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Program Manager: Employment Info & Career Requirements

A program manager, also known as a project leader, oversees all aspects of a specific assignment or task within a designated period of time. To make an informed career and educational decision, keep reading for details about academic requirements, skills sets and salaries for project managers.

Career Definition for a Program Manager

Program managers, often called project leaders, are responsible for establishing and implementing objectives for business or technical endeavors. They can be found in virtually any area or industry, including those associated with environmental science, engineering, the government or the private sector. Program managers ensure that all work is being completed correctly and in a timely manner. They also monitor how projects are progressing and report the details to upper management.

Education Bachelor's degree in business, however, some prospective employers may seek expertise in a specific subject area
Job Skills Written and oral communication skills, leadership, ability to work in a team, attention to detail, organizational, multi-tasking, and working well under pressure
Median Salary (June 2016)* $120,676
Job Growth (2010-2020)* Increase of 15.7 million jobs

Source: *Salary.com and the Project Management Institute

Required Education

Educational requirements for aspiring project managers include a minimum of a bachelor's degree. While some companies may prefer candidates with a degree in business, others may be looking for applicants with expertise in a specific subject area. For example, a program management position in the environmental sector may require a bachelor's degree in biology or earth science, as well as experience in the field. Experienced program managers may be eligible to for a Project Management Professional (PMP) credential, and requirements include a high school diploma or bachelor's degree, 35 hours of coursework in project management and 3-5 years of experience (depending on educational background).

Skills Required

Program managers should have excellent written and oral communication skills and have the ability to both lead and function as a member of a team. An attention to detail and organizational skills, as well as the ability to multi-task and work well under pressure are also key for for program managers.

Career and Salary Outlook

While salaries for program managers vary by educational background, experience and location, individuals employed in this position earned median salaries of $120,676 in June 2016, according to Salary.com. In January 2016, those working in the IT industry and nonprofit sectors earned median salaries of $110,209 and $46,713 respectively, as reported by PayScale.com. Around the globe, the Project Management Institute has projected an increase of 15.7 million new program management jobs from 2010 to 2020 (www.pmi.org).

Alternate Career Options

Human Resources Managers

Human resources managers act as the conduit between management and a company's employees, and their duties typically those associated with staffing and strategic planning. A 4-year degree in business or human resources is usually sufficient to obtain a position; more advanced opportunities may require a master's degree in a relevant field of study. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), human resources managers earned median annual wages of $104,440 in May 2015. Between 2014 and 2024, the BLS has projected a 9%, or faster than the national average, increase in employment nationwide for human resources managers (www.bls.gov).

Training and Development Managers

Training and development managers organize and implement programs that provide employees with the information they need to keep their industry knowledge and expertise up to date. Professional requirements include a bachelor's or master's degree in business, human resources or related subject area and prior experience in the field. Training and development managers who were employed in May 2015 were paid median salaries of $102,640 a year. Nationwide, job opportunities for of training and development managers are expected to increase by an average rate of 7% from 2014 to 2024 (www.bls.gov).


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