What is a Program Manager

A program manager is someone who is able to clearly articulate the program's strategy. In addition, they're constantly evaluating projects that are needed to reach the program's goals.

A super important skill for you to have in this position is definitely communication. If you can't communicate to other people than forget it. Or work on it. Which you'll be able to do while you're in college because program managers need a bachelor's degree.

There is more than meets the eye when it comes to being a program manager. For example, did you know that they make an average of $44.89 an hour? That's $93,374 a year!

Between 2018 and 2028, the career is expected to grow 13% and produce 21,900 job opportunities across the U.S.

What Does a Program Manager Do

There are certain skills that many program managers have in order to accomplish their responsibilities. By taking a look through resumes, we were able to narrow down the most common skills for a person in this position. We discovered that a lot of resumes listed managerial skills, business skills and problem-solving skills.

Learn more about what a Program Manager does

How To Become a Program Manager

If you're interested in becoming a program manager, one of the first things to consider is how much education you need. We've determined that 66.5% of program managers have a bachelor's degree. In terms of higher education levels, we found that 19.5% of program managers have master's degrees. Even though most program managers have a college degree, it's possible to become one with only a high school degree or GED.

Choosing the right major is always an important step when researching how to become a program manager. When we researched the most common majors for a program manager, we found that they most commonly earn bachelor's degree degrees or master's degree degrees. Other degrees that we often see on program manager resumes include associate degree degrees or doctoral degree degrees.

You may find that experience in other jobs will help you become a program manager. In fact, many program manager jobs require experience in a role such as project manager. Meanwhile, many program managers also have previous career experience in roles such as senior project manager or internship.

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Average Salary
$93,374
Average Salary
Job Growth Rate
13%
Job Growth Rate
Job Openings
153,690
Job Openings
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Program Manager Career Paths

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Average Salary for a Program Manager

Program Managers in America make an average salary of $93,374 per year or $45 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $134,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $64,000 per year.
Average Salary
$93,374
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Program Manager Resumes

Designing and figuring out what to include on your resume can be tough, not to mention time-consuming. That's why we put together a guide that is designed to help you craft the perfect resume for becoming a Program Manager. If you're needing extra inspiration, take a look through our selection of templates that are specific to your job.

Learn How To Write a Program Manager Resume

At Zippia, we went through countless Program Manager resumes and compiled some information about how to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

View Program Manager Resume Examples And Templates

Program Manager Demographics

Program Manager Gender Statistics

male

51.1 %

female

45.0 %

unknown

3.9 %

Program Manager Ethnicity Statistics

White

70.9 %

Hispanic or Latino

11.2 %

Asian

8.1 %

Program Manager Foreign Languages Spoken Statistics

Spanish

46.8 %

French

13.1 %

German

5.7 %
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Program Manager Education

Program Manager Majors

26.1 %

Program Manager Degrees

Bachelors

66.5 %

Masters

19.5 %

Associate

9.2 %

Top Colleges for Program Managers

1. University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,584
Enrollment
10,764

2. University of Southern California

Los Angeles, CA • Private

In-State Tuition
$56,225
Enrollment
19,548

3. Northwestern University

Evanston, IL • Private

In-State Tuition
$54,568
Enrollment
8,451

4. Boston University

Boston, MA • Private

In-State Tuition
$53,948
Enrollment
17,238

5. Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA • Private

In-State Tuition
$18,454
Enrollment
40,108

6. Harvard University

Cambridge, MA • Private

In-State Tuition
$50,420
Enrollment
7,582

7. University of Washington

Seattle, WA • Private

In-State Tuition
$11,207
Enrollment
30,905

8. University of Texas at Austin

Austin, TX • Private

In-State Tuition
$10,610
Enrollment
40,329

9. New York University

New York, NY • Private

In-State Tuition
$51,828
Enrollment
26,339

10. University of Maryland - College Park

College Park, MD • Private

In-State Tuition
$10,595
Enrollment
30,184
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Top Skills For a Program Manager

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 24.6% of program managers listed project management on their resume, but soft skills such as managerial skills and business skills are important as well.

12 Program Manager RESUME EXAMPLES

Best States For a Program Manager

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a program manager. The best states for people in this position are Rhode Island, California, Delaware, and New Jersey. Program managers make the most in Rhode Island with an average salary of $101,954. Whereas in California and Delaware, they would average $96,023 and $95,356, respectively. While program managers would only make an average of $94,604 in New Jersey, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. Rhode Island

Total Program Manager Jobs:
287
Highest 10% Earn:
$170,000
Location Quotient:
1.26
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. Virginia

Total Program Manager Jobs:
2,352
Highest 10% Earn:
$158,000
Location Quotient:
1.33
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. District of Columbia

Total Program Manager Jobs:
768
Highest 10% Earn:
$165,000
Location Quotient:
2.44
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
Full List Of Best States For Program Managers

How Do Program Manager Rate Their Jobs?

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5.0

Program Management - Taking The Lead. March 2020

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Top Program Manager Employers

We've made finding a great employer to work for easy by doing the hard work for you. We looked into employers that employ program managers and discovered their number of program manager opportunities and average salary. Through our research, we concluded that Microsoft was the best, especially with an average salary of $114,932. Amazon.com follows up with an average salary of $97,176, and then comes Google with an average of $139,059. In addition, we know most people would rather work from home. So instead of having to change careers, we identified the best employers for remote work as a program manager. The employers include American Heart Association, Microsoft, and Medtronic

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Program Manager FAQs

Do program managers get paid well?

Yes, program managers get paid well. Program managers tend to make salaries between $80,000 and $125,000 per year. As with any role, a program manager's salary is dependent on factors such as location, company, experience, and education.

Program managers have complex jobs, which is why their salary is often quite high. Project managers often juggle between multiple projects, which means that they must be able to see things both strategically and tactically and see the "big picture" and those small details.

Program managers who hold Master's in Business Administration (MBA) or Master's in Project Management often make more than those with just a bachelor's degree.

Additionally, having certifications like the Program Management Professional (PgMP) certification or Project Management Professional (PMP) certification can boost a program manager's salary too.

Salaries are also dependent on the actual program description and job duties. For example, a general program manager may make less than an IT or technical program manager.

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Is program manager a good career?

Yes, program management is a good career. Many program managers enjoy their jobs because no two days are alike, and they can see their planning and hard work come to fruition.

Typically, program managers have high annual salaries, handle greater business challenges, have opportunities to mentor project managers, and opportunities for career growth.

The average program manager in the U.S. earns around $80,000, but the salary range typically falls between $80,000 and $120,000. As with any role, a program manager's salary is dependent on various factors such as location, company, experience, and education.

As demand for project-based work grows, the Project Management Institute projects that employers are going to need to fill 2.2 million new project-oriented roles each year through 2027.

Program management roles are often seen as a natural choice for project managers looking for their next challenge, and there are many opportunities for career growth.

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What does a program manager do in the government?

As a program manager in the government, you will supervise and implement programs designed by administrators, elected officials, or stakeholders. Your responsibilities can vary depending on the agency and can range from total supervisory duties to developing and executing program goals.

When you begin your work as a government program manager, you're given a set of goals to meet. You may be tasked with creating and executing a business development strategy, monitoring the project pipeline, or supporting the project management of state and federal government procurement bids.

You will need to be familiar with government policies and procedures, as you may need to navigate compliance requirements.

Additionally, you will work with project coordinators to ensure the program's operational needs are met and that projects adhere to compliance requirements throughout the project duration. You will also ensure that projects are completed efficiently and on schedule. Government program managers tend to have strict deadlines and tough requirements.

Government program managers are also responsible for handling budgets and identifying solutions to resourcing challenges when necessary.

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What is the difference between a program manager and a project manager?

The difference between a program manager and a project manager is that program managers focus on the overall strategy while project managers oversee the individual projects that help execute the strategy.

Programs consist of multiple projects that work toward a long-term goal. The role of a program manager is to oversee the operation of each project and strategize to ensure everything is on track, and make adjustments if needed. Program managers track timelines, manage budgets, and delegate tasks, but on a larger scale.

Project managers are responsible for individual projects that contribute to the end goal. These projects can vary in length but are very specific and have strict deadlines -- project managers delegate tasks too, but smaller ones to consultants or project coordinators. As progress is made, project managers inform the program manager.

While project managers and program managers have different tasks, it's important to be detail-oriented and analytical in both roles to keep projects moving forward.

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What qualifications do you need to be a program manager?

To become a program manager, you should have at minimum a bachelor's degree. Program managers should also have excellent communications skills, be organized, and have the ability to lead and work well under pressure.

While some companies may prefer candidates with a degree in business, others may be looking for applicants with expertise in a specific subject area. For example, if the program involves IT, they may require the program manager to have an IT background.

Depending on the company and the scale of the program, the program manager may be required to have a master's degree or Project Management Professional (PMP) certification.

Many program managers come from project management backgrounds, so they understand how to lead a team toward accomplishing goals and prioritizing tasks. Having experience with planning, budgeting, assessing, and organizing are skills that will also help the candidate gain entry into a program manager role.

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Updated August 18, 2021