Project support officers provide vital assistance to project managers. These highly-organised, dynamic professionals work on important projects for all kinds of different organisations, from investment banks and I.T. consultancies to hospitals and local authorities.
As a project support officer, you won’t only perform routine administrative duties like minute taking – rather, your responsibilities will be inextricably tied to the success of the project you are working on. Driving everything forward from planning to implementation, your actions will directly influence the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the project.
Every project is different and therefore your duties will change accordingly. However, for the most part, you will be responsible for monitoring project schedules and budgets, preparing progress reports, and liaising with key stakeholders.
As the project manager’s right hand man (or woman), you will play an important role in project planning and risk and issue management. Moreover, you will log, manage and analyse information on the progress of the project, using Excel and other bespoke databases. You may even be responsible for managing lower-level administrative support staff.
Salary & benefits
Project support officers tend to earn between £21,000 and £35,000 per annum.
Freelance professionals, however, can earn considerably more — up to £250 per day.
Project support officers are normally contracted to work between 9am and 5pm, although extra evening and weekend work is common, especially when project deadlines are looming.
Although a degree is not strictly necessary for entry into this line of work, completing an undergraduate degree in a relevant subject, such as business studies, management studies, computer science or public administration, may boost your chances of finding a job after graduation.
Gaining administrative work experience is vital for entry into this line of work. Temp work is a great place to start. This will give you fantastic hands-on experience and will enable you to build up a network of useful contacts.
Training & progression
The majority of your training will be done ‘on-the-job’ under the supervision of your project manager. However, you may occasionally get the opportunity to take part in in-house training sessions too.
Many project support officers with project management ambitions also complete courses and qualifications, such as PRINCE2, via external training providers in order to help prepare them for the next step on the career ladder.
Once you have gained a wealth of project support experience, you may decide to become a programme support officer, where you’ll work on a range of different projects simultaneously. Alternatively, you might decide to make the step up into project management.
Some project support officers choose to work on a freelance basis, putting their administrative expertise to good use on projects with tight deadlines for a range of different clients.