Pursuit of happiness

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According to the latest Gallup Positive Experience Index, the mood of the world is upbeat, especially in Latin America, where you are most likely to experience positive emotions on a daily basis. So if you want to find happiness, you could move to Paraguay. Alternatively, you could become a professional project manager.

APM’s Salary and Market Trends Survey 2015 reveals that project managers are feeling increasingly positive about the market in the months ahead. Around 70 per cent note that their organisation is experiencing growth, while a further 47 per cent expect to recruit additional staff. More strikingly, of the 2,700 project professionals who took part in the study, 77 per cent reported high levels of job satisfaction. Which begs the question: why?

If we look at why project managers are such a contented lot, the research reveals common ‘happiness’ factors. First, it pays to be a member of a professional body. On average, those holding APMP: The APM Project Management Qualification tend to earn more than respondents with no formal project management qualification. In the early-to-mid-salary range, for example, 34 per cent of respondents with no qualifications earned £20,000-£39,999, compared with 44 per cent with qualifications who earned £40,000-£59,999. Moving up the pay scale, 8 per cent of MAPMs (Full members of the Association for Project Management) earn £100,000 or more compared with 4 per cent of those who hold APMP qualifications.

In fact, we can say with confidence that being a member of APM not only improves your earning potential, but also your job satisfaction. Simply put, you’re far more likely to be satisfied with your job if you’re a member of APM. This is good news for both employees – and employers. The data reveals that MAPMs tend to stay put, which in turn contributes to retention and saves employers around £5,000 in recruitment costs – not a bad return on the annual membership fee of £156.

Second, the pay is pretty good. On average, a project manager can expect to earn £40,000-£49,000 a year, which is considerably more than the national average. On a regional basis, 78 per cent of respondents from Wales earned £49,999 or less, compared with 48 per cent of respondents in the south-east of England. Meanwhile, 13 per cent of respondents from Greater London earned £80,000 or more, compared with only 2 per cent of respondents from the Midlands. The top earners, taking home £100,000 upwards, were predominately located in and around the capital.

Freedom beckons
But it’s not all about the money. Diversity at work is huge pull factor. When asked for their reasons for going it alone or taking up contracting work, 88 per cent cited career choice ahead of the average £300-£500 day rate. The freedom to move between jobs – and even sectors – for contractors is made more attractive by extra security. More than three-quarters said their average contract length was more than six months, and 42 per cent revealed their average contract length was more than 12 months. Notice periods, too, are on the rise. Nearly half (47 per cent) reported having two weeks or more for their notice period, compared with 13 per cent having less than one week’s notice.

For those in full-time employment seeking new job opportunities, diversity again ranks highly. The main criteria were diverse work (37 per cent), followed by career progression (21 per cent) and salary (15 per cent). The number anticipating a move within the next 12 months was relatively small: just 16 per cent. Only 4 per cent stated that they were not satisfied in their role.

This may have something to do with financial incentives: more than a third of respondents (36 per cent) expects an increase in their pay and benefits in 2015/16. Or it may reflect the upbeat mood of the profession in general as it rides the wave of the economic recovery: only 1 per cent of individuals are likely to leave the profession as a result of current market conditions.

Either way, the APM survey gives an insight into a profession on the up, where standards and professionalism pay handsomely, and where managing projects delivers a whole lot more in the way of personal benefits.

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Posted by James Simons on 14th Jan 2016

About the Author

James Simons is publishing manager at APM. He has previously edited APM’s Project magazine for 3+ years and has a background in trade journalism. He has worked in communications and managed both print and digital publications.

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