If a person is in enrolled in Software Engineering in university and wishes to get into software dev. related project management, would it be better for them to finish their software engineering degree and do project work/certifications on the side, or to switch to a business degree. That is, for software related project management, which degree would help better?
To be the best Software Dev Project Manager - in my opinion - it is helpful - but not mandatory - to have worked as a developer or otherwise be intimately familiar with the work that you'll be managing. A few years of software development would give you that experience, and you would only need your current degree. Then, perhaps you could pursue a masters degree in Project Management if you want more formal education. I could be wrong, but I don't think it would be possible to start out - fresh out of school - as a software dev PM. I think it would be a miserable experience, because without any experience with the business world first, you would have only theory to go by. It would also be hard, I think, to get the respect of the developers if you had no experience in either Project Management or Softwared Development under your belt.
I actually think there is value in education. I just received my Masters in Management of Programs and Projects. It wasn't the degree itself that helped me with my career - it was the content of the classes. I applied the concepts I learned to my job and voila - I was recognized and moved progressively more into project management roles.
There is no degree out there which can turn a person into software project manager, although there are multiple Project management certifications and Master in Business Administration. But frankly in my experience you could good make use of these certifications only if you have good experience of few years in engineering under your belt.
IMHO there is only one way to become a good software project manager the hard way.
- Spend some years in engineering.
- Observe how the project management is done in your team what are the mistakes made what are good practices.
- Learn to communicate well.
- Keep enhancing your knowledge in PM practices.
- Whenever an opportunity for PM comes throw yourself (at this point certifications may help) .
- Improve/learn by doing yourself, from your peers and from seniors.
I think that someone who wants to get into managing of any sort should at some point get a degree in communication. Yes I think you should get your certification in development and master those skills before becoming a manager at all. In terms of being in control of a team though, I think the most important aspect of that is communicating with your team and knowing how to handle certain situations. Completing a certificate in communication would look very good for someone who is trying to make it as a manager or leader of any sort. If you're interested I would check out http://www.degreeincommunications.net that is a great resource to programs you might be interested in.
Along with communicating I do agree with what #2 answer said and that is you should be familiar with what you are managing. Many managers struggle because they teach a certain way but don't know the most affective process to get projects done. In all, I don't think you can go wrong with comm degree or going further with your development certifications, as long as you focus on whats best for your team as a leader and not what you think will work best for you.