Program Director: Career and Salary Facts

Research what it takes to become a program director. Learn about education requirements, job duties, average wages and job outlook to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Business degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Program Director?

Program directors oversee the activities and personnel of a department or an organization, and their responsibilities may include budgeting, grant writing or evaluating employees. They also coordinate the efforts of their employees, plan programming and other events, create and monitor schedules and keep accurate records of all projects. These professionals may also be responsible for choosing the content of programs and evaluating a program's effectiveness. Program directors must have strong organizational and communication skills to oversee multiple employees and tasks. They may also need to work with various kinds of technology, so some experience with computer software and websites may be beneficial. The following chart gives you an overview of what you need to know about entering this field.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree
Key Responsibilities Coordinate personnel and department activity
Establish and assign work schedules
Maintain budgets
Key Skills Strong communication skills
Critical thinking
Time management
Job Outlook (2018-2028) 4%-6%*
Median Salary (2018) $71,680*

Source: *O*Net OnLine

What Do Program Directors Do?

A program director coordinates and directs the activities of personnel and departments within the program they are part of. They establish work schedules and assign tasks to staff members as well as perform personal duties, such as hire staff, evaluate an employee's work performance and maintain budgets for their programs. In addition to these responsibilities, they're expected to organize and supervise fundraising events and to coordinate with community outreach programs. They may write grant proposals and keep track of large-scale donations. As a program director, you'd be expected to assess your program's needs and to ensure that it meets its objectives.

What Are the Salary Expectations and Job Outlook for a Program Director?

Program directors can be found in many different career fields, including medical, education and broadcast media. A program director position with the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), for example, deals with funding and furthering research on neurological disorders. Someone in this position would also need to help oversee the funding of new directives in such a program (

Other positions as a program director may land you a job in radio and television broadcasting, where it is your job to determine the needs of your audience and implement the best ways to ensure the program's success. In this field, you may have the opportunity to run your own station and choose the content personally. This field also offers positions with the Public Radio Program Directors Association, whose mission is to be public media's principal advocate for content on the radio and on all other platforms ( According to O*Net OnLine, the median salary for program directors was $71,680, as of 2018.

What Kind of Skills, Training and Education Will I Need?

As a program director, you'll need strong written and verbal communication skills, since the bulk of your job is interacting with employees and communicating the needs of the program. You must have good reasoning skills and the ability to work under pressure. Knowledge of business administration and a familiarity with human resources is also valuable.

Program direction is a broad career field, so your education will be dependent on the industry you choose. Most of these industries will require a bachelor's degree, while others will expect several years of on-the-job training or related experience. A bachelor's degree in management can be used in a large number of fields, and it will help you build the knowledge needed to analyze problems and find adequate solutions, enhance your communication skills and weigh the impact of your decisions, which are all key to the program director position. A Bachelor of Science in Communications with a concentration in public relations is another degree that can be utilized in many different fields besides mass communications, because it focuses on research, theory and campaign development.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

A few related positions that require a bachelor's degree include buyers and purchasing agents, sales managers and public relations specialists. Buyers and purchasing agents must decide what vendors to use and what products and services to buy for their organization to resell. They negotiate contracts and monitor inventories closely. Sales managers help motivate and train sales representatives for different organizations. They may help determine sales goals and analyze sales data. Public relations specialists are responsible for creating a positive public image for their organization. They often use media releases to inform the public about their organization.

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