How Much Do Project Managers Make? The Straight Dope on PM Salaries

How Much Do Project Managers Make? The Straight Dope on PM Salaries

How Much Do Project Managers Make? The Straight Dope on PM Salaries

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So you want to be a project manager, huh? Can’t say I blame you. Project managers are like the quarterbacks of the business world – calling the shots, leading the team, and raking in the big bucks. At least, that’s how it looks from the outside. But what’s the reality? How much dough can you really expect to make as a PM? Let’s dig into the data and find out.

How Much Do Project Managers Make And What Are The Average Salaries?

How Much Do Project Managers Make?

According to Glassdoor data, the average project manager in the US makes around $91,000 a year. Not too shabby! But averages can be misleading. PM salaries range widely based on factors like education, experience, company size, industry, and location.

Newbie PMs with little experience can expect to start around $65,000, while seasoned vets at huge corporations pull down $150,000+ (but have to deal with way more BS – more on that later).

The median PM salary – meaning half make more, half make less – is around $116,000, according to PayScale. Not bad for telling people what to do for a living!

How Education Impacts Project Manager Salaries

Not surprisingly, scoring more degrees equals more dollars. PMs with a master’s degree make a median of $120,000, while those with just a bachelor’s take home $110,000.Getting an MBA boosts salaries even more, to a median of $130,000. But beware – business schools love to sell you on how an MBA guarantees riches when the reality is more complicated.

An MBA won’t automatically make you a better PM. And some accomplished PMs don’t even have college degrees! Skills and experience matter more than letters after your name.

Experience Pays – Literally

Wanna make more money as a project manager? Get more experience! PMs with over 20 years under their belts median $135,000, while newbies median just $83,000.My advice? Find a company that values developing talent internally over chasing “rockstars”. Learn from experienced PMs. Build your skills. Then, watch your salary rise steadily over time.

Jumping jobs every two years to chase quick salary bumps is tempting. But in the long run, slower and steadier wins the race. Loyalty and relationships still matter in business.

Small Team, Small Paycheck

Managing more people means more pay. PMs leading teams under five median just $108,000. But for teams above 20, salaries jump to $130,000.However, more people, more problems. Large teams equal more stress, office politics, and cat herding. Give me five talented team players over 20 primadonnas any day.

Location, Location, Location

Where you work significantly impacts how much you make. Coastal cities and tech hubs have the highest PM salaries:

  • San Francisco Bay Area – $134,000
  • Seattle – $131,000
  • New York City – $130,000
  • Boston – $128,000

Meanwhile, in the South, PMs median under $100,000, according to Robert Half:

  • Atlanta – $96,000
  • Dallas – $91,000
  • Houston – $93,000

Industries With the Highest Project Manager Pay

Tech companies pay PMs big bucks – median $136,000. Finance and banking are also lucrative, with a median of $134,000.Meanwhile, PM salaries in academia and government drag – a median of just $91,000.But money shouldn’t be the only consideration. Work somewhere with a mission you believe in. Contribution and purpose matter more than a fat paycheck.

Is the Big Salary Worth the Tradeoffs?

Before you chase top PM dollar at a huge corporation, consider the downsides:

  • More meetings, conference calls, and emails than you can handle
  • Dealing with office politics, bureaucracy, and red tape
  • Long hours and always being “on call”
  • Churning out status reports, nobody reads
  • Having little autonomy or influence

Many top PMs eventually go independent or join smaller companies to escape the corporate BS. Less pay, but more freedom and fulfilment.

Frequently Asked Questions 

What skills increase a project manager’s salary?

The most important skills for commanding a high PM salary are leadership, communication, strategic thinking, and emotional intelligence. Technical skills and industry/domain knowledge are also valued. Proven ability to deliver projects on time and on budget.

Is project management a good career?

Project management is a great career if you love leading teams, overseeing complex initiatives, and want a job with lots of variety and challenges to solve. It pays well and is in high demand across many industries. Just be prepared for some bureaucracy and office politics in large organizations.

What industries pay project managers the most?

The technology and finance industries pay project managers the highest salaries – a median of around $135,000. Government and non-profit sectors pay the least – a median of around $90,000.

The Bottom Line on Project Manager Salaries

  • Median PM Salary: $116,000
  • Range: $65,000 – $150,000+

Pay varies based on education, experience, team size, location, and industry. But skills and relationships matter more than credentials.

Big salaries come with tradeoffs – more stress, politics, and busy work. Love what you do and who you work with. That’s worth more than money.

Now you know the straight dope on project manager pay. Choose wisely, grasshopper!

Konger Avatar
9 months ago

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