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Military Career to Project Management Career

No matter which branch of the military you served in, you’ve likely been exposed to project management skill sets that may lead to post-military career opportunities. The question often is how to make the transition from military service to a civilian project management career.

Why Project Management?

First, a military background may be an ideal foundation for project management roles. Here’s why: Teamwork is of utmost importance while serving and this is a primary requirement of being a project manager. In the military, everyone is on the same mission. In the civilian world, this may not be the case. You can use your leadership experience to be “clear, concise and concrete,” according to Capterra’s “How Military Service Can Translate to a Project Management Career,” and get the project team focused on the objectives at hand.

While an emphasis on teamwork is essential, servicemembers must also be able to make tough decisions independently (and quickly) to see the mission through. Putting the goal first and making decisions based on that is valued in project management. Additionally, the military requires servicemembers to learn and adapt to ever-changing technologies. By being open to new tools, you’re more likely to be comfortable transitioning into a civilian project management career, especially an IT project management role.

Additionally, project management is a growing career option. According to the Project Management Institute (PMI)® , more than 33% growth is projected for project management practitioners through 2027.

How to Transition into a Civilian Role

To break into the field, it may be essential to earn Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification. According to Veterati’s “4 Steps to Earning a PMP Certification While in the Military,” this can also help you connect with the project management community.

Start by downloading PMI’s Project Management Professional (PMP)® Handbook, which provides a complete overview of the certification program. You’ll learn about the eligibility criteria to apply for the certification and, once you’ve determined you’ve met the criteria, you can submit an application for the test.

Once you schedule your exam, study, study, study. There are options when it comes to developing a study plan, including online programs, classroom instruction and prep books. Consider how you learn best and use a combination of tools to provide a variety of coursework. Also, give yourself sufficient preparation time.

For additional resources, Vets2PM offers guidance to veterans on transitioning into civilian project management. Its “How to Translate Your Military Operational Experience into Civilian Project Management Experience” article provides examples to guide you in translating a military project into civilian terms. This is helpful for documenting your project management experience in order to sit for the certification exam. The White House Joining Forces Initiative also partnered with PMI to provide resources to veterans exploring the project management profession.

“PMI,” “PMP” and “PMBOK Guide” are registered trademarks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.

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