At some point in the last decade, employers around the world turned the corner when it came to project management. The time when project managers were a luxury and not a necessity seems a distant memory.

A new salary survey of those working in project in management reflects the emphasis organizations – private, nonprofit and governmental – have put on project management.

A large majority – 70%  – of project management professionals surveyed in the 2018 Project Management Salary Survey conducted by the Project Management Institute (PMI) reported an increase in salary the previous 12 months.

The survey also shows the impact of earning Project Management Professional (PMP®) certification. PMP®-certified project managers reported salaries that were, on average, 23% higher than those without PMP® certification across the 37 countries included in the survey.

Higher Salary Potential

To gather information on current salary levels in project management, PMI® surveyed 33,000 project management workers around the world. While 37 countries are included, about a third of all respondents work in the United States.

PMI segmented project management workers into eight different job descriptions, ranging from entry-level positions to senior executives in project management. They also asked respondents to report their education level, industry, size of company and whether they had earned PMP® certification.

With all figures expressed in U.S. dollars based on current exchange rates, the 10 countries with the highest median salary for project management professionals are:

  • Switzerland – $130,966
  • United States – $112,000
  • Australia – $108,593
  • Germany – $88,449
  • Netherlands – $86,292
  • United Arab Emirates – $84,930
  • New Zealand – $84,480
  • Qatar – $82,314
  • United Kingdom – $81,227
  • Belgium – $78,035

In the United States, only 22% of project management professionals reported that they their salaries remained the same or decreased (just 3% decreased). The other 78% saw gains, with 29% reporting an increase between 1% and 2.9% and 18% reporting gains of 3% to 3.9%.

Salaries varied widely by position. At the top end are those working as the director of a project management office. They earned a median salary of $141,000. For those at the project manager level, salaries were segmented into three tiers: project manager I ($87,426); project manager II ($96,500) and project manager III ($110,000).

Certification Impact

Across all job descriptions and in almost all countries, having PMP® certification corresponded with a higher salary. The lone exception in all the 37 countries surveyed was China.

PMP® holders also reported that, as expected, years of experience led to higher pay. But they also reported having higher median salaries with PMP® certification across all years of experience.

In the U.S. alone, the median salary for PMP® holders was 25% more than those without. In South Africa, the difference was a staggering 58%.

The importance of certification is shown in those findings. And that’s important to know for those who work in project management as both demand and competition ramps up in the profession.

How big is the demand for skilled project management professionals? Over the next decade, organizations will need 88 million people to work in project management roles, the study found.

Or, to look at it another way, the 2017 Project Management Job Growth and Skills Gap report found that 2.2 million new project-oriented employees will be needed each year through 2027.

Clearly, PMP® certification can make a significant difference in landing the best-paying jobs in the field as this surge in demand continues.

PMI and PMP are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.

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