11 Jun 2020

Project Manager Salary – What Are We Worth?

Project manager salary
Project Manager Salary – What Are We Worth?

As you map out your project management career– you are probably wondering what you can expect to be paid as you work your way up. Of course, the answer is – it depends!

Your industry and organisational experience, academic qualifications, demand for project management expertise and the general state of the employment market all play a role.

But the good news is – that in a relative sense – a career in project management can pay very well with few limitations if you work hard, focus on outcomes and are able to display the required skills and expertise.

In general there are three major career levels in the average project management professional’s career trajectory – the project coordinator, the project manager and the project director. Let’s take a look at the current data for each of these in terms of salary potential.

 

THE PROJECT COORDINATOR SALARY 

The project coordinator or administrator is often the kick-off point if you are younger or recently graduated from college or university. Most often they work for a project manager with responsibility for administrative tasks on particular projects.

According to Payscale, one of today’s leading compensation researchers, project coordinators on average, earn $64,000 per year ranging from $49,000 up to $90,000. Coordinators in industries such as IT, according to Hays FY2020/21 Salary Guide, can earn between $71,000 to $102,000.

 

THE PROJECT MANAGER SALARY

There is no shortage of information on “Project Manager” salaries. It’s the most widely used title and can cover a very broad range of experience and seniority. But it’s fair to say that most roles with this title will require 5 or more year’s experience and/or some level of tertiary qualification or skills-based training. Project managers are generally leaders and need to take initiative, ownership, and responsibility.

Payscale pegs the average Project Manager salary at $98,000 within a wide range of $65,000 to $149,000. According to the Hays Report, professionals in industries where project manager skills are in high demand – such as IT, construction and property can earn well beyond the average range. Information Technology project managers earn between $102,000 to $150,000 and those with the title of Senior Project Manager bump up to $122,000 to $180,000.

For industries who spend millions on large scale projects – the remuneration for project managers rises accordingly. For example, project managers working in Resources and Mining earn in the range of $112,000 to $260,000 with similar ranges for their colleagues working in Oil and Gas ($122,000 to $250,000).

For the very specific project manager role for Rail Infrastructure, salaries range from $122,000 to $255,000. While specific to rail in this case, it’s presumably a good proxy for similar roles in other large-scale infrastructure projects (roads, dams, bridges etc). Take a look at our recent post on the role infrastructure will play in restarting our economy to get an idea of how critical infrastructure project management skills will be in the coming years. 

 

THE PROJECT DIRECTOR SALARY

Project Director, Program Manager or Director – any of these titles means that you are now responsible for highly complex, business critical and/or multiple projects. These executive level roles can command large budgets and drive organisational transformation or strategically critical initiatives.

While our friends at Payscale estimate the average Project Director salary to be $170,000 ranging from $109,000 to $258,000, it’s much harder to find good estimates for this role at the industry level. Suffice to say it’s very likely you will comfortably be earning 6 figure salaries with the likelihood of bonuses and other incentives tacked on depending on your industry.

These positions require not only top-notch project management skills, but deep industry, if not organisational, experience as they tend to be more strategic and less about the execution of specific projects. A strong background in project management can set you up for any number of executive roles.

 

WHAT ELSE MATTERS?

It’s worth noting that geography can play an important role in a project management professional’s salary. The general consensus is that, for any position, salaries are often higher in the bigger metropolitan areas with higher costs of living - such as Sydney and Melbourne.

But not always. For example, according to Hays a Project Director in Perth, on average, earns 27% more than the national average. This is due most likely to the large-scale resource and mining projects that make up a large portion of Western Australia’s economy. The city’s relative isolation may also be a factor as employees look to entice workers from the east coast.

Your own powers of negotiation will also play a key role in what you earn. Take a look at our Project Management Salary Negotiation Guide. But what matters most, of course is you! Thinking through your career trajectory and having a clear idea as to where you want to work and what kind of compensation will be satisfactory is all up to you.

 


As you progress through your career, ensure that you’re keeping up to date with the latest in the project management space through upskilling, education and learning. Also consider certifying your skills through AIPM’s national project management certification RegPM, which will provide you with a competitive edge when applying for new roles.
 



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