What Can I Do with a Master’s in Project Management?

Have you considered a career in project management? If so, you have probably looked for answers to questions like these:

  • What is a project coordinator? 
  • What is a project manager? 
  • What is the difference between a project coordinator vs project manager?

The narrative that follows will also help you answer the most important question — Is a masters degree in project management worth it?

What is a Project Manager? 

Most industries require the services of a professional project manager. Project managers control the many moving parts required to successfully complete a project on time, and under budget. Project management follows several integral stages that include:

  • Budgeting
  • Organizing
  • Planning
  • Managing a team 

Project managers are also highly effective communicators and team players that are tasked with the responsibility of motivating a team of players to remain in sync with the project’s detailed plans. 

what can i do with a masters in project management

Project managers find gainful employment in the following industries:

  • Government
  • Healthcare
  • Private industry
  • Education  

The simple fact is that it is a prudent decision to earn a master’s degree in project management. 

A Project Coordinator vs Project Manager

What is a project manager? What is a project coordinator? What is the difference between a project manager vs project coordinator?

While a project manager vs project coordinator will work alongside one another, a project manager holds significantly more authority than a project coordinator. Another difference between a project manager vs project coordinator is the level of education required to be qualified for the position. 

A Project Manager’s Job Duties

Although what is a project manager is a relevant question, it might help to ask, what does a project manager do? Or, is a masters degree in project management worth it?

  • To identify relevant project issues.
  • To accurately determine the project’s staffing requirements.
  • To create and maintain the project’s overall budget. 
  • To monitor the project and the staff’s performance and progress.  

A Project Coordinator’s Job Duties

Although what is a project coordinator is a relevant question, it might help to ask, what does a project coordinator do?

  • To prepare and maintain sub-budgets. 
  • To communicate effectively with all clients. 
  • To determine cash flow needs.
  • To update relevant project information to all staff members. 

A Masters Degree in Project Management vs MBA

Earning a graduate Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Project Management is a great fit for those who wish to reach for a comprehensive project management education. An MBA in Project Management prepares students to integrate business principles and leadership methods with the many effective project management methodologies. 

Most MBA Project Management degree programs generally take about 24 months to complete; however, the program length may vary contingent upon the specific academic track selected. 

A Master of Science (MS) in Project Management allows the degree candidate to customize their coursework to match your career goals and personal interests. A graduate degree typically requires the completion of a seminar or capstone project. 

School/Program Accreditation

Accreditation is the academically accepted procedure by which professional schools and institutions of higher education earn an endorsement (i.e. kudos) regarding the courses offered by top project management schools. The Masters in Project Management schools voluntarily open their curriculums to be measured against pre-determined industry professional standards. 

Said another way, accreditation granted to one of the many Masters in Project Management schools essentially provides the school/Project Management degree program a highly regarded stamp of approval! 

There are two broad types of academic accreditation employed by the many academic communities across the United States. They include accreditation on a regional basis or as a specialty area. 

Regional Accreditation

Accreditation received on a regional basis is granted by the federal government’s approved Regional Agencies.  The United States Department of Education (USDE) oversees these agencies’ processes and outcomes. 

Because regional accreditation is often perceived to be a federal government ‘stamp of approval’, it is almost always perceived to be an elevated accreditation.  

Specialized Accreditation

Undergraduate and graduate top project management schools choose to voluntarily offer their degree programs to be adjudged (against industry standards) by an approved oversight agency monitoring education standards for project management professionals.  The specialized accreditation agency most highly regarded in the project management field is the Project Management Institute (PMI).

PMI Global Accreditation Center for Project Management Education Programs (GAC)

The PMI Global Accreditation Center for Project Management Education Programs (GAC) holds the distinction of being a worldwide accreditation leader for project management degree programs. The GAC is tasked with the responsibility of granting worldwide PMI accreditation to degree programs at the baccalaureate, graduate as well doctoral level. 

The GAC’s ethos speaks to a strong commitment that is dedicated to nurturing a culture of excellence, by maintaining an ongoing effort to improve the many academic degree programs within the project management industry. 

Students and working learners seeking to earn a graduate degree in Project Manager are encouraged to confirm that their program of choice has been granted a PMI accreditation. Project managers are prepared to take on more advanced responsibilities and leadership roles. This requires a project manager to possess the following skills:

  • Communication skills. 
  • Problem-solving skills.
  • Budgeting skills. 
  • The ability to remain flexible, when needed.
  • A teamwork mentality.
  • The ability to multitask with expediency and accuracy. 

The GAC is a member of the Association of Specialized & Professional Accreditors (ASPA), which requires compliance with ASPA’s Code of Good Practice.  Summarily, the code requires:

  • The promotion of education through the process of accreditation. 
  • Accreditation procedures that comply with industry professionalism and integrity.
  • The respect of each institution of higher education’s independence regarding curriculum matters.

Types of Project Management Master’s Degrees 

One of the most essential skills a project manager must possess is that of organization. Many of the required organizational and management skills are taught by the many project manager education programs available as:

  • Project management courses for beginners. 
  • An online masters in project management program.
  • A graduate program project management. 
  • A masters in project management in USA.
  • A project management online degree. 
  • An accelerated project management degree program.
  • Online masters in project management no GMAT required. 
  • Even free online masters degree in project management coursework through a variety of MOOC platforms. 

The reality is a project that warrants a full-time project manager is likely to be complicated with many moving parts. A project manager who has graduated from one of the best project management programs are tasked with the responsibility of keeping all these moving parts in sync, within budget and on time. The management of a complex and simple project requires organization skills that can only be learned in a quality project manager education program. 

Some of the best online masters in project management programs are offered by some of the most elite universities. These best universities for masters in project management can be found across the country, and of course, by researching their masters in project management online coursework. 

Project management graduate programs and project management online degree programs prepare graduate degree candidates with the professional strategies that enable project managers to closely monitor the current progress of a project and the ability to anticipate potential risks in the near future. 

The finest online masters in project management permit graduate program project management degree candidates to customize degree programs that align with the student’s professional goals and personal interests. For instance, a masters in project management online class may provide different subspecialties within the project management industry. Flexibility is important to many working learners studying for their masters in project management in USA. 

Eve project management courses for beginners provide fundamental knowledge about the many industries that require talented project managers. High demand opportunities are often found in the construction management field or the health care management field. Many government services select potential candidates from higher project management master degree rankings schools. 

Most project managers who choose to earn a graduate program project management, are often required to hold a baccalaureate-level degree, plus some project management professional experience. 

Remember, the best project management programs offered by quality project management graduate programs that recognize the importance of the student’s objectives as well as the program objectives. 

Expected Project Management Coursework

Most schools opt to personalize the program names of the many project manager education courses on-campus, as well as the online masters in project management programs. However, the best project management programs curriculum aligns with the industry-accepted project manager standards. 

  • Procurement & Contracting: coursework offered by the many project management online degree programs prepares students to become effective project managers in the areas of resource acquisition. 
  • Estimating & Scheduling: online masters in project management prepares project managers to maintain the progress of a project within budget and on time. The best project management programs teach the project management strategies of careful estimation, milestone management, and refined time-management skills.  
  • Adaptive project management education courses emphasize the crucial need for project managers to remain flexible in the face of changing relevant factors and economic issues.  
  • Risk management is so important to a project manager that even project management courses for beginners introduce the concept of risk mitigation, including the identification of subtle and gross organization vulnerabilities. 

Leadership coursework is always part and parcel of typical project manger education course (on-campus or online). Project managers are often thrust into significant leaderships positions that require effective communication skills, motivational techniques, and problem-solving talents.  

What is a Project Management Certification?

Project managers are valued members of many management teams. When a project manager has completed one of the best project management training programs, project managers traditionally reach for certification. Project managers have several certifications from which to choose.  

They include a CAPM certification and the PMP Certification.  When faced with these certification choices, prudent project managers begin to decide which certification would be the right fit for their career goals. When considering which is the best project management certification for you, investigate what is important for you, the student. For the PMP certification, consider these questions:

  • Is the PMP exam hard?
  • What does the PMP certification cost?
  • How many PMP exam questions are there?

For the CAPM certification, consider these questions:

  • What is the cost of the CAPM certification exam?
  • Is the CAPM certification the best project management certification?

Regardless of the exact career stage you currently occupy, the best project management training programs are generally followed by earning an industry certification. 

The Professional Management Professional –PMP — Certification

The Project Management Professional (PMP) certification is one of the most elite industry- certifications provided to project managers. This certification -the PMP- is offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI). The PMP certification cost is $405 for PMI members and $555 for non-members, with a retake fee of $275 or $375. 

Project manager leaders across the world hold the PMP certification from the Project Management Institute. Project managers who have successfully passed the required number of PMP exam questions on the certification examination are well-prepared to apply their project management talents and skills across a variety of industries. 

A PMP certification indicates to potential employers that you possess exceptional training and knowledge. PMP certification offers great networking options that allow PMP holders to connect with other PMP professionals and industry experts. 

A PMP project manager:

  • Acts professionally and responsibly. 
  • Motivates team members and staff to maintain an on-time and under the budget project. 
  • Demonstrates the ability to manage the many moving parts of complex project budgets and schedules.

The Project Management Institute offers:

  • TheirApplication Tips- The PMP application requires that the applicant disclose their education and work experience.  
  • Advice on what you need to apply for certification. 
  • Their PMP Handbook for reference that helps answer the questions — What is a project manager certification?

Is the PMP Exam Hard? The PMP certification exam has 200 multiple-choice questions. Test-takers have 4 hours in which to complete the PMP exam. To maintain your PMP certification, you must earn 60 professional development units (PDUs) every 3 years.

The Certified Associate in Project Management — The CAPM Certification    

The Certified Associate in Project Management certification essentially a significant career asset. The certification essentially offers a distinction (and proven credibility) for those who hold the CAPM certification. 

Is the CAPM Exam Hard? The CAPM certification exam has 150 multiple-choice questions. Test-takers have 3 hours in which to complete the CAPM exam. 

To maintain your CAPM certification, a certification holder must complete 60 credit hours of continuing education every 5 years.

The CAPM Certification Exam Fee

The exam fee for the CAPM certification depends on whether you hold membership:

  • For Members, the fee is $225
  • For Non-Members, the fee is $300

The CAPM Prerequisites: A CAPM applicant must hold a high school diploma (or its equivalent) or a two-year Associate’s Degree. A minimum of 23 project management education hours completed at the time you are eligible for the CAPM certification examination. 

Careers in Project Management

Project Management a great career choice as it offers tremendous opportunities for the professional certified project manager. One should choose a project manager path when researching available masters in project management jobs:

  • The growing demand
  • Impressive earnings potentials
  • Many job opportunities in a wide variety of industries
  • The ability to advance to executive levels and leadership position

A Partial List of Masters in Project Management Jobs    

A Masters in Project Management degree has prepared you to work in most industries.  Many graduate degree holders find rewarding careers as a project manager consultant or analyst. Other Masters in Project Management Jobs include:

An Operations Project Manager — is tasked with maintaining a smooth operating project. Operations Project Managers are also asked to improve and/or streamline systems to operate more efficiently. 

A Market Research Project Manager — is tasked with the responsibility of assessing current strategies against market data, and then devise improvement plans to be implemented to raise revenue. 

A Marketing Project Manager — is tasked with the responsibility to define, create and execute effective marketing strategies to increase sales, and thus profits. 

An IT Project Manager — is tasked with the responsibility of managing IT related projects that could include data movement through cloud systems or new servers installations.

Project Management Salary Statistics

Just recently, in 2018, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) decided to finally recognize the organizational job category of ‘Project Manager’ in their labor statistics separately, instead of lumping Project Management into the menagerie of unclassified management occupations. For those who understand, this BLS milestone is quite significant for the project management industry. 

Are you considering the many career options in the project management field? If so, pay careful attention to the questions that pop into your mind as you research the pathways to your career objectives. 

  • How much is a Senior Project Manager Salary?
  • Does a Senior Project Manager Salary differ from a Masters in Project Management Salary?
  • How much does a project coordinator make? Does it differ from a Masters degree in Project Management salary?
  • Does a project manager starting salary differ from the average starting salary project manager?

According to the PMI organization 10th Edition Project Management Salary Survey, in 2017, the median salary rate for project managers only Switzerland’s project managers earned a higher annualized salary ($130,966) than their American counterparts — at $112,000. 

Additionally, it is noted that as a project manager’s experience grows, so does the senior project manager salary. For instance, in the United States, a masters in project management salary changes in relation to experience as follows:

3 or fewer years of experience (an average starting salary project manager)- $75,000.

  • 3 to 5 years of experience — $85,000
  • 5 to 10 years of experience — $100.000
  • 10 to 15 years of experience — $115,000
  • 15 to 20 years of experience — $122,000
  • 20 or more years of experience — $130,000

PMI’s 10thEdition Project Management Degree Salary Survey also reveals (on Page 10) that holding a PMP certification offers an approximate 25% bump in a project manager starting salary and the masters degree in project management salary. 

Differentiating a Project Coordinator’s Salary and a Project Manager’s Salary

Project coordinators and project managers are responsible for the many moving parts that need coordination to ensure the project in question is finished on time and within budget. It is noted that a project manager, in terms of an organization chart, holds a senior position to that of a project coordinator. 

Project Managers: According to payscale.com, the average project management salary is $73,462 per year.  Remember that a project management degree salary requires a minimum of a bachelor’s degree (although most prefer a graduate degree to reach a senior project manager salary) to obtain the said position.  It is noted that the salary ranges from $48,000 to approximately $111,000. 

Project Coordinators: How much does a project coordinator make? According to payscale.com, the average project coordinator earns approximately $49,170 per year. To earn a project coordinator’s, one must have completed a post-secondary certification, or related degree preferred. It is noted that the salary ranges from $36,000 to approximately $69,000.

Professional Organizations 

A professional organization is tasked with the responsibility of supporting members of a specific industry or profession, and to offer ongoing work into the improvement of the industry. In the project management industry, the Project Management Institute (PMI) provides a wide swath of benefits to those project managers who hold PMI membership. 

PMI is considered the leading professional organization for project managers worldwide. This is easily visible when one considers PMI membership exceeds a half-million members. PMI prides itself on its advocacy efforts that have implemented in more than 200 countries across the globe.  

PMI membership is a prudent choice for professional project managers as it offers its members instant access to:

  • Interconnected communities
  • Research
  • Certifications
  • Educational workshops
  • Networking opportunities

As a professional organization, PMI honors the very best leaders and cutting-edge thinkers who belong to the project management profession. The PMI annual awards include:

  • The Young Professional Award
  • The Project of the Year
  • The Project Excellence Award
  • The PMI Fellow Award

The Project Management Institute celebrated its 50th Anniversary in 2019. PMI’s role is to support project management industry professionals. PMI meets its objectives through its worldwide programs that include leadership, ethics, and governance.  

Carrie Morris

Warren Dahl