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The U.S. government is getting ready to make unprecedented investments in energy, healthcare and education. Whether you see it as pork or progress is not the question. The question is what can you do as a project manager to be shovel ready?

Think about what many of these projects have in common: technology and infrastructure. For project managers, this means we have an opportunity to play a major role in rebuilding the economy. We just have to be shovel ready.

In project management, shovel ready can be abbreviated to three letters: PMP. The federal government now requires the PMP certification to be part of most contracts, and many state governments are following suit.

You may be thinking, how can one project manager like me have an impact on programs this large? Think about it this way: All of these huge programs are made up of smaller projects, and in order for these programs to succeed, the projects have to be successful.

That’s where you come in armed with your PMP and Project Management expertise. The good news for PMPs is that the PMP is much more than a certification that gets you in the door; it’s even more powerful once you are through that door. Your PMP gives you the knowledge and skills to meet deadlines, manage resources well and be able to bring projects in on time and within budget. If you are in transition and looking for a job, the PMP can give you an edge in the market, and research shows that PMPs can earn as much as $10,000 more per year than those without certification.

Here are five ways you can get shovel ready and be a project manager who is part of one of the largest infrastructure government programs in history.

Five Ways to Get Shovel Ready

  1. Become PMP certified, or if you are already a PMP, keep your certification current with ongoing PDU courses
  2. Manage resources effectively so you can consistently show results that are on time, and within budget.
  3. Understand where you and your Project Management skills can fit into the big picture of any large program.
  4. Use your Project Management knowledge to assess and manage the risk in any project.
  5. Keep building on your Project Management skills so you can capitalize on emerging opportunities quickly.

I know there’s a lot of debate about the government stimulus package, but there’s one thing we can all agree on: We need to be as effective as possible with these programs. As project managers, we’re already ahead of the pack. We just need to arrive, shovel in hand, and ready to go!

Michelle LaBrosse, PMP is the founder of Cheetah Learning, and author of the Cheetah Success Series. Recently honored by the Project Management Institute, Cheetah Learning was named Professional Development Provider of the Year at the 2008 PMI Global Congress. Michelle was previously recognized by PMI as one of the 25 Most Influential Women in Project Management in the world. She is a graduate of the Harvard Business School’s Owner President Manager’s (OPM) program and also holds engineering degrees from Syracuse University and the University of Dayton. To hear more about what Michelle has to say about getting shovel ready, download her podcast at

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