Project Manager Careers

NUMBER OF JOBS

523,100

JOB OPENINGS

86,600

JOB GROWTH

17%

AVG. SALARY

$86,360 /yr

$40.32 /hr

All Stats from BLS.gov

Project managers work in a variety of different industries and specializations—and at first glance, a construction project manager’s job look very different from that of a software development project manager. However, all people in this role have a few things in common.

In general, a project manager is a leader. The project manager’s job is to organize people and tasks in order to meet a specific goal—whether that goal is construction of a new building, publication of a report, design of a new software application, or something entirely different. Regardless of the industry, a project manager’s task is to allocate personnel, financial, and material resources to make sure the job gets done on time and on budget. A project manager may also serve as chief liaison between clients, executive management, and the teams doing the hands-on work in the field.

Project Manager Job Description

As a project manager, you could find work in almost any company, organization, or industry—depending on your expertise. You may work as a salaried employee or as a self-employed project management consultant. A few of the many specializations within project management include:

Construction project managers. These managers oversee construction projects in the field. They manage large teams of contractors as well as full-time employees. They communicate with the client and make sure expectations are realistic. And they monitor all aspects of the construction project to make sure it’s proceeding according to schedule.

IT project managers. Technical project managers oversee teams of developers, coders, technical consultants, and others in overseeing the creation, management, upgrading, or maintenance of a technical product, network, or solution. In software and technical product development, they may also serve as first line of communication to the client, and liaise between the client and the technical team.

An IT project manager doesn’t necessarily do any hard coding or design himself—although this depends in some measure on the size of the company and the individual job. However, a solid understanding of technical concepts is needed, as well as the ability to translate them into laymen’s terms in order to communicate with clients and other stakeholders with non-technical skills.

Architectural project managers. These project managers cooperate with construction project managers, coordinate design teams and consultants, and manage client relations. Architectural project managers often manage budgets, oversee scheduling, and monitor quality control of an overall design.

Becoming a Project Manager

Because project management is such a broad field, it’s hard to pinpoint one specific educational route to becoming one. However, many companies require at least a Bachelor’s degree. If you are in the software development field, a Master’s may be required. It is usually important to earn a degree in the field you plan to work in—such as architecture, construction, or software development.

In some industries, however, it may still be possible to land a project management job without a degree as long as you have the right work experience—especially with certification. Perhaps the most common designation is the Project Management Professional (PMP) qualification, given by the Project Management Institute. This certification is particularly important in software project management.

There are also more specific certifications for different kinds of project managers. For instance, there’s CompTIA’s Project+ certification for those in IT-related fields. And the American Institute of Constructors offers the Certified Construction Manager (CCM credential.

Licensing is generally required in some professions. For example, engineering and architecture project managers usually must be licensed according to state requirements. In addition, acceptance of online degrees tends to depend on the industry you work in. Accredited online college degrees are more accepted, generally, in IT and construction fields than in architecture and engineering disciplines.

Average Project Manager Salary

Again, it depends on the industry in which you work. Architectural and engineering managers earn an average wage of $119,260 in 2010 according to the Occupational Outlook Handbook. People on the low end of the pay scale earned $77,440, and those on the top end earned $166,400. Software development and IT project managers are also high earners, with a median wage of $115,780, a low average wage of $71,420, and a higher end wage of $166,400.

Construction managers make a bit less, although the difference is less at the top. Median wages in 2010 were around $83,860. Those at the low end made $50,240, while the higher 10% earned $150,250.

Project Management Job Outlook

The industry in which you are employed has a strong effect on job outlook. Architectural and engineering managers have a fairly slow projected job growth; only 9% between 2010 and 2020 according to the Occupational Outlook Handbook—primarily because many private companies have begun to outsource these professions to save money.

The outlook is a bit better for construction project managers, which is projected to grow 17% in the coming decade—a little faster than average. As the construction market has tightened, construction managers with cost control expertise are expected to be in high demand to ensure projects stay within budget.

Software development and IT managers are expected to see their job prospects grow 18% in the coming decade. This growth is expected to be driven by new technological advances, a greater reliance on software in business, and a more acute need to protect crucial data stored digitally. This is tempered, however, by the trend among many companies to outsource technical projects and departments overseas to save costs.

Where to Look for Project Management Jobs

GlassDoor.com

Indeed.com