A Quick Project Manager’s Salary Guide

by Moira Alexander

If you’re looking for a career change that will offer a more attractive salary next year, you might want to consider a career as a project, program, or portfolio manager. What do project, program, or portfolio managers make? Take a look at advancing your future with a PMP certification salary below.

While everyone is looking for work-life balance these days, there’s no getting around the fact that the world works on a monetary system. That means your job needs to be financially rewarding enough to sustain your family’s expenses and keep up with the ever-increasing cost of living. 

Highest paying careers

What are the highest-paying careers? You’ll see many articles discussing the highest-paying careers in the United States, especially if you are a new graduate. In one TechRepublic article, “10 highest-paying tech jobs for new grads,” the salaries range from $67,364 to $109,957. If those numbers sound great to you, you’ll want to continue reading about project management salaries, where the median Project Manager salary in the United States is $112,000, and the potential that exists in the many rewarding roles. 

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If you’re fortunate enough to already have a career in the project management field, you’ve likely been enjoying a high project management salary. If you’re working in another field and are considering becoming a project, program, or portfolio manager, then keep reading to find out more about these rewarding careers and the high-paying salaries you could be making. 

Project Management Salaries

A survey by the Project Management Institute across 37 countries shows that the median  Project Management Professional (PMP) salary is 23% higher than those without a PMP certification. This translates to a significant gap in earning power. Doesn’t sound like a lot? Try to do without 23% of your gross income. With that in mind, here are just some of the annual median salaries project professionals in America can expect to make according to the PMI Salary Survey, 10th edition, as well as what you need to know about each role.

Project Manager Job description

What does a Project Manager do? Project Managers are one of the most widely recognized roles in companies of all sizes and sectors around the globe. These leaders are responsible for all aspects of project planning, initiating, executing, monitoring and controlling, and closing. They skillfully manage the project and its entire scope of a project, including resources, costs, quality, procurement, integration, risk, and other aspects. They are ultimately tasked with delivering customer requirements within scope

Project Manager Salaries

Role 25th percentile Medium salary 75th percentile
Project Manager I $71,201  $87,426 $103,000
Project Manager II $81,000  $96,500 $113,526
Project Manager III $93,000  $110,000 $127,000
Project Management specialist $69,700  $90,000 $112,000
Project Management Consultant $90,000  $115,000 $140,000

Program Manager Job description

What does a Program Manager do? Program managers play a higher-level strategic role. They are responsible for the oversight of projects, products, and other essential business initiatives. People in this role provide guidance and coordination of all similar or related projects. All of the project managers for these related projects will report to the program manager. There could be numerous project managers reporting to different program managers within an organization. 

Program Manager Salary

Role 25th percentile Medium salary 75th percentile
Program Manager $ 102,000  $121,650  $142,000 

Portfolio Manager Job description

What does a Portfolio Manager do? Project Portfolio Managers play the most extensive role in organizations. They are responsible for the oversight, guidance, and general strategy of one or more programs. There could be one or multiple program managers reporting to one or more Portfolio Managers. Portfolio Managers would be directly involved in strategic planning at the highest levels of an organization.

Portfolio Manager Salary

Role 25th percentile Medium salary 75th percentile
Portfolio Manager $110,000   $134,000 $158,000
PMO Director $116,000 $140,000  $164,680 

Taking things one step further, here are the median project management salaries based on years of experience. 

Project Management salaries by experience

Role 25th percentile Medium salary 75th percentile
0 years   $60,000  $66,000 $87,500
3 < 5 years $60,000  $72,000 $84,000
5 < 10 years $73,000  $86,000 $100,000
10 < 15 years $84,000  $100,000 $120,000
15 < 20 years $93,000  $111,000 $132,000
> 20 years $100,000  $120,000 $144,712

Project Management Career Outlook

Portfolio Manager Salaries

The Project Management Institute’s (PMI) Project Management Job Growth and Talent Gap 2017–2027 report finds that “Demand over the next ten years for project managers is growing faster than demand for workers in other occupations. Organizations, however, face risks from this talent gap.” 

Their study of 11 countries with project management-related careers, in seven project-oriented sectors, identified growth to increase by an anticipated 22 million new jobs (33%) by 2027. This paints a bright picture for anyone considering or expanding career options within the project, program, and portfolio management field. It’s time to find your next project management job. 


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