Program Manager Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

Last updated: August 22, 2022

A Program Manager, or Strategic Program Manager, oversees and coordinates different related projects in a company to ensure they benefit one another and meet business goals. Their main duties include organizing various programs and activities to improve company efficiencies, building long-term goals for company projects and developing program and project budgets.


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Program Manager duties and responsibilities

Program Managers are responsible for overseeing the development of programs that support an organization’s main objectives. Some of their primary duties include:

  • Organizing daily activities based on the goals of the organization
  • Devising new programs that support the organization’s objectives
  • Coming up with sustainable goals for the organization
  • Working with other departments to develop budgets and plans for the programs
  • Evaluating and assessing the programs’ strengths and weaknesses
  • Monitoring projects and overseeing project managers to ensure goals are met
  • Meeting with stakeholders to discuss program status and goals
  • Working with the marketing team to improve strategies


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What does a Program Manager do?

Program Managers oversee the various projects a business implements to ensure they all align effectively with the organization’s mission and the program’s goals. The company’s leadership team will typically inform Program Managers of their strategic direction and the goals they’d like the company to achieve. Program Managers will then monitor the progress of several projects within their program to make sure they follow this direction and exceed these goals. 

They’re responsible for building a budget for the program and must ensure all projects stay within this budget. Most Program Managers create their own evaluation method to properly review and assess the strengths of their program and to determine any areas of improvement.


Program Manager skills and qualifications

Program Managers need to have certain skills in order to deliver quality results within set timeframes, including:

  • High-level management and leadership skills
  • Ability to schedule and manage tasks effectively
  • Conflict resolution and problem-solving skills
  • Risk management
  • Written and verbal communication skills
  • Cost control and budgeting skills
  • Teamwork and motivational skills
  • Organizational and multitasking skills

Program Manager salary expectations

A Program Manager makes an average of $79,576 per year. This salary may vary based on a candidate’s level of experience, education and geographical location as well as the company’s specific industry.


Program Manager education and training requirements

Educational requirements may vary for Program Managers depending on the size and industry of the company they work for, but they are typically required to have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree. Some companies prefer hiring candidates who have a degree in business management, but others may seek applicants with expertise in a specific field, such as someone with a computer science degree who wants to work in the IT industry. Some organizations may also look for candidates with a master’s degree.


Program Manager experience requirements 

The amount of experience required might depend on the type of programs your company needs and whether you are offering thorough on-the-job training. In most cases, experienced Program Managers need about 3-5 years of experience, depending on their educational background. Candidates with a certification in business management or project management and extensive education might need less experience, while someone with just a bachelor’s degree may need more management experience beforehand. Many companies look for candidates who have previous experience as Project Managers.


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Frequently asked questions about Program Managers


Who reports to Program Managers?

There are many employees who may report directly to Program Managers. They usually oversee a team of Project Managers who each lead their own individual projects. The Project Managers meet with Program Managers regularly to inform them of their projects’ progress and ask the Program Managers for guidance if any complex issues arise. The employees on the Project Manager’s team may also report to the Program Manager for any questions or concerns. 

Program Managers will typically hold one-on-one sessions with Project Managers to evaluate their performance, provide updates on project changes from leadership and to inform them of any improvements to apply toward their leadership skills or to the overall project. 


What settings do Program Managers typically work in?

Program Managers typically work in an office environment, handling program strategies, budgets and policies from their desk. Many of them will regularly visit their project teams to ensure everyone is staying on task and making progress. 

They’ll also meet with leadership teams and sometimes stakeholders to provide updates on their programs and to gather information to relay to the project teams. Some of them may have to travel to project sites that could be away from the company’s main business location, depending on the industry and organization they work for. 


Do Program Managers have different responsibilities in different industries?

There are a wide variety of industries Program Managers may work in where they hold similar responsibilities of overseeing project teams. Most of them work in the business industry, where they’ll manage several projects that involve improving the productivity and efficiency levels of the organization. Others serve in the construction industry, regularly visiting construction sites to ensure workers are staying on schedule and creating well-made structures according to clients’ needs.

Some Program Managers operate in technology industries, where they’re in charge of implementing different software programs for an individual organization. They may also work for information technology agencies, overseeing projects that involve installing and updating computer programs for various clients. 


What makes a good Program Manager?

An effective Program Manager must have great leadership abilities to motivate and manage Project Managers and teams to complete valuable projects. Since they’re regularly handling budgets, Program Managers must also have a strong knowledge of and experience in finance. Strategic skills are also beneficial for the ideal candidate to have since they’re regularly building and implementing program strategies for their project teams to follow. 

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