Working in the project management sector requires a specific set of training and skills. Project managers can work in a variety of industries and manage a multitude of specific projects. Often, specialization within project management leads to a higher salary. In this article, we explain what a project manager is, provide a list of six of the highest paying project manager positions and offer tips for increasing your salary and specializing in the field of project management.
Related: The Importance of Project Management
What is a project manager?
A project manager is a business professional who oversees projects for their company or as a consultant for a client company. Most project managers, regardless of their specific industry, focus their efforts on maintaining these six specific elements of their project:
- Scope: The scope of the project is the range of the endeavor, including the specific needs to complete the assignment to the satisfaction of the project owner.
- Schedule: Project managers closely monitor the schedule to ensure the project is on track to meet deadlines.
- Finances: Most project managers oversee the budget associated with the project and adjust spending or deliverables as needed with approval from the project owner.
- Risk: Risk assessment and management before and during the project is another key element project managers oversee.
- Quality: Ensuring the individual components and the final product are of acceptable quality for the project owner is part of the project manager's job.
- Resources: Project managers help source and approve the resources used to complete the project.
Besides these six overarching project elements, most project managers can expect to perform these additional job duties in the course of their work:
- Planning: Project managers usually meet regularly with the project owner before and during the project to ensure all stakeholders are informed and satisfied with the project's plan.
- Managing: Most project managers are the primary leader on a job site and supervise a number of employees performing specific project-related tasks.
- Collaborating: Besides working with other project employees, project managers regularly collaborate with the project owner to ensure all stakeholders have a say in the project's progress.
- Reporting: Reporting on the project's progress to internal and external stakeholders at regular intervals is another important job duty for project managers.
- Adjusting: Sometimes, project managers must adjust certain elements of the project to reflect the availability of resources or a change in the timeline.
Related: What Is a Project Manager?
Highest paying project manager jobs
Project managers can and do specialize in certain industries or fields. Some of these specializations pay better than others. Review this list of six of the highest paying project manager jobs and learn more about each position's individual duties:
National average salary: $58,107 per year
Primary duties: A marketing project manager is responsible for overseeing projects related to marketing and advertising. Common job duties for a marketing project manager include planning a marketing campaign, collaborating with the marketing director on the campaign's direction and overseeing a team of marketing and advertising professionals.
National average salary: $81,716 per year
Primary duties: A project management consultant is responsible for helping their clients improve their process efficiency. Typically, project management consultants perform job duties like advising clients on project management best practices, creating solutions to efficiency or process problems and overseeing the implementation of project management procedures.
National average salary: $83,428 per year
Primary duties: A construction project manager is responsible for managing the physical and administrative tasks associated with a construction project. Most construction project managers handle responsibilities like planning the logistics of the construction project, ensuring the building team meets construction deadlines and managing the budget for the overall project.
4. PMO manager
National average salary: $94,366 per year
Primary duties: A PMO manager, or project management office manager, is responsible for ensuring all the project managers that work with clients on behalf of the company meet certain benchmarks. In most cases, PMO managers perform job duties like meeting with project managers to discuss best practices, reporting project management metrics to company leadership and implementing changes to policy or procedure as needed.
National average salary: $99,701 per year
Primary duties: An engineering project manager is responsible for overseeing engineering projects to ensure they're completed appropriately. Common job duties for an engineering project manager include overseeing scheduling for the engineering project, purchasing and approving all materials for the project and maintaining the budget for the project.
National average salary: $100,456 per year
Primary duties: An IT project manager is responsible for handling projects related to IT development and implementation. In most cases, this involves job duties like establishing IT goals, overseeing the IT team's processes and ensuring all project-related employees have the necessary resources to complete the project.
Tips for becoming a high-paying project manager
Use these tips to help advance your project management career and move into a high-paying project management position:
- Seek certification. Consider getting certified in project management or in a specific specialty of project management to increase your job seeking competitive edge.
- Build experience. Often, specialized and higher paying project-management jobs go to project managers with extensive experience. Build your resume by participating in many projects.
- Find your niche. Look for a specific industry or field in which you thrive and have an interest. Work on developing the specific project management skills needed for that area and make it your personal specialty.
- Grow your network. Work to develop your professional network of both other project managers and related professionals. A strong network can help you find new positions and opportunities.
- Learn from challenges. Use challenges you face and overcome while managing a project to help you develop resiliency and creativity on the job.
- Establish clear goals. Set regular short- and long-term goals for yourself. Knowing what you want to achieve makes it easier to create action steps for obtaining those objectives.