How much do Project Managers Make?

While I’m sure that most of us do our job simply because we love of it – what we get paid is of course the other important aspect. Project Management is an internationally recognized role with plenty of demand within the labor market. This is coupled with recognized career progression through the various levels of project governance (from junior project managers through to program managers) project management is increasingly a popular career choice.
Salaries can of course vary – and how much Project Managers make can fluctuate considerably depending on a number of factors (many of which apply to other non-project roles as well) – for example

• Location
• Experience / qualifications
• Type of recruiting organization
• Type of role – contract/consultant vs permanent employee
• Level of responsibility.

One of the most important aspects in determining salary is what the role itself. Whilst many individuals may have the job title of project manager their actual role may merely consist of routine administrative tasks (albeit in a project environment) and therefore the salary would be commensurate with that. The salaries indicated below are more representative of what we’d consider for a typical project manager with responsibilities for schedule, resource and delivering project objectives.

What a Project Manager makes US
The below table, developed from a variety of different studies, shows the average pay for Project Managers within the US in 2012.(click the links for the original data) Glassdoor Glassdoor Payscale Villanovau
Senior Project Manager $107,000   $95,156 $113,318    
Project Manager $87,000 $97,000 $82,000 $95,009 $82,706 $111,824,
IT Project Manager $96,000          
Junior /Deputy Project Manager $77,000   $84,646   $69,717  
Project Manager Senior Consultant $99,000          

So what does this tell us? The average salary for a Project Manager appears to be in the region of $85-$92k. From some wider reading certain disciplines carry more weight in terms of salary than others. IT and Software Project Managers would appear to earn more than construction project managers, individuals working for consulting companies may earn slightly more than there industry counterparts.
What are the other factors in determining getting this average salary? As we discussed earlier in the article experience seems to be key – an entry level manager (with 1-2 years’ experience) can expect a lower level of income than someone with 5 years + (and certainly this holds true as you progress through the project manager career ladder as indicated by the difference in pay between a standard project manager and senior project manager). If your focusing purely on achieving a high income – gaining experience in a small niche which has demand within the market (e.g. a legacy software system for example) where there aren’t many players and you can name your price seems to be the way to go.

Don’t forget that the numbers quoted here are averages (and exclude benefits) and in order to attain these (or surpass them) there is an expected minimum level of experience and qualification (not necessarily project orientated but certainly many employers are looking for a bachelors degree of some sort plus a minimum of 1 year experience).

Global Project Manager salaries

The above table gives some indicative numbers for US Salaries – but what about the global pay for Project Managers? has a excellent piece covering salaries of Project Managers around the world with European Project Managers notably earning a higher median salary.
The 10 countries reporting the highest median salaries (reported below in US dollars) are:
• Switzerland, $160,409
• Australia, $139,497
• Germany $110,347
• The Netherlands, $109,775
• Belgium, $108,750
• United States, $105,000
• Ireland, $101,635
• Canada, $98,517
• United Kingdom, $96,384
• New Zealand, $91,109

There are some wild swings here, but excluding the Swiss numbers that look suspiciously high the average salary would be over $100k a little higher than the US.

Are Project Management Qualifications Important?

I guess the question for many is how to attain the salaries indicated here – for me this falls into 3 camps
1/ The qualifications and experience of the candidate
2/ The level of responsibility / Type of role
3/ The willingness of the employer to offer $ to attract talent.

Qualifications are important and are increasingly becoming more recognized as the role of Project Manager is better understood by those recruiting – but for me employers still look for a good match relating candidate experience to the job requirement with qualifications underpinning that knowledge. One thing to note is that as more and more seek a career in Project Management the market becomes more saturated with candidates it does become more of a buyers’ market so bear this in mind when polishing your resume and ensure you stand out from the crowd!

Should your main focus be on what a project manager makes? Compelling reasons for becoming a project manager
I think it’s always interesting to see how people become project managers and it does seem to fall into two camps those who have made a career choice and those who ‘fell’ into the career (perhaps they were asked to manage a project – decided they liked it and stuck with it as a career option). I think as the role becomes more attractive more and more will take the first route choosing it as a career.

While the salary grades can vary (dependent on a variety of factors like any other job) becoming a project manager offers a real opportunity to earn good money have excellent prospects (the marketplace I believe will always want project managers) and career advancement. There are various certification bodies offering qualifications and professional training and the role of the project manager is internationally recognized. Organizations are increasingly aware of the important role that Project Managers make and as this piece indicates are willing to pay well for the right candidate.

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