In broad strokes, a project manager is an individual in charge of a particular project. In a professional capacity, this usually refers to the responsibility of planning and execution, including a timely completion within accepted budget constraints, according to the Project Management Institute. Of course, projects vary widely from one industry to another, and even within the same organization, so project manager salary is across the board, but not as much as you might expect.
There are widely-understood standards in place, within closely related industries and multi-national corporations, which help to make the position of project manager a little more well-defined. This is in everyone's best interests, as it makes it a viable position for bright and innovative minds to aspire to, as well as encouraging dialog and networking between affiliated professionals.
With that in mind, what can a project manager expect, by way of a median salary?
What Is a Project Manager's Average Salary?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not collect specific information on project managers, which they refer to as "project coordinators" instead. They include these predominantly administrative professionals within a broadly defined category of above-entry-level workers: people with skill sets critical to operations and administration. Across the United States, operations workers earn an average wage of approximately $70,000 per year, averaged across a wide range of industries. This is almost double the $35,000 per year earned, on average, by workers overall.
What Are the Qualities of a Project Manager?
A project manager implements change. They're in charge of a process that relies heavily on innovation and outside-the-box thinking. As such, they must be comfortable within dynamic environments, and while working with individuals from a variety of different backgrounds. They may be the sole influence holding together a range of divergent skill sets, which aren't normally brought together under the same roof; it's their job to keep a diverse team focused on their project's critical goals. A good project manager is an organizer, a goal-setter, and a communicator; they require a strong technical background within their field, as well as a strong base of managerial and administrative skills.
What Are a Project Manager's Job Prerequisites?
There are few standards by which a project manager is required, overall, to have anything beyond a high school diploma. However, more employers, particularly within the technology industry, are now showing preference to individuals with bachelor's and master's degrees in areas relating to management or administration. A graduate degree in a relevant administrative field would put one ahead of the game in terms of securing a position as a project manager. Depending upon the specific industry at hand, certain technical certifications might be required. There is also the possibility of an employer favoring a more specialized degree program, such as healthcare administration, or sports management. Finally, a project manager is typically expected to have anywhere from three to five years of experience working within their chosen industry.
The project manager is an organized, passionate and goal-oriented individual, who is often solely responsible for keeping a diverse team of skilled and talented individuals focused and on target. Project manager salary ranges within a particular industry reflect their abilities in this regard. Their median compensation of nearly $70,000 per year takes into consideration their leadership qualities, their drive and initiative, and their ability to meet their goals on time and under budget. It is worth noting that, in highly technical or specialized industries, project managers may command wages of up to $110,000 or more on average, but the requirements placed on their education and experience will increase commensurately.