program manager include basic data entry, data analysis, and database maintenance. The manager of an IT program typically oversees multiple IT projects, so a candidate trying to become an IT program manager should be an expert problem solver. Project managers call on the program manager to solve problems from different projects, so their knowledge and skills must cover many topics.
Specific traits are important for any management position, including the ability to communicate effectively, manage a budget, and organize staff members into a productive team. If you want to become an IT program manager, develop leadership and communication abilities along with your information technology skills. Program managers should be able to remain focused on the big picture even though they must work with multiple smaller projects.
Working your way up to become an IT program manager starts with education. These positions nearly always require a bachelor’s degree, typically in computer technology or engineering. Although higher degrees can be helpful, experience may be the better path to managing an IT program or division. Technical schools offer certification to become an IT program manager, and some companies require a project management professional (PMP) certificate to be considered for executive-level IT jobs.
An IT program manager supervises multiple IT projects at once, so most employers want at least five years of supervisory and management experience. Working as an IT project manager is a common way to gain the experience required to move into a job as program manager, which entails administrative and technical duties. Employers typically require budgeting, scheduling, and staff management experience in order to consider an applicant for a program manager position.
Clear and honest communication with your superiors and human resources department can help you move up the IT career ladder to become an IT program manager. Some companies offer in-house training so employees can develop management abilities and learn the administrative skills required to manage an IT program. Company-specific training in budgeting, setting goals, risk management, and problem solving provide a home-team advantage when seeking promotion into higher-level IT careers.
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