Project management career path and job information
Project managers get things done. From budgeting and purchasing to team building and stakeholder management, people with project management skills have a lot to offer employers in many industries and earn excellent salaries on average. If you’re wondering what kinds of career paths are available to you if you pursue a project management degree, this article can help you start exploring your options.
Job opportunities with a degree in project management
Job titles for project manager career paths will vary depending on:
- The industry you work in
- Your level of experience
- Your qualifications
Entry-level project management jobs usually involve assisting with one specific aspect of the project management function: for example, graduates of a bachelor’s degree in project management may work as a procurement agent in a construction company or on an IT project management team as a Project Management Administrator. Entry level project managers may consider joining a Project Management Office (PMO) specializing in tools processes and procedures.
Mid- and upper-level project management jobs involve running projects and project teams, including other project managers. Experienced project managers may work directly for organizations or for a consulting firm. Job titles could include IT project manager, construction project manager, engineering project manager, and many more.
Entry-level project management job
- Alternative titles: Project Management Administrator, Project Scheduler, Project Coordinator
- Job description: Cost estimators analyze data to help determine the financial, logistical, human and material resources needed to carry out a project.
- Where they work: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most cost estimators work in contracting, construction and manufacturing.
- Cost estimator job outlook: The BLS projects that jobs for cost estimators will decline 1% nationally over the 2020-2030 period.
- How much cost estimators can earn: The BLS reports that the average salary for cost estimators nationwide was $69,710 per year ($33.52 per hour) as of May 2018.* This better estimates the salary of a mid-level project manager – entry level project managers will need to gain experience before earning salaries at this level.
Purchasing Project Managers
Upper-level project management job
- Job description: Purchasing managers oversee teams that evaluate the cost and value of goods and services and then buy them to re-sell. They will supervise the evaluation of suppliers, negotiate purchasing agreements, maintain inventories, and complete other related tasks.
- Where they work: The BLS reports that most purchasing managers work in manufacturing, wholesale trade, and government agencies.
- Purchasing manager job outlook: The BLS projects that jobs for purchasing managers will grow by 6% nationally over the 2020-2030 period.
- How much purchasing managers can earn: The BLS reports that the average salary for purchasing managers nationwide was $125,630 per year ($60.40 per hour) as of May 2018.*
Construction Project Managers
Mid- to upper-level project management job
- Job description: Construction managers supervise construction activities from the planning stages through to completion. They direct budgeting, supplying, staffing and contracting, and confer with everyone from engineers to municipal planning officials to ensure their projects comply with safety and land use regulations.
- Where they work: According to the BLS, most construction managers are either self-employed, work for specialty trade contractors or for non-residential construction.
- Construction manager job outlook: The BLS projects that construction project management jobs will grow by 11% nationally over the 2020-2030 period.
- How much construction managers can earn: According to the BLS, the average salary for construction managers nationwide was $103,110 per year ($49.57 per hour) as of May 2018.*
IT Project Managers
Mid- to upper-level project management job
- Job description: IT project managers, included in the BLS’s “computer and information services managers” category, oversee the implementation of new computer systems, including hardware, software, and/or networking infrastructure to enhance organizational effectiveness. They work with everyone from database administrators to top executives to determine organizational needs and plan technical projects to cause minimal disruption to daily operation.
- Where they work: BLS findings show that most IT management jobs are in computer systems design, information services, or financial services. Some IT project managers may work in consulting firms focused on specific industries, such as healthcare IT or logistics/transportation IT.
- IT manager job outlook: The BLS projects that jobs for IT managers will grow by 11% nationally over the 2020-2030 period, adding an additional 46,800 job openings.
- How much IT project managers can earn: The BLS reports that the average salary for IT managers nationwide was $152,860 per year ($73.49 per hour) as of May 2018.* This reflects an upper-level IT project management salary.
Healthcare Project Managers
Mid- to upper-level project management job
- Job description: In the healthcare sector, project managers will oversee anything from hospital construction projects to the implementation of new healthcare IT systems. They may also direct or consult on clinical projects, including pharmaceutical research.
- Where they work: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not track healthcare project management roles separately, but health and medical services managers of all kinds tend to work most often in hospitals, physicians’ offices, and residential care facilities.
- Healthcare manager job outlook: The BLS projects jobs for health and medical services managers overall are projected to grow by 32% nationally over the 2020-2030, far exceeding the national average.
- How much health and medical services managers can earn: The BLS reports that the average salary for healthcare managers nationwide, including healthcare project managers, was $113,730 per year ($54.68) as of May 2018.*
Global demand for project manager jobs
The largest professional organization dedicated to project management is the Project Management Institute® (PMI). PMI’s 2017 report, Project Management Job Growth and Talent Gap 2017–2027 found that demand for project-related workers could grow by as much as 33% globally over the 2017-2027 period. Much of that growth will happen in developing economies like China and India, but growth in the U.S. is also projected to be strong.
PMI projects that in the U.S., project management talent (including entry-level and experienced project managers) will see an average of 213,974 new job openings per year from 2017-2027. PMI concludes many of these job openings will be driven by retirements as well as by rising demand in the following sectors:
- Manufacturing and construction
- Information Technology
- Oil and gas
- Financial services and insurance
- Information services and publishing
- Management and professional services
In the U.S., PMI found that the healthcare industry had the fastest growth in project management-related jobs, with jobs for project managers expanding by 17% in 2017 alone.
So, the global and national outlook for project management jobs appears to be healthy well into the next decade. Earning a project management degree could be a sound career investment for you.
How do I know if a career in project management is right for me?
Project managers are versatile people with a strong sense of personal responsibility and who want to see things through. They combine specific knowledge of an industry with broadly applicable problem-solving and operational skills for completing projects.
If you want to become a project manager, you need to be able to balance attention to detail with big, strategic thinking, time management, people skills, financial and analytical skills. Project managing jobs really do demand you be capable of almost everything.
The Association for Project Management (APM) lists no fewer than 17 critical skills a project manager should have to perform well in their role. You can read all about them here.
How to start or advance your project management career
All project management career paths require the right education and training to get off to a good start. If you’re new to the field, a bachelor’s degree focused on project management—either a business administration degree with a concentration in project management, or a specific bachelor’s degree in project management, such as Herzing’s Bachelor of Science in Project Management program can help put you on the right path.
Earn a project management degree
The benefit of a focused project management bachelor’s like ours is that you cover more courses specific to the project management function. You can also take courses toward a Herzing MBA while completing your bachelor’s.
In addition, we offer our project management bachelor’s degree online, so you can earn your education requirement while continuing to work.
Professionals who are mid-career in healthcare, IT, construction or another field who already hold a bachelor’s degree should consider earning a master’s degree in project management. Herzing offers an MBA with a concentration in Project Management that equips you to lead projects in your industry while also preparing for the Project Management Professional® (PMP) or Professional in Business Analysis® (PMI-PBA) certifications from PMI. Earning a project management certification from PMI or a related industry organization offers employers an additional indication that you have the skills and competencies they’re looking for in a project team member or leader.
What to look for in a project management bachelor’s degree program
Seek a project management online program that teaches the core fundamentals of effective project management, including:
- Financial and budget management
- Risk management
- Human resource and team management
- Procurement, purchasing and contracts
- Principles of lean management
- Client and stakeholder communication
Our program covers all these competencies plus foundational business concepts such as accounting, marketing, and more.
What to look for in a project management master’s degree
A project management master’s or MBA will equip you for senior leadership in business and for directing projects / programs in your chosen industry. Ideally, the program should also align with PMI curriculum for the PMP or PMI-PBA certifications, allowing you to add value to your master’s degree in project management with an industry certification.
Our online MBA in project management offers all of the above, plus advanced skills for cost analysis, project risk management, business and project analysis and the use of common IT solutions for project planning and management. You also have the option to add a second MBA concentration in another field, such as technology management or healthcare administration, to further enhance your knowledge and qualifications.
Learn more about project management degree programs at Herzing University
Whether you are just getting started in project management or need to advance your skillset, the project management bachelor’s and MBA programs at Herzing University offer the training and expertise you need to pursue exciting, in-demand careers in the field.