APM Salary and Market Trends Survey 2020
The make-up of the project profession is ever shifting, but there are some underlying trends that are beginning to emerge with each year of our survey. Firstly, the profession is getting younger. This year’s survey reveals that, for a growing number of younger people, project management is now a viable and attractive career, with one-fifth having less than two years’ experience. The fact that 72 per cent of this group are under the age of 34 suggests a significant proportion are just beginning their careers.
It’s also clear that retaining that generation of project professionals is increasingly dependent on offering a clearer career path through training, development and reward. Our survey reveals that more younger people entering project management are doing so with an eye on gaining qualifications and moving up the corporate ladder.
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There are few changes to the sectoral make-up of the profession, with construction (12 per cent) and defence (11 per cent) the most represented sectors, in a result that reflects last year. Tellingly, those two sectors have some of the highest rates of satisfaction among their cohort, with fewer expressing a desire to move on from their current role than the average.
They were also the sectors (along with energy) with an overwhelming majority of project professionals in full-time employment, as well as offering either the average salary or higher.
The demographics of organisational size have remained largely unchanged, with the largest cohort working for organisations with between 1,000 and 4,999 employees (18 per cent). The proportion of those working at small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) – organisations with fewer than 250 employees – has dropped from 14 per cent to 11 per cent.
Meanwhile, at the other end of the scale, 29 per cent are working at large organisations, alongside 25,000 or more colleagues. That is reflected in the sector split, with traditionally larger-scale employers coming from aerospace, transport, retail and defence.
It would seem that there are more projects underway, but many of them are at the lower end of the value scale. While most respondents report a buoyant landscape for jobs and new work, the mean value of projects currently employing project professionals has fallen by around £6m from £113m two years ago to £107m.
Projects in London have the most value, with a mean of £138m followed by projects in the South West (£132m) and North West (£126m). The regions with the lowest mean value projects are Northern Ireland (£62m), East of England (£70m) and Yorkshire and the Humber (£75m).
The international figures paint a similar picture to a number of home regions, with 35 per cent of respondents working outside the UK engaged on projects with a value in excess of £50m.
The impact of being a Chartered Project Professional (ChPP) is still being felt, with 65 per cent working on the biggest (£50m+) projects, compared to 31 per cent of overall respondents.
The survey offers further proof that recent efforts to improve awareness of project management as a good career option have paid off, with one in five being new to the profession (those with two years’ experience or less).
The fact that almost one-third (31 per cent) of those new to the profession are already on salaries in excess of £35,000 also suggests a willingness among employers to reward enthusiasm, energy and new ideas, and not just experience.
And it would seem that a growing number of new entrants see a project management qualification as a good way to progress. The uptake of introductory professional qualifications, specifically the APM Project Fundamentals Qualification (PFQ), has grown once again, up from 17 per cent in 2018 to 21 per cent this year. It is especially popular among the 25–34 segment, with 27 per cent pursuing the qualification.
The educational landscape has changed little in the last year. In some areas, however, the educational mix is more dynamic: while project professionals are more likely to be chartered (in any discipline) than two years ago (14 per cent versus 12 per cent), they are less likely to have a master’s degree – a figure which has dropped in the past two years from 32 per cent to 27 per cent. The proportion of those with a university education has remained the same, with one-third of those responding saying they have an undergraduate degree.
Meanwhile the proportion of those taking the apprenticeship route has grown, from five per cent in 2018 to seven per cent now. That suggests that although apprenticeships have yet to usurp the higher education path in any significant way, it is becoming a more established route into the profession.