Following the Money: New Salary Trends for Project Managers

Feb 11, 2016
6 Min Read
new salary trends for project managers

new salary trends for project managersPMI’s 2015 Earning Power survey reveals that current project management compensation varies widely.

The Project Management Institute’s 2015 Earning Power report, which is based on a survey of more than 26,000 respondents in 34 countries, detailed 12-month salary trends among 15 demographic variables and shares important insights on roles ranging from entry-level project managers to senior executives.

Overall, most participants (72 percent) reported that their total compensation (including salary, bonus and other forms of compensation) increased over the 12 months prior to completing the salary survey, with over one-fourth (27 percent) of respondents reporting increases of at least 5 percent over that time period.

The median annualized salary recorded in this survey, across all countries, roles and experience levels was $81,000 (USD). Approximately 75 percent of respondents earned at least $53,689 (USD), and the upper 25 percent earned at least $110,000 (USD). However, median salary varied greatly depending on a number of key demographic factors including the following:

  • Country of employment
  • Number of years of experience in project management
  • PMP® Certification Status
  • Position
  • Average size of projects managed, including average project budget and average project team size

Country of Employment

The median salary for someone in the project management profession varied widely from country to country. The country with the highest median salary ($130,000) was Switzerland, whereas the country with the lowest median salary was Egypt ($19,602).


Project managers in the pharmaceutical, agricultural, mining, consultation, aerospace, engineering, utility, government and IT industries were among the highest paid.


Although the total number of years of work experience did not appear to impact salary, the stronger correlation was with the number of years a person had worked within the project management profession. The most dramatic increase was seen in Singapore. The median salary ranged from $47,657 for those just starting out in the project management field to $131,972 for those who had been in the field for 20 years or more. This represented an increase of 177 percent from low to high experience in the field.

The difference in median salary was not nearly as striking in China, for example. For those with less than three years’ experience, the median salary was $21,073 compared with $29,178 for those practicing project management for 20 years or more.


The majority of participants in this study earned the PMP® certification.  Those with the certification were paid more than those without in virtually all of the countries. The largest differential was noted in South Africa where PMP holders had a median salary 47 percent higher than those without the certification.

In nearly all countries, median salary steadily increased with PMP tenure. In Taiwan and Saudi Arabia, the median salary of those who had been certified for 10 or more years was more than double those who had been certified for 5 years or fewer.

Position or Title

Within the various levels of project managers, salary increased with added responsibility. In Belgium, the median salary increased from $55,927 for a project manager I to $77,738 for a project manager II to $89,482 for a project manager III. In Saudi Arabia, program managers earned a median salary of $79,962 and portfolio managers earned upwards of $11,500 more than program managers and over $23,500 more than the highest level PMs.

Project Size

The size of projects managed, in terms of average number of team members and average project budget, had a positive correlation with annual salary. For instance, in South Africa, those managing projects with larger teams (20 or more people) had a median salary that was 72 percent higher than those managing teams of one to four people. Likewise, in Hong Kong, those managing projects with budgets of $10 million or more earned 81 percent more than those with projects under $100,000 and 54 percent more than those with projects with budgets between $100,000 and $499,999.

Are these findings consistent with what you and your colleagues have experienced in the PM profession this year? And speaking of money, do you know the hidden costs of using spreadsheets to manage projects

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