Project Manager Salary: Your 2021 Guide

Written by Coursera • Updated on Sep 10, 2021

Project managers are responsible for planning and executing projects—a critical role in any business. It’s a well-paying career with room to advance into even higher-paying positions.

A project manager in an orange shirt sits at a work table with a laptop, tablet, and coffee mug with a blackboard in the background.

Let’s take a closer look at how much project managers typically make, as well as some of the factors that can influence your salary.

How much do project managers make?

The Project Management Institute (PMI) surveyed 8,967 project managers in the United States as part of their Earning Power: Project Management Salary Survey—Eleventh Edition (2020) [1].  The survey found that the median annual salary was $116,000. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a median salary (as of 2019) of $73,570 for project management professionals, with the bottom ten percent earning a median of $39,930 and the top ten percent $128,420 [2].

Factors that impact project manager salary

Your cash compensation as a project manager ultimately depends on a variety of factors. If you’re looking to maximize your paycheck, consider these components of the pay equation.

Education

As in most industries, a higher educational attainment can often yield higher pay. According to the PMI Salary Survey, a majority of those surveyed in the US (92 percent) had at least a bachelor’s degree. Reported salaries go up along with degree level.

  • Four-year college degree: $110,250

  • Master’s degree: $120,000

  • Doctoral degree: $123,000

In addition to enhancing your earning potential, earning a higher degree might also make you more competitive in the job market. By earning a business-related degree, such as a Master of Business Administration, you can build the leadership skills companies are looking for and open up the possibility of moving into executive management in the future.

Get started with Coursera

Learn more about what it’s like to earn a business degree online. Sign up to receive more information, or enroll in an upcoming webinar for a look at degree programs from top universities.

Placeholder

Certification

Earning a certification in project management can help to validate your skills and experience to employers. This can sometimes translate into a higher salary. Among the professionals in the US surveyed by PMI, the median salary for those holding a Project Management Professional (PMP) certification was $25,000 more than those without. 

While the PMP is certainly a highly-respected credential, it’s not the only one. You can also get certified in project management methodologies, like Agile, Scrum, or PRINCE2, or earn an industry-specific credential, like the CompTIA Project+ for information technology (IT) project managers.

Get started with Coursera

The Google Professional Certificate in Project Management is designed for those with no prior experience who are looking to build job-ready skills in the project management industry. 

Placeholder

Years of experience

Generally speaking, the more time you’ve worked as a project manager, the more you can expect to earn. Luckily it doesn’t take long for experience to start translating into more money. 

According to job listing site Glassdoor, project managers with one to three years of experience earn an average base salary of $7,363 more per year than those with no prior experience (as of February 2021). The PMI Salary Survey reports similar data—a $15,000 increase in median annual salary between those with less than three years of experience and those with three to five years of experience.

Job title

You’ll find several roles along the project management career path. While your position might correspond to your seniority and level of experience, this is another way to look at typical salaries. According to the PMI Salary Survey, these alternate job titles pull in the following median annual salaries:

  • Project management specialist: $92,221

  • Project management consultant: $120,000

  • Program manager: $125,000

  • Portfolio manager: $138,000

  • Director of project management: $144,000

Here’s a similar breakdown of average annual salaries, this time based on Glassdoor data (2021):

Industry

What industry you choose to work in as a project manager can have a significant impact on your salary. While there are project managers working in a wide range of fields, these are among the highest paying (according to the PMI Salary Survey and Glassdoor):

Highest-paying industries

Earning Power: Project Management Salary SurveyGlassdoor (February 2021)
Consulting project manager salary$132,500$72,946
Resources, energy, utilities project manager salary$132,000$71,771
Pharmaceuticals project manager salary$130,000$69,032

Other common industries

Earning Power: Project Management Salary SurveyGlassdoor (February 2021)
IT project manager salary$120,000$62,172
Government project manager salary$115,000$63,251
Healthcare project manager salary$108,319$63,171
Construction project manager salary$107,659$66,872

Location

In many industries, including project management, where you live can impact how much money you make. Data from job posting site ZipRecruiter indicates that project management jobs in the San Francisco Bay, Boston, and New York City areas tend to have the highest annual salaries. 

When thinking about location, it’s important to take into consideration cost of living as well. The areas that correspond to the highest pay—often major cities—tend to come with higher living expenses.

As companies continue to digitize employee interaction and collaboration—a trend accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic—there may be more opportunity for online positions that allow you to work from anywhere. Companies like Amazon, HubSpot, Oracle, Twilio, and UnitedHealth Group have already begun hiring for remote project managers.

As companies continue to digitize employee interaction and collaboration—a trend accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic—there may be more opportunity for online positions that allow you to work from anywhere.

Team and company size

The size of your organization (and the size of the team you manage) can also play a role in how much you earn each year. In general, the larger the organization and team, the higher the median annual salary for project managers. Those working at a company with fewer than 100 employees reported a median salary of $111,000, according to PMI, while those at a company with 10,000 or more employees brought in $120,000.

Leading a project team of one to four people corresponded to a median salary of $106,888. On the opposite end of the spectrum, project managers with teams of 20 or more people reported a median salary of $130,000. 

According to Glassdoor, working at a company with fewer than 50 employees versus more than 5,000 employees could yield a salary difference of nearly $20,000.

Project management methodology

While less significant than the other factors we’ve discussed, the project management methodology you work with could also have an impact on your pay. For example, PMs who responded to the PMI Salary Survey who use Extreme Project Management techniques tended to earn more than those who used Agile, Lean, and Waterfall techniques.

It’s important to keep in mind that methodologies and techniques often depend on the industry, company culture, and type of project.

Next steps

If you’re interested in a career in project management, start building a foundation of job-ready skills through the Google Professional Certificate in Project Management. These six courses can help prepare you for an entry-level role, and upon completion, you can apply directly with Google and some 130 other employers.

Article sources

1. Project Management Institute. "Earning Power: Project Management Salary Survey—Eleventh Edition (2020), https://www.pmi.org/learning/careers/project-management-salary-survey." Accessed April 12, 2021.

2. US Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2020, https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes131198.htm." Accessed April 12, 2021.

Written by Coursera • Updated on Sep 10, 2021

This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.

Learn without limits