Whether it is launching a new product or service or keeping current projects on track, every business requires a professional who can be responsible for executing tasks from start to finish. Enter project managers. 

Project management is a profession that holds immense value for all kinds of industries and  business, big and small. According to a report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a project manager’s salary on average is around $95,370. The same report also states that the demand for project managers is steadily growing at a rate of 6%, and it is projected that by 2032, almost 90,0000 individuals will be employed as project managers. These numbers prove that project management is an evergreen field and is here to stay. 

In this article, we will explore the industries that offer jobs to project managers, and how you can earn a project manager salary. 

Who is a Project Manager?

In simple terms, a project manager is a professional responsible for planning, executing, and overseeing projects from start to finish. Their main aim is to ensure that projects are completed on time, within scope, and on budget while achieving the desired objectives.

Project managers typically define project goals, and are responsible for allocating resources, managing teams, monitoring progress, identifying and mitigating risks, and communicating with stakeholders.

If you’re wondering how to become a project manager, read on to find out.

To become a project manager, you typically need a combination of education, experience, and skills. Let’s start with the educational requirements:

Undergraduate Level:

  1. Associate Degree: An associate’s degree in project management is a two-year program that provides fundamental knowledge and skills in the field of project management. Offered by various colleges and online institutions, this program has four semesters, which equates to approximately 60 to 70 credit hours of coursework. However, the duration may vary depending on factors such as the specific program, your course load, and whether they choose to study part-time. 
  1. Bachelor’s Degree: Some organizations may prefer hiring individuals who hold a bachelor’s degree in project management. This is because this degree offers the knowledge and skill set needed to become a successful project manager, making these individuals a valuable resource to potential employers. While there is no specific major required, a degree in business, management, engineering, or information technology, might offer you an edge over your competition. A bachelor of science in project management is also available at some institutions.
  1. Relevant Coursework: Along with your degree, taking courses that cover project management concepts, leadership, communication, and business principles can work in your favor. Not only can they provide a solid foundation for your career, this advanced knowledge can set you apart from your competition..
  1. Internships and Experience: To become a successful project manager, gaining practical experience through internships, co-op programs, or entry-level positions in project management comes in handy. This hands-on experience is considered invaluable, irrespective of the industry you work in.

Graduate Level (Optional):

  1. Master’s Degree: Although not always necessary, a master’s degree with a focus on project management can be beneficial. A popular master’s program is the Masters of Business Administration in Project Management. Earning a master’s degree makes you a competitive candidate and opens up advanced career opportunities.
  1. Professional Certifications: Another way to level up is to consider obtaining industry-recognized certifications. Some common certifications include Project Management Professional (PMP) or Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM). These certifications can give you an edge over your competition by enhancing your skills and increasing your marketability.
  1. Continuing Education: As a project manager, it’s important to stay updated with the latest project management methodologies and best practices. You can do this by participating in workshops and seminars, or taking relevant courses in project management systems like Scrum, SixSigma etc. 

In addition to the educational requirements, an aspiring project manager should focus on consistently developing essential skills such as communication, problem-solving, budgeting and time management.

Roles and Responsibilities of a Project Manager

If you want to earn an entry level project manager salary, you need to build a certain set of skills to enter the workforce. Here are some key roles and responsibilities of a project manager:

  1. Project Planning: As a project manager, you should learn how to develop a comprehensive project plan, including defining objectives, scope, timelines, and budgets. It’s best to create a roadmap for the project’s execution.
  1. Team Management: Build on your team management skills by assigning tasks, setting expectations, and providing guidance. Establish clear communication and collaboration among team members.
  1. Resource Allocation: Learn how to allocate resources, including personnel, materials, and budgets, to meet project requirements while optimizing efficiency.
  1. Risk Management: This is an important skill to learn. Identify potential risks and develop strategies to mitigate or manage them. Continuously monitor and adapt to changing circumstances to keep the project on track.
  1. Quality Assurance: As a project manager, ensuring project quality is one of your key responsibilities. Start by setting and enforcing standards, conducting regular reviews, and ensuring that deliverables meet established criteria.
  1. Communication: Build on your communication skills as you’ll have to act as the central point of contact for all project-related communications. You would have to also keep stakeholders informed of progress, issues, and changes.
  1. Project Closure: After successful project completion, ensure that all objectives are met, and the project is closed out efficiently. Conduct post-project reviews to gather lessons learned for future improvement.

These skills will not only help you achieve the overall success of a project, but also learn how to effectively manage resources, timelines, and stakeholder expectations.

Professionals can earn a decent entry level project manager salary in various industries. However, most industries compensate project managers well because of the variety of skills they need to build to function in a specific industry. Here are some industries that are known to offer competitive compensation to project managers:

  1. Information Technology (IT): Professionals in IT oversee software development, infrastructure, and technology projects. Because of the increase in demand for IT expertise, IT project managers are often well-compensated. The average IT project manager salary is around $80,191, as of September 2023. 
  1. Construction: Construction project managers usually manage building and infrastructure projects. It is their responsibility to ensure that the construction is completed on time and within budget. Because of the complexity and scale of construction projects, these individuals are well-compensated. The average construction project manager salary is around $116,655. However, the typical range falls between $102,757 and $135,539.
  1. Healthcare: Project managers in the healthcare space are in high demand as they oversee healthcare facility expansions, technology implementations, and regulatory compliance projects. In some cases, they are also responsible for maintaining electronic health records, and ensure the smooth functioning of a healthcare setup on a regular basis. As of September 2023, on average, a healthcare project manager earns about $75,675.
  1. Engineering: Project managers in the field of engineering handle projects in fields like civil, mechanical, and electrical engineering. These project managers are required to plan and direct design engineers, drafters, and technical engineers working on specific projects, thereby gaining specialized skills that attract competitive salaries. On average, as of September 2023, professionals in this field earn about $154,200.
  1. Finance and Banking: Project managers in finance and banking manage complex financial projects and system implementations. Additionally, these professionals are responsible for reviewing project budgets and building forecasts to identify areas for action. The average salary of a finance project manager is $81,024, but the range typically falls between $72,395 and $92,360.
  1. Energy and Utilities: This sector includes energy production and utilities, and project managers in this field are responsible for planning and overseeing large-scale energy infrastructure projects. These individuals are in high demand because of the scale of energy infrastructure projects and typically earn an annual salary of about $81,024. 
  1. Consulting: Many consulting firms hire project managers to oversee client projects in various industries. These professionals can earn competitive compensation packages, depending on the industry they are employed in.
  1. Automotive: Project managers in the automotive industry are respected for their specialized knowledge of automotive technology, and can grow if they keep up with the pace at which the industry evolves. Primarily, these professionals are responsible for planning, executing and leading vehicle development projects. The average base pay of an automotive project manager is around $91,212 per annum.
  2. Pharmaceuticals: The pharmaceutical industry needs project managers to oversee clinical trials, drug development, regulatory compliance, and healthcare IT projects. These professionals manage healthcare-related projects for pharmaceutical companies, and sometimes, also for organizations in the public health space. On average, a pharmaceutical project manager can earn about $85,695 per year. However, the salary range falls between $75,767 and $96,396. 

These are just a few industries that offer opportunities to earn a project manager salary. As mentioned earlier, project management is a skill required by almost all industries, thanks to the complexity with which every industry functions these days. While these are just average salaries,  your pay package can differ based on location, experience, and the company you’re working for.

As a project manager, you are responsible for a variety of activities. Right from being part of the project planning team, to assigning tasks and overseeing daily operations to ensure timely completion of the project, you would be required every step of the way. To have a successful career in project management and earn a project manager salary, getting higher education and building the right set of skills is crucial. We hope this guide helped you understand how to become a project manager and the industries in which you could establish your career as a project manager. 

As a project manager, how can you increase your salary?

To boost your salary, you might want to consider several key strategies. First, gaining experience and taking on more complex and high-profile projects can lead to increased compensation. Additionally, obtaining relevant certifications can enhance earning potential. Negotiating salary increases during job changes or promotions is crucial. Demonstrating strong leadership, communication, and problem-solving skills can also result in higher pay. Staying current with industry trends and continuously improving one’s project management skills is essential. Lastly, considering industries and regions with higher demand for project managers can lead to more competitive salary offers.

How much do project managers make?

The salary of a project manager can vary depending on several factors such as their level of experience, industry, location, and the size of the organization they work for. According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for project management specialists was $95,370 in May 2022. However, salaries can range from around $56,000 to over $166,000 per year.

In addition to base salary, project managers may also receive bonuses, profit-sharing, and other forms of compensation. It’s worth noting that project managers with advanced degrees, certifications, and specialized skills may command higher salaries.