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Is Project Management a Good Career? How Well Does it Pay?

Is Project Management a Good Career? And how well does it PAY?

Are you considering a Project Management career? And are you wondering, ‘Is Project Management a good career choice?’ Come to think of it, you’re probably also wondering if it pays well!

Let’s see.

In this video, I answer the questions:
💵 Is Project Management a Good Career Choice?
🙋🏾‍♂️ What kind of person is well-suited to a Project Management career?
💰 What are the Compensations of a Project Management Career?
🤑 How Well Does Project Management Pay?
🎰 How to Make a Better Project Management Career

This video is safe for viewing in the workplace.

This is learning, so, sit back and enjoy

Is Project Management a Good Career Choice?

‘Yes. Next question…’

What do I mean by ‘a good career’?

After over 30 years in the profession, with many friends, colleagues, and contacts in the profession too, and after training thousands of project managers in the last 20 years, I have a point of view.

Project Management is a great career, if you are looking for a long-term profession, or a professional background that offers:

  • Varied, satisfying work
  • Long-lasting employability, with a huge range of career options
  • Challenges that will compel you to tackle problems, learn, and develop throughout your career
  • The chance to work with a huge variety of people in a wide range of contexts
  • A role that is respected throughout commerce, industry, and public service
  • A career where you can make a difference and do good in the world
  • And yes, one that offers good compensation in the form of high salaries or contract rates and ready employment

Does Project Management really offer all this? In my experience, it does.

What Kind of Person is Well-suited to a Project Management Career?

Project Management is a good career choice if you like:

  • Something new every day
  • Frequent changes in role and environment
  • Making change happen
  • Seeing the results of your work
  • Feeling you’ve made a difference
  • Solving problems
  • Thinking clearly
  • Taking responsibility
  • Working with people
  • Constant learning
  • Career progression
  • And a profession as well as a job

A Poor Choice of Career?

Do you need to fit this description perfectly? No. But on the other hand, Project Management is probably not a good fit for you if you like:

  • Taking instructions and little responsibility
  • Routine, certainty, and familiarity
  • A relaxed life at work

The Compensations of a Project Management Career

Project Management is a satisfying, long-term, challenging profession, that offers the chance to do good and win respect. And it’s also well compensated.

The subject of remuneration revolves around 3 specific things:

  1. Supply and Demand – that leads to salary expectations
  2. Breadth of opportunities across sectors and geographies
  3. Routes to expand your professional horizons beyond core Project Management skills

Let’s look at these in turn.

Supply and Demand

There’s a huge demand for Project Management skills globally. And every piece of research and survey data I’ve seen predicts that it will continue to grow. And it also seems that Project Managers are in relatively short supply. Good ones, who are constantly sharpening and broadening their skill sets, even more so.

This means salary or contracting rate expectations are high. This is a long-term, high-status career option.

Breadth of Opportunities across Sectors and Geographies

It doesn’t matter what sector attracts you or what geography you prefer to live and work in. There is a need for Project Managers everywhere.

You can even work for consulting or contracting organizations (as I did) that will allow you to gain experience across many sectors in different countries. I have delivered projects in the UK, Germany, and the Netherlands, and in telecoms, financial services, transport, manufacturing, retail, food and beverage, not-for-profit, healthcare, professional services, energy supply, central and local government, and probably others that I’ve forgotten!

Expand beyond Core Project Management Skills

With Project Management as your core skill, there are a huge variety of directions your career can take. The obvious examples are program and portfolio management, and PMO roles. These can, of course, lead to senior leadership roles up to Director or VP level.

My own career has gone beyond Project, Program, and Change Management into training, speaking, writing, founding and operating (and in one case, selling) businesses, and becoming a nearly full-time YouTuber.

And, when I think of friends and former colleagues, I see:

  • Project Management Contractors and Interims
  • Business Founders
  • Consultancy Partners
  • Senior Civil Servants and Local Government Chief Officers
  • Charity executives
  • Procurement and contracting experts
  • Lawyers and Accountants
  • Business strategy analysts
  • Executive Coaches
  • And COOs, CTOs, CFOs, and CEOs

And, of course, many happy and highly respected senior Project Managers.

Cut to the Chase… How Well Does Project Management Pay?

This video is sponsored by Association for Project Management. APM carries out regular and thorough surveys of project management salaries and market trends. This data is published in the APM Salary and Market Trends Survey.

APM leads debates, champions innovations, and challenges the status quo where they think it will make a difference.

APM delivers learning and networking opportunities, qualifications, research, resources, events, and best practice guidance for the project community, helping the profession deliver better.

This year’s survey (2023) is a must-read for anyone interested in the profession. And the best news… It’s free. And not just to their members, so here’s a link…

I answer the questions with the help of the latest (2023) APM Salary and Market Trends Survey, from Association for Project Management.

You can download your free copy from the APM website.

Its five chapters cover:

  1. Salary data – cut in many ways
  2. Working life and job satisfaction
  3. Diversity and inclusion
  4. Dealing with volatility
  5. Respondents

APM’s Findings in the Salary and Market Trends Survey, 2023

In answer to the question ‘How well does project management pay’, the headline is that full APM members have an average salary of GB£67,500.

But details matter. There is a fantastic graphic on page 7, that shows the average salary by project-related role, with salaries, ranging from:

  • £27,500 for a project administrator or project office support role (and £17,000 for students), up to
  • £82,500 for heads of projects or programs or project, program, or PMO director roles.

And £125,000 for those who are Company Directors or Board members.

Chapter 2 opens with three great statistics that bear on the question, Is Project Management a Good Career? Of the people surveyed:

  • 81% say they are satisfied in their role
  • 65% have seen their pay and benefits increase since the previous APM Salary and Market Trends Survey (in 2020)
  • 80% are optimistic about the supply of jobs

How to Make a Better Project Management Career

Finally, I’d like to end with seven tips for how to make a better Project Management career.

  1. The first was shared by Dawn Mahan, in a conversation we had on my YouTube channel. She recommends your next job will half make you comfortable that you know what you’re doing, and half scare you that you don’t… yet.
  2. Don’t just aim to deepen your experience; also aim to broaden it.
  3. Look out for mentors who can advise you and build mastermind groups of like-minded colleagues to help you learn from your experiences.
  4. Contribute to the profession: mentor colleagues, develop thought leadership, volunteer to speak at events, join Special Interest Groups (SIGs).
  5. Consider the value – for your choice of career – of formal learning and certification. APM, for example, offers three tiers of core qualifications, along with specialized qualifications, learning resources, and publications. PMI and other Project Management organizations offer their own ranges of qualifications.
  6. Meet people and attend events wherever and whenever you can. Ask questions, share ideas, and pick up new knowledge.
  7. And finally… Keep Learning!

Carefully curated video recommendations for you:

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What Kit does a Project Manager Need?

I asked Project Managers in a couple of forums what material things you need to have, to do your job as a Project Manager. They responded magnificently. I compiled their answers into a Kit list. I added my own. 

Check out the Kit a Project Manager needs

Note that the links are affiliated.

Learn Still More

For more great Project Management videos, please subscribe to the OnlinePMCourses YouTube channel.

If you want basic Management Courses – free training hosted on YouTube, with 2 new management lessons a week, check out our sister channel, Management Courses.

For more of our Project Management videos in themed collections, join our Free Academy of Project Management.

For more of our videos in themed collections, join our Free Academy of Project Management

About the Author Mike Clayton

Dr Mike Clayton is one of the most successful and in-demand project management trainers in the UK. He is author of 14 best-selling books, including four about project management. He is also a prolific blogger and contributor to and Project, the journal of the Association for Project Management. Between 1990 and 2002, Mike was a successful project manager, leading large project teams and delivering complex projects. In 2016, Mike launched OnlinePMCourses.

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