The project manager job is one of the most sought after in the United States. These professionals manage strategic projects from beginning to completion, enabling organizations to reduce project expenses, enhance efficiency, and create more income-generating opportunities.

A career in project management is lucrative because 97% of company leaders believe that the role is critical to their organizations’ success. 

Project success, defined as the nature of a project to meet its predefined goals and objectives within the stipulated budget and schedule, can be realized by employing efficient project managers. Therefore, there is little wonder that many learners are interested in project management certifications such as PMP and PRINCE2. 

This guide covers the intricacies of the project management job role. It outlines how much you are likely to earn and the determinant factors to consider if you become a project manager. 

Read on to learn more.

What Do Project Managers Do?

Project managers are tasked with scheduling, organizing, and leading project management teams toward completing specific projects. This role enables organizations to run efficiently by reducing costs, enhancing revenues, and reducing scope creep.

It is vital to add that the roles and responsibilities of any project manager will vary depending on the organization that they work in, the industry, or the nature of projects that they have been allocated. Nevertheless, the project manager’s role can be divided into five responsibilities that make up the traditional project life cycle. 

These responsibilities are:

  1. Initiating: This entails kickstarting new projects by describing the key objectives an organization wishes to realize. The project manager should also explain the project purpose and scope, determine the main internal and external stakeholders, receive authorization to proceed, and share expectations with the said stakeholders.
  2. Planning: The planning phase entails the development of a project plan. The project plan shows how the predetermined goals and objectives of the project are to be realized. The plan is beneficial because it allows project managers to manage the risks, costs, timelines, communications, scope, and quality issues.
  3. Executing: The execution phase is where the project team completes the predetermined project work. Here, the project manager is tasked with assigning work to team members to ensure that the project timelines are met. The project manager also ensures the seamless undertaking of activities and resolves any conflicts within the execution phase. 
  4. Monitoring and Controlling: The key activities that the project manager performs throughout this phase are monitoring progress, maintaining the budget, measuring performance, and ensuring that tasks have been completed on time. 
  5. Closing: Finally, the project manager closes the project by getting formal sign-offs from the client, letting go of unwanted personnel, closing contracts with their party vendors, and archiving project documents for safekeeping. The project has been completed at this stage, and the outcomes have been realized. 

How much do Project Managers make? 

The average salary of a project manager is $78,351 per year within the United States. Project managers also receive up to $12,000 in cash bonuses per year. 

However, how much a project manager earns depends on several determinant factors. These factors include the level of education, location, certification, years of experience, and industry.

 These factors have been discussed in detail in the section below. 

Factors that impact the Project Manager’s salary

1. Education 

As can be expected, your educational qualification can determine the amount of money you earn as a project manager. The 2021 Project Management Salary Survey showed that 92% of the project managers working in the United States hold a bachelor’s degree. The higher you advance in your education level, the higher your earning potential, as shown below:

  • Project managers with a doctoral degree – average salary of $123,000
  • Project managers with a Master’s degree – average salary of $120,000
  • Project managers with a college degree – average salary of $110,250

The advantage of progressing your educational capabilities is that it enhances your earning potential. A higher degree level also ensures increases your competitiveness in the job market. Examples of college degrees that you can earn to become a top project manager are Computer Science and Business Administration.

Another benefit of gaining quality education is that you get to develop the associated leadership skills. Leaders are vital cogs in project development since they can efficiently communicate the project vision and resolve work-related conflicts.

2. Certification 

Certification is also important in project management because it helps validate your credentials to potential and existing employers. Based on the 2021 Project Management Salary Survey, project managers with the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification earned $25,000 more than those without average. Therefore, having a professional certification can greatly improve your salary. 

Suppose you are starting your project management career. In that case, the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) is an asset that will distinguish you in the job market and enhance your credibility and effectiveness working on — or with — project teams. On average, a project manager with CAPM certification can earn an average of 25% more than one without certification.

You can get the CAPM or PMP certifications from the Project Management Institute. The benefit of being certified through the institute is that you become a globally recognized project manager, meaning that you can work on international projects, policies, and procedures.

It is vital to add that there are other certifications that you can get apart from the PMP. Examples are trade-specific credentials such as the Project+ (Plus) Certification, project management methodology certifications such as Scrum, Agile, and PRINCE2.  The Asana Project Management Certificate provides you with the 23 hour educational requirement to sit through the CAPM. 

3. Years of experience 

As is the case with most professions, the number of years you have worked as a project manager determines how much you earn. The higher the experience level, the more power you have in negotiating for a higher salary.

Research shows that project managers with no prior experience earn $7,363 less per year than those with 1-3 years of experience. The 2021 Project Management Salary Survey further shows that the difference in salary between project managers with less than three years of working in the profession earns $15,000 less than those who have worked for more than five years in the profession. 

4. Industry 

Some industries also tend to pay project managers more than others. 

For example, the 2021 Project Management Salary Survey lists the following information as pertains to the industries that pay project managers the most within the United States:

  • The Resources Industry’s Average Salary: $134,577
  • The Consulting Industry’s Average Salary: $134,149
  • The Pharmaceuticals Industry’s Average Salary: $133,246
  • The Aerospace Industry’s Average Salary: $129,732
  • The Food and Beverage Industry’s Average Salary: $s124,559

Other top industries where project managers can work are Engineering ($124,434), Utilities ($122,255), and Information Technology ($122,245). 

The 2021 Project Management Salary Survey further shows a rapid demand for project managers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) industries. As a project manager working in any STEM job, you will earn 93% above the national average. These high earnings are due to the complexity of projects within STEM fields, especially in government projects where highly specialized knowledge is required.

5. Location

The final consideration is location. Like in other careers, where you work can determine how much you make as a project manager.

For example, project managers working in New York City, Boston, or San Francisco Bay earn more than those working in other areas within the United States. 

The following data shows the main American cities where project managers are paid the highest:

  • Project managers living in San Francisco: $91,318
  • Project managers living in Houston: $82,119
  • Project managers living in Seattle: $78,693
  • Project managers living in New York City: $79,231
  • Project managers living in Boston: $78,852

It is also vital to consider countries where you are likely to earn more money. Based on the 2021 Project Management Salary Survey, project managers earn the highest in Switzerland, The Netherlands, The United States, Germany, and Australia. 

However, there is a caveat. Due to the socio-economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, companies have digitized workplace collaborativeness and employee interactions. You are now more likely to work online than before, which allows you to work from anywhere. Therefore, it can be expected that the trends covered in this section will change over the next few years. 

Wrapping up

It has been shown that the project management role is critical to company success since 97% of company leaders believe that they need project managers within the organizations. Project managers are mainly tasked with managing strategic projects from beginning to completion, enabling organizations to reduce project expenses, enhance efficiency, and create more income-generating opportunities.

Project managers’ primary roles can be divided into the five stages of the project lifecycle: initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling, and closing. In terms of remuneration, the average salary of a project manager is $77,988 and $12,000 in cash bonuses per year. 

However, how much a project manager earns depends on the level of education, location, certification, years of experience, and industry. 

To become a project manager, you will first need to get a related bachelor’s degree. You can also enhance your chances of getting hired by acquiring credentials such as the Project+ (Plus) Certification, Scrum, Agile, PRINCE2, Tableau Data Analytics Certificate, or the Asana Project Management Certificate. Contact us for more information. 

Become a project manager

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