Health IT continues to suffer from a talent shortage. Understanding the skills gap is vital for job seekers because it can direct them to a viable career path. Project management skills are among the most desired skill sets. Health IT, specifically, needs these types of skills because project management helps with research, analytical thinking, and strategic planning.

The 2015 IT Trends report from SIM lists project management as a concern/issue for IT management. What’s more, the March 2013 PMI’s Industry Growth Forecast states that 15.7 million project management roles will be added globally in project-intensive industries by 2020.

Why are project managers in such high demand?

The list of complex initiatives underway continues to grow. The Affordable Care Act is one of the largest reformations to affect the healthcare industry and is causing an endless amount of changes and shifts in the processes involved with patient care and data management. An increase in EHR adoption, cost-reduction practices, and emerging applications and new technologies all contribute to the increase in demand for health IT workers.

Let’s take a look at project management skills and what job seekers can do to close the skills gap:

What makes a good project manager?

Project managers are multi-faceted and highly skilled. The ideal project manager completes projects on time, meets or exceeds expectations, and stays within budget.

For those considering a career in IT project management, take a look at the traits of successful people in this field. They typically are strong leaders, well-organized, empathetic, and motivational. Also, they can effectively communicate, anticipate obstacles, negotiate between teams and departments, and keep a calm demeanor under high-pressure situations.   

If you possess these traits and have an interest in health IT, perhaps a career in project management is right for you.

How can you build your project management skills?

Health IT project management requires a unique mix of knowledge of clinical systems and technology, which is another reason why it is in such high demand. Education and certifications are the starting points for this career.

Several openings require a master’s degree in business administration or a master’s degree in health administration. The former focuses on developing business acuity while the latter concentrates on management techniques within health care.

Ask yourself the right questions before deciding which master’s degree you want to pursue. What are your career goals? Do you want to stay in the healthcare industry or did you want the flexibility of entering other fields? Are you concentrating on certain specializations, like financial planning or organizational structuring?

Education and certifications are large investments of time and money, so identify what path you want to take or find a degree that provides the flexibility you want. The next step is simple — research, research, research. Gather as much information as you can and consider everything, from costs and time needed to location and program design. FInally, always confirm accreditation before applying to programs.

There are several major certifications that help you develop project management skills.

The Project Management Institute offers various certifications. The Project Management Professional (PMP) certification is one of the most popular and well-respected. Not only does it help you speak the language of project management and hone your business communication skills, but also it expands your network of professionals and colleagues.  

Other certifications address specific areas of the field. For example, PBA focuses on business analysis, RMP teaches risk management, and SP is for scheduling experts.

With all these paths to take, you may find yourself overwhelmed by choice. Focus on one path and invest time in gaining experience. The salary survey found that the average health IT project managers have 11 years of experience.

With the proper amount of research and a strong sense of personal goals, the job seeker can build a valuable, rewarding career in health IT project management.

How are you developing your project management skills?  

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Tim Cannon is the vice president of product management and marketing at,, aa free job search resource that provides health IT professionals access to nearly 2,000 industry health IT job at home or on the go. Connect with Tim and on LinkedIn.

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