Program Manager Vs Project Manager: Salary & Responsibilities

May 30, 2020

Comparing Program Managers to Project Managers

Program managers are administrators who work out of an office and manage a variety of jobs and managerial tasks. Project managers ensure the execution of specific projects by leading team members on a daily basis. Below is a comparison of these two information technology (IT) management professions, along with some financial figures, as well.

Job Title Education Requirements Median Salary (2020)* Job Growth (2018-2028)**
Program Manager Bachelor's Degree $112,000 (program manager, IT) 5% (network and computer systems administrators)
Project Manager Bachelor's Degree $88,000 (project manager, IT) 11% (computer and information systems managers)

Sources: *, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Responsibilities of Program Managers vs. Project Managers

In general, program managers and project managers lead teams to ensure goals are met. Both must have good management skills to make sure employees complete their assigned tasks. Program managers are liaisons between upper management and team employees. These managers normally work from offices and pore over paperwork, attend meetings and collaborate with various department heads. Project managers, for the most part, lead one team of experts to attend to specific projects and see to it the workers stay on task and goals are met. Project managers will also work side by side as part of the team.

Program Managers

Program managers in IT must be experienced in management as well as experts in computers. They must possess the skills to not only understand the ramifications of the different teams they manage, but also give answers to any technological issues. Program managers in IT are in charge of the technology, from setting up local area networks (LAN) to wide areas networks (WAN) as well. They make sure their teams keep servers running properly, that the latest software is always up to date and all information via the internet connects.

Job responsibilities of a program manager include:

  • Maintaining system security throughout the network
  • Mediating work with vendors, employees and other directors
  • Presenting information to new employees and team members
  • Promoting new creative cross media technology

Project Managers

IT project managers are called upon to look after a specific project from start to finish. They create a project plan to help track milestones and status of projects. These managers are often tasked with evaluating the employees on their project teams. Even when finished, project managers will evaluate the final work, in case alterations are necessary or the project needs to be replaced.

Job responsibilities of a project manager include:

  • Mentoring and testing new software and communications
  • Brainstorming ways to improve or fix IT issues
  • Working within budgetary schedules
  • Collaborating with vendors or subcontractors on certain projects

Related Careers

Instead of pursuing management positions in IT, or to gain valuable experience, job seekers might consider computer hardware engineering, to design routers, smartphones and new circuit boards, or computer programming, to create and build code for video games and new applications.

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