What does a project manager do?

As you can probably tell from the name, a project manager is a management role. Project managers work in a variety of industries, ranging from construction to finance. As a project manager, you help handle the transition from "big picture" ideas to actual, everyday workplace assignments that implement those big ideas. Some project managers oversee a specific team throughout several similar projects while others rotate through a variety of departments and duties.

Typical project manager tasks

A project manager starts by getting a project from an executive. Once they have their main goal, they work to create a plan for achieving the goal. For example, someone potentially will tell you to "launch the new software" or "create investment portfolios for the client." Then, you would consider what tasks you'll need to work through in order to reach the goal. You will delegate these tasks to your co-workers who are right for the job, and you'll monitor them to ensure the job gets done in a timely manner.

 

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What is the average salary of a project manager?

As a middle-management position, this job comes with a very respectable salary. The average annual salary for a project manager is $80,220. Most project managers have an annual salary, but those who have an hourly wage make roughly $38.57 per hour. Keep in mind that there is some variation in salary, though. Some project managers make as little as $39,930 or as much as $128,420 per year.

How to earn more as a project manager

The main thing that affects a project manager's salary is the scope of your project. Project managers who work on longer and more complex projects make more money. The more responsibility you have, the more you can expect to make. If you work in the technology, finance, or manufacturing fields, your salary will typically be a bit higher than average. Like any other job, your location will also affect your salary. If you work in a big city with a high cost of living, your salary will usually be higher. Furthermore, managers who get more experience or work with well-known companies often make more money.

 

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Working as a project manager

Being a project manager gives you the chance to work independently. It's a great job for those who are self-motivated and enjoy being in charge. This career challenges you to put all your communication, organization, and management skills to use. The best project managers tend to be highly organized and excel at creative thinking. If you like solving problems, thinking outside the box, and working with others, this is a good job for you.

What are the responsibilities of a project manager?

Your primary responsibility is simply getting the project completed in a timely and budget-friendly manner. A project manager who is able to finish their project on time and on budget is a successful project manager. This task sounds simple, but it is a very big responsibility. To finish a project, you will find yourself needing to perform one or more of these duties:

  • Scheduling meetings to check co-worker progress
  • Breaking down a project into smaller, easier-to-achieve tasks
  • Researching and implementing various management methodologies like the SMART method
  • Hiring new employees or assigning certain employees to complete specific jobs
  • Communicating with executives to update them on the project's progress
  • Keeping track of receipts and organizing funding for parts of the project
  • Addressing any unexpected issues or emergencies that arise during the project
  • Coming up with ideas for how to perform a difficult stage of the project
  • Documenting each part of the project to keep track of the process
  • Learning more about various organizations and industries so that you can complete the project more effectively
  • Making a schedule to effectively manage each teammate's time
  • Ensuring each part of the project stays in compliance with various government and industry standards
  • Presenting details about the finished project to executives and stakeholders

What type of equipment does a project manager use?

The equipment you use will vary depending on the field you work in. If you're the project manager overseeing the construction of a new apartment, you may use blueprints or heavy machinery. Meanwhile, a project manager helping to produce a new album will end up working with recording equipment. In addition to industry-specific tools, it's very common for project managers to work with a wide range of technology and office supplies. They always need basic organizational and documentation software such as Excel or QuickBooks. You will have to be comfortable using tools like email, video calls, or notes to communicate with co-workers. Some managers also use specialized software for tasks like engineering or coding. 

What is the work environment of a project manager?

The work environment you end up in will depend on the job you pick. Project managers who work at big corporations often spend a lot of time in a traditional office setting. In some industries, you will do things like travel to outdoor construction sites, visit colleagues at different branches, or work in an industrial setting. At some companies, you are able to manage your project from home. However, being a project manager is often hands-on, so you should expect to spend some time at the office or on a job site.

Who are your colleagues as a project manager?

One of the great things about this job is that you get to interact with a wide range of people. Project managers often work with everyone from the CEO to a general laborer. Some managers will have a small team that they focus most of their time on. Typical teams that a manager leads will include people like programmers, accountants, and marketing consultants. However, it's also common for you to speak to other departments or talk to industry experts that don't work for your company.

What’s the work schedule of a project manager?

Most project managers have full-time jobs with typical office hours. They often arrive to work around 8:00 a.m. or 9:00 a.m. and leave around 5:00 p.m. or 6:00 p.m. The average manager works from Monday to Friday. Keep in mind that you will be responsible for any emergencies, though, so some overtime work on nights and weekends is occasionally required. Project managers usually work whatever hours their industry is active, so some do end up with night shifts.

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What is the career outlook of a project manager?

Being a project manager is a very promising career. There are currently upward of 1.2 million people employed as project managers, so you have a lot of jobs to choose from. Demand for good project managers is quite high. Over the next 10 years, industry experts predict that the labor force will grow by 33%. 

What are the promotion opportunities for project managers?

The project management field is full of chances for upward movement. Many people become project managers due to their expertise in the field. You are able to then use your time as a project manager to move to other, higher-level management jobs. Project managers often become program managers, who handle multiple related projects, or portfolio managers who help plan an organization's strategy. The job gives you a lot of insight into running a business, so it's also a helpful transition to leadership and executive roles.

What are the advantages of working with Spherion as a project manager?

Whether you're actively seeking a new job or just exploring your options, we're here to help. Spherion is committed to helping people enhance their careers. Count on us to find project management jobs that match your skills and preferences. Being a project manager at Spherion provides you with all sorts of benefits, including:

  • Flexible job hours
  • Weekly pay
  • Access to a variety of jobs
  • Helpful industry contacts
  • Training and promotion opportunities
  • An easy and fast interview process
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What education do you need as a project manager?

Project managers typically need about the same level of education as other managers. In almost every job, a bachelor's degree will be necessary. Most industries prefer you to have a bachelor's in business or a bachelor's in a relevant field. For example, at a tech startup, some project managers will need a bachelor's in computer science. Having higher education, such as a doctorate, improves your chances of getting a job. It is also helpful to have past experience in the industry. In some fields, like healthcare or construction, project managers will also need specialized training or certifications.

Skills & competencies

Since this job is so complex, you will need a broad range of skills. First of all, project managers need strong communication and leadership skills. You need to be able to explain ideas clearly, solve team disputes, and present projects to executives. Project managers also have to learn how to delegate. You should be able to find the right person for the right job and set clear expectations for team members. Certain personality traits tend to be ideal for project managers. Most good managers are calm under pressure, adaptable, creative, and decisive. 

The precise skills you need will depend on your industry. A marketing project manager will need to know basic graphic design concepts while a software manager needs coding skills. You don't need to be an expert at all these industry-specific tasks, but you need to know enough to discuss them with teammates.

 

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FAQs

Interested in learning more about how project managers help companies complete tasks? Check out the answers to these frequently asked questions.

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