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Project Manager Vs. Account Manager

The degree requirements for project managers and account managers may be the same, but the similarities end there. These two careers are very different in their focuses and goals.

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Comparing Project Managers to Account Managers

Project managers plan and support a particular design, production, or building project for a company. Account managers, however, help people track their insurance, investments, and finances.

Job Title Educational Requirements Median Salary (2017)* Job Growth
Project Managers Bachelor's Degree $72,014 33% (2017-2027)***
Account Managers Bachelor's Degree $52,005 5% (Sales Managers, 2014-2024)**

Sources: *PayScale, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, ***Project Management Institute

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Responsibilities of Project Managers vs. Account Managers

Project managers and account managers are both necessary leaders in their fields, but their responsibilities are different. A project manager will focus on a new goal after each project is complete, while an account manager will work with the same clients on an ongoing basis. Similarly, project managers have knowledge of the budget of their clients so they can allocate funds to the team and materials. Account managers are also aware of their clients' budgets, but only so they can offer them the appropriate services.

Project Managers

When a company has a major project, whether it's building infrastructure, producing new goods, or creating something for a client, project managers are put in charge. These professionals first meet with a client or company leader to understand the details of the project. During these initial planning meetings, they decide the goal, deadline, and budget. Project managers then put together a team to complete the project. It is important that the manager stays updated on the progress and ensures the team has all the materials and resources they need to succeed.

Job responsibilities of a project manager include:

  • Negotiating contracts with clients, contractors, and team members
  • Using the best strategies to ensure the quality of the completed product
  • Having an awareness of any risks related to the project and building a plan to overcome them
  • Evaluating the team and the project upon completion to address any issues that can be corrected before future projects

Account Managers

When it comes to sales, the liaison between a company and its clients is often referred to as an account manager. These professionals should have expert knowledge of the products and services offered by their insurance, investment, or financial company. While providing customer service, account managers upsell any products or services that meet the needs of the client. To regularly update the client on new developments with their accounts, the managers also create and maintain files on the clients that can be changed when necessary. To gain new clients, account managers may also create and give sales presentations.

Job responsibilities of an account manager include:

  • Learning about new trends in the market or field that could influence their clients, such as new government policies
  • Leading campaigns to educate potential clients about the company
  • Approving clients for loans or insurance, depending on the company and its offerings
  • Renewing or updating insurance policies for clients

Related Careers

If a career as a project manager intrigues you, then a job as a cost estimator may be for you, since these are both responsible for understanding the cost and timeline for a project. On the other hand, if you are drawn to a career as an account manager, you may also be interested in a job as a market research analyst, because these both require knowledge of the demand for a product or service.

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