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Project Manager Salary Guide

By 16/03/2017Features, General
Find out how much you should earn as a digital project manager in 2015

What’s a typical project manager salary and how much should digital project managers earn? And while we’re asking, what are average salaries for a senior project manager, project co-ordinator and project director too? These are the questions our project manager salary survey addresses. We’re taking a global view to get insights on project manager salary information around the world.

If you’re looking for the most up to date information your project manager salary – fill out our 2017 survey and we’ll send you the results as soon as they’re in.

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It’s important because as organizations around the world further embrace the power of digital products/services, the digital project management field continues to grow. With more talent joining this career path, the questions of earning potential and career trajectory is inevitable.  For individuals currently in this field, the question becomes, “am I being paid what I’m worth?’ and for the ambitious ones, looking ahead in their project management career – “How can I expect my salary to change as I progress?”

Our 2017 digital project manager salary survey aims to give you a better idea of what the landscape looks like for digital project managers and how compensation changes as you become increasingly senior. Tools like Payscale, Salary.com,  Glass Door and Monster can provide a lot of general salary information for digital project managers, but you’ll find the estimates for salaries that they provide to be wildly different, so this article is intended as a more informed summary of salary information specifically for digital project managers.

2016 Digital Project Manager Salary Survey Results

Contract vs. Permanent PM’s

There are pros and cons of being a contractor versus a full-time employee. The major advantage of contracting being that you will likely get paid more. The disadvantage is that you may be thrown onto projects that are temporary and may provide very little growth to your professional development. In addition, sure you may have a neat list of agencies that you’ve worked for here and there, but the projects need to be substantial enough to bring you to your next career move.

Generalist vs. Specialist project managers

If you have gathered significant experience under a certain skillset (e.g. understanding a particular CMS really well), this can set you apart from other digital project managers. With this under your belt, it may allow you to work on more projects pertaining to your skill set and potentially drawing a more premium salary within your industry. However, this is subject to supply and demand, so be sure to evaluate whether the skillset you have will continue to be in-demand!

Industry – IT and banking PM’s are always on the money

A big part of determining a digital project manager’s salary is the industry in which they work. A large bank or software company would provide a much higher salary compared to a non-profit organization or a smaller local company. Of course, at the end of the day, it’s about understanding your needs and what is the best fit.

Location – city slickers get the big bucks

The location factor will always be a salary influencer. Based on our 2015 salary results, major cities that are bigger economic markets have been known to offer higher salaries. This of course comes with higher expectations and slightly more pressure in performance. Spoiler alert: this year’s salary survey results are no different.

Digital Project Manager Salary Survey Results for 2016

This year’s salary survey data is derived from over 300 respondents as well as 3rd party sources and includes data from 30 countries that include: Canada, USA, United Kingdom, Australia, Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, China, Colombia, France, India, Italy, México, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Scotland, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, UAE, Ukraine! Here is a breakdown of our survey participants with digital project managers contributing their salary information from various countries:

2016 #dpm digital project manager salary survey respondents country breakdown

It’s truly amazing to have received global input on the salary survey and we hope to continue this growth. The largest responses came from countries such as USA, United Kingdom, and Canada. With that being said, the statistics below will focus on these markets due to a healthy sample size.

What best describes your digital project management related job title?

We had most responses from digital project managers – you’ll find this corresponds with most job postings in the market. Senior project managers, project coordinators, project directors and other job titles were also represented in the 2016 digital project manager salary survey.

2016 #dpm digital project manager salary survey job title breakdown

Salary highlights from USA digital project managers

We received 84 responses from digital project managers in the USA spanning 53 cities. The DPM salaries collected ranged from $35,000 to $120,000. Similar to last year, the state of New York experienced higher salaries with states such as Florida, Massachusetts, California, and North Carolina rounding the top 5.

The average freelance digital project manager contractor rate varied from $100 to $700 a day. Again, this is highly dependent on industry, location, and experience.

Career trajectory and overall average salaries for various roles in the USA are shown below:

2016 #dpm digital project manager salary survey results USA

Compared to last year’s salary survey results, this year’s survey results are seeing salary increases for all listed digital project manager positions. Some notable increases are for Project Managers and Senior Project Managers, which saw their salary increase from roughly $60,000 to $70,000 and $77,000 to $87,000 respectively. Overall, the salary increases range from 10-20% depending on the position. These sudden increases from last year may be attributed to the increasing demand for project management personnel, increasing participants (leading to a better representation), and the continuous growth of digital projects in various industries.

We won’t discount the idea that project manager salaries will continue to grow as we continue diving into a digital-first world!

Salary highlights from UK digital project managers

We received 58 responses from digital project managers in the United Kingdom spanning 21 cities. The digital project manager salaries collected ranged from £22,000 to £65,000. The highest salary coming from Farnborough, followed closely by Winchester, London, Nottingham, and Cardiff, which completes the top 5.

The average freelance digital project manager contractor rate varied from £250 to £400 a day.

Career trajectory and overall average salaries for various roles in the United Kingdom are shown below:

2016 #dpm digital project manager salary survey results United Kingdom UK

The 2016 salary results from the UK is also seeing salary increases across the board for all PMO roles. Increases are not substantial, but does show that the project management landscape in the UK is promising and demand isn’t slowing down anytime soon. The most intriguing increase came from the Project Coordinator position, going from £21,000 in 2015 to £29,000 this year. One thing to note is that the Project Coordinator position is typically perceived as an entry-level position, but depending on the organization, the role may be extremely demanding, thus leading to higher compensation.

Salary highlights from Canadian digital project managers

We received 23 responses from digital project managers in Canada across 4 provinces with equal distribution between West coast and East coast responses. The digital project manager salaries collected ranged from $45,000 to $110,000. The highest salary came from Toronto, Ontario, which is the largest city in Canada. Other cities that we received responses from include Calgary, Montreal, Vancouver, London, and Ottawa.

Career trajectory and overall average salaries for various digital project management roles in Canada are shown below:

2016 #dpm digital project manager salary survey results Canada

Unlike the USA and UK, survey results for Canada are looking to be fairly leveled. There are not a lot of changes for Project Coordinator and Senior Project Manager roles, however, the Project Manager role saw the biggest impact with a salary drop from approximately $70,000 last year to about $62,000 this year. Despite the drop, we must take into account that there is a fairly large range within the Project Manager role that may span from 2-3 years of experience to 5-6 depending on the individual and industry. The number of years can make a substantial impact on salary. With that being said, although the average is seeing a drop this year, we believe that the results represent a younger group of project managers.

Ultimately, it looks like project managers in Canada can be assured that their career path is looking bright and there will be steady increases in salary as they gather more experience under their belt. Beyond that, we’re all hoping for the Loonie to slowly climb its way back up.

Digital Project Manager Salary overview 3rd party sources

 


 

2015 Digital Project Manager Salary Survey Results

As with any salary survey, it’s difficult to provide accurate summaries because there are so many variables. So before we dive into the digital project manager salary survey results, here are a few things to think about.

Contract vs Perm

We’ve split the salary breakdowns by country and by contract/freelance and permanent roles. In short, as a digital project manager contractor you’re going to get paid more, often a lot more. But there are cons. Agencies aren’t going to give the fun projects to contractors, it’ll go to internal people who they want to keep happy. Contractors are often brought in to fix problems or provide a stopgap so it can be hard work or very temporary. Furthermore, your personal career growth and market value can stagnate – if all you’re getting is banner work, after a while it can become a detriment to your CV; you’ll look like a lame one-trick pony.

Job title is just a name

It’s worth noting that there really is no standard for job titles – so while you might be a senior project manager in one agency, you could find yourself as a project coordinator in another. Don’t be precious about it – your job title will be whatever your hiring manager thinks you are! You’ll find most jobs are for project managers or senior project managers – experience is valuable, but once you have around seven years under your belt as a senior project manager, you begin to hit your maximum earning potential unless you move into management.

Special skills for the old and wise

That said, as you get older and wiser it’s likely that you’ll pick up some special skills and develop some specialty around certain project types or technologies, e.g. a particular CMS – these can often attract a salary premium with certain clients. It’s all down to the economics of supply and demand.

Tenure doesn’t always pay up

If you’ve been with an agency for a couple of years, it’s likely that you could earn more somewhere else – especially in bigger cities, the market is constantly inflating driving up digital project manager salaries. That doesn’t mean though that by staying where you are you’re necessarily worth more than you’re making.  You’re only really worth as much as a digital project manager it would cost the agency to replace you. If they only need a project manager, then that’s all they’re going to pay you for.

Bank on the banks or your conscience

Depending on the industry you’re working in, or the industry that the agency focuses on serving, you can earn vastly different salaries. If you want to earn the big bucks, the financial and banking sector are usually good places to go. If you are more interested in working with charity clients, expect to earn significantly less than the averages posted here.

Location location location

If you happen to live in London, New York or San Francisco, you’re in luck. These cities (with their higher living expenses) will pay you significantly more. A bonus of working in the big cities is that you’re more likely to find yourself working on bigger projects for bigger clients.

Digital Project Manager 2015 salary survey results

Over the past 6 months we’ve had more than 180 responses from digital project managers from more than 20 countries including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, UAE, UK, and Ukraine. We’re a truly global bunch!

Of the people that responded, the greatest number of responses came from the US, UK and Canada. In the results below, we’ve reviewed the stats from our own survey as well as referring to other salary survey sources (which you can find at the end of the article) to ensure the validity of the numbers quoted.

Highlights from the US

Digital project manager salary ranges from $28,000 to $155,000 from 73 different digital project managers across more than 40 cities across the US. Salaries in New York tended to be higher than other cities although San Fran, Portland and Philadelphia also came out strongly compared to some other cities.

Average salaries for a digital project manager 2015 in the US:

  • Project Coordinator $42,000
  • Project Manager $60,000
  • Senior Project Manager $77,000
  • Project Director $92,000
  • Head of Project Management $105,000

Freelance digital project manager contractor rates varied from $400 – $800 per day.

Highlights from the UK

Digital project manager salary ranges from £18,000 to £65,000 from 41 different digital project managers across more than 15 cities across the UK. Interestingly, London salaries didn’t appear to have a particular premium – similar salaries could be found in Brighton, Reading, Leeds, Manchester and Edinburgh.

Average salaries for a digital project manager 2015 in the UK:

  • Project Coordinator £21,000
  • Project Manager £32,000
  • Senior Project Manager £41,000
  • Head of Project Management £57,000

Freelance digital project manager contractor rates varied from £220 – £400 per day.

Highlights from Canada

Digital project manager salary ranges from $45,000 to $80,000 from 20 different digital project managers across more 5 different cities. As you’d expect, salaries in Toronto tended to be higher than in Calgary or Vancouver.

Digital project manager average salaries in Canada:

  • Project Coordinator $50,000
  • Project Manager $70,000
  • Senior Project Manager $80,000

Digital project manager salary overview sources

In this article, we’ve tried to summarize as much as possible but you might be interested in reviewing the sources too:

US

UK Digital Project Manager salary surveys

Canada Digital Project Manager salary surveys

Ben Aston

About Ben Aston

I’m Ben Aston, a digital project manager and VP of Client Services at FCV, a full service digital agency in Vancouver, Canada. I've been in the industry for more than 10 years working in the UK at London’s top digital agencies including Dare, Wunderman, Lowe and DDB. I’ve delivered everything from video virals to CMS’, flash games to banner ads and eCRM to eCommerce sites. I’ve been fortunate enough to work across a wide range of great clients; automotive brands including Land Rover, Volkswagen and Honda; Utility brands including BT, British Gas and Exxon, FMCG brands such as Unilever, and consumer electronics brands including Sony.

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