From education to employment

Spotlight on the appeal of project careers

New research from Association for Project Management reveals nearly eight in 10 project managers came to the profession from a different career

New research from Association for Project Management (APM) the chartered membership organisation for the project profession, is shining a light on project management as a ‘first choice’ career, following a new study of over 1,000 project professionals which shows the majority (79 per cent) were in different career prior to project management.

The study* launched ahead of National Careers Week (7-12 March), also highlights people’s reasons for moving into project management and how public awareness of projects as a career can be increased.

The main factors identified which have encouraged people (aged 25 and over) to move into project management as a career include: 

  • Project work offering better wages than previous job – 27.5 per cent
  • Project management offering better career prospects – 26.6 per cent
  • Better work life balance – 26.4 per cent
  • Project management roles allowing people to move between different industry sectors – 25.6 per cent

Of the survey respondents aged between 25-34 years old, 77 per cent say they have moved into project management from a different job. Of these, 29 per cent have moved into project work for better wages, 27 per cent for a better work life balance, 26 per cent for better career progression and 26 per cent who wanted to try something new.

The survey also highlights how public perception of project management as a first-choice profession is still relatively low, with only about half of respondents (53 per cent) saying they think it gets the recognition it deserves from the general public. When asked the most effective ways that awareness of project management can be raised, the most popular responses were:

  • Showcasing the wide variety of projects, across all sectors, that people can work on as project managers – 21 per cent
  • Business/employers to highlight the importance and value of project management to employee – 21 per cent
  • Better careers guidance at schools, colleges and universities to improve awareness of project management as a first career choice – 20 per cent
  • To highlight the role of the project profession in tackling social issues (e.g. climate change, disease, etc) – 20 per cent

Jackie Martin, Director of Education and Lifelong Learning at APM, said:

“As the world of work becomes increasingly project based there is growing demand for qualified project professionals here in the UK and around the world.  

“As our research demonstrates, many people come to project management from employment in a different job. It is therefore important that project management, as a first-choice career, is more widely recognised; particularly within careers guidance for young people, schools, colleges and the wider general public. Greater recognition will mean young people have the opportunity to work out if a career in project management is suited to them and their skill set, as well as the different routes they can take, whether it be an apprenticeship or university.

“As the only chartered membership organisation for the project profession in the world, we can support anyone considering a career in projects with resources, qualifications, knowledge and free membership for students over the age of 16.”

To help people find out more about a career in project management, APM has launched a student guide called Project: You which can be found by visiting

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