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Account Executive Vs. Project Manager

The work of account executives and project managers may have some commonalities, but the overall focus and typical daily responsibilities are very different.

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Comparing Account Executives to Project Managers

When a business needs help marketing a new product or service, they turn to advertising companies, which means they contact account executives who will help them as they build their campaign. On the other hand, when a company needs a new building erected or computer software put in place, they choose a project manager.

Job Title Educational Requirements Median Salary (2016)* Job Growth (2016-2026)*
Account Executives Bachelor's Degree $127,560 (Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers) 9% (Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers)
Project Managers Bachelor's Degree $104,970 (Managers, all other) 7% (Managers, all other)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Responsibilities of Account Executives vs. Project Managers

While both of these professionals work closely with clients to ensure their needs are being met, account executives may have to manage many accounts and clients at once. Project managers, on the other hand, usually focus on one client and project at a time. Similarly, account executives work to build advertising for products and services, while project managers may assist in developing the products themselves. Importantly, both careers require close attention to budgets and deadlines, as both must adhere to contracts they hold with the client.

Account Executives

Working to market a client's products and services, account executives serve as a way for clients to communicate with an advertising company. When working with an account, these professionals study the business's production and campaigning processes to improve these for the client. This is why researching the market, especially products similar to those of the client, is a key focus. Account executives may also lead product launches and track the success of the account in detailed records.

Job responsibilities of an account executive include:

  • Finding new ways for a client to generate revenue, such as new products
  • Working with clients to build marketing campaigns
  • Connecting clients with technical and design departments within the advertising company
  • Selling advertising and marketing services to new clients and gaining new accounts

Project Managers

Project managers can work in construction, production of goods, and even information technology. They begin by meeting with the client and determining the ultimate goal of the project, whether that means a completed bridge or implementation of a new computer system. They also build a plan to complete the project, including what equipment and materials will be needed. Additionally, they draft a contract that details deadlines and cost estimates. Upon finishing the project, these professionals then evaluate their team and make suggestions for improving future projects.

Job responsibilities of a project manager include:

  • Finding the most qualified contractors, architects, and technical staff for the project
  • Delegating tasks to the team and allocating funds to each part of the project
  • Visiting production lines or building sites to ensure things are moving smoothly and within the deadline
  • Dealing with any setbacks in a cost-effective manner and communicating these to the client

Related Careers

Account executives have duties similar to those of certified financial managers, especially as they relate to generating revenue, so this may be another field to explore. Those interested in project manager positions may also want to consider a career as a cost estimator, as both focus on budgeting.

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