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Project Manager Salary: What Factors Impact It?

Job Market
Dec 10, 2021

Whether a company wants to construct a new building, create a software application, or organize a science conference it needs a professional to manage the project. This professional will develop a detailed action plan, evaluate potential risks and constraints involved, will oversee teams and resources, and ultimately bring the project to a successful end. 

In other words, a company will need a project manager

These professionals are in charge of the planning and the execution of an entire project. They define the scope of the project, create a schedule, prepare a budget plan, manage the project’s team, communicate with stakeholders and document all the progress involved. 

Project managers work in industries like:

  • Software Development
  • Manufacturing
  • Construction
  • Finance
  • Marketing
  • Education
  • State Sector 
  • Telecommunication

The demand for project managers is constantly growing. According to the Talent Gap Report from the Project Management Institute, the global economy will need 25 million new project professionals by 2030. 

In addition to many job opportunities, the salaries earned by project managers are usually good too. 

In this article we’ll discuss how much project managers earn on average, how their earnings vary in different countries and cities, what factors impact their yearly earnings, and how to become a project manager.   

Average Salary Of A Project Manager In The United States

The Project Management Institute's Earning Power report states that the median salary for a project manager in the United States is $116,000 per year. 

However, according to PayScale the average project manager’s salary is $75,484 per year. 

The most likely reason for this significant variation is down to the number of participants in each survey. PMI surveyed 8,967 project managers, while PayScale data is based on a larger sample of 39,686 individuals. 

The table below shows how average salaries for project managers vary across different websites:

As you can see, project management jobs typically pay really well. So, let’s take a look at what factors can impact a project manager’s salary.  

Factors That Impact A Project Manager’s Salary

How much a project manager makes depend on several factors:

  • Location
  • Industry
  • Company
  • Experience
  • Certification
  • Education

Let's take a closer look at each of these factors in more detail. 

A Project Manager's Salary Impacted By: Location 

One of the most important factors that affects salary is the region where a project manager works. Salaries vary greatly from country to country. 

According to the PMI salary survey, the highest median annual salaries are in Switzerland (CHF 132,086) and the United States ($116,000). The lowest is in Pakistan (Rs. 14,914) and Egypt (E£13,933). The following table shows the ten best-paying countries. 

Highest-paying countries for project managers:

(Source: PMI)

And even within the United States, there are significant variations in how much project managers get paid across the different states. The following tables show the highest paying cities based on data from two employment-related sites. 

Highest paying cities for a project manager in the US:

(Source: Indeed)

Highest paying cities for a project manager in the US:

(Source: Glassdoor)

A Project Manager’s Salary Impacted By: Industry

Project managers can work in different industries, and in some of them, they can earn more than they would do in others. 

According to the PMI Earning Power survey, the highest paying sector is Consulting ($132,500), and the lowest is Training/Education ($84,500). 

Below is a list of the ten best paying industries for project managers in the United States. 

Median annual salary by industry:

(Source: PMI)

A Project Manager’s Salary Impacted By: Company

Depending on the organization, project managers can have slightly different responsibilities, can manage projects of different complexities and have larger teams. And salaries often reflect these differences. 

The table below outlines how annual earnings vary in some well-known companies. 

Salaries by company: 

(Source: Glassdoor)

A Project Manager’s Salary Impacted By: Experience

Another major factor impacting project managers' salaries is how many years of experience they have in the project management field. The more time an individual has worked as a project manager, the more they can expect to earn. 

This data from the PMI salary survey shows how salaries increase with ‘years of experience’:

A Project Manager’s Salary Impacted By: Education and Certifications

And finally, as in many other industries, earning a relevant certification or a degree also increases an individual’s salary. 

For example, reports from PMI salary survey responders show that project managers that have a PMP certification, can expect a 22% higher compensation than their uncertified colleagues. 

As for formal education, most companies require at least a bachelor's degree in business administration, project management, or an industry-related field. And salaries can also increase if you have a degree level certificate. 

Take a look at this data:

(Source: PMI)

All these numbers demonstrate how lucrative a project manager job is. Now, let's talk about how you can start working in this field. 

How To Start Your Career As A Project Manager 

If you want to start a career in project management you’ll need a certain combination of education, skills, and certifications. Let’s take a look at these points in more detail.

Project Manager: Education

For most project manager roles you’ll need to have a bachelor's degree at least. And a master’s degree can also help to land a more responsible and higher paying job. 

These degrees, however, don't necessarily need to be in project management. An education in engineering, marketing, or computer science will give a candidate an advantage, if the nature of a project requires industry-specific knowledge. 

In addition to the above, you can also choose from hundreds of online courses to study for this role. Platforms like EdX, Coursera and the Project Management Institute websites are excellent places to look for suitable training. 

Project Manager: Skills

To succeed in the project management field you need to have a particular skill set. 

Essential soft skills for this role are effective communication, organization, analytical thinking, leadership and time management. 

As for hard skills, they depend on the industry and company where a project manager works. But the most common ones include:

  • Understanding of different project management methodologies (Waterfall, Agile, Lean, Scrum and PRINCE2)
  • Familiarity with project management tools (JIRA, Trello, Asana and Monday)
  • Creating project plans
  • Budget management
  • Risk management
  • Performance tracking
  • Project Lifecycle Management

Project Manager: Certifications

Earning a certificate is an excellent way to prove to managers that you hold the necessary skills, and have the qualifications required to be a project manager. And it often gives you an advantage when you attend interviews. 

Here’s a brief overview of five popular certification programs that project managers can complete:

Their Project Management Professional certificate (PMP) is globally recognized and valued by many employers. To earn it, an individual must have at least three years of experience managing projects, complete 35 hours of project management training, and pass an exam with 180 questions. 

The certificate must be renewed every three years. And for those who are just at the beginning of their project management career, and don't have much practice, the PMI offers a Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) program. 

  • PRINCE2 (Projects in Controlled Environments) is another widely recognized certification program for project managers. 

The PRINCE2 Foundation certificate proves to employers that you have a basic understanding of this project management method. And PRINCE2 Practitioner demonstrates that you’re a professional, who can manage complex projects using PRINCE2 principles.   

It covers essential project management concepts, and helps to demonstrate that an individual has the ability to manage a project life cycle, ensure appropriate communication, manage resources and maintain project documentation. 

  • Certified Scrum Master (CSM) by ScrumAlliance is one of the most widely recognized certification programs for Scrum masters. This certificate demonstrates that an individual has a deep understanding of the Scrum approach, and can apply its principles  throughout an organization.

Career Advancement Opportunities and Salaries for Other Project Management Roles

A project manager’s career offers lots of opportunities for professional growth. Successful specialists can be promoted to senior project manager roles, move on to more responsible positions, such as program managers and portfolio managers, or become project directors or Chief Operating Officers (COO). 

The table below demonstrates how salaries increase with career progression: 

The role of a project manager is a great choice for someone who's looking for a challenging, but rewarding job that comes with good pay, and excellent career growth opportunities. 

Note: All figures were correct at the time of publishing. 


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