Hello friend, if you’re looking to switch out of a Project Manager role, you’ll be glad to know that there are various alternative careers for project managers I must be realistic here – I find it tough to just pack my bags and “leave” project management.
You know, I’ve been in this industry and seen many folks who have been wanting to leave their PM roles but don’t know how.
Well, I’d be the first to tell you that a Project Manager has SO many skills that he or she can use these skills to snag another job somewhere else.
Thinking about this, in brief, it means you must play to your strengths – communication and stakeholder management skills, attention to detail, leadership skills, etc.
Here, I’ll have to be honest with you too – the fact is that some of the best Project Managers I’ve seen – go on to become very successful entrepreneurs, C-level executives, top consultants and so forth.
Don’t get overwhelmed! Before you fret about what alternative careers are available to you as a project manager, maybe you should think about WHAT you really want to do.
This brings me to the purpose of this article – to share with you five alternative careers suitable for Project Managers – these aren’t the only ones, but the common ones I’ve seen in the market.
I’ll be the first to say that if you dedicate yourself to learning more about yourself and thinking whether these types of careers suit you – you’ll have a great and bright future ahead after your life as a PM.
Alternative Career 1: C-Level Executive
The first area that comes to my mind when it comes a Project Manager’s alternative career is a C-level executive job.
In addition, you must realize that “C-Level” means a very senior position, and if you’ve been in system implementation, usually you should look at COO or CTO roles.
And here’s an additional interesting perspective you should know pretty tough to snag such jobs – these are VERY senior leadership roles and they report straight into companies’ CEOs.
I must say it is very, very important to consider if you like this kind of job (there WILL be a lot of politics in the C-Suite – you know that).
You absolutely need to come to terms with something. And that something is the fact that whilst a C-Level Executive role sounds sexy and pays well, there are also a lot of sacrifices you need to make.
I’ll share a real-life example with you.
One on my dear friends was a VERY strong Project Manager.
Early on, I knew she clearly had the ability to really climb up that corporate ladder, whereever she chose to go.
A key thing here I realized was that she was also ambitious, and decided one day to apply to a COO role in a bank.
To summarize, here’s how things panned out: My friend got burnt out with the corporate politics in the bank.
As COO, she had TONS of stakeholders and pressures to manage, much more than when she was a Senior Project Manager. Eventually, she left to do start her own small business.
If you’d want to find out more about life in the C-Suite, you should definitely check out this page for more detailed information.
Alternative Career 2: Entrepreneur
Ok, on to the second thing you need to think about as an alternative career? It’s straightforward, actually … start your own business! Many people like this idea because of the flexibility and freedom.
It’s also very well-known that entrepreneurship is immensely self-fulfilling, IF things work out.
To add on, I also feel it’s critically important to be prepared for the life of an entrepreneur – you may have a great product or service, but you need to be prepared for the constant pressure to make you business survive and innovate.
One suggestion is I have is to listen to your clients, keep up with world trends – basically, you think like a business owner – you can’t “hide” beyond your bosses anymore.
If you are keen and have an interest in learning more about how to start your own business, do check out this resource for more detailed information.
Alternative Career 3: Consultant
I need to clarify this upfront – the word “Consultant” here can mean heck of a lot of things as an alternative career for a Project Manager.
Why is this so? Well, I think it’s because “consulting” can refer to management consulting, IT consulting, career coaching, any number of things.
I must say that the reality is you should consult in what you feel comfortable with and passionate about.
Also, it’s a sort of a myth that consulting is an easy job – it’s NOT (I know because I work in management consulting).
Now, on to the next thing you should consider … whether you can live life as a nomad. Consultants work here and there, without a fixed desk and tend to move around to where their clients are.
Here’s a real-life practical example from my life I’d like share with you.
Many of my friends tell me I can do career coaching VERY well.
I listen to them and they say I give solid career advice without sounding too prescriptive.
Now, what happened was that I sat down to think again and again what my future life after Project Management (which I do in my current job) – would be like.
And in the end, I decided that I would one day definitely like to do career coaching – essentially switching from my current PM role in a management consulting firm to what I want to do – career coaching.
If you wish to learn more about how to start your own consulting business, you definitely want to do check out this page to get some tips.
Alternative Career 4: Department Head
One important thing you need to understand about a person’s career is that he or she may not always land the job he or she set out to find.
One issue I frequently observe is that folks think they MUST be in this role or that role.
If you think hard about it – this is really critical – always set a goal for a job and work hard towards achieving it.
What you need to know is that you need to temper your dream role with some realism – the example I have is that if you want to be a C-level executive, but can’t get it, what do you do? Settle for a Department Head job – Head of Finance, Head of Operations, Head of IT, etc.
It’s important for me to stress that flexibility is important in determining an alternative career for you as a PM – and being Head of Department is a really good choice since there are TONS of companies who need this type of talent.
Now, you may wish to learn about what a “Department Head” really does – and the best way is to speak to someone already in such a job, e.g. if your uncle is Head of IT in a bank, speak to him to understand the job.
What’s great about doing something like this? Well, You learn not just the “real” aspects of a job, you also may get some chance of being referred to a suitable role by your friend or relative.
If you want to pick up more skills about finding suitable Department Head roles or senior roles in an end-user environment, do check out this link for more detailed information.
Alternative Career 5: Academic
I’ll let you in on another secret fact – many good Project Managers go into academia mid-way in their careers.
I think you should also know that most of these PMs are sick and tired of corporate politics – they want to teach and impart skills to the next generation. But they don’t know where to start … As an example, you may find it very tough to even enter a university or polytechnic and say you want a job to teach students.
So what is one to do in this instance? The first thing you need to do is to find out what skills you have that are being taught in universities or polytechnics out there.
Here’s my advice … try go go straight to an academic dean or a teacher in that school. Find out more about what subject areas are popular.
If you want to get more knowledge about project management skills and courses which are popular in the market, do check out this article – it’ll give you tons of information about innovative technology solutions in the market.
In summary, I’ll just say that a Project Manager has many choices in terms of alternative careers.
One of the key takeaways I want to mention to you is that you need to know where your passion lies – think beyond your projects and stuff you’re doing now – what excites you?
Oh, another critical point is that you should never be overwhelmed the switching process – many PMs I know get so stressed up about their career switch they buckle – don’t be like that, seek help and get advice.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this article. If you’re interested in learning more about the alternative careers for a Project Manager, do feel free to check out this useful link here – it contains some good, practical information.