Industries where project management excels

Project managers are needed in just about every industry. Businesses and organizations of all sizes, structures and sectors launch countless projects to assess internal processes, guide improvements and innovation, and oversee implementation and impact. In turn, these firms—ranging from municipalities to multinationals—depend on professional project managers who’ve been drilled in the arts and sciences of the field to direct these initiatives.


Project manager talent is increasingly in demand across the spectrum of public and private enterprise. However, there are some industries online students should specifically target. Whether that’s because greater compensation can be earned, or because the space offers project managers cutting-edge opportunities, individuals interested in the career must do some research to identify their best prospects. In doing this, project managers will have to take into account the trends shaping modern life, as much as their own interests, specialties and ambitions, when looking at suitable industries.


Regardless of what field project managers choose to enter, possessing a well-rounded skill set is essential. Online students in Brandeis University’s Master of Science in Project and Program Management benefit from the program’s all-around focus on conveying the importance of hard and soft skills; meaning qualities like effective communication and team-building are stressed as much as technical knowledge. Such diverse arsenals may prove useful when considering these industries where project management excels:


Health care

A key driver of post-recession job growth and innovation, health care has become one of the most central industries to the economy. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, national health care spending grew 5.8 percent in 2015 to $3.2 trillion, and is expected to grow 5.6 percent annually through 2025. This represents a potent market for project managers, as health care systems and workforces continue to grow. Even the political flux swirling around the future of key industry reforms, which could rightfully be thought of as a detractor, has the potential to add to the sector’s need for project managers. Any seismic change would lead many to enlist project managers to help reposition systems for success in a new regulatory environment.


Despite challenges, the space can be a rewarding one for project managers. Health care project managers can make, on average, $75,000 to $100,000, according to PayScale.


Project managers are specifically needed to help health care providers reorient internally to address shifts from fee-for-service models to reimbursement tied to care quality and positive outcomes. Integration of new devices and equipment will also require greater supply chain management, which project managers can tackle.


Information technology

Speaking of the proliferation of devices and technology, the IT sector has become a prime destination for project managers. The digital revolution has changed the way business and personal life is conducted on a day-to-day basis, and will likely continue to influence these realities. Thus, the need for project managers is twofold. First, companies and organizations need help with integrating new solutions and use project managers to run implementations. Meanwhile, technology companies themselves utilize project managers to run the initiatives that result in new breakthroughs and devices that businesses then acquire—a rather virtuous cycle.


For instance, one situation where project managers are being increasingly used in IT is outlining, introducing and monitoring BYOD—bring your own device—protocols in offices. The BYOD trend has been shown to lower operating costs and increase employee engagement, but is also tied to lax security and an enhanced threat of cyberattacks. Still, BYOD programs remain central to many businesses—many of which rely on remote workers with their own devices—and project managers have been deployed to standardize and communicate BYOD policies so that individuals and businesses are protected.

Salaries for IT project managers average around $80,000 to $100,000.



Much like the previous two industries, energy has taken on greater importance in the current age. Thanks to the shale boom and the surging reliance on natural gas, U.S. oil and gas companies have reasserted their importance to the economy. After adjusting to a severe drop in the price of oil per barrel, which has more than halved from its peak early decade rates, domestic O&G firms have grown operations and continue to rely on the innovation in extraction processes (like hydraulic fracturing) that warrants project manager oversight. For instance, the logistics, compliance and maintenance of pipelines require constant monitoring across hundreds of miles. In addition to infrastructure, project managers are needed to help O&G companies adjust their operations to meet emissions targets, as well as get ahead of the overall game and introduce more eco-friendly measures. A petroleum engineer with project management skills earns $110,000 a year on average, according to PayScale.


The other side of the energy debate is also a welcoming arena for project managers. Emerging renewables and alternative energy sources like solar, wind, hydroelectricity and biofuels have increasingly grabbed more market share, and stand to become stalwarts of the future energy picture. Project managers are important to these organizations in renewables because many are new and still figuring out their best practices and modes of operating. Having PMs on hand to direct these efforts and assess them gives insight into paths forward for renewables.


Learn more about Brandeis’ Master of Science in Project and Program Management
While trends change and policy may change, the need for project managers is a constant. Businesses and organizations will always need internal managers competent and skilled enough to guide mission-critical initiatives that may very well dictate successes in the future. Chief among the industries that need PMs to steer shifts in the economy and social order are health care, energy and IT.


Project management talent is in high demand, and the niches within these industries will increasingly call for more refined skills. Those interested in ensuring a comprehensive set of abilities of competencies may want to learn more about Brandeis University’s online Master of Science in Project and Program Management.


Recommended reading:

Breaking Down Risk Management

The Basics of Project Management

Tips for Managing Contracted Government Projects




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