Project Manager: Career and Salary Facts

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

What Is a Project Manager?

Project managers are employed in a variety of industries in which they are responsible for completing assignments or tasks according to budgets and schedules. They may need to determine short- and long-term goals for projects and their employees. Project managers often need to problem-solve or adjust plans as unforeseen circumstances and problems arise during assignments. They also coordinate the efforts of their teams and oversee the work that is completed. These professionals must be able to communicate clearly and work with a variety of people that are involved on a particular project. Check out education requirements and salary potential in the following table.

Degree RequiredBachelor's degree recommended
Education Field of StudyBusiness management
Construction science
Information technology
Supply chain management
Key SkillsClear communicator, effective manager, industry knowledge
Job Growth (2014-2024)15% (for computer and information systems managers)
5% (for construction managers)*
Average Salary (2015) $141,000 (for computer and information systems managers)
$97,510 (for construction managers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

How Can I Become a Project Manager?

Project managers direct a dedicated effort to complete projects according to budgets and deadlines. Because projects are temporary and require dedicated resources, you need to be good at planning, communicating and managing a schedule.

This can be a versatile career because of the various ways you can become a project manager. Earning a college degree may be required for some jobs, but you may also find opportunities through on-the-job experience. Construction science and information technology (IT) are examples of bachelor's degrees that you can earn to enter fields that often utilize project managers. Many engineering degrees, such as industrial engineering or civil engineering, also base work on projects.

Graduate degrees offer you a more focused education in applying methodologies, theories and economics to successfully manage projects. You might consider a professional credential from the Project Management Institute, the leading association for project managers across all industries and whose certifications are considered the world-wide standard.

What Industries Can I Work In?

Many industries use project managers to facilitate a variety of ventures, as many organizations realize that the approach can help them achieve better results. The automotive and finance industries historically employed many project managers, and IT will continue to provide many options. There are also opportunities in growing fields such as healthcare and environmental initiatives.

Each project progresses through the same basic phases from beginning to end, and although you will apply knowledge from your field to that process, you develop skills that can be applied in other fields. This offers you flexibility with your career. With experience, you can take on more responsibility by working as a program manager or portfolio manager. In these roles, respectively, you would oversee multiple projects and ensure that your organization's resources are efficiently used.

What Salary Might I Earn?

Your salary as a project manager can vary with the industry you work in. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that project managers working in construction, for example, earned a mean salary of $97,510 in 2015 (www.bls.gov). Computer and information systems managers earned an average of $141,000.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Cost estimators, database administrators and top executives are all similar careers that typically require at least a bachelor's degree. Cost estimators examine and calculate all of the variables that go into producing a product or service. They estimate labor, time, materials and more. Database administrators are responsible for storing different types of data. They may use software programs to secure and organize customer records and more. Top executives can work for different types of organizations, and oversee their daily operations. These professionals help set and meet goals for their organization through policies and strategic plans.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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