Company leaders know that project managers are essential to an organization’s success since they can provide such benefits as increased efficiency, lower costs, and higher revenues.
How is this importance reflected in terms of a project manager’s income? We will answer that question by revealing how much project managers make and the factors that impact their salaries.
What is a Project Manager’s Salary?
According to a PricewaterhouseCoopers report, 97 percent of companies firmly believe project management is crucial to their success. As such, many companies are willing to pay big bucks to managers in charge of their projects. The Project Management Institute (PMI) says project managers tend to make anywhere from $93,000 to $140,000 per year, with the average income sitting at $116,000.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) placed the average PM salary at $94,500, with a much greater range in income. According to the BLS, the bottom 10 percent of project managers make an average salary of $49,750, while the top 10 percent bring in an average of $159,140 per year.
What Factors Impact Project Manager Salary?
What can mean the difference between making $49,750 and $159,140 as a project manager? The following factors, although even more may affect your income depending on the position in question.
Project management positions are not limited to one industry. Pick your industry wisely, and your earning potential can be much higher. According to PMI’s Project Management Salary Survey, the highest-paying industries with the most lucrative base salaries are consulting ($132,500), pharmaceuticals ($130,000), information technology ($120,000), government ($115,000), healthcare ($108,319), construction ($107,659), and resources, energy, and utilities ($101,254).
Project Manager Title
“Project manager” is not the sole job title you will find in this in-demand field. Several roles in project management come with varying salaries. The PMI Salary Survey notes that a project management specialist can make $84,500, while a project management consultant can make a significantly higher salary of $120,000. Program managers can earn $127,100, while portfolio managers can make $140,000 per year. What job title is at the top of the project management food chain in terms of income? Director of project management, which can earn $145,000 annually.
Glassdoor also has input on how job titles can affect your salary in the project management field. December 2022 numbers have project coordinators making $53,869 and assistant project managers earning $66,683. Senior project managers, meanwhile, earn an average of $104,770.
Project Management Experience
Experienced project managers tend to have an easier time commanding a higher salary. However, you do not necessarily need several decades of experience to earn a higher income as a project manager. Glassdoor found that as of December 2022, the average project manager with one to three years of experience can earn $74,011 in the United States. As you bump experience to the 10 to 14-year range, the average project management salary can jump to $95,696.
Project Management Education
A higher level of education typically leads to higher pay in most industries, and project management is no different. Zippia reports that most project managers have degrees, with 68 percent holding bachelor’s degrees and 14 percent holding master’s degrees. How much of a difference can a degree make with your project manager salary? A significant one, as those with four-year degrees can make an average of $102,588, while those with master’s and doctoral degrees can earn $114,821 and $121,837, respectively.
The potential for a higher income is just one reason to get a degree when pursuing a position in project management. Another is that a degree can help push you past the competition, so you get hired in the first place, and depending on the degree, it could also push you up the company ladder in the future. A Master of Business Administration degree, for example, can teach you the necessary leadership skills to move into executive management.
Project Manager Certifications
Getting a degree is not the only form of advanced education that can positively impact your earning potential as a project manager. Certifications can help you develop valuable skills that make employers take notice and pad your income as well.
PMI notes that holding the popular Project Management Professional (PMP) certification can result in a $25,000 higher salary than those who lack it, and it is just one of the many certifications you can add to your resume. Whether you get an industry-specific certification like the CompTIA Project+ for IT project managers or get certified in Agile, Scrum, or other project management methodologies, investing a bit of time and money to do so can pay off in the long run.
We have a great list of the Top 5 Project Management Certifications to help you get started on the path of becoming a certified project manager.
It comes as no surprise that larger cities or those with a higher cost of living can lead to a higher project manager salary. ZipRecruiter notes that the highest project management salaries can be found in the large and notoriously expensive cities of San Francisco, Boston, and New York City.
Keep in mind that while making more in such cities is great, much of that added income will be swallowed up by higher living costs.
What about remote work? The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the move to remote work. Even though many companies have returned to traditional in-person setups, you may find project management positions allowing you to work remotely via companies like Oracle, Amazon, and HubSpot.
Size of the Company
It makes sense that the larger the company you are working for or the team you are managing, the greater your potential for a higher income. Not only will larger companies typically have bigger budgets to work with, but managing larger teams often involves more responsibilities, making a more lucrative income a must to attract top-notch project management talent.
PMI found that project managers in charge of teams with fewer than five members earned an average salary of $105,000, while those in charge of 20 or more employees saw their salaries exceed $130,000.
Project Management Methodology
Although it may not be the most influential factor that affects your pay as a project manager, the project management methodology you employ can also play a role in determining how much you make. Many different PM methodologies are used, and the more you are familiar with, the greater your chances for increased income.
As to which project management methodology is most lucrative, the PMI Salary Survey found that those who used Extreme Project Management techniques often enjoyed higher incomes than those who used the more standard meth
ods like Agile, Waterfall, Lean, etc. While taking the time to learn Extreme Project Management techniques could potentially increase your earning power, keep in mind that methodologies often depend on the industry you are in, the type of project involved, and the company you are working for.
We have a list of the top project management methodologies if you want to learn more.