How do you know whether you’re making a competitive salary as a project manager? There’s actually a quick way to find out. If you’re a member of PMI Global, you get free access to an annual salary survey of 30,000 practitioners across the world. For each country, it provides salary ranges based on factors like years of PM experience, job title, years certified, industry, etc. (It also reveals important data about the persistent gender gap in the field.)
This salary data is used by employers and HR departments to ensure fair, consistent, and competitive pay, so it’s a good starting point for those seeking to negotiate (or renegotiate) their compensation. One caveat: Most of this data does not account for total compensation (i.e., the monetary value of benefits and perks), so you’ll have to do that math yourself.
Want the “TLDR” summary for U.S. Project Manager Salary data? Here were some of our biggest takeaways:
- Experience matters. The salary of a project manager varies widely depending on experience. While the mean across all project managers is $115,000, it takes at least 10-15 years of project management experience to achieve this number in most industries.
- Certification matters more. The median salary for a certified project manager is approximately 30% higher than for a non-certified PM. (The majority of respondents in this study had their PMP® credential.) The salary difference gets wider the longer you have your PMP certification.
- Experience trumps education. There isn’t much of a difference at all between a non-degreed and a degreed project manager, nor is there a big difference between those who pursued formal education in the field of project management.
- Industry has a powerful effect on salary. Industry and department are huge “swing factors” that should be considered when evaluating your salary. For example, some fields require that project managers also be professional engineers--and compensate accordingly.
- Project managers work more than 40 hours a week. Project managers work 45-50 hours per week on average, compared to the 40 hours/week expectations.
- Raises have not outpaced inflation, as in many professions. The average percent compensation increase last year for project managers was between 1 and 3.9%, which includes merit increases. This means that overall compensation did not keep up with inflation. That said, since project management is an industry-agnostic skill set, it’s likely that the field provides greater job security and mobility than other professions.
Bottom line: Project management is a growing field with low barriers to entry and a high salary ceiling. It’s rewarding work all on its own, but it also provides opportunities to progress to executive or leadership positions, such as a PMO Director, CIO, or even CEO. To give yourself the best chance to grow your compensation, prioritize gaining relevant experience (ideally in multiple industries) and earning one or more certifications--starting with the gold standard PMP credential.
Do you want to learn more about the PMP exam? You can see a recording of our recent PMP exam Q&A here. Or, you can ask us your question directly, and one of our PM Experts will reach out to you.
PMP® is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc