Project management jobs offer a rare mix of work variety, high salaries, and growth opportunities. It’s no surprise it has become a hot career choice among job prospects. But while every industry—from IT to healthcare to marketing—needs a project manager, the description of the jobs differs.
If you’re looking for a career in project management, you’re in the right place. We’ve created this guide to help you understand the different project management job titles and how to build a thriving career in the field.
Why Are Project Management Jobs So Important?
With a good project manager on board, any organization has a better chance of achieving its goals and completing all projects on time and within budget.
Project managers ensure the smooth execution of different types of projects. Be it app development, expansion of sales into a foreign market, or relief effort after a natural disaster.
They’re essentially the ship captains who decide how to get work done, realize change, and deliver value.
Project managers wear multiple hats every day and use their specialized knowledge, skills, and techniques to plan, organize, and direct the completion of specific projects—all while ensuring the projects remain within scope, on budget, and on time.
It’s why project management jobs require soft skills like leadership, management, and communication, as well as skills related to resource allocation, risk management, budget management, and more.
How Project Management Jobs Work
As mentioned, project managers plan and oversee the completion of projects, ensuring they are completed within the deadline and scope. But their exact responsibilities will vary depending on the type of project, size of the organization, and industry.
No two days in the life of a project manager look alike. It’s fast-paced and urgent, and as soon as you complete one challenge, you have another waiting for you. However, all project management roles typically involve the following general tasks:
- Communicating with team members: Communication is a critical aspect of project management, whether through daily check-ins, team meetings, emails, or calls. As a project manager, you must regularly interact with team members to determine project and milestone status and identify and eliminate potential roadblocks.
- Communicating with stakeholders: Project managers must also communicate with stakeholders to update them about project progress and project alignment with changing company initiatives. You’ll communicate through weekly or monthly reports, quick emails, calls, and meetings, or regularly updated dashboards the stakeholders can access.
- Estimating costs and budgeting: Project managers review budgets daily to prevent projects from exceeding resource allocation. While cost estimation is usually a weekly or monthly task for small-scale projects, the process is more elaborate for larger projects because of the different expenses involved.
- Identifying and solving project-related issues: It’s very common for resource allocation, scope, budget, and other issues to arise suddenly throughout the course of a project. A project manager’s job is to ensure these issues get solved quickly and effectively to keep the project on track and on time.
- Managing time and approval: Project managers often use timesheets or project management software to monitor their team’s productivity. In addition to keeping the project on track, these tools also help managers shift resources between projects to avoid bottlenecks.
- Managing teams and maintaining morale: Project management is much more than executing steps to complete a project. Project managers have to keep their team’s productivity and satisfaction levels high, which is why they may use team-building exercises (weekly team brunch, happy hours, etc.) to boost morale after particularly challenging weeks or phases of the project. Management is more than keeping up morale, however. This piece of the PM’s job also includes understanding team members’ strengths and weaknesses, knowing how to effectively manage different people, and giving and receiving constructive feedback.
On average, project managers in the US make between $93,000 and $140,000 across industries. Total compensation depends on several factors, including education and experience levels, certifications, geographic location, team size, and industry. For example, project managers in STEM fields tend to command higher salaries than average due to high demand and specialized knowledge.
But the role of a project manager isn’t the only job in project management. Below, we’ll discuss other project management jobs that are also lucrative and in demand across industries.
Project Management Job 1: Project Coordinator
A project coordinator has project management training, with some even specializing in a specific area, such as IT or human resources.
They work under a project manager and help organize all required resources and information to make a project successful. They also brainstorm strategies to keep projects on schedule and within budget and inform every team member about their role within the project.
Project coordinators have a lower average base salary of $46,829 per year. But those holding master’s degrees or a PMP certification can earn over 25% more.
Project Management Job 2: Project Scheduler
This job is focused on the scheduling aspect of project management.
A project scheduler monitors deadlines and timelines and creates and edits schedules to accommodate the availability of team members. This is a particularly critical task in the construction and engineering fields since different parties have to work together to ensure a project‘s success. Knowing how to use the scheduling software and maintain records also come in handy in this role.
The average base salary of a project scheduler is $86,909 per year, but that can be more if they pursue master’s level education in project management or have the scheduling professional certification (PMI-SP) through the Project Management Institute.
Project Management Job 3: Project Management Consultant
Not all businesses require a full-time project manager on staff; they can use a consultant instead. And before you think being a consultant means limited work opportunities, let us stop you right there: it doesn’t.
A project management consultant’s role is a flexible one. They can work for more than one company, choose between different industries, and build a custom career path based on their interests and skills.
Keeping this in mind, project management consultants have a large salary range.
While the top 10% earn over $135,000 per year, the lowest 10% earn about $54,000. According to Payscale, the average salary clocks in at about $85,009 a year, with bonus and profit-sharing options. A PM consultant with five years of experience can expect to earn around $90,000 based on research.
Project Management Job 4: Senior Project Manager
The role of a senior project manager is similar to that of a general project manager, but the former enjoys a higher rank in the organization and holds more power. They also get higher pay, with certified and experienced senior project managers earning around $106,644 a year on average. That goes up to $120,000 per year with more experience and certifications.
Senior project managers are generally PMI members and have project management professional certification (PMP). To sit for the PMP, one has to have a four-year degree, 36 months leading projects, and either 35 hours of education and training or the CAPM certification. If you have a two-year degree, you can sit for the PMP exam with 60 months of project experience and the same 35-hour education or CAPM requirement.
How to Launch a Career in Project Management
You can follow the steps below to start a career in project management and apply for related jobs.
Step 1: Find Out Required Skills to Tailor Job Application and Prep for Interview
If you have good communication skills, can negotiate and lead a group of people, and manage problems and risks, you’re headed in the right direction, career-wise. Here are the five main skills employers look for in a project manager:
Excellent Communication Skills
The main chunk of a project manager’s job description is getting different people to work together amicably—something that cannot be possible unless you’re a clear communicator.
Translate your excellent communication skills by turning in a tightly written cover letter and resume and giving clear, succinct answers to interview questions. Be sure to highlight all communication-heavy aspects of your past jobs and internships and explain exactly how that experience transfers to project management.
Fierce Negotiation and Leadership Skills
Next, you have to put your negotiation and leadership skills in focus.
Project managers have to guide a project to completion with team members across departments. They need fierce negotiation and leadership skills to influence people to do their best despite often having no direct supervision.
Think of good examples of how you’ve influenced other people, especially when you didn’t hold the authority to hire or fire them, and detail these instances in your job application and interview to score brownie points.
Efficient Time Management Skills
Time management is an obvious project management skill considering no employer wants a project to go beyond a deadline.
However, in project management, you should also be able to manage other people’s time in addition to managing your own time—sometimes even better than they can themselves.
Win over the interviewer by showing up for scheduled interviews on time and discussing jobs and projects where you constantly worked to deadlines or held other people accountable for their own.
Effortless Organizational Skills and Attention to Detail
When managing projects, you have to break down large projects into manageable milestones to ensure it runs smoothly from start to finish.
Proofread all your writing in the interview process to showcase your perfectionist nature. The interviewer will get the impression you pay attention to detail and can handle the more intricate parts of the job.
Effective Problem-Solving and Risk Management Skills
Great project managers are not only good at eliminating problems but can also anticipate any potential roadblocks and chart a course around them. That’s why you have to show how incredible you are at problem-solving and risk management.
You’ll encounter many challenges and obstacles when driving a project toward completion—issues that can derail progress. You should know how to manage them and emerge as a winner.
Prepare to talk about your approach to problem-solving in interviews, complete with mention of works that required the skill in your cover letter or resume. Even better if you can mention roles that involve you anticipating and controlling for risk and keeping deadlines at the forefront.
Step 2: Add Relevant Skills to Your Resume
Now that you know the skills required to land a high-paying project management job, your next priority should be gaining them.
Project management certifications aren’t a requirement for most project management roles. But they can certainly work wonders for your career.
Getting a project management-related certification signals you’re serious about your career, which will help you get past initial recruiting barriers and give you a competitive edge over other candidates.
While PMP certification is the gold standard of project management certification, you’ll need many hours of project management work behind you before taking the test. In the meantime, you can consider getting a Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) certification.
The CAPM requires only an associate’s degree or global equivalent and 23 hours of project management education, which you can get by taking a PM Basics online course offered by the PMI.
Learn Popular Project Management Tools
Trello, Teamwork, Asana, and Monday.com are some of the more common project management tools used by companies to assign and manage tasks. Familiarize yourself with these tools to improve your chances of getting hired.
Take On Additional Project Management Work
Volunteer to take on more project responsibility if you’re part of projects where no one is explicitly responsible for managing the entire project.
Even if you only add setting and managing deadlines for your team members, it’ll help enhance your time management skills, ultimately assisting you to become a better project manager.
Step 3: Apply for Project Management Jobs
Refine your resume to highlight your project management experience and skills. You can use the tips we discussed in Step 1 to get started.
For instance, if you’ve worked as a marketer for an agency, look for project management positions in other agencies or big marketing departments. This way, you can sell your familiarity with the kind of work that needs to be done to achieve project goals.
If you don’t have any relevant experience, consider starting fresh in an entry-level position. Beef up your resume to highlight the skills mentioned in Step 1, and then search for entry-level project management jobs.
Keep an eye out for project management jobs you qualify for and use them as leverage for your career. Eventually, you can ask for more responsibilities and manage larger projects, which will help you get a higher-paying job title later.