Build an Agile Mindset: How to Become an Effective Agile Project Manager

Build an Agile Mindset: How to Become an Effective Agile Project Manager | Project Management | Emeritus

Are you a professional who is keen to explore an Agile work environment? If you have prior experience in leading or managing teams, pursuing a career as an Agile project manager may prove to be the right choice. This role is critical in leading and motivating Agile project teams to deliver high-quality results through continuous improvement. 

In this blog, we will take you through everything you need to know about the role of an Agile project manager, from the skills required to become one, to primary responsibilities, career outlook, and more. 

Agile Project Manager

Agile Project Manager Skills

In simple terms, Agile is an approach that revolves around taking iterative and incremental steps to complete a project. It allows for greater adaptability even through the frequently changing scope of deliverables. The concept of Agile essentially stems from the software development industry. Still, it has lately spread its roots across other sectors such as finance, healthcare, marketing, and construction,  among others. Irrespective of the industry, these are the key skills that a competent Agile project manager must have:

  • Strong organization and planning
  • Excellent leadership and collaboration  
  • High level of adaptability and flexibility 
  • Emotional intelligence and active listening 
  • Superior problem-solving abilities 
  • Clear and effective communication

ALSO READ: What is Agile Project Management and How to Use it Effectively?

Agile Project Manager Job Description

An Agile project manager may take on several different roles depending on the industry and area of specialization. These roles can be broadly categorized into team-level, enterprise-level, and hybrid. This is what a generalized job description for an Agile project manager’s role would look like: 

  • Manage high-visibility projects across multiple business divisions 
  • Plan and organize the pace of deliveries 
  • Advise team members on how to optimize efficiency 
  • Allocate resources to bolster team efficiency 
  • Develop budgets and set project deadlines 

ALSO READ: What is Project Management and How to Become a Good PM?

Responsibilities of an Agile Project Manager

Responsibilities of an Agile Project Manager 

An Agile project manager practices horizontal management instead of controlling the playing field from a higher position. They seek constant internal and external feedback to ensure timely deliverables throughout a product’s development lifecycle. These are some of their main responsibilities: 

  • Facilitate discussions to improve collaboration across teams 
  • Define the scope and schedule of projects 
  • Ensure timely deliveries of Agile projects that offer great business value to users 
  • Empower team members through team-building exercises 
  • Support Agile transformations through workshops and training sessions

How to Become an Agile Project Manager

As a result of its efficiency, the Agile methodology has become a popular project management approach across a wide variety of organizations today. If you’d like to explore job opportunities in this growing field, we have put together a few learning steps you can take to become an Agile project manager. 

1. Earn a Bachelor’s Degree in a Relevant Field

Most Agile project managers hold a bachelor’s degree in computer science, business management, or any other related field. Some employers may also require a master’s degree in business management

2. Develop Technical and Soft Skills

It is important to be well-equipped with technical skills like JIRA, Kanban, and Version One to be an effective Agile project manager. In terms of soft skills, focus on time management, good communication, problem-solving, and adaptability

3. Complete a Graduate Training Scheme

Enroll in a graduate training scheme in Agile project management through mentorship programs, workshops, and internships  

4. Earn Certifications

Getting a professional certification in Agile project management is great for those who want to upskill or enhance their employability. The PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP) offered by the Project Management Institute and online Project Management courses are some options you can explore

Agile Project Management vs. Scrum Master

To someone new to the industry, the role of a Scrum master and an Agile project manager may appear similar. However, the fact is that these are two distinct roles with a few overlapping features in terms of key responsibilities.  

Scrum is a popular framework that is used to develop, deliver and sustain complex products in a collaborative way. A Scrum master facilitates Scrum teams, coaches members, and educates stakeholders about scrum practices. They are primarily responsible for identifying pain points, eliminating impediments, managing conflicts, and conducting Scrum events. Their goal is to ensure that developers contribute maximum value to the product. 

An Agile project manager oversees project quality and is responsible for the scope, budget, schedule, quality, and delivery of highly scalable projects. Their main task is to implement seamless execution of the project. 

ALSO READ: What Does a Scrum Master Do?

Agile Project Management vs Product Owner

The main difference between the roles of an Agile project manager and a product owner lies in their scope of management. An Agile project manager’s work revolves around bringing the vision of the project to life by laying the groundwork regarding the time, scope, and budget of the project. 

A product owner helps build a broader vision of a product. They conduct research, gather insights on business analysis, and are responsible for prioritizing tasks that directly impact overall project results. 

Career Outlook

Many traditional project managers see the value of Agile practices in delivering projects more quickly, with less waste and lower costs. This is why the demand for Agile professionals will likely increase in the coming years. According to Zippia, at least 71% of companies in the United States already use Agile practices. 

Agile Project Manager Salary

The average median salary of an Agile project manager in the United States is $117,442 annually. The salary for an entry-level position in the field starts at $100,000 per year, whereas an experienced professional would make nearly $146,250 annually, according to The pay scale may vary based on location, years of experience, and educational qualifications, among other factors. 

Here is a quick breakdown of an Agile project manager’s average annual salary across different regions in the United States, as per

  • New Jersey:  $136,500
  • North Carolina: $129,675 
  • New York: $126,750 
  • Washington: $125,000
  • Virginia: $124,750

Top Paying Companies

These are the top ten highest paying companies in the United States for an Agile project manager’s role, according to Glassdoor

Company Average annual salary 
Apple $196,615
Chevron $183,342
Intel Corporation $178,078
Gap $153,060
Schneider Electric $152,425
Wunderkind $150,308
Rocket Companies $149,640
IBM $148,595
IGT $148,493
CareerBuilder $147,786

Can a Project Manager Work in Agile?

A project manager who wants to upscale their career can consider opportunities in the Agile project management space or look at Agile coaching as a career option. The critical thinking, planning, communication, and consultancy skills of a project manager will be an added advantage and likely act as a bonus. 

Project managers who are interested in getting hands-on experience with the Agile approach and want to learn how Agile principles are used to optimize efficiency can explore job opportunities in the field. They can also gain a professional certification in Agile methodologies to improve their chances of a good job role in the field.   

Learning Agile with Emeritus

To become a successful Agile project manager, it is important first to develop the right Agile mindset. Learning about continuous improvement, transparency, flexibility in the workplace, and other essential Agile practices will help in performing each project better than the last. If you want to build a career as an Agile project manager and would like to explore professional opportunities in the field, consider upskilling with an online project management course at Emeritus to improve your career prospects. 

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Agile Project Manager

About the Author

Senior Content Contributor, Emeritus Blog
Iha is the grammar guru turned content wizard who's mastered the delicate dance of correcting bad grammar and teaching people how to correctly pronounce her name. With a filmmaker's flair for marketing and digital media, she's the project ninja, flawlessly coordinating remote and in-person teams for 6+ years. When not conjuring captivating copy, she's delightfully torn between diving into 5 books or diving into endless series—decisions, decisions. Beware of her mischievous dog, who is always ready for a great escape!
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