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Salaries and career satisfaction in project management: what the latest data shows

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If you’re looking for a snapshot of how the project profession is faring this year, then look no further than the eighth APM/YouGov Salary and Market Trends Survey of project professionals. This year’s report detected some important new trends in the progress of diversity and highlighted what project professionals want and worry about in their work.  

Here are four things you need to know: 

1. There are more women at the top of the profession 

Traditionally, senior positions such as consultant and project director have been dominated by men, but this year, the amount of women in those roles has increased. Now, almost a third of consultants and project directors are female, while the number of female heads of projects/programmes is also on the rise. The hike in the percentage of women in both project director and senior project manager roles has been particularly strong, jumping respectively from 17% (2021) to 28% and 24% to 31%. 

That’s the good news. The bad news is that as the average salaries for men and women haven’t changed since 2021 (£52,500 and £42,500, respectively), the gender pay gap within project management remains stubborn at 24%. 

2. More young project professionals come from diverse backgrounds 

The number of people from ethnic minorities entering the project profession is continuing to increase, with more than a third of new recruits now from ethnic minorities. This year, the results show a continuing move upwards in terms of the overall number of people from ethnic minorities, from 15% in 2021 to 20% now.  

But the greatest proportion of people from ethnic minorities is found in the younger generation – 36% of those who have been in the sector for two years or less, and 22% of those with three to five years of experience. This year, the survey found that there is a feeling among ethnic minorities that their ethnicity has had a positive impact on their professional development – an amount equal to that of white people – with 9% stating a negative impact. 

3. Job flexibility is more desired than ever 

The prospect of more opportunities for flexible working has increased in importance for those likely to change employer in the next year. For those hunting for a new job, the prospect of a higher salary still ranks top on the list of desires, with 82% citing it as important. However, the desirability of flexible working (66%) and working from home options (62%) has seen them rise to second and third place, above management style/culture.  

There was also a marked decrease in location as a key criterion for a new role, from 69% pre-pandemic to 54% this year. What’s more, flexible working and virtual teamwork are regarded as having a positive impact on projects by almost three-quarters of project professionals. Indeed, technology has a central role in improving the efficiency and success of the profession, with almost half of respondents stating that automation and AI have a positive impact. 

4. Inflation has become a key concern 

Right now, it’s inflation that seems to be keeping project professionals awake at night, with 66% of respondents feeling that inflation is having a negative impact on their projects. This is closely followed by global supply chain issues (58%) and energy price rises (54%). The impact of inflation is most keenly felt by older age groups, with 72% of 55- to 64-year-olds being concerned about its impact, while those in the construction, local government and space sectors show higher than average unease.  

Forty-four per cent of respondents cited new workplace measures to reduce energy consumption as having an impact; 35% reported increased investment in energy reduction facilities; and 37% stated that new measures had been introduced around project planning.  

While reducing energy consumption and considering sustainability in new projects can be seen as positive moves, the fact that 27% of projects had been cancelled or paused because of the energy crisis is a key concern.  

Read more about the Salary and Market Trends Survey 2023 in the spring 2023 issue of Project journal 


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