What Is an IT Project Manager? And How to Become One

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

IT project managers help plan and roll out IT processes across organizations.

[Featured Image] A woman in a yellow sweater working as an IT project manager sits at her desk and uses her computer at work.

What is an IT project manager?

An information technology (IT) project manager is a professional who helps organizations achieve their IT goals by planning and executing projects. IT project managers might lead projects to introduce new software solutions, scale IT processes, or switch cloud providers for an organization. Some, however, may lead software development.

IT project managers can work with the IT teams in various organizations, including health care facilities, tech companies, universities, and others.

What does an IT project manager do?

An IT project manager brings an organization’s new IT processes to fruition. An IT project manager’s tasks and responsibilities might include:

  • Leading multiple IT projects from initiation to completion

  • Developing and managing project budgets

  • Communicating with stakeholders, including IT managers, vendors, and executive leaders

  • Leading risk management and mitigation efforts

  • Gather, analyze, and report IT metrics

IT project manager salary and job outlook

IT project managers in Canada make an average base salary of $95,849 as of January 2024 [1]. 

The Government of Canada Job Bank expects strong job growth for IT project managers, especially in New Brunswick, Ontario, and Quebec, where the job prospects are rated “very good” for the 2022 to 2025 period [2].  The Project Management Institute (PMI) also sees strong growth for project manager jobs internationally, estimating the sector to grow by 33 per cent or 22 million new jobs by 2027 [3].

Below is a list of Canadian base salaries for similar positions, according to Glassdoor as of January 2024.

  • Senior IT project manager: $121,507 [4]

  • Technical project manager: $98,854 [5]

  • Project manager: $87,391 [6]

How to become an IT project manager

IT project management requires project management skills and experience. Though these roles don’t always require technical skills, they often prefer them, and these skills can give you an edge against other candidates.

1. Develop relevant skills.

A mixture of project management and technical IT skills can bring you closer to landing a position as an IT project manager. The main skills you’ll need to learn fall into three categories:

  • Project management methodologies: As a project manager, you should be familiar with various approaches to project management. Since IT can be volatile, organizations often seek knowledge of methods and approaches that accommodate changes. These might include Agile, Scrum, Kanban, and Lean.

  • Project management processes: Completing a project means taking it through the four stages of the project lifecycle: initiating, planning, executing, and closing. You must know how to budget, assess risk, set schedules, assign tasks, run kick-off meetings, and more.

  • Technical IT skills: Since you’ll work to implement large-scale projects, a broad understanding of IT processes will be helpful. This can include security, systems, networks, cloud computing, programming, and scaling various IT processes. The exact technical skills you’ll want to cultivate can vary depending on the industry and job. For example, a biotechnology firm might ask for some experience in biotechnology.

What degree do you need to be an IT project manager?

Many job descriptions ask for at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science, business, or a related field. A degree can equip you with essential knowledge and expand your job opportunities. Keep in mind that becoming an IT project manager is still possible if you have enough relevant experience.


2. Gain experience.

You can gain the skills you need to become an IT project manager in several ways.

  • Gain experience in the field. IT project managers can get hands-on experience by working in IT and eventually moving their way up to project manager. If you’re in an IT position hoping to take this route, sharpen your leadership and management skills. It might also help to approach your manager and state your interest in project management.

  • Start in a project support role. If you don’t have a technical background, starting in a project support role for an IT team, like as a project coordinator or program associate, can help you break into the field.

  • Get a certification. Build your knowledge and credentials by getting a certification. Job descriptions often request the Project Management Professional (PMP) and Scrum Master certifications. If you’re looking for an IT certification to boost your technical credentials, the CompTIA ITF+ can be useful—it covers all IT foundations for non-technical professionals. 

Looking for a more thorough introduction to IT concepts? Take a look at the Google IT Support Professional Certificate

3. Nail the job application process.

To land a IT project manager role, you must make it through the application and screening process first. Here are tips on how to master this. 

IT project manager resume

Your resume should lean heavily on your project management and IT experience. What were you tasked with, and what impact did you have? What technical concepts are you familiar with and what skills can you offer? 

IT project manager interview questions

If you land an interview, congratulate yourself. You can prepare by practicing your responses to common interview questions, such as:

  • How would you begin implementing a new cloud service in a large company?

  • How would you ensure a new service was compatible with all others?

  • Tell us about your experience with systems integrations.

  • What’s your experience with Agile?

  • Describe your experience in this industry.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

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