Professionals in project management roles apply certain processes, skills, knowledge, experience, and ability to help reach the specific goals and objectives of a particular project. Put more simply, project managers are tasked with completing specific goals and deliverables. A successful project management career relies on exemplary resource management, budgeting, and communication across individuals and teams.
Individuals with a degree or certification in project management possess the skills and training to succeed in bringing these tasks across the finish line.
Formal education in this field focuses on project management certification, specialization as part of a business or management degree, or a dedicated undergraduate or graduate degree (such as a bachelor’s degree in project management). Upon completion of these programs, students have the collaboration and leadership skills to oversee projects of any size and scope.
This guide explores the types of job graduates with a degree in project management can expect, as well as tips for job seekers on how to secure a position as a project manager.
Highest Paying Project Management Jobs
The project manager salary varies, depending on experience, career, and industry. The following jobs offer high salaries, especially to those with education and certification.
Information Technology (IT) Project Manager Average Annual Salary: $166,770
IT project managers can earn, on average, $166,770 per year1. These individuals oversee and coordinate computer-related and technology-based activities in a company. They are strategists, as they determine IT goals and implement systems to meet those objectives.
Engineering Project Manager Average Annual Salary: $122,736
An engineering project manager can earn, on average, $122,736 per year2. These individuals focus on solving problems through innovation and creativity. In addition to working with engineering designers, project managers focus on allocating resources and staying on schedule.
Senior Project Manager Average Annual Salary: $120,040
Earning an average annual salary of $120,0403, senior project managers oversee the entire planning and implementation process of an entire project. Tasks include budget analysis, hiring team members, time scheduling, and supplier sourcing. This job generally requires advanced training and project management certification.
Construction Project Manager Average Annual Salary: $97,180
Earning an annual salary of $97,1804, construction project managers budget, supervise, and coordinate construction projects from start to finish. Tasks include collaboration with architects, engineers, and other subcontractors to make sure that the project complies with codes and other legal requirements.
Software Development Project Manager Average Annual Salary: $88,696
Software development project managers earn, on average, $88,696 per year5. Responsibilities include oversight involving software development systems. Tasks include resource management, beta testing, and following project deadlines.
Business Analyst Average Annual Salary: $87,660
Business analysts can earn, on average, $87,660 annually6. Also called management analysts, these individuals focus on ways to improve organizational efficiency by pinpointing problems and determining solutions. Main skills include analysis, communication, report development, and team building.
Purchasing Project Manager Average Annual Salary: $84,106
Also known as procurement project managers, purchasing project managers earn an average of $84,106 per year7. Their area of expertise involves purchasing goods and services for organizations. Responsibilities include creating integrated processes between operations, purchasing, logistics, and outside suppliers. Other tasks include the development and maintenance of an effective procurement team.
Energy Project Manager Average Annual Salary: $84,077
Energy project managers earn an average salary of $84,077 per year8. These managers lead and coordinate project teams, manage timelines, coordinate plans with local authorities, and create and present plans.
Health Services Project Manager Average Annual Salary: $70,806
Health services project managers, also known as healthcare project managers, earn an average salary of $70,806 per year9. These individuals collaborate with healthcare providers, department heads, vendors, and others on various projects such as new facilities and different ways of efficient healthcare delivery.
Marketing Project Manager Average Annual Salary: $64,194
Earning an average salary of $64,194 per year10, a marketing project manager focuses on tasks that present their organizations in the best possible light. These tasks can include brand awareness campaigns, pricing strategies, creative endeavors, and promotional plans and goals.
Popular Career Paths With a Project Management Degree
A formal project management education paves the way toward many careers managing projects in many industries. Some of these industries include:
- Computer/information systems
- Food services
- Construction and real estate
Average Salary for Project Management Graduates
The average project manager salary varies widely, based on education, industry, experience, and specific job. Sometimes, salaries can reach six figures a year. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates that the average project management salary is $77,42011. Meanwhile, the average salary of the degreed project management professional is $73,969 annually, according to Indeed.com12.
How to Find a Job After You Graduate
Those who succeed in this field present outstanding communication and motivational abilities and enjoy working with others. They also pay attention to details and regularly take on leadership roles.
The first step to a project management career involves earning an undergraduate degree. This can take the form of specialization in another degree (such as a business degree with a project management specialization). Or it can be a specific bachelor’s degree in project management.
Many who have their undergraduate degrees already might opt to earn a project management certification or might go on to study for their master’s in project management. Determining this depends on career choices, interests, and overall job goals. Internships also provide a good path toward finding a permanent job.
Following receipt of a formal degree, those interested in project management careers might consider certification from organizations such as the Project Management Institute (PMI)13. Such certifications can include:
- Project Management Professional
- Risk Management Professional
- Scheduling Professional
- Certified Associate in Project Management.
Those with degrees or certifications in project management should take the following steps to find jobs:
- Search on the Project Management Institute job board14
- Post availability to work on LinkedIn or other online professional networking sites
- Join associations such as PMI or the International Project Management Association
Another good way to find a project management job is to ask people who are familiar with your skills and abilities. Skills involved with communication, organization, and leadership are applicable to most industries.
Discover More About a Career With a Project Management Degree
Q. What is the difference between project management certification and project management college degrees?
The main differences between certification and college or university degrees are required coursework and length of time. An undergraduate degree program typically consists of 120 credits and can take a minimum of four years to complete. A master’s degree program can take a year or two longer before degree receipt. Certification requires only months to complete but is not as in-depth when it comes to classes or studies. This does not mean that college degrees are better than certifications. Determining which educational path to pursue depends on career goals and job choices.
Q. Does it matter what kind of education I have to get a project management job?
At a minimum, a bachelor’s degree helps open doors to a project management job. It helps if that bachelor’s degree offers either a specialization or specific path regarding project management. Those interested in leadership roles might want to consider advanced degrees in project management. For those who already have jobs and want to take on project management roles, certification may be the way to go.
Q. What skills do I need to succeed in a project management career?
Skills related to planning are required for success. Another must-have skill is excellent communication. Because project planners have oversight, they need to communicate clearly with subordinates, colleagues, and bosses. This type of communication includes both written and verbal. Other skills include organization, multitasking, time management, leadership, negotiation, risk management, and problem-solving.
Q. What career paths are open in project management?
Project managers can be found in a variety of fields and industries. This is because project management, in and of itself, is really an industry as much as an activity. The financial, technology, manufacturing, real estate, and marketing sectors all rely on project management skills.
 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook (2021, September 8). Computer and Information Systems Managers. Retrieved November 7, 2021 from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/computer-and-information-systems-managers.htm
 Glassdoor.com (2021). Engineering project manager salaries. Retrieved November 7, 2021 from https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/engineering-project-manager-salary-SRCH_KO0,27.htm
 Salary.com (2021). Senior project management salary in the United States. Retrieved November 7, 2021 from https://www.salary.com/research/salary/listing/senior-project-manager-salary
 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook (2021, September 8). Construction managers. Retrieved November 7, 2021 from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/construction-managers.htm#tab-5
 PayScale (2021). Average project manager, software development salary. Retrieved November 7, 2021 from https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Project_Manager%2C_Software_Development/Salary
 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook (2021, September 8). Management analysts. Retrieved November 7, 2021 from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/management-analysts.htm
 Salary.com (2021). Procurement project manager salary. Retrieved November 7, 2021 from https://www.salary.com/research/salary/recruiting/procurement-project-manager-salary
 PayScale (2021). Average energy project manager salary. Retrieved November 7, 2021 from https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Energy_Project_Manager/Salary
 Salary.com (2021). Healthcare project manager salary in the United States. Retrieved November 7, 2021 from https://www.salary.com/research/salary/posting/healthcare-project-manager-salary
 PayScale (2021). Average project manager, marketing salary. Retrieved November 7, 2021 from https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Project_Manager%2C_Marketing/Salary
 Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages (2020). Project Management Specialists and Business Operations Specialists, All Other. Retrieved November 7, 2021 from https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes131198.htm
 Indeed.com (2021). Project manager salary in the United States. Retrieved November 7, 2021 from https://www.indeed.com/career/project-manager/salaries
 Project Management Institute (2021). Certifications. Retrieved November 7, 2021 from https://www.pmi.org/certifications
 Project Management Institute (2021). Your next career awaits. Retrieved November 7, 2021 from https://careercenter.pmi.org/