Project Manager: Job Description & Average Salary

Project management lies at the heart of most daily operations. Project managers are responsible for organizing teams, developing team plans and facilitating project execution to achieve a company's goals. A project manager's role depends on the organization and its industry.

Many begin their management careers at a consulting firm that trains them in project management methodology, though some start as part of a team and work their way up the corporate ladder. Successful project managers pay attention to detail, have excellent communication and motivation skills, enjoy working closely with others and are especially organized.

Primary Responsibilities of a Project Manager

A project manager's primary responsibility is organization. If a project is assigned a manager, it generally involves multiple elements that must fall into place. Even if multiple departments in a business share responsibility in completing a project, the project's manager is responsible for ensuring each department plan functions properly and syncs with the others to complete the project punctually. Thus, project managers must keep each task on track and visualize the project as a whole to ensure it comes together properly. Staying on budget and meeting every deadline are two equally important project manager responsibilities.

Skills of a Project Manager

Project managers must have extensive organizational skills and be able to function on strict deadlines. Many wear multiple hats and are responsible for various tasks at once. Under such circumstances, it is also critical for project managers to have extensive time-management skills. A keen attention to detail is another essential skill, as projects often entail intricate plans that cannot fall into place without each component being right. At the same time, a project manager must also be able to visualize the whole project to ensure all parts properly come together. Project managers should also be creative because projects often fall off track and meet obstacles. Creativity allows a project manager to outline a new course of action to overcome challenges. Leadership skills also help when enforcing new plans. Project managers must be able to communicate effectively, build trust, and lead multiple teams using project outlines as their guides.

Requirements for Project Managers

The quickest path toward a project management career is to earn at least an undergraduate degree in management. This provides a background in crucial areas of management and human resources and strengthens crucial communication skills. Some requirements for this position vary and depend on the company and industry to which the person applies. It is increasingly common for companies to require a master’s degree for project management positions, even though higher education in this field only adds to a candidate's value to the organization and increases their salary. Most prospective project managers also seek out some type of internship while achieving a master’s degree. Real world experience helps bridge the gap between studying and practice, and certain skills can only be learned through on-the-job training.

Salary of Project Managers

Median salary for U.S. project managers sits at around $116,000, but this figure depends heavily on the region, the manager's company, the company's industry and the manager's level of education and experience. According to the Project Management Institute, project manager salaries range anywhere from $55,000 to $175,000. Most entry-level and mid-level managers earn between $65,000 and $91,000 in annual income. Of course, senior project managers bring in the largest annual salaries.

Some of the highest paying companies include Aetna, Worley, American Airlines, and General Dynamics Information Technology, according to salary information reported on

Certifications for Project Managers

Though it depends on the size and industry of the company, obtaining certifications tends to increase salary. For example, the Project Management Professional certification can come with a median yearly salary of $120,000. This certification requires a minimum of 35 hours of coursework or practical application and a digital or written exam. Other certifications include Certified Professional in Management (CPM) and International Project Management Association (IPMA) Four-Level Certification.

Organizations for Project Managers

Project managers can join a number of organizations. Some of the most well-known organizations include the American Management Association (AMA), the Project Management Institute (PMI) and the International Project Management Association (IPMA). Organizations such as these allow project managers of all skill levels and in every area of expertise to communicate, share and help promote efficiency and success in the field. They also provide outlets to ask questions, reflect on experiences and troubleshoot new problems.

Article Sources
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  1. Project Management Institute. "Earning Power: Project Management Salary Survey, Eleventh Edition," Pages 300–306.

  2. Indeed. "How Much Does a Project Manager Make in the United States?"

  3. Project Management Institute. "Project Management Professional (PMP)®."

  4. International Project Management Association. "Certification Program Overview."

  5. American Management Association. "AMA Certified Professional in Management™."

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