What does a project associate do? (With required skills)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 28 March 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Project associates are important personnel in a project that ensures operations run according to the client's plan and aim. Project management is essential for organisations as it involves planning and organising resources needed to push the project towards its completion. Knowing about the education and skills requirements for a project associate is important if you wish to pursue this career path. In this article, we answer the question 'What does a project associate do?' and outline the skills required for the role, how to become one and how much a project associate earns.

What is a project associate?

A project associate is a key member of a project whose responsibilities are to track and document a project's progress. This professional ensures all project activities are in place and the project is progressing according to the project plan. Project associates administer and coordinate project activities by reviewing and processing invoices from other parties like subcontractors, consultants and suppliers to ensure they follow the project requirements. They play a key role in evaluating the project's progress, supporting human resources and protecting the company's interests.

A project associate may work in a variety of industries, such as logistics, software development, education, sales and marketing, finance, business and health companies. These industries typically require a project associate to assist them with researching the project requirements and evaluating market conditions. Project associates can also help organisations to generate effective strategies that can maximise project earnings.

Related: What does 'associate' mean in a job title? (Jobs and salary)

What does a project associate do?

Below, you can find the answer to the question 'What does a project associate do?':

  • Resource management: Project associates manage the project assets and allocate them according to the project management service-level agreement (SLA). They also ensure other employees use the company resources.

  • Researching: Project associates research the project to determine its market conditions, trends and impact on the economy. They also evaluate project risks and effective measures to mitigate them.

  • Managing project records: They record the project's progress, work breakdown, responsibility assignment matrix, business cases and charter. These documents act as references and checkpoints for completed work.

  • Reporting to the project manager: They prepare data analytics and give reports to the project manager or research leader. The report may contain the manager's or leader's directives about the project.

  • Organising meetings: Project associates organise and prepare project meetings. They make available necessary materials like reports, worksheets, presentation slides and polls.

  • Purchase order tracking: Project associates often follow up and process purchase orders. They can also perform quality control and put together client project status reports.

  • Supervising tasks**:** Project associates typically manage other team members. They also answer questions about the project progress from the client and team members.

  • Designing and implementing the project: They develop projects by aligning ideas, deliverables and processes. Project associates may formulate strategic plans that motivate the team, minimise costs and maximise the project earnings.

How to become a project associate

Follow these steps to become a project associate:

1. Obtain a relevant academic qualification

Studying for a bachelor's or master's degree in a technical, mathematical or scientific field can help you become a project associate. These courses are important because they give you opportunities to learn research, statistical analysis and data collection skills that are essential for this career. Besides these courses, gaining an education in the humanities or social science can also help you document reports and communicate verbally with other team members. This can be helpful, as project associates may require this knowledge while implementing and designing a project.

An academic background in project management can also be an advantage if you wish to become a project associate, as this demonstrates to potential employers that you have an interest in this field. Studying towards an academic qualification that deals with topics you can expect to deal with while working in project management can also be helpful. For example, you could consider studying towards an undergraduate or postgraduate degree in business management, marketing, administration or accounting.

2. Gain experience

Besides obtaining relevant academic qualifications, it may be beneficial for you to gain work experience in this field. Completing an internship or an apprenticeship is often a key requirement for those looking to secure an entry-level role in project management. If you have several years of experience in project management, this is likely to give you an advantage over other candidates when applying for positions. Gaining work experience can also help you in the following ways:

  • demonstrate your skills and competencies by working in a professional environment

  • gain knowledge beyond academic education

  • gain more opportunities for professional development

3. Acquire a certification

It may be useful to acquire certain certifications and credentials when pursuing a career as a project associate. Although these may not be a requirement, earning these qualifications as a candidate may impress potential employers. Experienced project associates may require professional certifications in project management. You can get such certification from organisations such as the Association for Project Management (APM) and the Project Management Institute (PMI).

Related: 9 professional business certifications for a career boost

What skills does a project associate require?

Below, you can find the skills you typically require to pursue a career as a project associate:

Organisational

Project associates provide information to other team members, like research teams and senior project managers. This information may be essential to the success of a project, so it's important to organise it in a way that's easy to access. As project associates have several responsibilities, it's also important for them to utilise strong organisational skills to enable them to complete tasks simultaneously.

Technology

Project associates document and share information in both a paper or digital format. It's important for project associates to have knowledge of or be able to quickly gain knowledge of various software so they can create and share electronic files. Project associates with such skills can effectively manage their work, calculate project costs, assign and monitor work progress and communicate with team members.

Communication

Effective communication skills are critical to this role because project associates often coordinate meetings and disseminate information. They also write various reports, emails and documents. Effective communication skills may help a project associate to convey information accurately to other project team members.

Critical-thinking

Project associates assess potential challenges that may arise in the project and solve them before they occur. They can achieve this by developing a contingency plan that helps them address these challenges. To solve such problems, project associates apply their critical-thinking and analytical skills.

Leadership

Working with and leading other team members effectively requires leadership skills. Project associates work with project managers and other team members to ensure a smooth operation. They delegate tasks, answer questions and inspire team members by motivating them.

Research

As a project associate, you may decide to research more about the project. Having research skills is important as they can allow you to identify reliable sources to help you draw the relevant insights for your decision-making. Project associates typically carry out research to determine a product's performance by analysing market conditions and trends.

Time-management

Project associates monitor and communicate how the team spends their time. They do this to ensure the project meets its deadlines as planned. Ensuring that the project meets its deadlines can help minimise the costs of the project and improve the success of the project.

Teamwork

Project associates act as intermediaries between the project manager and team members. They convey the client's project expectations to other members and they tend to work with other professionals on the project, such as accountants and procurement officers, to study documents like purchase orders and salary payments to ensure they're operating within the budget.

Negotiation

As a project associate, you may negotiate the cost of equipment purchases and better pay for your team members. Good negotiation skills can also help you secure a better-paying deal from clients. These skills can also help you build a rapport with members of your team.

Numerical

Project associates measure project performance using numerical figures and calculations. It's important for project associates to have strong numerical skills to help perform certain calculations that can help a project associate to analyse collected data. These calculations can help project associates to easily determine how a project is progressing and identify ways of improving the project's progress.

Related: Project manager requirements (with duties and skills)

How much does a project associate earn?

The national average salary of a project associate is £50,361 per year. If you find work as a project associate, you may find that your salary may change due to various factors like geographical location, type and size of the company and your experience. Project associates with a higher level of education and many years of experience may earn a higher salary.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at the time of writing. Salaries‌ ‌may‌ ‌‌vary‌‌ ‌depending‌ ‌on‌ ‌the‌ ‌hiring‌ ‌organisation‌ ‌and‌ ‌a‌ ‌candidate's‌ ‌experience,‌ ‌academic‌ background‌ ‌and‌ ‌location.‌

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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