25 Skills every Project Manager Should Have in 2021

It is usually said that being a project manager is like being an artist. You have the different colored process streams combined into a work of art.

A project manager is a professional in the field of project management who has the sole responsibility of planning and ensuring that every project is very well executed.

When any issues arise in the business arena which need utmost care and execution, the project manager is usually the first point of contact for such issues and discrepancies. They are usually the head planners of most projects to be carried out.

Every project manager needs to have skills peculiar to them to succeed in their career as a project manager.

We have outlined the 25 skills you should look out to have as a project manager and in addition, added things you should know about being a project manager.

Who is a Project Manager?

Different people have different definitions for who a project manager is. However, a project manager is a person who uses his skill and expertise to inspire a sense of shared purpose within a project team.

They take on new responsibilities daily of organizing projects assigned to them and ensuring it reaches the required goals. They are responsible for driving business results.

Project managers are generally known to work well under pressure. They take note of the small details which make up the bigger picture of what they are working on. They are also known to not be afraid of change as they are always ready for what could be thrown at them.

As a project manager, your skill in dealing with people is very necessary. You are also required to have a broad toolkit to help you in taking care of any complex tax thrown at you.

Also, you need to have interdependent activities into tasks and sub-tasks that are documented, monitored, and controlled. You would also have to learn to improve on your own and carry your team’s skills along through lessons-learned

How to Become a Project Manager?

If you are thinking about becoming a project manager, that’s a really good plan for your career. Here are the things you need to do-

Understand the Project Management Skills you already have

The first step towards becoming a project manager is to find those skills in you which has manifested before in this line of work.

If you have planned and led the progress of a project on your own, it is safe to say that you have done some elements of project management.

Though you might not have thought of it as project management at the time, your past experiences may have given you some exposure to the skills you need to become a successful project manager.

If you find you have quite a bit of experience already, you may be ready to apply for project manager positions or approach your manager to state your interest in becoming one.

Research has shown that with project management, so far you have the skills required, you would get better on the job.

Build your Project Management Skills

After you have realized you possess the skill for being a project manager, the next thing to do is to build your project management skills.

Your role as a project manager may gradually expand as you gain industry expertise, take on managerial tasks, develop organizational skills, and learn to work with the people on your team.

If you’re trying to build your project management skills, try looking for opportunities in your current work.

Look for Entry-level Positions

When you have successfully toned up your project manager skills, you can then start in entry-level organizational positions to build your key skills.

Some entry-level positions are positioned as a coordinator, which may include being a – Project coordinator, operations coordinator, associate project manager, amongst others.

Applying for these positions can perfect your skills before you know it.

Consider a Project Management Credential

A certification in project management can help you get your foot in the door for project management jobs.

It can make you stand out and show how prepared you are for the job.

Some of the certifications you could get are- Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM), Google Project Management: Professional Certification, Project Management Professional (PMP), Certified Scrum Master, Professional Scrum Master I (PSM I), amongst others.

Is having Project Manager Skills good for my Career?

According to the Job Growth and Talent Gap report from PMI, employers will need to fill some 2.2 million new project management-oriented roles each year through 2027.

Job seekers with a combination of leadership and technical skills will find themselves in demand in the coming years.

Industries like healthcare, manufacturing and construction, information services and publishing, finance and insurance, and management and professional services are expected to see the biggest growth in project-oriented roles according to the PMI report.

If you do not possess any project management skills, I suggested you dig for some now. Even if they are not very valuable right now, in a few years, they would totally be worth it.

What Can I Do with Project Managerial Skills?

In every organization, a project manager is needed. A project manager without his skills is simply incompetent.

Most people see a project manager as a manager, an employee, or even an independent consultant.

As a project manager, your skills are very important in determining your success. They would see you as a professional in the field of project management and it is these skills which would possess that would make you live up to expectations.

Your skills as a project manager would make you the first point of contact for any issues or discrepancies arising from within the heads of various departments in an organization before the problem escalates to higher authorities, as project representatives.

These skills would open doors for you which would ensure you maintain the progress, mutual interaction, and tasks of various parties in such a way that reduces the risk of overall failure maximize benefits, and minimize costs.

You would be required to develop project plans, manage the project stakeholders, manage communication, manage the project team, manage communication, project risks, project schedules, and even the project budget.

How Long Does it Take to Get Project Managerial Skills?

This depends on if you already possess any skills for being a project manager.

If you have previous managerial experience, you may be able to master the skills within a few months.

If you’re just starting on the road to becoming a project manager, building up your skills may take a few years.

Top 25 Skills a Project Manager Should Have in 2021

#1. Risk Management

This skill has to do with the process of identifying, assessing, and controlling threats to an organization’s capital and earnings.

You simply can’t be caught blind-sided with an unexpected crisis while you’re deep into executing your project.

After you identify risks, your job does not end; you also need to find ways to control the risks by weighing probability and cost.

#2. Budgeting

As a project manager, you administer and oversee the finances related to the business project you are overseeing.

You should be able to understand the stakeholder’s needs and wants, recognize when the circumstance has changed, and make the necessary funding essential to get the project resources in motion.

#3. Scheduling

As a project manager, you are expected to schedule by listing activities, deliverables, and milestones within a project.

You should plan the start, finish date, and the resources required to get the project to completion.

Project scheduling refers to the ability to seamlessly schedule the people you need on your project when you need them on your project.

#4. Performance Tracking

This is also one of the top skills you should possess as a project manager.

A Gantt Chart allows managers to track the project progress by providing an overview of tasks, workload, and milestones at any point of the project life cycle.

A project manager must have the skill of performance tracking to be successful in their career.

#5. Communication

To be an effective Project Manager, you must be able to communicate immaculately. This is one of the major skills a project manager must have to be successful.

You should be able to talk to anyone in an organization from the people lowest on the organization’s ladder to senior management confidently and clearly.

Your communication abilities will be of the utmost importance when dealing with clients and stakeholders too.

#6. Leadership

Leadership skills are a core skill that you must possess as a project manager. You must have this skill in other to motivate and inspire teams.

You must have other leadership skills like negotiating, communicating, listening, influencing skills, and team building.

To successfully use this skill, you must be goal-driven, have a clear vision, and be very practical.

#7. Time Management

Not everyone knows how to manage and keep to time. As a project manager, this skill would bring more gigs to your doorstep.

It directly affects the quality, scope, and cost of a project. You have to be able to use the time allocated to a project wisely to meet scheduled deliverables and conclude all work by or before project completion.

#8. Technical Skills

This skill entails a lot of other skills added together. You should be able to understand team skill level, communicate the technical need to the business team as well as estimate project derivable.

This skill also relates to finding and using platforms like Microsoft Project, Basecamp, and Evernote to track project progress and communicate with their teams.

#9. Organizational Skills

This skill for a project manager requires identifying goals, arranging priorities from highest to lowest, breaking large projects into achievable tasks, communicating effectively with team members.

To be successful in a career as a project manager, you must have organizational skills.

#10. Diplomatic Skills

This is a skill you cannot do without as a project manager. You should feel comfortable negotiating with executives, stakeholders, and members of the project team.

You can’t get anything done with the use of force; but by using diplomacy, you can have a say in almost everything going on in the project.

#11. Project Planning Skill

The entire aim of being a project manager is to plan projects and successfully execute them. Project planning is an important skill that you should have.

It has to do with the initiation, planning, execution, monitoring, and closure of a project.

Crafting a proper project plan takes a lot of skill and, usually, experience with creating things like meeting plans, statements of work, estimates, timelines, resource plans, and briefs.

#12. Reading, Writing, and Math

Like many jobs, project management requires that a person has a variety of skills to be successful.

You would be expected to be an effective problem solver and as such, be well above average math skills.

Also, you would be required to write project briefs that are persuasive and concise.

Meanwhile, you’ll need to catch errors in budget and expense math and verify that numbers are correct. If you’re very weak in any of those areas, it could pose a problem.

#13. Process Management

When we talk about process management, we mean taking a closer look at things like budgeting, project delivery, project launch, invoicing, and resourcing.

It is an important skill that requires that you manage the systematic series of activities directed towards the closure of the project being managed.

#14. Relationship Management

Over the course of a long project, you can expect to deal with at least one stakeholder or client who is nervous about your ability to hit your deadlines on your important deliverables.

Managing those relationships and managing expectations is a huge part of your job as a Project Manager.

You must be honest and realistic while also making sure that any impatient parties understand the reasons why the project is unfolding the way it is.

#15. Negotiation Skills

With negotiation skills, you can resolve conflicts and also ensure that success is achieved with minimal risk to the project objectives.

You must be able to fluently negotiate. Lack of negotiations can make your project take a longer time than normal.

#16. Team Management Skills

You cannot work alone to get a project done- you need your team. You have to have the skills to properly manage this team to avoid conflicts.

Also, you must be able to ensure balance within the team, ensure visibility and transparency, foster a culture of collaboration; amongst others.

With this skill, your team and yourself can work together in sync to get the project to completion.

#17. Conflict Management

Conflicts are bound to fall out during the course of a project. You should be able to have the skill to effectively manage the conflict.

You must be able to exercise power, withdraw, compromise, appease, delegate, and know to hear both sides.

This skill is one of the skills every project manager should have.

#18. Motivational Skills

Stimulating team member performance requires a project manager to harness different interpersonal skills, including the ability to train others.

This skill is necessary because, at a point in the project, your team might get laid back. It would take your motivational skills to get them back on track.

#19. Adaptability Skills

This is another skill you can barely do without as a project manager. You must be able to frequently review the project plan and revise the project plan to be sure everyone is on track.

It also involves growing with any new changes, purpose, or situation. You should be able to comfortably adapt to new environments, expectations, and situations.

#20. Technologically Savvy

As a project manager, you should be able to have a good knowledge and understanding of modern technology especially computers.

During a project, they may require you to use collaboration tools or even website or social media experience.

In these modern times, this is a skill every project manager must-have.

#21. Reporting Skills

This is a skill every project manager must-have.

At every stage of the project, you should be able to report your project progress to your boss and if possible to document the progress of a project for future purposes.

#22. Active Listening Skills

As a project manager, you should be able to have active listening skills.

You should listen instead of thinking about what you are going to say, listen even if you do not agree with or don’t want to hear what is being said, and also try to keep eye contact with the person who is speaking.

This is a skill every project manager must possess because from listening, you would learn something from each person you meet.

#23. Research Skills

A project manager has to have the skill to do research when necessary. He has to be able to find the answer to a question or the solution to a problem.

You have to be able to gather information about any topic, analyze and interpret the said information.

#24. Interpersonal Skills

This skill is important for project managers because it enables them to communicate with others where social rules and relations are created.

It requires that you socialize adequately with people and not isolate yourself.

This skill is important because socialization is a necessary aspect of getting projects done.

#25. Project Management Methodologies

Project management methodologies as a skill every project manager should have to entail having the ability to ensure that you know the set of principles and practices that generally guide project managers to ensure optimum performance.

You are not a complete project manager if you lack the core knowledge of these methodologies.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do project managers need a degree?

Though it might be easier for project managers to advance to their roles with a degree, they’re certainly not always required. If you don’t have a degree, working your way up from within a team or earning a certification might make sense for your career path.

What are some project management methodologies?

As you learn more about project planning, you may encounter terms like Agile, Scrum, or Waterfall. These refer to various methodologies a set of guiding principles or strategies for managing a project.

Do project managers with a skill set get paid well?

In the U.S., the median salary for a skilled project manager is $116,000 across all industries, with most project managers earning between $93,000 and $140,000.

Who is the boss of a project manager?

A project manager is not the “boss” of the team but the “boss” of the project. A developer may answer to a senior developer or manager, but their employment is not in the hands of the project manager.

Does being a Project Manager Require Math?

No, project management doesn’t require math, just diligence. As long as you are thorough and careful when working with budgets and other numerical figures, you do not need advanced math skills to be a Project Manager.


Being a skilled project manager can be challenging. You would be expected to know everything. People would come to you for advice on things not even related to your work.

You would however not face these challenges alone. You would often work alongside team members and use software or online tools specifically designed to streamline the process.


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