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How to Become a Contract Project Manager?

09th Jan, 2024
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    How to Become a Contract Project Manager?

    In the dynamic world of project management, professionals play a crucial role in ensuring that tasks are completed efficiently and on time. Among these experts, Contract Project Managers (CPMs) stand out as versatile and self-reliant professionals who not only oversee projects but also manage their own schedules, fee structures, and clientele. The allure of this profession lies in its ability to offer opportunities across various industries and grant CPMs the flexibility to shape their work-life balance.

    In this article, I will guide you through the steps to embark on a rewarding journey towards becoming a Contract Project Manager. Whether you're an experienced project manager looking to strike out on your own or someone eager to enter the field, our insights will provide you with valuable information to help you succeed in this exciting and dynamic role. So, let's dive in and explore the path that leads to a fulfilling career as a Contract Project Manager.

    Who is a Contract Project Manager, and What do They do?

    A Contract Project Manager, commonly known as a CPM, is a seasoned management specialist who offers guidance to teams as they carry out their tasks. In the role of a CPM, you function as an independent contractor, acting as your own supervisor rather than representing any specific company or organization. Your primary responsibilities encompass task assignment to teams and the meticulous creation of production schedules and timelines to achieve project objectives.

    As a CPM, maintaining open lines of communication with corporate executives is vital. You provide them with regular project updates and inform them of any necessary production adjustments. Contract Project Managers are proactive in seeking out clients, often relying on their networking abilities within their respective industries to secure contracts and establish a robust client base. 

    In this distinctive role, Contract Project Managers wield a significant degree of autonomy and responsibility, making it an appealing career path for individuals with a passion for management and a talent for driving successful project outcomes.

    How to Become a Contract Project Manager in Simple Steps?

    There are various steps involved in becoming a contract project manager, from developing specific skills to gaining experience. I’ve provided a brief manual on how to become a contract project manager below.

    Top Skills Needed to Become a Contract Project Manager

    A comprehensive skill set that combines technical expertise with strong leadership and management skills is needed to succeed as a contract project manager. These skills are divided into soft and hard skills. By developing soft and hard skills, you'll be prepared to manage teams, lead engineering projects, and produce successful results supporting business goals.

    Step 1: Master Skills 

    A successful contract project manager needs to develop soft to hard skills. The essential skills you will need to follow a contract project manager career path are categorized below:

    Soft Skills 

    Soft skills are traits and behaviors that assist job candidates in getting employment. Employers look for soft-skill candidates since they are challenging to teach and essential for long-term success. The following is a list of the fundamental soft skills that you should possess:

    • Communication: A contract project manager must communicate with various parties, including stakeholders, clients, and team members. You should have strong communication skills to communicate the project goals successfully.
    • Leadership: An essential skill of efficient project management is leadership ability. They give project managers the tools to motivate and steer their teams toward completing projects while overcoming obstacles. With good leadership skills, a contract project manager provides a clear project vision and helps resolve conflicts between teams and clients.
    • Stakeholder Management: A project manager's toolkit must include managing stakeholders. These skills promote teamwork, foster trust, and guarantee that the project's results meet stakeholder demands and expectations. All stakeholders, including customers, team members, and sponsors, must agree with the project's goals for effective stakeholder management. This coordination reduces misconceptions and aids in concentrating efforts on a single objective. 
    • Time Management: Time is a critical component of project management. Project managers with strong time management skills can better handle the complexities of projects, reduce risks, improve team performance, and provide positive results. 

    Hard Skills 

    "Hard skills" are those abilities that can be assessed and acquired through formal education, apprenticeships, or on-the-job training. Most of the time, these skills are focused on a particular process or set of tasks using tools or software. The following are typical hard skills that a prospective clinical project manager has to possess:

    • Project management skills: An essential skill for a conflict project manager is to know all the basics and tools of project management. Depending on the type of project, you should be proficient in various project management approaches, including Agile, Waterfall, Scrum, Kanban, etc.
    • Technical Skills: You should be comfortable with project management software for planning, allocating resources, and tracking. A project manager should be familiar with project management software and tools like Microsoft Project, Jira, Asana, Trello, etc.
    • Budgeting and Financial Skills: You should know about financial management, cost estimation, and project budgeting. Additionally, tracking costs and ensuring projects are completed within budget is essential.

    Other Competencies 

    A person stands out in the competition with the additional competencies and soft and hard abilities. If you are searching for a contract project manager job, you must have the following qualities: a desire to learn continuously, good presentation abilities, cultural sensitivity, etc.

    • Industry Knowledge: By learning about the industry, project managers may better deliver projects that meet industry standards, customer expectations, and organizational objectives. Project managers may confidently lead projects and contribute significantly to their businesses by being current on industry trends, rules, and best practices.
    • Documentation skills: Throughout the project lifespan, adequate documentation demands consistency, accuracy, organization, and regular updates. It provides the framework for effective project management, assisting managers in achieving their objectives while reducing risks and ensuring stakeholder expectations are met.
    • Networking skills: Attending events is just one aspect of networking; other aspects include developing real connections, paying attention when others speak, and giving value in return. Project managers can access a helpful support network that promotes professional development and project success by devoting time and effort to networking.
    • Presentation Skills: Project managers may effectively communicate their thoughts, plans, and progress by investing in presenting skills development. Strong presentation abilities are essential for successful project outcomes and efficient communication throughout the project lifecycle, whether speaking to small team meetings or presenting to senior executives.

    Top Contract Project Manager Certifications / Degree 

    A contract project manager's credentials can be strengthened by certifications showing their depth of project management knowledge. Consider your level of expertise, professional objectives, working methodology, and the sectors you are involved in while selecting a certification. Each certification has different requirements, application procedures, and study materials. Earning a contract project management certification can improve your abilities, increase your marketability, and provide new chances. The following are some of the most prestigious qualifications in the industry:

    • Project Management Professional (PMP): The PMP certification is one of the most well-known credentials in the world and is offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI). It shows a high level of project management expertise and knowledge. There are various accelerated institutes and websites that offer the best PMP course. If you are determined to be a project management contractor, you can check project management contractor, you can check KnowledgeHut's Project Management courses.
    • PRINCE2 Practitioner: PRINCE2 (Projects IN Controlled Environments) is a popular project management approach, particularly in the UK and Europe. The PRINCE2 Practitioner certification confirms your ability to use PRINCE2 principles successfully. You can enroll in the Prince2 Foundation and Practitioner certification to be proficient in project management fundamentals.
    • Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM): PMI also offers this accreditation. The CAPM certification is intended for people beginning their project management careers. It's a good entry-level certification. CAPM highlights the fundamentals of project management. You can check the Project Management course details online and enroll in the best online PMP certification.
    • Certified Scrum Master: This certification, provided by the Scrum Alliance, is centered on the Scrum agile framework. It is appropriate for project managers who wish to improve their Scrum expertise and capabilities and are working on Agile projects.

    Step 2: Determine Your Ideal Timeline 

    The time it takes to become a contract project manager might change depending on several variables. Such as your current background, experience, the certification path you choose, and how quickly you can pick up the required skills and knowledge. Here is a rough timeline breakdown of the steps to become a contract project manager:

    • Education: It takes between one and three months. First, you need to learn about the ideas, practices, and market trends in project management. Begin with online books. Next continue with articles and videos to lay the groundwork for your understanding.
    • Choose the certification: It takes between one and two months. Choose the certifications you want to pursue based on your career objectives and the methodologies you wish to specialize in (such as PMP, CAPM, PRINCE2, etc.). Before enrolling, look up each certification's prerequisites, recommended reading list, and exam information.
    • Exam preparation and completion: It takes between one and three months. Study, take practice tests, and revisit the most important ideas. The certification exam should be scheduled and taken once you feel well-prepared.
    • Practical Experience: Start gaining real-world project management experience after certification. You can take on projects as part of your present position or look for chances to work as a coordinator, assistant project manager, or junior project manager.
    • Transition to contract project manager: Start looking into contract project management possibilities as you gain expertise and expand your network. As a result, you could have to work on a contract basis or as a freelancer.

    Remember that this schedule is an estimate and may change depending on the situation. Some people can advance more quickly than others, depending on their current obligations or the difficulty of their selected certification path. Keep in mind to adjust your timeline to suit your pace and objectives. A successful contract project management career requires constant learning and professional development.

    Step 3: Begin Building Your Portfolio / Resume 

    Contract Project Manager Resume

    The following is a simple sample resume for a contract project manager. It is up to you to modify it to reflect your unique experiences, abilities, and accomplishments.

    • Your name
    • Address
    • City, State, Zip Code
    • Phone Number
    • Email Address
    • LinkedIn
    • Objective

    Experienced contract project manager with a track record of successfully completing projects on schedule and within budget. Capable of managing stakeholders, leading a team, and organizing projects. I'm looking for contract work to use my experience managing various projects to get things done.

    Professional Experience

    Contract Project Manager (Company) (City, State) (Dates)

    • Ensured alignment with scope, time, and budget by managing the whole project lifecycle for several contract projects.
    • Promoted teamwork and helped projects reach their objectives by leading cross-functional teams with up to [Number] members.
    • Developed thorough project plans, timetables, and budgets to direct project execution.
    • To ensure effective delivery, I tracked the project's progress, identified risks, and implemented mitigation plans.
    • Kept stakeholders informed of project changes and status reports while upholding transparency and managing expectations.
    • Completed [Number] projects on schedule and under budget, earning the client's approval.


    Add relevant degree and coursework you have attained with university name and year of completion.


    List any relevant certificate you own with the abovementioned Project Management Professional (PMP).


    • Project management
    • Presentation skills
    • Communication skills
    • Risk Assessment
    • Negotiation skills
    • Quality assurance skills
    • Stakeholder management


    Add feedback about the abilities, ethics, and contributions to scientific initiatives from coworkers, bosses, or clients you've worked with.

    Step 4: Where and how to find a job?

    To find a contract project manager job, you must use various strategies, including networking, process search websites, enterprise-specific platforms, and keeping up with employment trends. The top companies of clinical project managers are as follows:

    Top Companies Hiring Contract Project Managers 


    Job Outlook for Contract Project Manager (Intent is to find the job) 

    The employment prospects for contract project managers may change depending on factors like business trends, the state of the economy, and the demand for project management knowledge. Across all industries, project management is still a crucial function, and there is a continuing demand for qualified personnel in this position. To acquire the most accurate and recent information on the employment forecast for Contract Project Managers, it is a good idea to examine often job postings, industry publications, and trends unique to your field. 

    Step 5: Ace the Interview 

    To evaluate your abilities, background, and suitability for the post of Contract Project Manager, the interview process typically consists of many steps. Here is a basic outline of what to anticipate during an interview, while exact processes may differ based on the business and industry:

    A brief overview of the interview process 

    • Application

    Your application, including a résumé and perhaps a cover letter, should be submitted at the start. The recruiting staff reviews your application to evaluate your credentials, abilities, and experience with the position.

    • Initial Screening

    If your application is chosen for further consideration, you might have a preliminary phone or video screening with a recruiter or HR professional. Talking about your qualifications, work history, and interest in the position may be part of the screening process.

    • Video Interview

    If you make it through the initial screening, you might have a video interview with the recruiting manager or project lead. Your project management expertise, your comprehension of the position, and your compatibility with the team may be further explored during this interview.

    • Technical Interview

    You can be required to complete a technical test to prove your knowledge and proficiency in project management, depending on the type of project and the industry.

    • Final Interview

    The final interview may include meetings with senior leadership or other stakeholders. The interview can also touch on more significant trendy issues, which include compatibility with the employer's desires and viable contributions to the group.

    Who can become a Contract Project Manager?

    To become a contract project manager, academic qualifications, practical abilities, professional expertise, and personal traits are required. Although a particular criterion can change depending on the business and the industry, the following are the general skills and abilities needed to become a Contract Project Manager:

    Contract Project Manager Requirements 

    • A bachelor's degree, preferably in business, project management, or a related field.
    • Relevant certifications such as PMP, PRINCE2, etc.
    • Contract project managers often require several years of project management experience, including initiation to competition.
    • Excellent written and verbal communication skills.


    What’s the Demand for a Contract Project Manager? 

    The need for qualified project managers is widespread and consistently increasing. Depending on variables, including market trends, financial health, technology development, and the requirement for specialized skills, there may be a demand for contract project managers. 

    Experienced project managers are constantly needed due to the change by many organizations toward a project-centric strategy to achieve strategic goals. Technological breakthroughs like digital transformations and software development drive the demand for project managers who can manage complicated technology projects. Companies can now recruit contract project managers regardless of location because of the popularity of remote work, which has increased the skill pool. 

    Salary details for the top 5 countries 

    United States$101,916
    United Kingdom£51,297


    A professional managing a project on a temporary or contract basis is known as a contract project manager. They are employed by businesses to oversee projects from start to finish, making sure that the project goals are met within the predetermined parameters. It's essential to remember that becoming a contract project manager requires a combination of training, work experience, certifications, and specialized abilities. It's crucial to keep improving your project management skills and remaining adaptable to the many project needs you can run into in various firms and industries. 

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    1How do I become a project management contractor?

    Becoming a project management contractor involves education, experience, abilities, and networking.

    2What does a contract project manager do?

    Contract project managers are frequently employed for their proficiency in effectively managing projects, conflict resolution, and continuous project improvement.

    3Is the contract manager higher than the project manager?

    The contract manager and project manager's responsibilities are separate yet related, and their relative hierarchy can change depending on the company. A contract manager might operate alongside or be supervised by a project manager in some circumstances, while in others, they might be at a lower level in the organizational structure.


    Kevin D.Davis

    Blog Author

    Kevin D. Davis is a seasoned and results-driven Program/Project Management Professional with a Master's Certificate in Advanced Project Management. With expertise in leading multi-million dollar projects, strategic planning, and sales operations, Kevin excels in maximizing solutions and building business cases. He possesses a deep understanding of methodologies such as PMBOK, Lean Six Sigma, and TQM to achieve business/technology alignment. With over 100 instructional training sessions and extensive experience as a PMP Exam Prep Instructor at KnowledgeHut, Kevin has a proven track record in project management training and consulting. His expertise has helped in driving successful project outcomes and fostering organizational growth.

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