Maybe you’re like me and have a fascination with project management tools, or maybe you’re just really good at managing things. Either way, you’ve decided to become a project management professional (PMP).
You were always the one who came up with the best weekend game plan for you and your buddies in college, you earned your PMP certification, and now you’re ready to reap the benefits of your hard work.
The question is: which industry do you want to work in?
If construction, healthcare, or pharmacy all equally call to you, or if you’re just wondering in which industry a PMP-certified project manager can make the most money, you’ve come to the right place.
First, a note on PMP certification
In the U.S. in 2015, the average project management professional without a PMP certification made $91,000 per year. With a PMP certification, the average salary went up to $111,000, an increase of more than 20% (according to a 2015 survey of 9,677 U.S. project managers).
Now more than ever, a PMP certification is critical for project managers who want to earn more money.
The Project Management Institute (PMI) says that any experienced project manager “responsible for all aspects of project delivery, leading, and directing cross-functional teams” is a good candidate for PMP certification.
The 200-question PMP certification exam itself costs $555 (or $405 for PMI members), with a four-hour time limit for completion.
Highest Paying PMP Jobs
Now, onto the fun stuff! Here are the top five industries for project management professionals, ordered by salary from lowest to highest.
5. Engineering Project Management Professional
Average U.S. Salary: $116,990
Anyone who knows an engineer knows that they are some of the smartest people on the planet, but they can sometimes get caught up in the minutiae. An engineering project management professional is responsible for keeping the engineers focused on completing the project.
End-goal: Guiding the development of a product (often a complicated product) within a specified timeline and budget.
The job: Engineering PMs work with, you guessed it, engineers. They also communicate with clients to make sure that the end product is what the client wants.
Pros/cons: An engineering project manager has the satisfaction of seeing something very real, useful, and tangible at the end of their project; something like a large bridge, a new computer chip, or a satellite. On the other hand, the engineering PM must have extensive knowledge of the product they are overseeing, so experience as an engineer in that field is a prerequisite.
4. Aerospace Project Management Professional
Average U.S. Salary: $118,147
If you’re the kind of kid who grew up obsessed with aviation, who built model airplanes and dreamed of flying, but became a project manager instead, a job as an aerospace project management professional might be what you’re looking for.
End-goal: Overseeing proposals leading to the development of new aircraft and aerospace systems.
The job: Aerospace PMs work with engineers and designers to make sure that new aircraft is delivered on time and on budget. Focus areas include risk management and quality control.
Pros/cons: An aerospace project manager gets to work with airplanes and some of the most advanced technology on the planet. Because aerospace projects have a lot of moving parts (literally, a lot) there are lots of opportunities for something to go wrong.
3. Consulting Project Management Professional
Average U.S. Salary: $124,697
A consulting project management professional is different from a project management consultant, in that the first works as a project manager for a consulting company while the latter works as a consultant who specializes in project management. We’re talking about the first of the two.
End-goal: A consulting project manager’s goal depends on the industry of the company they are working with on a case-to-case basis. In general, the goal is to furnish industry expertise and advanced knowledge to the client so that they can be successful in their project.
The job: A consulting project manager is the chameleon of the project management universe. The consulting PM could be working with environmental engineers one month, and sales managers the next.
Pros/cons: A career as a consulting project manager would be especially rewarding for someone who enjoys variety, as they will be asked to wear every hat from a construction helmet to a computer technician’s… computer hat? However, that same unpredictability could be dizzying for someone who works best in a defined environment.
2. Resources Project Management Professional
Average U.S. Salary: $127,382
Resources project managers work in industries like mining, petroleum, and agriculture that extract and grow natural resources.
End-goal: Managing the procurement of natural resources for delivery to consumers.
The job: Resources PMs work with farmers, mining, and oil companies to make the process of extracting and growing natural resources as efficient as possible by eliminating waste and improving communication.
Pros/cons: Resources project management offers plenty of opportunities to travel and be outdoors. Because of the specific processes related to each natural resource, background as an engineer in a given field (farming, mining, drilling) may be required to become a resources project manager.
Top resources companies
1. Pharmaceutical Project Management Professional
Average U.S. Salary: $127,426
Globally, the pharmaceutical industry has reached almost $1 trillion in annual revenue. So it’s no wonder that pharmaceutical project management professionals make more money, on average than in any other industry.
End-goal: Developing new medication for the treatment of diseases or other health problems.
The job: Pharmaceutical PMs work with doctors, researchers, and engineers to ensure that research and development stay on schedule and on budget.
Pros/cons: A pharmaceutical project manager can literally help find a cure for cancer and save millions of lives. Talk about a rewarding career! On the flip side, pharmaceutical PMPs will need an advanced healthcare degree or experience to approach top-tier salaries. Also, the frustration level can be high when the development of a miracle medication is continually tripped up by all of those unwanted side-effects you hear about in commercials.
What do you think?
There you have it: the top-five highest paying PMP jobs. Now, for the easy part. Get your PMP certification and start sending out those resumes and cover letters. Of course, your resume will look a lot better with some project management software experience highlighted. Good luck!
Looking for Project Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Project Management software solutions.