What is a Project Manager

Project managers are essential to, well, projects. They take on roles that plan and oversee each project to ensure the work is completed on time and within a certain budget. That said, the job is so much more than just that.

A project manager is also responsible for finding project resources, making sure the budget has been prepared and keeping stakeholders up-to-date throughout the entire project. Project managers definitely have a hand in a little bit of everything when it comes to a project.

In a normal week, project managers can expect to work regular full-time hours, but when it comes down to the project deadline, they typically work longer hours during the week and may even pick up a few weekend shifts.

There is more than meets the eye when it comes to being a project manager. For example, did you know that they make an average of $41.04 an hour? That's $85,365 a year!

Between 2018 and 2028, the career is expected to grow 10% and produce 46,200 job opportunities across the U.S.

What Does a Project Manager Do

There are certain skills that many project 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 analytical skills, business skills and customer-service skills.

Learn more about what a Project Manager does

How To Become a Project Manager

If you're interested in becoming a project manager, one of the first things to consider is how much education you need. We've determined that 67.7% of project managers have a bachelor's degree. In terms of higher education levels, we found that 14.3% of project managers have master's degrees. Even though most project 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 project manager. When we researched the most common majors for a project manager, we found that they most commonly earn bachelor's degree degrees or master's degree degrees. Other degrees that we often see on project manager resumes include associate degree degrees or high school diploma degrees.

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

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Average Salary for a Project Manager

Project Managers in America make an average salary of $85,365 per year or $41 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $116,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $62,000 per year.
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Project 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 Project 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 Project Manager Resume

At Zippia, we went through countless Project 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.

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Project Manager Demographics

Project Manager Gender Statistics


66.3 %


29.6 %


4.0 %

Project Manager Ethnicity Statistics


70.3 %

Hispanic or Latino

11.5 %


8.3 %

Project Manager Foreign Languages Spoken Statistics


43.1 %


11.6 %


5.9 %
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Project Manager Education

Project Manager Majors

28.8 %

Project Manager Degrees


67.7 %


14.3 %


11.0 %

Top Colleges for Project Managers

1. University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA • Private

In-State Tuition

2. University of Southern California

Los Angeles, CA • Private

In-State Tuition

3. Northwestern University

Evanston, IL • Private

In-State Tuition

4. Boston University

Boston, MA • Private

In-State Tuition

5. Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA • Private

In-State Tuition

6. Harvard University

Cambridge, MA • Private

In-State Tuition

7. University of Washington

Seattle, WA • Private

In-State Tuition

8. University of Texas at Austin

Austin, TX • Private

In-State Tuition

9. New York University

New York, NY • Private

In-State Tuition

10. University of Maryland - College Park

College Park, MD • Private

In-State Tuition
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Online Courses For Project Manager That You May Like

Mastering Construction/Project Management

Mastering Construction-Project Management in less than 10 Hours...

Project Management Essentials

A crash course in the essentials of project management for new project managers...

Beginning Project Management: Project Management Level One

Project Management: Growing a Successful Career as a Project Manager...

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Top Skills For a Project 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, 35.1% of project managers listed project management on their resume, but soft skills such as analytical skills and business skills are important as well.

  • Project Management, 35.1%
  • Procedures, 8.9%
  • Customer Service, 5.6%
  • Construction Projects, 4.0%
  • Infrastructure, 2.9%
  • Other Skills, 43.5%
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12 Project Manager RESUME EXAMPLES

Best States For a Project Manager

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a project manager. The best states for people in this position are California, New Jersey, Washington, and Massachusetts. Project managers make the most in California with an average salary of $99,318. Whereas in New Jersey and Washington, they would average $96,630 and $96,622, respectively. While project managers would only make an average of $95,360 in Massachusetts, 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. Washington

Total Project Manager Jobs:
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:
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. Massachusetts

Total Project Manager Jobs:
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:
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. Rhode Island

Total Project Manager Jobs:
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:
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 Project Managers

How Do Project Manager Rate Their Jobs?

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Annual ReviewDecember 2019


Zippia Official LogoAnnual ReviewDecember 2019

What do you like the most about working as Project Manager?

Communication and team spirit is very motivating and interesting Show More

What do you NOT like?

Above 50% Travel can be distracting and I’ll prefer to travel less Show More

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Richard the LionheartedJune 2019


Zippia Official LogoRichard the LionheartedJune 2019

What do you like the most about working as Project Manager?

Making the project strategy come alive and really work. The sense of fulfillment in the team Is worth the heavy lift. Show More

What do you NOT like?

Not fulfilling a requirement but then nailing it and not having more than a few of these has learning value. Show More

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Top Project 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 project managers and discovered their number of project manager opportunities and average salary. Through our research, we concluded that Infosys Public Services was the best, especially with an average salary of $89,299. Wipro follows up with an average salary of $85,780, and then comes HCL America with an average of $86,884. 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 project manager. The employers include Anthem, Epiq Systems, and TEKsystems

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Project Manager FAQs

Can anyone become a project manager?

Yes, anyone can become a project manager. Many project managers are team members that have been promoted into the position based on the project's subject matter.

A project manager should be very organized, a good leader, and has great attention to detail. These skills are important at this position and require knowledge of all aspects of a given project.

Those seeking to become project managers can come from any field and possess any college degree. A project manager's skills align with the acquisition of knowledge and organization required to pursue any college degree.

Along with dedicated master's degrees in project management, certification as a project manager is also an option. Certification requires 35 hours of project management education and the passing of an exam.

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Do project managers get paid well?

Yes, project managers get paid well. Management positions can vary in salary, but project managers make over three times the national average.

Most experienced project managers make between $90,000 and $130,000, with some elite managers making well over $150,000. A project manager's salary depends on several factors. Education can increase the salary of a project manager. Advance degrees and PMI certification can raise your salary by as much as 20% annually.

The company you work for and the size of the group you are managing can also play a role in your compensation. Bigger companies with marquee clients requiring large teams will pay a higher salary to a project manager.

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How do I become a project manager without experience?

You can become a project manager without experience by pursuing formal training or gaining informal project management experience.

The most straightforward path for those seeking to become a project manager is to earn a project management certification. The two most common project management certifications are the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) and the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification.

The difference between the two is that you can obtain a CAPM certification without project management experience, while the PMP certification requires at least 4,500 hours of experience. Each has different prerequisites, but both require an exam.

Additionally, you can start building your project management experience by familiarizing yourself with project management software (e.g., Microsoft Project) and planning simple projects like cleaning a room. Look for opportunities to manage work in your current role and use project management principles to support that.

Project coordinator, or other roles that assist project managers, is a very good entry-level position for people who want to become a project manager, even with no experience.

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How do you get project management experience?

You get project management experience by spending time gathering, planning, coordinating, managing, and leading projects.

One way to gain this experience is by becoming an assistant project manager. In this role, you'll work with the project manager in charge and support them with their work.

Look for projects within your company and find out who the project manager is. From there, you can schedule a time to meet and determine how you can support the project manager. By working directly under a project manager, you should learn a lot and improve your skills.

You can also find out if there are projects in your department that you could lead. If there aren't, you could propose a new project. Other ways to gain project management experience include attending events,investing time in a project management course, or working toward your Project Management Professional certification.

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Is a project manager a stressful job?

Yes, being a project manager is a stressful job. As project managers are in charge of the group's overall output, stress comes from making unpopular decisions designed to either keep the project on track or cater to changing client expectations.

Positive stress can appear as anticipation of completing a project or even excitement about a project nearing its conclusion. Negative stress can manifest as self-doubt regarding the quality of work or meeting the time requirements or specific client demands.

Some of the negative stress associated with being a project manager diminishes over time. Managers with more experience know what to expect and can anticipate some of the challenges that trouble those newer to the profession.

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What is a capable project manager?

A capable project manager is one who can effectively oversee many responsibilities. Because projects involve many different skill sets, project managers must be good at everything, from communication to budgets.

One important responsibility involves capable communication. Project managers must communicate effectively to best understand the needs of their clients and the team members that they oversee.

Every aspect of the project must be considered by a project manager. The client often determines the budget, and the project manager is tasked with completing the desired work within a specific timeframe.

From the number of employees in the group to the hours delegated to complete individual tasks, managers are expected to put the proper people in roles that best suit their strengths.

A capable project manager will oversee the team's production and ultimately decide if the work is acceptable or if revisions are 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 is the difference between a project manager and a project engineer?

The difference between a project manager and a project engineer is that a project manager has a supervisory role, while project engineers actually execute the necessary tasks of a project.

While there is certainly significant overlap between the roles of a project engineer and a project manager, the main differences typically lie in the scope of their work. Project engineers often perform management duties. However, unlike the typical job description for a project manager, these duties are usually focused on the execution of the project itself.

For project managers, overseeing a project is usually more focused on the big picture items. For example, a project engineer may be more likely to oversee staffing, personnel, timelines, or budgetary management. In contrast, a project engineer would be focused on working with the engineering team to plan and execute the project itself.

The overlap between these two positions is often huge. The project engineer and project manager usually work very closely together in order to plan projects, set timelines and goals, and solve problems. In a sense, these two positions often function as two halves of a management whole.

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What qualifications do you need to be a project manager?

The qualifications required to become a project manager depend on the industry you're working in.

Because of the large scope of responsibilities, the project manager needs to have had a relevant education. Typically candidates have a minimum of a bachelor's degree in computer science or business.

After working within an industry for three to five years, a candidate for project manager will have enough experience in one or more facets of the company to be ready to oversee a project. PMP certification is a more formal way to use your experience to secure a job in project management.

Many of the skills of a project manager overlap among industries. The resourcefulness of someone able to oversee everything from design concepts to a budget is an important skill for those looking to hire a project manager.

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Updated August 18, 2021