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Remuneration for Project Managers

By: Kelly McCloskey
- Updated July 16,2014

Love Being in Charge? Get Into Project Management

Outlook Strong Demand
US Median Salary US$105,000
Data Source: PMI Project Management
Salary Survey, 7th Edition

Do you look forward to organizing DVD titles? Are you the go to guy when it's time to start planning backyard barbeques? Are you the only member of your family who can get people to work together to pull off Aunt Beatrice's 80th birthday party? Are you also wondering what you should do with the rest of your life? If you've spent the last few minutes nodding your head, then it might be time to consider a career in Project Management.

Is it all Spreadsheets and Database Work?

Project Management has developed something of a reputation over the past few years. Many people think it's nothing more than a fancy title for general office or administrative management. In truth, it's a career where no two weeks are ever quite the same and where once you've finished with one major endeavor, there's another one waiting in the wings. In order to become a successful project manager you'll need to :

  • Network with executives, support staff and the general public
  • Be comfortable speaking in front of crowds – sometimes with little or no prep time
  • Be organized enough to delegate responsibility and follow up with team member
  • Have the ability to smooth out glitches, soothe bruised egos and generally call on your peacemaking skills
  • Be able to command respect and get people motivated to bring a project or event together

Successful project managers are essentially the human equivalent to a network server. Just as you – and the rest of the world – rely on powerful servers to keep everything from internal systems to the Internet working smoothly, so too do people rely on a professional project manager. Project managers are able to keep everything moving along smoothly, to create not only an atmosphere that encourages creative and professional connection and growth, but one that seems to happen organically and effortlessly. A great project manager simply makes a difficult job look easy.

Salary, Advancement and Opportunity

Project management is a field which has existed in the business world for decades, though it has only recently been acknowledged as a job within itself. Part of the reason for this shift is the new expectations and atmosphere of the business world. As companies begin to see how influential specific projects and events can be, they have realized that these large scale projects must be managed by one central leader who can network, communicate, delegate and reign in the work, creative scuffles and other aspects of projects that reach across departments, offices and even continents. Although the Bureau of Labor Statistics does not yet collect or publish data on the average salary for project managers, they have begun to rely on industry insiders in order to begin building their own database on this growing field. In many cases, the average salary of a project manager depends on a number of factors, including :

  • education
  • experience
  • corporate culture
  • location
  • industry

While these are factors that affect the earning potential for a number of careers, in project management the result is a rather wide variation. With salaries ranging from $50,000 to well over $100,000+ it's easy to see why project management can be a rewarding career for many. In the US, the median wage currently stands at $105,000 and globally it is at $92,000.

The field has grown so much that the Project Management Institute now serves as a hub for emerging technologies, comprehensive salary research and the development of newer ways to approach and successfully handle projects for every company in the world. The work they do is well worth it to even the largest company – a 2013 release from PMI found that for every billion dollars spent on a project, nearly $135 million is at risk to simply be lost as the direct result of poor project management. As he stakes get higher so, too, does the salary for a project manager.

Getting started

Because project management is a relatively recent career field, there are a number of ways in which successful project managers have gotten their start. Some have come from backgrounds in event planning, public relations, office administration and other fields where creative thinking, the ability to delegate and an attention to detail can all catapult you to the top of your field. There are now several courses that cater to developing the skills one needs to be a successful project manager, including courses on negotiation and general business knowledge.

Focusing on specialized knowledge for a niche industry can also set you apart from others in the field. A strong foundation in a Business Associate Degree/Bachelor’s Degree is the best way to be able to market yourself to a number of different companies. Once you have that on which to build, you can start branching out to find a specific area that interests you. Considering the size, complexity and stress of becoming a successful project manager, it's a smart idea to enter a field where you feel passion about the industry. That could be helping to advance small businesses, working with local non-profits and charities or even helping to develop a town or city in their planning department.

By establishing a foundation of business education and developing the real world skills needed to deal with others, emerging project managers can hone their skills while they learn about the industry in which they choose to work. Not everyone is cut out for the pressure and demands of juggling parts of projects which quite often can change from day to day. The career is one for those who get a rush from leading a team and feel a sense of accomplishment in finding solutions for teams, offices, companies, charities and communities.

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