As you map out your project management career, you are probably wondering what you can expect to be paid as you work your way up. Of course, the answer is – it depends!

Your industry and organisational experience, academic qualifications, and the current demand for project management expertise and the general state of the employment market all play a role.

But the good news is a career in project management can pay very well with few limitations if you work hard, focus on outcomes and are able to display the required skills and expertise.

In general there are three major career levels in the average project management professional’s career trajectory – the Project Coordinator, the Project Manager and the Project Director. Let’s take a look at the current data for each of these in terms of salary potential.

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The Project Coordinator salary

The Project Coordinator, Officer or Administrator is often the kick-off point if you are younger or recently graduated from college or university. Most often they work for a Project Manager with responsibility for administrative tasks on particular projects.

According to the 2021 AIPM Project Management Professional Survey, where nearly 1,400 members shared their salary and employment details, the average (mean) salary for Project Coordinators is AU$110,001-$120,000 per year. While Project Officers, on average earn between AU$90,001-$100,000.

“If you’re starting at the Coordinator or Officer level, I think the easiest way to progress is by being in a permanent role in a big company. They have a lot more projects, you can start by project managing something small and then going into larger and larger projects, moving into managing programs. That’s quite a natural progression.”

Christian Vanezi, Manager, Project & Change Management, Hudson


The Project Manager salary

There is no shortage of information on Project Manager salaries. It’s the most widely used title and can cover a very broad range of experience and seniority. But it’s fair to say that most roles with this title will require five or more years’ experience and/or some level of tertiary qualification or skills-based training. Project Managers are generally leaders and need to take initiative, ownership, and responsibility.

The 2021 AIPM Project Management Professional Survey pegs the average (mean) Project Manager salary within a range of AU$140,001-$150,000. For industries who spend millions on large scale projects the remuneration for Project Managers rises accordingly. For example, project professionals working in the Banking industry earn on average between AU$170,001-$180,000, while those in the Mining industry earn on average between AU$180,001-$190,000.

Industries like Education and Health report lower mean salaries (AU$130,001-$140,000). Often, these industries seek people with more transferable, generalist skills where there is a larger talent pool, and therefore less competition.

“I think the difference in salaries is based on the skill sets that are in demand and how much the particular industry is adding to the economic situation of the country. So, for instance Construction, Property, and Mining are probably the biggest contributors to the GDP for Australia, and therefore, they are in demand because they are such large industries, and they demand skilled workers.”

Dr Marzena Baker MAIPM, University Lecturer, School of Project Management, The University of Sydney


The Project Director salary

Our survey showed the average (mean) Project Director salary to range from AU$190,001-$200,000. While this climbs up to AU$200,001-$210,000 for a Portfolio Director. Suffice to say it’s very likely you will comfortably be earning six figure salaries with the likelihood of bonuses and other incentives tacked on depending on your industry.

These positions require not only top-notch project management skills, but deep industry, if not organisational, experience as they tend to be more strategic and less about the execution of specific projects. A strong background in project management can set you up for any number of executive roles.

“Within an organisation, you might have 20 or 50 Project Managers, but perhaps only two or three Project Director roles. To progress, people may change organisations, undertake additional training or seek to gain experience from large projects in order to increase their salary.”

Dr Marzena Baker MAIPM, University Lecturer, School of Project Management, The University of Sydney


What else matters for project salaries?

It’s worth noting that geography can play an important role in a project professional’s salary. For instance, our study showed the average salary in NSW is between AU$170,001-$180,000, whereas the average salary in Tasmania is between AU$130,000-$140,000. This is often linked to the cost of living.

Thinking through your career trajectory and having a clear idea as to where you want to work and what kind of compensation will be satisfactory is all up to you. As you progress through your career, ensure that you’re keeping up to date with the latest in the project management space through upskilling, education and learning.

Also consider certifying your skills through AIPM’s national project management certification RegPM. The 2021 AIPM Project Management Professional Survey showed those who had completed AIPM’s certification earn around 14% more than non-certified project managers.