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Project Management Specialists

Summary

project management specialists
Project management specialists organize, plan, and oversee all aspects of a project from beginning to end.
Quick Facts: Project Management Specialists
2021 Median Pay $94,500 per year
$45.43 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Bachelor's degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2021 781,400
Job Outlook, 2021-31 7% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2021-31 56,300

What Project Management Specialists Do

Project management specialists coordinate the budget, schedule, staffing, and other details of a project.

Work Environment

Project management specialists usually work in an office setting, but they occasionally travel to visit clients. Most work full time, and some work more than 40 hours per week.

How to Become a Project Management Specialist

Project management specialists typically need a bachelor’s degree that may be in a variety of fields, including business or project management. Although not always required, certification may be beneficial.

Pay

The median annual wage for project management specialists was $94,500 in May 2021.

Job Outlook

Employment of project management specialists is projected to grow 7 percent from 2021 to 2031, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

About 70,400 openings for project management specialists are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for project management specialists.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of project management specialists with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about project management specialists by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Project Management Specialists Do About this section

project management specialists
Once a project is underway, project management specialists direct the team in carrying out the work.

Project management specialists coordinate the budget, schedule, and other details of a project. They lead and guide the work of technical staff. Project management specialists also may serve as a point of contact for the client or customer.

Duties

Project management specialists typically do the following:

  • Communicate with clients to determine project requirements and objectives
  • Develop project plans to include information such as objectives, funding, schedules, and staff
  • Identify, review, and select vendors or consultants to meet project needs
  • Assign duties or responsibilities to project staff
  • Confer with project staff to identify and resolve problems
  • Monitor project costs to stay within budget
  • Monitor project milestones and deliverables
  • Propose, review, and approve modifications to project plans
  • Produce and distribute project documents

Project management specialists may begin a project by defining its scope or goals, using input from the client. They then create a plan that itemizes the individual activities, data, and resources needed to complete the project. Project management specialists ensure that the plan estimates costs, identifies potential risks, and specifies a timeline for completion.

Once a project is underway, project management specialists direct the team in carrying out the work. They monitor progress by tracking milestones and troubleshooting problems that may arise, including adjusting the project to address changes requested by the client. Finally, they close out the project by reviewing and organizing financial statements, contracts, and other documents.

These specialists may oversee a variety of projects, such as building a new commercial center, improving business processes, or expanding sales into additional markets. In coordinating a project, they may work closely with those whose expertise is in a particular field. For example, a project management specialist may collaborate with an emergency management director in disaster relief efforts or a construction manager in building a facility.

Work Environment About this section

work environment
Project management specialists may work on teams of other specialists, or they may work independently.

Project management specialists held about 781,400 jobs in 2021. The largest employers of project management specialists were as follows:

Professional, scientific, and technical services 29%
Construction of buildings 10
Manufacturing 7
Administrative and support services 6
Finance and insurance 6

Project management specialists usually work in an office setting. Although project management specialists may collaborate on teams, some work independently. Project management specialists also may travel to their clients’ places of business.

Work Schedules

Project management specialists generally work during normal business hours. However, their schedules may require flexibility, such as when working across time zones or during off-peak hours. Most work full time, and some may work more than 40 hours per week.

How to Become a Project Management Specialist About this section

project management specialists
Project management specialists typically need a bachelor's degree to enter the occupation.

Project management specialists typically need a bachelor’s degree that may be in a variety of fields, including business or project management. Although not always required, certification may be beneficial.

Education

To enter the occupation, project management specialists typically need a bachelor’s degree in business, project management, or a related field. Some employers prefer to hire candidates who have a degree in a technical field related to the industry in which they will work, such as computer and information technology or engineering.  

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Although not always required, professional certification demonstrates competency to prospective clients and employers. For example, the Project Management Institute (PMI) offers several certifications in project management for workers at various experience levels, including the Project Management Professional (PMP).

Other Experience

Some positions require project management specialists to have relevant work experience. Candidates may gain experience as business analysts, information security analysts, training and development specialists, or in other related occupations.

Employers also may prefer to hire candidates who have experience in areas such as personnel recruitment, employee relations, or compensation and benefits. Candidates sometimes get this experience by volunteering or while in college, either through courses or internships.

Advancement

Project management specialists may advance to more senior positions as they gain experience and take on more responsibility. For example, they may begin as trainees working on small projects and progress to large, complex projects.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Project management specialists must be able to understand large amounts of information and data.

Communication skills. Project management specialists need to convey information to staff and must get input from and present results to clients.

Critical-thinking skills. To determine which strategy would work best for a particular project, these specialists must assess its goals and impact.

Interpersonal skills. Project management specialists must establish trust with clients and respond well to their questions and concerns.

Organizational skills. Project management specialists’ work involves balancing a variety of responsibilities, and they may oversee more than one project at one time.

Problem-solving skills. Project management specialists must be able to handle difficult or unexpected situations and find effective solutions.

Time-management skills. Project management specialists often work under tight deadlines and must use their time efficiently to complete projects on schedule.

Pay About this section

Project Management Specialists

Median annual wages, May 2021

Project management specialists

$94,500

Business and financial operations occupations

$76,570

Total, all occupations

$45,760

 

The median annual wage for project management specialists was $94,500 in May 2021. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $49,750, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $159,140.

In May 2021, the median annual wages for project management specialists in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Finance and insurance $101,880
Professional, scientific, and technical services 99,520
Manufacturing 96,940
Administrative and support services 90,950
Construction of buildings 81,680

Most project management specialists work full time, and some work more than 40 hours per week.

Job Outlook About this section

Project Management Specialists

Percent change in employment, projected 2021-31

Project management specialists

7%

Business and financial operations occupations

7%

Total, all occupations

5%

 

Employment of project management specialists is projected to grow 7 percent from 2021 to 2031, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

About 70,400 openings for project management specialists are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment

As organizations seek ways to maintain and improve productivity, employment of project management specialists is expected to increase. These specialists will be needed to help manage various business operations, ensuring that projects meet their goals and are completed on time and within budget.

Demand for project management specialists is expected to be strong in computer systems design services. More project management specialists will be needed to manage the growing volume and complexity of information technology (IT) projects required to support expanded telework.

Employment projections data for project management specialists, 2021-31
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2021 Projected Employment, 2031 Change, 2021-31 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Project management specialists

13-1082 781,400 837,600 7 56,300 Get data

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS)

The Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OEWS data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations About this section

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of project management specialists.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help on Entry-Level Education 2021 MEDIAN PAY Help on Median Pay
Cost estimators Cost Estimators

Cost estimators collect and analyze data in order to assess the time, money, materials, and labor required to make a product or provide a service.

Bachelor's degree $65,170
Logisticians Logisticians

Logisticians analyze and coordinate an organization’s supply chain.

Bachelor's degree $77,030
Management analysts Management Analysts

Management analysts recommend ways to improve an organization’s efficiency.

Bachelor's degree $93,000
Market research analysts Market Research Analysts

Market research analysts study consumer preferences, business conditions, and other factors to assess potential sales of a product or service.

Bachelor's degree $63,920
Mathematicians Mathematicians and Statisticians

Mathematicians and statisticians analyze data and apply computational techniques to solve problems.

Master's degree $96,280
Operations research analysts Operations Research Analysts

Operations research analysts use mathematics and logic to help solve complex issues.

Bachelor's degree $82,360
Survey researchers Survey Researchers

Survey researchers design and conduct surveys and analyze data.

Master's degree $59,740
Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Project Management Specialists,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/project-management-specialists.htm (visited November 30, 2022).

Last Modified Date: Thursday, September 8, 2022

What They Do

The What They Do tab describes the typical duties and responsibilities of workers in the occupation, including what tools and equipment they use and how closely they are supervised. This tab also covers different types of occupational specialties.

Work Environment

The Work Environment tab includes the number of jobs held in the occupation and describes the workplace, the level of physical activity expected, and typical hours worked. It may also discuss the major industries that employed the occupation. This tab may also describe opportunities for part-time work, the amount and type of travel required, any safety equipment that is used, and the risk of injury that workers may face.

How to Become One

The How to Become One tab describes how to prepare for a job in the occupation. This tab can include information on education, training, work experience, licensing and certification, and important qualities that are required or helpful for entering or working in the occupation.

Pay

The Pay tab describes typical earnings and how workers in the occupation are compensated—annual salaries, hourly wages, commissions, tips, or bonuses. Within every occupation, earnings vary by experience, responsibility, performance, tenure, and geographic area. For most profiles, this tab has a table with wages in the major industries employing the occupation. It does not include pay for self-employed workers, agriculture workers, or workers in private households because these data are not collected by the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) survey, the source of BLS wage data in the OOH.

State & Area Data

The State and Area Data tab provides links to state and area occupational data from the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program, state projections data from Projections Central, and occupational information from the Department of Labor's CareerOneStop.

Job Outlook

The Job Outlook tab describes the factors that affect employment growth or decline in the occupation, and in some instances, describes the relationship between the number of job seekers and the number of job openings.

Similar Occupations

The Similar Occupations tab describes occupations that share similar duties, skills, interests, education, or training with the occupation covered in the profile.

Contacts for More Information

The More Information tab provides the Internet addresses of associations, government agencies, unions, and other organizations that can provide additional information on the occupation. This tab also includes links to relevant occupational information from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET).

2021 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2021, the median annual wage for all workers was $45,760.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2021

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2021, which is the base year of the 2021-31 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2021-31

The projected percent change in employment from 2021 to 2031. The average growth rate for all occupations is 5 percent.

Employment Change, 2021-31

The projected numeric change in employment from 2021 to 2031.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2021-31

The projected numeric change in employment from 2021 to 2031.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2021 to 2031.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2021 to 2031.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2021 to 2031.

2021 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2021, the median annual wage for all workers was $45,760.