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On Thursday, 31 Aug 2017
How to become a successful Project Control Specialist?

Most organizations recognize project controls as a subset of project management with primary focus on managing the project costs and schedule. According to a study by IBM, only 40% of projects meet schedule, budget and quality goals. This makes Project Control Specialist a key role for any project-intensive organization. With the need for innovation increasing in the Construction, Engineering, Oil & Gas, Pharmaceuticals, Transportation, Energy, Architecture and related areas, the demand for Project Controllers has grown more than ever.

Ever wondered what a Project Control specialist (PCS) does and how one can advance their career to becoming one? Let us first understand the need for project controls and where do these professionals fit into a business ecosystem.

Why Project Control Specialists are required?

Any organization that embarks on initiatives or business actions is likely to treat it as a project. Easiest is to think of an Engineering & Construction (E&C) company. An E&C company's whole existence depends on the delivery of the construction or infrastructure project it has taken up or awarded. Delivering these projects require coordination of various resources; manpower, machines & equipment, various agencies that provide services, etc. A Project Control Specialist (PCS) is responsible and manages the workflow and information within a company's project delivery and project management infrastructure. They are relied upon for their acute understanding of how human resources and technology work together in ensuring that projects stay on track.

How to get started as a Project Controller?

To be a successful Project Controller one needs knowledge of technology, tools and hands-on field experience. Starting in the field as a site supervisor, foreman, surveyor, etc. is not uncommon. Field experience leads to gaining hands-on education and having experience on the ground in a construction environment provides essential education and skills on how projects are executed. The field experience is what will translate into knowledge and helps one learn about -

  • Project workflow
  • Project Members & Roles
  • Phase Gates and Critical Path
  • Industry terminology
  • Software and Tools required for successfully managing projects
  • Generating actionable Project reports and Financial analysis

In a Project Control Specialist role one develops the ability to find solution to issues, manage the resources assigned to a project and shoulder the responsibility to ensure the project is completed on schedule, within budget and with the expected end results. They rely on technology and the ability to handle multiple projects simultaneously.

How to build a successful career as a Project Control Specialist?

Typically, in a multi-faceted project, one must be adept at working with a variety of people in many different roles, good at building relationships, an excellent negotiator, and possess the ability to think across disciplines to ensure overall project success. The ability to break down complex issues and find solutions is extremely valuable at the higher levels on the project management team.

While there are many paths to the destination, if one wishes to pursue a role as a Project Controller Specialist (PCS), there are several possibilities-

  1. Get a degree / diploma in a relevant field be it electrical, architecture, construction, etc.
  2. Learn about commonly used software & tools like Primavera EPPM, Primavera Unifier, Prime, AutoVue and others
  3. Start with an industry apprenticeship
  4. Join industry groups and forums on various professional social platforms like LinkedIn
  5. Get skilled and certified in Project and Program Management
  6. Enhance knowledge in the areas of Planning & Scheduling, Cost Management and Project Performance


For those who aspire to lead in senior management roles, a career in Project Controls serves as one possible path to Operations Management. In some cases, engineers and field construction personnel also may move into senior management by way of project controls. For some, the path may begin as an assistant construction superintendent or as an assistant project controller.

Which Certification can help a Project Controls Specialist?

Most project controllers make use of Project and Program Management systems. These systems equip them with features and functionalities to help with planning, scheduling, controlling, monitoring and reporting on project performance and health. Below are some skills that a Project Controller should possess-

  • Advanced ability to operate Primavera P6 or a similar tool
  • Advanced knowledge of MS Office, particularly MS Excel

A Project Control Specialist earns an average salary of $71,396 per year. A skill in Primavera P6 is associated with high pay for this job. (Data sourced from Getting certified in Oracle Primavera P6 Professional Fundamentals is a stepping stone to a fruitful career as a project management professional in a wide range of industries across the globe.

Hope you were able to understand the basics of becoming a project controls professional. If you need more information on how you can get certified, you may wish to explore some of the Primavera Trainings offered by Cyret Technologies (Oracle Primavera specialized partner and an Oracle Approved Education partner). Have a good career!

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