Program Director Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

Last updated: August 22, 2022

A Program Director, or Project Director, is responsible for overseeing all aspects of an organizational initiative, including hiring staff, managing the budget and advertising the program to potential participants. Their duties include setting the scope of the program, setting deadlines and delegating tasks to team members.

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Program Director duties and responsibilities

A Program Director is responsible for researching, planning, developing and implementing an organization’s programs. Their responsibilities typically include the following: 

  • Hire, train and be a motivating mentor to staff. 
  • Lead large group discussions to answer questions and remedy complaints.
  • Create and nurture effective communication within the organization. 
  • Build a strong team through open communication and by collaborating on decision-making responsibilities. 
  • Initiate and set goals for programs based on the organization’s strategic objectives.
  • Plan programs from start to finish, including identifying processes, deadlines and milestones.
  • Develop and approve operations and budgets.
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What does a Program Director do? 

Program Directors may be responsible for a single program or oversee the development and implementation of multiple programs within their organization. The role of a Program Director is to identify company objectives and create programs that further those goals, determining the type of content they want to produce through the program and setting benchmarks for success. 

The Program Director determines the operations structure for each project and makes choices about funding, staffing, reporting and marketing. They appoint employees to key program roles and delegate tasks based on their skills and experience. Program Directors communicate with senior management about the progress of their programs.

Program Director skills and qualifications

A successful Program Director has a variety of skills and qualifications that allow them to manage their responsibilities effectively, which can include: 

  • Demonstrated leadership skills
  • Strategic mindset
  • Ability to multitask 
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Written and verbal communication skills
  • Interpersonal skills

Program Director salary expectations 

A Program Director makes an average of $62,903 per year. Salary may depend on a candidate’s education, experience level and geographical location. 

Program Director education and training requirements

Most employers require Program Directors to have at least a bachelor’s degree in a field such as human resources, accounting, business management, business administration or communications. Some entry-level jobs will provide cross-training opportunities to advance into the Program Director position. Other companies may require a master’s degree and specialized degrees in their specific industry. Some relevant certifications applicants can earn to increase their chances of being hired include the Activity Director Certified (ADC) and the Certified Project Director (CPD) designations.

Program Director experience requirements 

Experience level for Program Directors can vary depending on the size and type of company. Many Program Directors start their careers in entry-level positions like Program Organizer or Administrative Assistant and gain on-the-job training that can help them advance them a senior role. Larger companies often require Program Directors to have 5 or more years of previous experience. Some businesses and organizations give experience credit for graduate work, especially for industry-specific degrees and MBAs. All Program Director applicants should have experience implementing and monitoring the success of new programs as well as organizing program activities using teamwork and goal-setting.

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Frequently asked questions about Program Directors


What is the difference between a Program Director and a Project Manager?

Program Directors and Project Managers may collaborate to accomplish company goals, but their work has a different scope. Program Directors oversee all aspects of a certain program, while Project Managers are in charge of accomplishing a specific goal to meet company objectives. Program Directors handle the strategic aspects of a company program, delegating tasks to the Project Managers who provide hands-on supervision of daily tasks. A Program Director might appoint multiple Project Managers to complete all of the important parts of implementing a program. 

For example, a Program Director at a library might be in charge of managing all programs, classes and events aimed at babies and toddlers. They might have a Project Manager on their team supervise the remodeling, decoration and furnishing of the kid’s area of the library. While the Program Director would still provide guidance for the budget and goal of the remodel, they would also focus on library programming, marketing and other strategic needs.


What are the qualities of a good Program Director?

Program Directors focus on the overall goals of a company initiative, making it important for them to have a clear vision based on strategy. Excellent Program Directors are able to anticipate program outcomes based on data, so they often have strong analytical skills and are good at performing research. Good Program Directors are also great communicators who can provide guidance to their team and help them solve problems as they arise. They are organized enough to keep track of business communications, following up when necessary and making sure that all of their priorities get accomplished according to schedule.


What are the daily duties of a Program Director?

Program Directors can spend their time working in the office or attending programs and events on-site to make sure they go smoothly. They start their day by responding to emails and calls, reaching out to employees, vendors and business partners for status updates on various objectives. The Program Director analyzes their program budget, determining how to spend surplus or where to cut costs to balance income and expenses. They track the progress of their project and produce reports on each program’s success, which they then share with company leadership. Program Directors may also identify developing needs and pitch ideas for new programs.


Who does a Program Director report to?

Program Directors generally report to a Department Director, but may report directly to the CEO of the organization or other members of the executive team depending on the scope of their programs and size of the company. When reporting to department or company leadership, Program Directors gain authorization for budget changes and discuss the role of their programs in the company.

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