11 Opportunities for Your Project Management Career Path
There is no one prescribed project management career path, as this field offers a breadth of career opportunities. Whether you’re a newcomer or an experienced professional, project management can take you in several different directions.
Entry-Level Project Management Jobs
Entry-level project management jobs will help you to get your foot in the door, gain experience, and prove that you are ready to lead.
Assistant Project Manager
Assistant Project Managers support the project manager in administrative and technical tasks, making sure teams complete projects on time and within budget. They are charged with day-to-day responsibilities in the planning and implementation phases of a project, such as cross-departmental collaboration, resource management, budget monitoring, vendor coordination, and more.
Core responsibilities include:
- Delegating duties to achieve project goals
- Managing variable aspects of projects
- Liaising with project lead and other project managers to maintain project schedule
- Assisting with material procurement, if necessary
- Reviewing project implementation and gather data on project execution
- Coordinating with project managers and other project leads following project execution
The average salary for an Assistant Project Manager is $63,000.
A project coordinator often works under the direct supervision of a project manager, ensuring a project runs smoothly and efficiently. They specialize in project budgeting and funding, and make use of spreadsheets, graphs, and other reporting tools. They make routine presentations to the project manager to report on project financials. The project coordinator also facilitates change management through budget analysis when unexpected expenses or financial shortfalls emerge.
Aside from budgeting-related activities, project coordinators are also responsible for coordinating and attending meetings, as well as developing strategies for projects.
Key responsibilities of a project coordinator include:
- Evaluating and finding solutions to potential problems during project implementation
- Planning and managing team goals, project schedules, and new information
- Coordinating team members to keep workflow on track
- Managing project-related paperwork and materials
- Preparing and reviewing project proposals
- Managing memos, meeting minutes, and correspondence
Project coordinators earn an average salary of $51,000.
Project schedulers often work under the direct supervision of the project manager. They focus on the scheduling aspects of project management, as well as managing different stakeholder expectations. As such, they are responsible for planning projects and monitoring their timely execution.
To do that, they often collaborate with other team members and use scheduling software to set short-term schedules and target dates for various parts of a project. A project scheduler identifies and finds solutions to potential schedule delays and prepares regular progress reports. This role also often entails making decisions on process control, procurement, sub-contracting, and risk management.
Project scheduler responsibilities include:
- Breaking down a project into timed phases with deadlines
- Identifying and find solutions to potential project setbacks
- Preparing and presenting frequent progress reports
- Decision-making for procurement, sub-contracts, and risk management
Project schedulers have an average salary of $88,000.
Read more at CIOInsight: Entry-Level IT Jobs to Kickstart Your Career in 2022
Mid-Career Project Management Jobs
After some years of on-the-job experience in various project management tasks, the following opportunities may help you apply the business skills and knowledge you’ve acquired.
Project Team Lead
A project team lead provides structure to and motivates a team, manages conflicts, and makes final decisions after consulting with the entire team. This role reports directly to the project manager and is great training for a future project manager position. The main difference between the project team lead and the project manager is that project team leads have a vision for the project and are most concerned with the strengths and synergies of team members.
The project team leader is responsible for:
- Organizing team meetings
- Defining roles on the team
- Assigning responsibilities
- Testing product prototypes in certain contexts
Project team leaders have an average salary of $81,700.
A business analyst consults a project management team on client requirements, liaising between the project team and client. In finding the best possible solution to meet the client’s needs, the business analyst often negotiates with the project manager to deliver the best solution to the client.
Project managers rely on business analysts to provide project objectives, business needs analyses, tradeoff analyses, risk analyses, and cost-benefit analyses in order to fully understand the scope and possibilities of a project.
The duties of the business analyst include but aren’t limited to:
- Meeting regularly with clients
- Conveying clients’ needs to project management teams
- Negotiating between project feasibility and client requirements
- Identifying and communicating project objectives
- Conducting business, tradeoff, risk, and cost-benefit analyses
Business analysts have an average salary of $62,000.
A project manager plans and executes projects to help organizations improve processes, develop new products, build structures, or complete other initiatives. They often supervise project coordinators, project schedulers, or both. Depending on the company size, a project manager may be the sole person responsible for project execution or report to a senior project manager.
A project manager guides a team through a project while ensuring the schedule, budget, and communications are aligned in order to fulfill project goals.
The role of project manager is quite versatile and can be applied in a variety of industries, including construction, healthcare, software development, finance, government, and IT.
Core tasks of the project manager include:
- Supervising assistant project manager, project scheduler, project coordinator, and/or project team lead
- Collaborating with the business analyst and program manager
- Communicating staffing needs to resource manager
- Ensuring alignment between the schedule, budget, and project goals
- Reporting to the senior project manager or director of program management
Project managers earn an average salary of $75,000.
A program manager has a long-term vision for how multiple projects serve an overarching business strategy. A program manager supervises a group of projects, and thus, also a group of project managers. The kinds of tasks that a program manager performs include defining project strategies and project success metrics. Multitasking and people management skills are highly valued in this role.
Key duties of the program manager include:
- Strategizing projects that align with business initiatives
- Defining and communicating project success metrics
- Supervising project managers
- Reporting to director of program management
Program managers earn an average of $140,000.
Read more: Program Manager vs Project Manager 2022
No projects get done without qualified, highly skilled team members. That’s why resource managers are a valuable aid to project management. They assist project managers with staff allocation and hiring new employees according to the project manager’s needs. Since a resource manager has a good grasp of employee strengths, they may also assign staff to projects based on their skills and experience.
Resource managers also perform the following tasks:
- Monitoring employee workload, schedules, and work time
- Administering HR processes such as compensation, benefits election, and training
- Documenting staff processes and changes
- Staying informed of the latest labor laws and regulations
Resource managers earn an average of $70,000.
The Scrum Master helps the project team by enhancing and streamlining the processes by which they achieve their goals. They sometimes lead team meetings, and coach teams on best Scrum practices. More specifically, the scrum master helps the team maintain their burndown chart and set up retrospectives, sprint reviews, and Agile Sprint planning sessions.
In contrast to the project manager, the Scrum Master plays a facilitating role rather than a leadership role.
The Scrum Master is charged with the following tasks:
- Facilitating meetings
- Sprint planning
- Removing barriers to project progress
- Maintaining open communication within the team
A scrum master earns an average salary of $94,000.
Senior-Level Project Management Jobs
Senior Project Manager
The Senior Project Manager position is an advanced project management role that involves overseeing larger projects, such as scaling processes across teams, developing complex products, or leading projects with longer time frames.
Senior PMs typically have at least 10 years of related experience supervising projects from start to finish, demonstrating leadership, strategic planning, organizational skills, time management, communication, and results orientation.
The duties they perform include:
- Developing project plans
- Identifying resource and budgetary needs
- Hosting project meetings with team and managers
- Providing feedback and updates on projects
- Managing project deadlines
- Coordinating with vendors and suppliers
The average senior project manager salary is $94,000.
Director of Program Management
The director of project management is often the highest ranking employee in a company’s project management operations, overseeing project managers, and program managers, as well as leading company-wide projects and defining how these projects fit into a business’s strategic plans. The director of program management makes sure that projects are executed on time and liaises between initiatives.
A director of program management coordinates with internal and external parties, keeping them abreast of projects’ phase of completion. In this role it is essential to lead and encourage individual project teams and their managers to reach goals while also enforcing the company’s policies and regulations.
The director of program management is responsible for:
- Leading project managers and program managers
- Maintaining high-level understanding of company projects to align them with business goals
- Liaising between internal and external stakeholders
- Developing and implementing company policies and regulations as they pertain to project management
Average senior project manager salary is $143,000.
Ready to Consider a Project Management Career Path?
These opportunities give aspiring and current project management professionals the chance to develop diverse skills that will serve them well on their project management career path.
Depending on where you’re at in your project management career, start investigating the required skills and background for one or more roles in the category that’s appropriate for your experience level. Some of these roles’ responsibilities overlap, roll up into one job title, or are broken up across a few different roles. The specific job title and responsibilities will differ depending on your company’s size and approach to project management.
There is plenty of space to move up as well as laterally within project management, making it an exciting field to enter.
Recommended Project Management Software
If you’re interested in learning more about top rated project management software, the editors at Project-Management.com actively recommend the following: