PMP Salary Rises Defy COVID-19 Economic Disruption
Even though the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted global supply chains,
in-person work arrangements, and the employment outlook of various sectors,
project management salaries have remained on the rise.
In November 2021, the Project Management Institute published the 12th edition
of its annual Project Management Salary Survey. The organization surveyed over
30,000 professionals representing 40 countries.
In addition to salary information, PMI staff asked survey participants about data
points related to position type, years of work experience, gender, industry,
education levels, PMP
(Project Management Professional)
certification status, and many other variables for the survey.
For a look into salary gains, where the United States stands, and which departments
and industries yielded the highest salaries over the last year, read on for takeaways.
PMPs Saw Salary Gains — Despite COVID-19
Even though other sectors have seen some disruption, COVID-19 hasn’t wholly stalled
the salary gains of PMP professionals. According to the survey, 50% of survey
participants reported an increase in total compensation (including salary, bonuses,
and any additional cash incentives) over the last year.
Also, about 22% reported compensation gains of 5% during the same period. In America,
most PMPs saw slight rises. The largest group of American PMP professionals saw salary
gains between 3 to 3.9% over the past 12 months, while the second-largest group had
salary increases of 1 to 2.9%.
Even though the rises may be small, this does give the impression of demand for
capable and talented PMPs.
PMP Certifications are the Great Divider
While many PMP professionals saw annual gains in their salaries, there’s still one factor
that seems to impact salary increases significantly.
The PMP salary survey revealed that professionals with a PMP certification saw 16% higher
median salaries on average than non-certified professionals, regardless of the country.
Even though median wages can vary depending on the country, this finding proves that a
PMP certification can improve the earning power of project management professionals.
We live in a time where many professionals have to take courses or get certified to
increase their skill set in an increasingly competitive landscape.
Talent LMS, a learning and development company, joined Workable and the Training
Journal to survey professionals about reskilling and found that
42% of participants
sought out training after the pandemic outbreak.
Additionally, employers seem to be rewarding professionals who decide to continue their
professional development. The survey also revealed that 35% of reskilled or upskilled
professionals positively impacted their salary.
The United States is Second in Top PMP Global Salaries
The United States almost takes the top spot in median PMP salaries. The median wage
for PMPs is $115,000 and is only second to Switzerland at $140,983.
Australia and Germany round out the top four with $113,664 and $106,498. Median
salaries varied based on country, the number of years of experience in project
management, position, average budget, and team size.
Regarding jobs, the director of project management and portfolio managers seems
to be the positions with the most significant gains in salary.
In contrast, project managers I and II appeared to have the lowest wages. These
numbers align with the notion that more experience results in a position with more
responsibilities that translates to higher salaries.
Most PMP Professionals are Not Project Management Degree Holders
According to a 2014 study by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, only
27% of college graduates
have a position related to their major. The common belief — and now proven
statistic — that professionals end up working in industries unrelated to their
degree is accurate for project management workers.
The PMI salary survey revealed that 86% of American PMPs do not have a degree in
project management. Also, their median salary — which is $115,000 — is the same as
those with a project management degree.
Even when considering averages, they are only roughly $800 behind their project
management degree-holder counterparts ($119,566 vs. $118,760).
So, whether someone majored in project management does not seem to impact the salary.
However, as mentioned above, PMP certification status does seem to be a factor in salary
numbers for PMPs. On average, certified PMPs earn about $27,000 more than non-certified
Consulting and Engineering are Lucrative Departments
Regarding median salaries, consulting and engineering departments have the highest
median salaries at $132,000 and $120,000, respectively. However, they are not the most
popular departments where survey participants are employed
Those distinctions belong to project management (31%), information technology and
information systems (23%), and engineering (8%) at a distant third.
On the other hand, general management and training and education had the lowest median
salaries at $95,000 and $97,000, respectively.
It’s worth noting that while project management departments seem to employ the
largest group of PMPs in this survey, many professionals work in other areas like
general management (7%), operations and manufacturing (6%), research and development
(3%), sales and marketing (3%), and many others. This data shows that workers can
apply project management skills to many industries and functional areas.
Even though they are in different departments, large-scale software implementations
and a PR marketing campaign need project management and guidance.
And fortunately, this type of skill is being recognized and compensated by employers
as most of the project management professionals in these various departments earn
Pharmaceuticals and Natural Resources Industries Have High-Salary Earners
The category of companies most likely to offer the highest salaries are pharmaceuticals
and natural resources (like agriculture or mining, as described in the survey).
The former has a median salary of $136,000, while the latter offers $135,500. Both
categories also provide the highest average salaries at $141,938 and $143,502.
Industries with the lowest median salaries include training and education at $85,000,
business services at $95,000, and legal at $97,500. However, while pharmaceuticals and
natural resources bring in the highest median and average salaries for PMPs, they are
not the most common for those surveyed. Information technology (18%), government (12%),
and healthcare (11%) round out the top three as the most popular industries employing
Self-Employed vs. Traditional Employment Salaries
Except for the project management specialist position, jobs for self-employed PMPs
brought higher salaries than their traditionally employed counterparts.
For example, a director of project management, the occupation offering the highest
compensation for self-employed and traditionally employed individuals, offered a median
salary of $150,000 and $145,000, respectively.
Most other positions saw between a $4,000 and $10,000 jump for self-employed professionals.
This difference could be for a variety of reasons. Self-employed professionals have to
take care of administrative tasks like tax management and accounting while also managing
other related business expenses.
This situation may mean that many self-employed PMPs are increasing their asking prices
to manage the costs. Also, as indicated, self-employed PMPs can name their prices, while
traditionally employed PMPs have to go by what employers offer them.
What are the most popular positions in these categories? The majority of both
self-employed and traditionally employed individuals are program managers. For
self-employed PMPs, other than program manager roles, project management consultants
are one of the most common professions.
The World of Project Management Continues to Change — And So Do the Salaries
a PMI-commissioned study
by the Anderson Economic Group, an economic consultancy, the project management-oriented
labor force is expected to rise by 33%, with 22 million jobs through 2027.
A talent shortage can severely hamper the growth of the industry. Therefore, depending
on the number of professionals going into this sector in the next five to six years,
project management professionals may be in a place to receive or negotiate for even
Also, the growth of location-independent work can spark the need for even more
experienced and technologically-savvy project managers who can command higher wages.
Yet, much of this will again depend on the number of professionals, evolving needs,
any new required skill sets, the economic landscape, and the trajectory of the pandemic.
Ultimately, it’s a promising sign that the pandemic did not derail the PMP industry
or salary increases for capable and talented PMP professionals.
Agglomeration and Job Matching among College Graduates,
Employee upskilling & reskilling statistics: Casting light on the trend,
Project Management Job Growth and Talent Gap 2017–2027,