Project Management Education and Career Guide
Project Management Salary Guide
Median Annual Salary for Project Managers
Project management is a wide field that includes roles in multiple industries. Salaries can vary depending on your industry, education, certification, experience, and more, but project managers are generally well-compensated with median salaries ranging from $49,750 to $159,140, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Many project managers see median salaries of more than $100,000, and salaries are continuing to rise. In fact, of project managers included in the Project Management Institute's (PMI) 2021 salary survey, 50% reported that their salaries increased in the 12 months prior to completing the survey.
Median Salary: $94,500
Projected job growth: 7.2%
10th Percentile: $49,750
25th Percentile: $64,250
75th Percentile: $125,430
90th Percentile: $159,140
Projected job growth: 7.2%
|State||Median Salary||Bottom 10%||Top 10%|
|District of Columbia||$100,630||$62,390||$162,930|
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2021 median salary; projected job growth through 2031. Actual salaries vary depending on location, level of education, years of experience, work environment, and other factors. Salaries may differ even more for those who are self-employed or work part time.
What Factors Affect Your Salary?
Your job field isn't the only thing that can impact your salary as a project manager. As with most jobs, experience, education, location, and your employer will make a big difference. It's no secret that years of experience or an advanced degree can help you boost your salary no matter what career path you follow. In project management, the certification you've earned and the size of the project or product you're tackling can make a difference in your paycheck.
Some states pay project managers more than others. While these jobs and their salaries vary by job title and industry, higher salaries are typically found in states on the west coast or in the northeast.
Keep in mind that these states generally have higher costs of living than some states with lower average salaries. So while your salary might be higher, expenses such as your mortgage or utilities will likely be higher as well.
Additionally, high-paying areas can sometimes be found in states with lower overall salaries for project managers. For instance, the highest paying metropolitan area for industrial project managers is New Orleans, Louisiana, according to the BLS. The mean (average) salary for industrial project managers in the city–$171,890–is significantly higher than the average in any state. Salaries for project management specialists by metro area, according to the BLS, are below.
You can work as a project manager at various degree levels. There are bachelor and graduate-level degrees available for aspiring project managers, and associate programs can help you get your foot in the door. However, an advanced degree can often help you increase your salary. You might be able to apply for higher-level roles, stand out among applicants, and earn a larger paycheck. According to the PMI 2020 salary survey, project managers with bachelor's degrees earned about 5% more on average than project managers with associate degrees. Project managers with master's degrees earned almost 9% more on average than project managers with bachelor's degrees.
Experience can help you increase your salary as project manager. The PMI survey reports that project managers with more than 20 years of experience earn almost 59% more on average than project managers with less than three years of experience. That's a staggering difference and a great demonstration of how your project management career can grow.
In a field as wide as project management, having job-specific experience can also be a huge help in gaining a higher salary.
"Like many jobs, the experience of the candidate will have some impact on the salary of the project manager," says Jon M. Quigley, a project manager, product developer, and author with more than 30 years of experience in the field of project management. "If, for example, a company is looking for a construction project manager, having (construction management) experience will likely positively impact salary negotiation."
The experience of the candidate will have some impact on the salary of the project manager.
There are no mandated certifications for project managers, but earning one can advance your career and increase your salary. There are a few prominent certification options for project managers, and the right one for you will depend on your career goals and industry focus. No matter what certification you choose, it's likely to have a positive impact on your paycheck.
"(Certification) demonstrates a level of expertise," says Quigley. He holds a Project Management Professional (PMP) certification, "and I believe that it has been beneficial for my career and income."
Data from the PMI salary survey backs up this observation. According to the survey, respondents with a certification earned an average of 26% more than those without one.
The size of the project itself is another key piece that may help shape your salary. Projects worth large amounts of money often offer higher salaries to project managers.
"The size of the project is important," Quigley explains. For example, a company may be looking specifically for someone who has managed projects in the multi-million-dollar range, versus smaller, less expensive projects. "The dollar amount of the project represents a risk: the higher the project investment, the greater the risk, and the greater the potential monetary loss."
How much does project size matter? The PMI salary survey reports that project managers employed at companies with budgets of less than $100,000 for projects earned an average of 42% less annually than project managers at companies with project budgets of more than $10 million. That's a substantial difference; one that grows exponentially as your project management career advances.