Project Director Vs. Project Manager

Project directors and project managers lead teams through software development, marketing campaign design, and even product manufacturing projects, and readers can learn more about their duties, degrees, salaries, and career outlooks.

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Comparing Project Directors to Project Managers

Project directors lead the project managers who oversee teams of developers, designers, architects, and other skilled professionals. Readers will compare the education level, yearly earnings, job growth, and daily tasks of these two professionals.

Job Title Educational Requirements Median Salary (2018)* Job Growth (2016-2026)**
Project Directors Bachelor's Degree $98,453 (Projects Director) 8% (Managers, All Other)
Project Managers Bachelor's Degree $71,066 8% (Managers, All Other)

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

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Responsibilities of Project Directors vs. Project Managers

Project directors are responsible for supervising a company or client's many projects, which are sometimes built upon one another to create a program. Project managers, however, tend to focus on one major project at a time, leading a team with a hands-on approach. The efforts of both these professionals address an organization's business processes and requirements, as the projects they oversee are designed to help a company meet its overall financial goals.

Project Directors

Project directors oversee a program and its many related projects within web development, marketing, or technology. They may use proposals to begin a project, which include the materials needed, cost estimates for resources, as well as the projected outcome or product. From this, directors gather funding from executives and track the resources allotted to the various projects. It is their duty to supervise project managers as they create reports and meet with stakeholders. Part of this is reviewing status reports, invoices, and documents outlining any proposed changes to the project. They also lead development teams as they design the products that will come out of the projects.

Job responsibilities of a project director include:

  • Hiring project team members, including managers
  • Dealing with accounts payable to ensure team members are paid
  • Overseeing contractors to build contract negotiations that align with company policy and goals
  • Changing project and staff schedules to keep the project within the deadline

Project Managers

To create a plan for completing a project on behalf of their company, project managers break it into manageable tasks. To help clarify the scope and requirements of the project for their team, they may create a flowchart or other visual that shows how tasks will be interrelated and end in the deliverable, or product. Additionally, managers set the goals of the team in relation to the goals of the project, making the responsibilities of each member clear. Finally, these professionals attempt to foresee issues and reroute finances or other resources to try to offset potential issues, keeping the project on track.

Job responsibilities of a project manager include:

  • Leading kickoff meetings in which brainstorming ideas for the completion of a project occurs
  • Locating and procuring necessary parts and raw materials from vendors
  • Tracking and documenting the progress of the project
  • Evaluating team members based on their performance at the end of the project

Related Careers

If you're interested in a career as a project director, you could also look into a position as a chief financial officer because both aim to keep a company fiscally healthy. Additionally, if a career as a project manager has you curious, you could explore a position as a project coordinator since both direct the actions of a team.

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