Program Director Vs Program Manager

May 29, 2020

Comparing Program Directors to Program Managers

Many industries and companies have program directors and program managers. Normally a program director looks after the managers of the organization. At the same time, program managers look after the employees on their teams. Below is a comparison of these two careers and a bit of financial information as well.

Job Title Education Requirements Median Salary* (2019) Job Growth* (2018-2028)
Program Directors Master's Degree preferred $104,690 (top executives) 6% (top executives)
Program Managers Master's Degree preferred $116,720 (human resource manager), $129,890 (financial manager) 7% (human resource manager), 16% (financial manager)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Responsibilities of Program Directors vs Program Managers

Depending on the company or business the person is employed at, program directors and managers often work together to meet the company's goals. Their differences are in their daily management responsibilities. Program directors are tasked with the daily running of the company as well as meeting any future goals through proper planning. Program managers often are found overseeing the employees who are tasked with the projects that have been agreed upon by the board and conceptualized by project managers and directors.

Program Director

A director supervises managers. In some industries the program director must be a visionary who takes the strategies of the board, prepares plans and successfully implements them. This could include improving a brand or creating a strategy for a new product. It is up to the director to pass these plans on to the managers for implementation. Directors also take charge of the organization's use of research and data to best decide the future of a project or company's direction.

Job responsibilities of a program director include:

  • Evaluating board directed strategies
  • Preparing pre-cost estimates and analysis budgets
  • Directing managers in goal implementation
  • Hiring and supervising new managers for projects

Program Manager

A manager oversees and works with the men and women of the teams they supervise. It is their job to take the strategies conceived of by executives and put them to the test. Most managers are in charge of hiring their own team members. In most cases they have the experience to act as mentors to new and less experienced employees. It is their job to stay on top of their workers to make sure their work meets the standards of the company and adheres to the needs of the board and client's plans.

Job responsibilities of a program manager include:

  • Communicating between directors and team members
  • Scheduling of projects and staying within budget
  • Collaborating with designers and engineers for direction
  • Leading team meetings and performing project reviews

Related Careers

Administrative service managers, like program directors, are experts in managing the goals of a company and running strategic teams. Sales managers could be another similar career field for a program manager, as they both know the company's goals and how best to meet them with clients and customers through the running of a sales team.

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