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How Much Money Do Project Managers Make?

written by: Ronda Bowen • edited by: Marlene Gundlach • updated: 3/27/2013

Those considering a career in project management often wonder what the potential for income is. This article discusses the average salaries of project managers and what a project manager can do to increase his or her earning potential.

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    Salaries Will Vary by Region, Industry, and Level of Education

    Whether you are just considering becoming a project manager, or you've had your job for years, knowing your potential salary can help you get ahead in your career. Before reading further, it is important to note that salaries vary a little bit by region, industry, and education.

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    Entry-Level Project Managers and Other Beginners

    picture As to be expected, entry-level project managers start lower on the pay scale than their more experienced colleagues. According to PayScale.com, entry-level project managers typically start at around $52,000 a year. Those with 1-4 years of experience can expect to make about $56,000 a year. That's not too bad, considering that other entry level jobs often have lower starting salaries. Keep in mind that your starting pay will vary depending upon what city you work in due to the cost of living. For example, overall, project managers in New York can expect to make around $93,000 a year compared to those in Atlanta who make about $75,000 a year. Also keep in mind that, if you move to New York for the salary, you can expect that your cost of living expenses will be higher as well.

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    Mid-Career Project Managers

    For those who have been with a company from 5-9 years, the salary average as a project manager is about $71,000 and those who have been with a company between 10 and 19 years can expect to make around $86,000 a year on average. Those who are making less than this average may have a few things working against them. They may not have the proper certifications, they may be living in the wrong area, or they may be working for the wrong company.

    According to PayScale, project managers employed by the government make the most money on average at about $84,000 a year, and those who are employed through a fellowship make the least averaging about $58,000 a year. That's almost a $30,000 a year difference in income. Finally, project managers in the IT, Software Development, and engineering fields can expect to have the highest paychecks, coming in at around $82,000 a year.

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    How Can You Boost Your Income Potential?

    Outside of changing companies, industries, or moving, there are ways to boost your income potential. The best way is to enroll in a project management certification program. If you are a Six Sigma Green Belt, go on and get your Black Belt certification. If you already have certifications, think about getting a master's degree in technology project management. Education is often one of the best ways to boost your income. If you are starting out, take time to get those certifications. One of the certifications you may want to obtain is the CAPM (Certified Associate in Project Management) certification.

    By continuing your education, even if you have been in your current position for years, you can make yourself invaluable, and thus command a higher salary.