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Why it’s Important for Project Managers to Become T-shaped Professionals
By Marguerite Schimmel
August 17, 2021
program manager working on tech certification

Over the last decade—especially in the past few years—a new type of professional has emerged: the T-Shaped professional. The demand for employees who fit this skillset has risen and offers professionals a unique opportunity for higher earnings and greater career advancement. 

 Project Managers with T-shaped skills stand ready to reap the benefits of this professional strategy. 

 What is a T-Shaped Professional? 

 The concept of the T-Shaped professional is simple, but it can have a potent, positive effect on your project management career and opportunities.  

Imagine the letter “T.” Any project manager worth their salt already possesses the first aspect of a T-shaped professional: the vertical line. This line represents a depth of knowledge in project management. For instance, if you wanted to focus on project management, you would be an authority on scheduling, risk management, and quality management. It is this specialized knowledge in a particular field that gives you the deep discipline expertise to contribute on a greater scale than a “traditional” generalist professional. 

 What separates T-Shaped professionals from others is the horizontal line of the “T,” which is a breadth of knowledge across several disciplines. These disciplines may be any combination of professional skills, such as IT and technical knowledge, client management, business operations, etc. These are the general areas of knowledge you may not be an expert in but have a good understanding of the role and importance of each. This broad, cross-discipline knowledge maximizes the success of cross-functional

project management concept

The Benefits of Becoming a T-Shaped Professional 

 The most immediate benefit of embracing the T-shaped philosophy is that you become more valuable to your team. You will have a unique combination of generalist and specialist knowledge. Due to this breadth and depth of knowledge, you will be a much more effective collaborator. This is perfect for project managers who work with technical teams. You will be able to speak about a variety of subjects with specialists while having the expertise to understand the deep importance of a specific subject yourself.  

Becoming a T-shaped project manager will also build your reputation for competence, an important factor in workplace retention. This can place you on the fast track to a promotion or change of position. Or, if you are looking for a new start, your resume will be positioned ahead of traditional project management generalists who only focus on one philosophy rather than several, such as the T-Shaped project manager.  

Learning new skills, “upskilling,” in your field will always have a positive effect on your career and the company you choose to work for. Now, more than ever, project managers need to be flexible and adaptable. 

 How to Become a T-Shaped Project Manager 

 Becoming an effective and successful T-Shaped project manager requires learning. For that, you may need to take a certification course to show employers you are much more than a traditional professional.

How do you choose which course or certification to focus on?  

 If you already consider yourself a generalist, think about which subject you enjoy most. Is there one area of knowledge you’ve always wanted to master? If so then that may be the area for you to explore. 

 Or, if you are a specialist, which broad subjects interest you and would help you in your career? Start by studying one or two fields that intrigue you and work from there. Even having a short crossbar on your “T” is better than a lot of professionals out there! 

 Certifications are a great step in the right direction to becoming a T-shaped project manager. Earning a certification shows that you are willing to learn new skills and want to stay current in the technologies, regulations, and emerging fields. 

 Two great options for a project manager are a Salesforce or Amazon Web Services certification. Both are leading-edge cloud platforms used by companies around the world. Earning a certification in one or both is a great way to “dig across” into the specialized knowledge that defines a T-shaped professional. 

 The Takeaway 

 Investing in your future is the best way to grow as a professional. Building a T-shaped skill set and knowledge base will not only improve your current position but will enhance your prospects for the rest of your career.  

 If you’re interested in adding certifications that will help you become a T-shaped project manager, we can help! Enroll now in our tech certification courses here.  

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