A career as a project manager can be exciting, varied, fulfilling, and productive. The fact there is a clear start and end date means you can feel like you’re always making progress. And many project managers talk about the feeling of pride they experience in delivering something that makes the world a better place.
While salary is an important aspect to consider, and certainly, project managers tell us that theirs is a very healthy one (£55,000 being the average salary of APM member survey respondents), people also report a high level of job satisfaction: 80 per cent. Find out more about our Salary and Market Trends Survey below.
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The career of project manager
Jess Anisson, director of change and improvement, Open University
Receiving an OBE in her twenties and working on the 2012 London Olympics are just some of the career highlights for Jess Annison, 33 year old project manager and director of change and improvement at the Open University.
Annison began her career with the Civil Service’s Fast Stream programme, one of the best graduate schemes in the country.
APM Salary and Market Trends Survey 2018
Our Salary and Market Trends Survey 2018 tells a very positive story about the current market place for project managers with 84 per cent of workers surveyed having a gross annual salary over £30,000. An encouraging 66 per cent of respondents anticipate a salary increase in the next 12 months, while 37 per cent said they chose to work as a contractor for a better work life balance.
The findings from the Salary and Market Trends Survey 2018 are due out later this month. Explore the findings from the 2017 Salary and Market Trends Survey.
Roles and sectors
One of the benefits of a career as a project manager is the opportunity to work on different projects in wide range of sectors. Once you have the skills, they are transferrable and pan sector. This gives you the flexibility to keep your career interesting and to progress to more senior roles.
Some of the more common job titles are listed below complete with a brief explanation:
- Project administrator - This person performs a support function within a project environment. Some awareness of basic concepts such as risk, issue and change management along with familiarity with project management terms is useful.
- Project co-ordinator - Working with a project manager or as part of a project management office (PMO), this person brings the basic skills of project management discipline to project teams. Typically takes ownership for maintaining project risk, issue, change logs as well as project schedule and sometimes cost tracking. This person has good spreadsheet and planning software skills.
- Project planner - A specialist role found on larger complex projects, particularly capital investment projects. This person is dedicated to updating a complex schedule using software such as MS Project. A planner has keen attention to detail and should understand concepts such as critical path analysis and earned value management.
- Project manager - Responsible for project delivery, this person must drive the project forward to achieve the desired benefits. The job title project manager is widely used and can mean many different things. Understanding level of ownership, particularly budget, helps clarify the seniority of this role.
- Programme manager - This is a senior role with responsibility for achieving strategic benefits through undertaking a set of related projects. The programme manager is likely to lead a team of project managers and will report into senior management.
- PMO manager - Projects and programmes can start and end, whereas the PMO is a department that forms part of business-as-usual. The PMO manager will not run projects themselves. Their role is typically to ensure consistency in approach to selecting, planning, running and closing projects. The PMO will be the conduit for project status reporting, performance analysis and information for senior management and is likely to have very solid project management experience themselves.