Technical Project Management Salary | Thinkful


Chances are you’re looking for a career change or you want to know how much money you can make as a project manager. Well, you’ve come to the right article. Project management’s a popular job around the world. This is because every industry divides its work into projects that must be delivered on time without sacrificing quality. Since good project management yields happier clients, better profit margins, and streamlined work pipelines, demand for project managers has risen exponentially.

If you’re curious about pursuing a career in project management, you’ll be happy to know that this is one of the professional fields in which you don’t need a traditional degree. Experienced or even novice employees from different domains like engineering or management can learn project management on-the-job. You can also obtain relevant education from bootcamps or certifications to learn and validate your project management (PM) skills.  

It’s also a common trend for software engineers and developers to transition to the project management domain after getting a few years of hands-on experience. So, basically, no matter where you’re currently at in your career, there’s room for you in the field of project management. Let’s talk a bit more about the basics of project management, and then we’ll dive into the good stuff—project management salaries.

What is Project Management?

Project Management’s a broad domain. It involves various methodologies and skillsets specifically adapted to each industry. For example, a project manager working for a construction firm needs to be aware of construction materials, norms, vendors, policies, etc. Similarly, a project manager working with mechanical engineering products needs to know product design and analysis phases as well as prototype testing, vendors, and supply chain.  

Waterfall is the oldest and most conventional project management philosophy, which organizes a project lifecycle into sequential phases. The software industry, however, is now more inclined towards Agile and Scrum methodologies, which break the project phases into small, repetitive cycles. Lean, Six Sigma, and Kanban are used in the manufacturing domain for process and quality improvement, while PRINCE2 is normally employed by private companies working for the government sector.  

Project Management Education

Project managers are in high enough demand as it is, but the demand for certified project managers has grown by a whopping 500% in the past ten years itself. This shows the importance of getting certified or educated from a reputable organization tailored to your unique requirements and experience. Some of the globally renowned certifications and bootcamps are listed below:  

  1. Our Online Technical Project Management Bootcamp
  2. Project Management Professional (PMP): the most reputed PM certification, offered by the PMI (Project Management Institute)
  3. Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM), again by PMI
  4. CompTIA Project+
  5. Certified Project Manager (CPM) by the International Association of Project Managers (IAPM)
  6. Certified Scrum Master (CSM) by the Scrum Alliance  
  7. Professional in Project Management (PPM) by Global Association for Quality Management (GAQM)
  8. Master Project Manager (MPM) by American Academy of Project Management (AAPM)
  9. Certified Project Director (CPD) by GAQM

While some of these certifications are offered for newbies in the field, some have certain prerequisites. Details are available on the respective websites, so make sure you check those out to find the best fit for you. Once you’re backed by some form of bootcamp or certification, your chances of landing a job you love with dramatically increase. Also, you’re likely to make more money. For example, the average salary of a PMP certified professional is around $ 110,000, while a candidate with CAPM certification may take home around$ 100,000 per year on average.

Salaries According to Industries

Fields related to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) guarantee a higher earning potential for project managers on top of rapid career growth. Statistics estimate that over 93% of STEM jobs provide wages higher than the national average, and many double the wages in non-STEM roles.  Average project management wages according to industry type are listed below. Resources (eg. Mining, Agriculture): $134,577  Consulting: $134,149  Pharmaceuticals: $133,246 Aerospace: $129,732 Food and Beverage: $124,559 Engineering: $124,434 Utilities: $122,255 Information Technology: $122,245

Salaries According to Job Level, Experience, and Education

The average income for project managers generally ranges between $51,000 and $111,000 per year. Glassdoor reports that the average salary of a project manager is estimated to be about $ 75,474 a year, and additional compensation like bonuses lie anywhere between $1,541 to $19,755.  

A recent survey by PMI estimates that the average salary for entry-level project managers is $55,000, while highly experienced PM’s can bring home $175,000 annually. Mid-level project managers can earn up to $91,000 per year, while director-level project managers can easily take home around $148,250 per year.  

In the United States specifically, project managers with more than 20 years of experience earn an average salary of $135,000 per year. This is significantly higher than those who’ve worked in the industry for less than 3 years, who average out at $83,000 annually.

If you consider educational qualifications, project managers with PhD’s earn about $129,000; master’s degrees earn $120,000; bachelor’s degrees earn $114,000; and if you have a high school diploma, you’re looking at $108,000 per year on average.

As far as certifications are concerned, a global study showed that across all industries and countries, candidates with a PMP certification earn 22 percent more on average than those without one. In the United States, a PMP certified professional can earn about $120,000 per year compared to $95,000 for a non-PMP certified project manager.

However, none of these stats are defining factors for your earning potential. The right combination of skills, experience, and tools is what’s important. You should focus on having excellent communication skills, the capacity to work with stringent timelines and budgets, and the willingness to handle challenging tasks. The better you are at your role, the more you’ll make for yourself.

As we mentioned, project managers are in high demand, and the demand’s  expected to grow. Because of this, wages are expected to rise as well.  So, you can look forward to job security moving forward.

Salaries According to Specialization

Project management can be divided into three avenues:  

Project management: The focus here is on planning, coordinating, and closing projects. You do this by determining responsibilities, hatching inclusive plans, and managing cost constraints. The average salary is $ 91,245.  

Program management: As a program manager, you’ll execute multiple projects in a collective manner that constitutes a program. Your role helps to improve a company’s productivity and outcome. The mean wage is $ 127,517.  

Portfolio management: The aim of portfolio management’s to analyze a company’s projects to help identify the best practices, allocate the right resources, and improve the overall performance of the project teams to achieve strategic business objectives. The average wage is $140,780.  

Depending on the avenue you want to go down, you should consider specializing in its most relevant methodology. Methodologies like Agile and Scrum are particularly hot in the IT market, while Kanban, Lean, and Six Sigma are highly valued for manufacturing industries or organizations with a sharp focus on product quality. In government industries where the projects are quite complex and require specialized knowledge of particular software, candidates who match their unique demands can earn significantly higher wages.  

Salaries According to Team Size

A less-talked-about factor impacting the salaries of project managers is the size of the team they handle. Managing a project with a huge team can increase your yearly wage by about $25,000. A survey by PMI reports that project manager salaries according to team size are as follows.

  • 1 to 4 members: $106,888
  • 5 to 9 members: $115,000
  • 10 to 14 members: $121,533
  • 15 to 19 members: $122,000
  • More than 20 members: $130,000

If you’re handling projects with a budget of over $10 million, you can expect to earn approximately 40% more than the average salary.

Salaries According to States

A study based on a 2019 database of the Bureau of Labor Statistics assessed project manager salaries, averaged them according to seniority levels, and adjusted them based on the cost of living per state. The top ten highest paying states for project managers are as follows.

  • Virginia- $104,434
  • Texas- $99,547
  • Colorado- $98,718
  • Georgia- $98,621
  • New Hampshire- $96,102
  • Alabama- $95,460
  • Mississippi- $94,621
  • North Carolina- $94,408
  • Nebraska- $94,137
  • South Carolina- $92,842

Vermont and Hawaii pay the lowest amounts at $59,636 and $53,579 per year, respectively. States like Maryland, Missouri, Indiana, Kansas, Ohio, Washington, Iowa, Arizona, Michigan, and Pennsylvania are some other decent payers.  

The amount you can make per city will be different than the average earning potential for each state. So, the top-paying cities for project management professionals are ranked below.  

  • San Francisco – $91,318.
  • Houston – $82,119
  • Seattle – $78,693
  • New York City – $79,231
  • Boston – $78,852.
  • Chicago – $6,329.

We hope you’ve found this article useful and that you have a much better understanding  of the average earning potential as a project manager. Work on becoming  as well rounded as possible through education, soft-skills, and dedication, and you’ll be set up for success to make an impressive salary in project management.  

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