Despite the global recession, historic unemployment and massive corporate budget cuts, U.S. project managers are largely optimistic about their salaries in 2010, according to data from the Project Management Institute's (PMI) recently released 2009 Project Management Salary Survey.
Two-thirds (67 percent) of project management professionals in the U.S. expect their salaries to improve in 2010. Only 4 percent think their salaries will decrease this year, while 29 percent see stagnating wages in their future.
During the worst of the global recession, between fall 2008 and fall 2009, American project managers who managed to hold onto their jobs didn't fare too poorly, compared to professionals in other fields: 53 percent earned a raise (though most raises amounted to between 1 percent and 3 percent of their salaries), 34 percent went through a salary freeze, and 14 percent experienced a pay cut.
The median base salary for a project management professional in the U.S. is $100,000. Three-fourths of survey respondents earn more than $84,000 per year, and one-fourth of survey respondents take home an annual base salary of more than $120,000.
PMI's salary survey also reveals what project management professionals earn according to a variety of variables, including:
- their title
- educational background
- whether they hold a PMP certification (and how long they've held it)
- the department they work in
- their industry
- the type of project they work on (e.g. construction, IT, R&D)
- the average size of their project team and budget
Here's a look at how project managers' salaries fare along each of those criteria.
Salary by Title
Project managers' salaries are, not surprisingly, a function of their rank inside their organizations as well as their level of experience. Thus, entry-level project managers earn the least (the median salary for a project management specialist in the U.S. is $85,000), while directors of project management earn the most, with a median annual salary of $123,000. Project management consultants also do well: Their median salary is $105,000. The medians for other project management titles include:
Project Manager I: $84,000
Project Manager II: $90,000
Project Manager III: $99,000
Program Manager: $110,000
Portfolio Manager: $117,000
Salary by Educational Background
Just as title and experience positively influence a project management professional's salary, so too does their level of education. Project managers with Master's degrees and PhDs earn more than project managers who hold Bachelor's degrees. Here are the median salaries for project management professionals according to their highest level of education:
High School Degree: $88,000
Some College or Associate's Degree: $90,000
Bachelor's Degree: $98,000
Master's Degree: $105,000
Doctoral Degree: $114,000
Salary by Certification
Survey data shows that the longer project management professionals hold PMI's PMP certification, the higher their salaries. Consider the median salaries of project management professionals according to how long they've held a PMP:
Less than 1 year: $86,000
1 to 5 years: $100,000
5 to 10 years: $108,206
10 to 20 years: $118,000
Don't have a PMP certification? Don't worry too much. Project management professionals who lack a PMP still pull a median annual salary of $91,000. (For more information on the importance of project management certifications, see Why Project Management Certifications Matter.)
Salary by Department
The largest number of project management professionals who responded to the survey work in corporate IT departments, and they earn among the highest median salaries. IT project managers are edged out only by project managers who work in consulting or research and development departments.
Research & Development: $109,000
Project Management/PMO: $100,000
Administration/General Management: $100,000
(The survey lists 10 other departments, but those are the top five where project managers' median salaries are $100,000 or more.)
Salary by Industry
PMI's survey results indicate which industries are potentially the most lucrative for project management professionals. The nine industries that pay the most for project managers are:
Resources (Agriculture, Mining, etc.): $120,000
Food and beverage: $102,000
Salary by Type of Project
Some kinds of projects appear to pay slightly more than others:
Business Transformation: $105,000
Supply Chain Management/Logistics: $105,000
Quality Management: $100,000
Regulatory Compliance: $100,000
Salary by Size of Project Team and Size of Budget
Project managers' salaries are clearly a function of the size of their project team and the size of the project budget. The bigger the project budget and project team, the more a project manager will earn. Here are the median salaries for project managers in charge of various team sizes and project budgets:
1 to 4 project team members: $96,000
5 to 9 project team members: $100,000
10 to 14 project team members: $102,000
15 to 19 project team members: $105,000
20 or more project team members: $110,000 Budget of less than $100,000: $85,600
Budget of $100,000 to $499,999: $95,000
Budget of $500,000 to $999,999: $100,000
Budget of $1 to $10 million: $106,793
Budget of $10 million or more: $120,000
Salary by Gender
The pay disparity between men and women in project management persists, but it's not clear whether the pay gap is a result of men earning more because they're in higher-level positions and women earning less because they're in lower-level positions. (See Gender Discrimination Linked to Poor Project Management.)
The median base salary for a male project management professional is $105,000. Three-fourths of male project management professionals earn more than $87,500 per year. One-fourth earn more than $125,000 per year.
For female project management professionals, the salary figures are considerably lower. The median base salary for female project management professionals is $95,000 per year—$10,000 a year less than what men earn. Three-fourths earn more than $79,000 per year. One-fourth earn more than $112,918 per year.
PMI surveyed nearly 35,000 project management professionals in 19 countries from late October 2009 until early December 2009. The majority of survey respondents—more than 19,900—were American project management professionals. Sixty-one percent of respondents were men; 39 percent were women.