Program Manager Job Description
Program managers oversee scheduling, pricing, and technical performance of organizational programs. They may aid with proposal development, contract negotiation and contract compliance. Proposal preparation may include assisting with plans, specifications and financial terms of the contract. They may assist with business development initiatives.
Program managers ensure master plans and schedules are followed, developing solutions to program challenges, and directing others for successful completion of project on time and on budget.
Program manager responsibilities include governance, alignment, assurance, management, integration, optimization, tracking, finances, infrastructure, planning, and improvement.
Program managers routinely provide supervision of a project or multiple projects to achieve a corporate vision. They typically work as the head of a program office leading a team, and perform liaison activities with upper management and stakeholders.
Managers are responsible for governance, which involves working with the over arching structure, processes and procedures to accomplish objectives, which include metrics of success and deliverables. Alignment entails top-down vision, goals and objectives from business strategy flowing through to successful completion of projects for program objectives. Assurance includes checks and balances for compliance with standards and vision alignment. Management involves regular reviews for accountability and successful management of project, stakeholders and suppliers.
Integration of components for best fit of components for program success. Optimization of performance across program platforms to achieve the best functional and technical value. Cost tracking program component costs with overall program administration costs.
Infrastructure, which may include office, version control and IT, entails resource allocation for successful completion of program objectives. Planning entails developing the plan to orchestrate projects, resources, timescales, monitoring and control. Improvement covers ongoing performance assessment, research and development of new capabilities, and systematically applying knowledge for program success.
Market reports indicate that the job outlook for program managers continues is strong and expected to remain strong. The primary employment industry is the aerospace and defense industries, which are not dependent as other occupations as the public economy.
A program manager designation applies to an occupational title as well as describe tasks assigned to other occupations, as is common in the nonprofit sector or the Information Technology sector. Consequently, tasks a program manager may perform may vary but often have common elements.
Training and Education Requirements
It is acceptable to take online or long distance education to meet educational, certification or continuing education requirements. The school should be accredited by standard organizations.
Educational programs, such as those in defense industry hot zones such as in the Nation’s capital region, including Washington, DC, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, may offer program management specific majors. Other educational institutions may offer course specific classes from the business department. On the job training and program or project management certification can leverage a business degree or other degree, depending on the industry a person is preparing to work in.
The aerospace and defense industries employ the largest number of professionals (38%). Following at a distance second place is the education, government and nonprofit sector (15%). The software & networking, durable manufacturers, and healthcare industries are also prominent employment sectors.
Program managers are expected to have some formal post-secondary education. Master’s degrees are held by 51% of professionals, and 38% have a Bachelor’s degree.
Eight percent of industry professionals have one year or less of professional experience, while 15% have 1-2 years of experience. Twenty-five percent of people have 5-10 years of industry experience, while 22% have 10-15 years. Thirty-one percent of industry professionals have 15 or more years work experience.
Program Manager Salary and Wages
The salaries and job security for program managers are extraordinarily. The exact amount of compensation depends on a few factors. In general, program managers earn high salaries compared to other occupations. Within the occupation, work experience, education, certification, and employment setting can drive salary and benefits higher or lower up an already generous payout. Because of steep compensation, program managers may receive compensation using a more flexible compensation model, and still find attractive payout. They may be paid on an hourly basis, part time, on a consultant basis, temporary basis, or based on a permanent, standard 40-hour work week due to the fact that they often work part time. Even so, the average salary for dental hygienists is typically quite high.
According to market research studies the current median annual salary for a program manager is $131,000, with salaries lows at $107,967 (10%) to highs of $158,325 (90%).*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
In addition to their high salary, program managers also report receiving some form of employment benefits, such as paid vacation, sick leave, and health plans. Online benefits calculators can help develop reasonable total compensation expectations based on industry standard compensation terms. Terms may include 401k/403b, disability, health care, pension, time off, bonuses and other benefits.
For the aerospace industry, industry average benefits for a program manager, excluding a bonus, for a salary base of $107,967 with Social Security at $6,051, 401k/403b at $4,211, disability at $1,835, healthcare coverage at $7,418, pension at $5,398 and 32 days off. The average industry benefits for $131,000 salary without bonus is $6,781 Social Security, $6175 for 401k/403b, $2,692 for disability, $7,418 for healthcare, $7,916 for pension, and 32 days off. For those who earn program managers who earn $158,325, the total compensation with benefits is estimated at $208,793.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Program managers are not required to become certified; however, the industry practice is to obtain professional certification.
The primary professional association for program managers is the Project Management Institute (PMI) which boasts global members and credential holders that number over half a million in 185 countries. PMI has over 250 chapters in over 70 countries. The PMI publishes a number of journals and hosts numerous certifications, professional development courses, continuing education, conferences and other programs. The PM Network, PMI Today and Project Management Journal are among its publications. The PMI PMBOK Guide has been an industry tome for decades. It provides international project management standards, guidelines, rules and characteristics. The PMI knowledge assessments for program and portfolio management includes the Program Management Knowledge Assessment.
PMI and other industry training providers offer program manager certification. PMI’s Program Management Professional (PgMP)® credential establishes professional competency to oversee multiple, related projects and respective resources to accomplish strategic business goals. The knowledge assessment consists of 100 multiple choice questions measuring critical knowledge of project management. To apply for certification, the minimum education requirement is a four year degree with four years of project or program management experience. Alternatively, a secondary diploma with seven years of program and four years of project management experience are acceptable.