Salaries of project managers buck recession

Top dollars go to those working in quality management and business transformation.

Project managers, instead of suffering income losses as with many other professionals, are earning more than they were two years ago before the height of the recession, reports the Project Management Institute. The global median salary for project management practitioners is now US$90,260, with those holding Management Professional (PMP) credentials earning upwards of US$10,000 more than those without, in certain countries, reports PMI in its sixth Project Management Salary Survey.

The survey, conducted in 2009, covered nearly 35,000 project management practitioners in 19 countries, including New Zealand. More than half – 51 percent of respondents - reported an increase in their total compensation.

Gregory Balestrero, president and CEO of PMI, says in a press statement the numbers indicate organisations are starting to get back on track and return to their pre-recession plans, and are willing to pay for top project management talent.

In New Zealand, the report states the project managers’ median salary is NZ$100,000 with a total compensation of $107,000. Sixty percent of local respondents also expect to increase their total compensation in the next 12 months. The rate of increase ranges, with a fifth of respondents saying they expect a 1 to 2.9 percent increase; to about 2 percent expecting their total compensation to increase by 30 percent or more.

The highest compensation goes to those with the title of director of project management office, with a median salary of NZ$141,000. This is followed by the portfolio manager with a median salary of $127,500; and programme manager with $109,000.

Those with more years of work experience report a higher median salary, at $108,000 for those with experience of 20 years or more.

It is a similar situation for those experienced in project management. Respondents with 20 years or more experience in project management report a median salary of $130,000, compared to the median salary of $66,000 for those with less than three years’ experience.

By industry, project management practitioners in consulting, financial services and information technology were the top earners. Those in consulting had a median salary of $120,000; followed by financial services with $112,500 and information technology with $105,000.

By project categories, those involved in quality management and business transformation earn the most, with median salaries of $110,000 and $107,000, respectively.