You probably didn’t tell your primary school teacher your ambition was to become a project management office (PMO) leader. It might not be every child’s dream, but once you’re working in a business role you may start to wonder what is the career path to become a PMO?

Working with people in a PMO job role, you’ll soon realise that there’s not one way to reach the position. It’s a job that requires a range of skills, and people can come to a PMO from a range of different backgrounds.

To help you plot your career path to be promoted to a PMO role, we’re going to cover:

  • What skills you need to be working on to become a PMO
  • Which roles you can move from to be promoted to a PMO
  • How you can demonstrate your suitability for a PMO role

What do I need to work on in my path to a career as a PMO?

The career path to becoming a PMO isn’t set in stone. There isn’t a specific academic qualification or entry-level job that will directly lead to being a PMO.

Whilst there’s no degree that guarantees you a PMO role, academics can be important. The majority of people in PMO lead roles have a business-related Bachelor’s, and it’s becoming increasingly common to have an MBA, as well. It’s not a deal-breaker, however, and with the right skills and experience, a lack of degree can be ignored.

When you look at job listings for PMOs, you’ll notice a range of skills that are needed. This is where you can focus your attention if you’re looking to get a promotion to a PMO role.

There are three broad areas of competency that you should work on to move into a PMO job:

  • Business skills
  • Leadership skills
  • Organisational skills

How you can demonstrate these skills will depend on where you are in your career now.

How can I show my skills to become a PMO?

Depending on where you are currently in your career path, there are things you can work on to make your PMO CV shine.

In general, you can work towards project management and portfolio management certifications that will give you a solid grounding in the concepts of project management. You can also seek out internships or opportunities to shadow a PMO with your current employer, if there is an office already in place.

We’ve identified three keys ways that you can get promoted into a PMO role. We’ll be covering in more detail in coming articles how each of these roles can work towards becoming a PMO.

From project manager to PMO

Project managers (PMs) likely work under or with a PMO to monitor and support their work. As a PM, you’ll already have strong project skills, so focus on how the project is supported by your PMO and look for ways you can suggest improvements. It’s also worth getting a deeper overview of how the projects you work on fit in with the business and start to align your work closely with that.

From business analyst to PMO

Working in a business analyst role, particularly within a PMO, gives you great insight into the processes and procedures that a PMO lead oversees. You will probably need to work on your project related skills and how to manage and lead other people, moving away from working with data and working with people.

From business unit leader to PMO

A PMO requires leadership skills, which you’ll likely have in abundance. If you have your eye on a sideways move into leading a PMO in the same, or even a different company, then start to learn the details of what the work requires – looking at certifications and what they entail can be a good place to start. Implementing project principles to some pieces of work will give you insight into PMO work, too.

The take-home

There is not a defined career path to become a PMO, but there are lots of things you can work on to get there. In your current role, you can consider an upwards or sideways move to a PMO job and lay the foundations to get your CV looking how it should.

By building in elements of what a PMO does into your current work, you will have demonstrable achievements when it comes to your interview for a PMO role.

We’ve got more actionable advice coming up in the next articles to be posted soon to help you get on the career path the become a PMO.