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How to Become a Project Manager

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A project manager is a professional in the field of project management. Project managers can have the responsibility of the planning, execution, and closing of any project, typically relating to construction industry, architecture, computer networking, telecommunications or software development.

In short a Project manager’s job is a series of tasks within a narrow scope that culminates in an output, e.g. a building. As a project manager you would oversee planning, resources reports, plan budgets to meet plans and most importantly plan to ensure you meet your deadlines.

Often project managers are organised, single-minded and enjoy bossing people about! If you feel this could be a career for you the most complicated part is to know if you have what it takes. There is no denying a project manager encounters long hours and high levels of stress but reaps many rewards.

Qualifications for a Project Manager

If you decide this is a career you’d like to get into further and you have what it takes then the next step is to gain qualifications.

A degree isn’t a must though relevant training courses are. A good beginner’s course to help build your project management skills would be the APM Introductory Certificate in Project Management which once completing allows you to join the Association on Project Managers.

The most internationally recognised qualifications are PRINCE2. PRINCE2 stands for Project IN Controlled Environments which is a process-based method for effective project management, with the key features being:

  • Its focus on business  justification
  • A defined organisation structure for the project management team
  • Its product-based planning approach
  • Its emphasis on dividing the project into manageable and controllable stages
  • Its flexibility to be applied at a level appropriate to the project

(PRINCE2, 2011)

PRINCE2 offer a number of courses. They offer a well structured foundation course, which you can do online, or over a 3 day course.

It’s advisable to build up soft skills as well, such as presentation and communication. These will be vital in building up your success as a Project Manager. PRINCE2 offers the APMP Qualification for PRINCE2 Practitioners. This will give you an all-rounded course as it covers management, technical, organisational and people management skills.

Gaining experience as a Project Manager

Having made the decision to work as a freelance project manager the first step is to find work. Personal contacts will be a vital tool here, and many freelance project managers tend to try this option first.

It basically involves getting in touch with anyone and everyone that you've worked with in the past and letting them know that you're looking for freelance work. If you already have a good relationship with a company or individual, this would be a good time to try and pull in any favours etc. It’s much easier to persuade someone you know!

Start by handing out business cards and make sure that your name is always in the frame when a client is looking for someone with your skills and experience. Even if the people you know are not the actual clients, your past colleagues will be happy to recommend you if they become aware of a position which will suit you – assuming of course that it’s not ideal for them as well! Usually people will start out in their area of expertise such as IT or Construction. It should be much easier to persuade someone that it is the next logical step to make you a project manager if you have solid experience in the area.

Volunteering your time

It may be tedious to give your time up for free, but you’ll reap rewards for it later. For example if your project manager is away you could offer to fill in. If you do a good job you may find yourself high up in the running if any new positions come up.

Other avenues to explorer could be charities. Charities often need people to project manager events such as expeditions and charity fundraisers.

Finding a job as a Freelance Project Manager

Once you have gained some experience, it will be much easier to secure these positions. You need to gather all the evidence you have of any project management experience, even if you weren’t the leading role. For more information on writing your CV please see our page on Top Tips for CV.

So where do you start looking?

Elance is an online market place for freelancers. It has good following which as giving access to thousands of potential clients. Elance has a unique business model by as a freelance you sign up, fill out your profile and then you bid on jobs.

Being the lowest price though doesn’t guarantee the job as potential clients have the option to pick more skilled bidders. This said there is hundreds of positions to bid on and aslong as your profile showcases your work successfully, your chances of successfully securing a contract is high.

Elance also gives you access to a daily newsletter with targeted jobs, so you don’t need to worry about missing out on any opportunities. A subscription to Elance does cost but a great tool for a freelancers especially if you are new to the scene.

Another avenue to explore is People per Hour it works on a subscription basis aswell – the higher the monthly package you invest in the less commission you need to pay people on the contracts you secure. Jobs are posted by potential clients which you can bid on similar to elance.com but also you benefit from your profile being searchable so clients can contact you directly. This feature means you profile really needs to shine.

A more generic website is Guru it is the largest online freelance marketplace. It is however very competitive as it is worldwide so country such as India can offer services at a very low rate.

Having made the decision to give it a go, whether full or part time, and whether to set up as a sole trader or limited company, you’re going to need a wide range of tax and accountancy advice and support in the early days when setting up as a freelancer.

The most daunting thing about going freelancing for most people is the thought of having to engage with an accountant. At first glance it’s easy, you go down to your local high street accountant who quotes you anything from £250 to £600 plus VAT to do your end of year accounts for you. This sounds great, however what happens if you want to speak to your accountant for advice throughout the year on things like:

  • Expenses
  • Tax allowances
  • Take home pay
  • How much you should put aside for your tax bill
  • Whether you should register for the Flat Rate VAT scheme
  • If going limited would be beneficial
  • What’s the most tax efficient way to run your business.

Each time you pick up the phone it is likely you will get charged. In fact, every time your accountant sends you a letter you may charged - and you may even get charged if you call to query your invoice! So by the end of the year you could easily be looking at a bill of over £1,000. 

For more information please visit our page on Benefits of an Accountant.

Easy Accountancy charges a fixed fee of only £60 plus VAT a month

We don’t want our clients to be scared to contact us and potentially lose out on valuable tax saving advice, that's why we only charge a fixed fee of £60 VAT a month. It’s important when you first start out freelancing that you run your business in the best way possible. As a start up you’ll probably have loads of questions, and will really appreciate the fact you can call your accountant as many times as you, like without the fear of racking up large bills. 

For more information on how we can help you and your business with your taxation needs or to appoint us as your accountant, please call 0500 234 111 / 01442 275767 or email heather@easyaccountancy.co.uk

Good luck on journey to becoming a freelance project manager, we hope you found this page helpful. You may also find the following pages helpful:

Why Clients Choose Easy Accountancy

Easy Accountancy offers a low cost, fixed fee accountancy package with all clients receiving their own dedicated, friendly, approachable accountant.

All of our accountants specialise in providing accountancy services to the self-employed, freelancers, sole traders, small to medium sized limited companies and private individuals. All accountants are employees of Easy Accountancy and we never outsource or offshore work.

Our low cost, all-inclusive fixed-fee accountancy service includes unlimited access to your own dedicated accountant throughout the year and covers all your business and personal tax affairs needs.

All our accountancy services include:
  - Unlimited access to your accountant
  - Ongoing advice on how to manage your business
  - Proactive tax advice throughout the year
  - Updates and reminders so you'll never miss a deadline
  - Free bookkeeping software

As a sole trader our fees start at just £60 + VAT a month, for this you receive the above plus:
  - Completion of your Self-Assessment tax return
  - Advice on how much Income Tax to pay
  - Guidance on National Insurance contributions

As a limited company our fixed fee packages are bespoke to your needs, however typically you’ll receive the above, plus:
  - Completion of your year end accounts*
  - Completion and submission of your annual return Companies House
  - The director/s Self Assessment tax return
  - Payroll bureau
  - Dividends and corporation tax computations

We’ve saved our clients up to half on their accountancy bills – if you’d like a quote, click on the quote me button to the right of this page. Alternatively, call us on 01442 275767 or email heather@easyaccountancy.co.uk.

*If you would like us to complete your company year end accounts we simply ask that you have been a client of Easy Accountancy for one year or have made 12 monthly payments.