Young professionals with strong organizational skills are prime candidates for a job as a project analyst. This career opportunity is ideal for individuals who would like to move into a project management role that doesn’t require years of project management experience and provides opportunity for growth. Additionally, a career as a project analyst not only provides an opportunity to expand and leverage your skills, but it also offers a salary that can earn you up to $70,000 a year for an entry-level position. If upskilling from your current job into a role as a project analyst sounds interesting to you, keep reading to learn what you can expect from this high-demand career path.
What is a Project Analyst
A project analyst is considered an entry level role in the field of project management. These individuals often have strong communication and documentation skills, are proficient at coordinating multiple tasks, and are seen as “traffic controllers” for the various projects taking place within an organization. Project analysts can be found in almost any industry; from technology to manufacturing to healthcare.
Typically, a project analyst works hand in hand with a project manager to assist with the data needed to plan, organize and execute a project. Some common responsibilities include documenting the progress of a project, reducing the risk of project failure, and keeping a project on budget. In this role, individuals contribute to project planning, preparing task timelines and team meetings, and maintaining documentation throughout the project. A project analyst also reviews contracts and financials, monitors project activities, and evaluates the overall tasks.
Beyond the hard skills, the soft skills of a project analyst are equally, if not more important. In order to excel as a project analyst, you must have:
- Strong organizational skills
- Creative problem-solving abilities
- Organized writing for documenting project needs
- Clear communication skills presenting data and status reports
Additionally, key roles and responsibilities include:
- Contributing to project planning, budgeting, and overall strategy
- Conducting and presenting a feasibility analysis for proposed projects
- Establishing key performance indicators
- Supporting the monitoring and evaluating of the overall project
- Analyzing project data and producing insights to optimize performances
- Identifying problems and shortfalls and offering solutions
- Maintaining current knowledge on legislation applicable to each project
- Providing operational support such as liaising with stakeholders, tracking timelines, etc.
- Preparing, reviewing, and maintaining project documentation and reports
- Maintaining project contracts and financials
- Tracking, forecasting, and presenting information on project progress, including metrics and challenges
The Value of a Strong Project Analyst
Projects have a lot of moving parts, especially within a large organization where multiple teams are involved. Even small projects call for complex chains of communication to deliver the end result on time and on budget. Most project managers don’t have the capacity to stay on top of all the essential administrative tasks like gathering data and documenting status updates, but it must still get done. This is where a project analyst comes in!
While a project analyst serves in a support role, it’s a very important one to the overall functionality of the project team. The work of a project analyst is directly connected to the success of a project and how smoothly it runs. With a strong project analyst on the team, communication is streamlined, deadlines are met, and budgets are maintained. A project analyst also gains direct knowledge of a company or industry they are working in. This is what makes the project analyst role perfect for those looking for opportunities to continually advance their career.
The best project analysts must possess the following skills:
- Time management
- Quick and confident decision making
- Clear and organized communication
- Detailed budgeting and a command over where money is being spent
- Ability to look at project progress from multiple views
- An understanding of data from different sources and angles
How to Become a Project Analyst
If you’re interested in moving into a role as a project analyst, there are some specific things you can do to make yourself a prepared and qualified candidate.
- Hone in on your soft skills. This means becoming an exceptional communicator with top-notch organizational skills. If you can’t manage your own time well, how can you manage a project or team? Start by examining your personality and where you may need to invest time to improve your skills. Can you deliver under pressure? Would you describe yourself as a risk-taker? How do you handle team dynamics? If you need to elevate your soft skills, start by talking to a project management professional who you feel sets a good example and ask them for advice. Also look to the internet for a vast array of resources that can help you become a better communicator and more organized.
- Gain experience doing what project analysts commonly do. Seek out opportunities from your current employer or network (if currently unemployed) to be entrusted with managing a task or project. It doesn’t matter how small you start! When you can be trusted with a simple or small task, you can advance to something more complex. This experience, even if not part of your current role or unpaid, will give you something you talk about on your resume or in your next performance review.
- Become proficient in the Microsoft suite of tools. Nearly every organization uses Microsoft products in some way, shape, or form. Stepping into the role of a project analyst with a mastered understanding of how to use these programs immediately gives you an advantage.
- Gain industry-relevant education and certifications. There are many resources available, of varying levels and costs, that can help advance your technical skills as a project analyst. A quick internet search will yield a ton of results, but don’t let this overwhelm you. NuPaths has created a training program with industry certifications that will guide you through the process of developing the technical and soft skills needed to become a project analyst.
The NuPaths Project Analyst program includes 4 courses, business skills workshops, 6 certifications, 9 college credits and 1 project in the program, totaling 209 hours of courses, labs and workshops. This is an excellent place to start your project analyst career, and the skills you gain through this program are highly transferable to other roles as well. Additionally, you’ll have the opportunity to earn the following industry certifications.:
IT Fundamentals - CompTIA IT Fundamentals (ITF+) is an introduction to basic IT knowledge and skills. This course helps professionals develop a broader understanding of IT, all of which is highly valuable for a project analyst. Furthermore, ITF+ is the only single certification that covers all areas of IT foundations, creating a broader understanding of IT making it ideal for non-technical professionals.
Project+ - CompTIA Project+ gives business professionals – inside and outside of IT – the basic concepts to successfully manage small- to medium-sized projects. Project+ is more versatile than other certifications because it covers essential project management concepts beyond the scope of just one methodology or framework.
Certified Professional Technical Communicator and Microsoft Word - The CPTC certification develops knowledge and skills in technical writing including project planning and analysis, content development and management, organizational design, written and visual communication, reviewing and editing, and production delivery of technical documentation. The Microsoft Word certification includes advanced use of Word for formatting documents; using document templates to automate tasks for increased efficiency; and managing revisions, cross-references, document security and forms.
Microsoft Excel and Database Fundamentals - The Microsoft Excel certification explores the essentials of editing and formatting worksheets and workbooks as well as visualizing data with Excel charts, styles and templates. The Certiport Databases certification is focused on foundational knowledge and skills in designing and querying relational databases such as MySQL, Microsoft SQL Server or Oracle.
Let’s get started!
If you would like to explore what a career as a project analyst could look like in your own life, the next step is to schedule a conversation with a student success coordinator or visit the IT Project Analyst page on our website to request more information. Scholarships and funding opportunities are also available for eligible students. Our student success coordinators are ready to help answer your questions and provide you with advice and resources to get started.