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What You Need To Know About PMP Salary

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What You Need to Know About PMP Salary

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PMP certification is highly beneficial for project managers. Being PMP certified means you have the knowledge and skills needed to plan, execute and monitor a project with the whole team. This certification is an investment of both money and time, so it’s understandable to think deeply first before jumping to the application process.

Most project managers opted to take the PMP certification because of the salary increase aside from the additional knowledge and skills you get. As a cost-savvy project manager, the expected PMP salary hike and the return of investment is equally important.

Let’s take a look at how your PMP certification impacts your current project manager salary.

How much does a project manager make?

Project managers are the goal-setters of a lot of industries. They are in-charge of all the planning and implementation needed for a project. The good thing is that project managers are amply rewarded for their work.

Your salary as a project manager depends on your industry, where you live, years of experience, position, and certification status. The average base salary in the United States is $86,447 and $13,500 cash bonus per year. This is based on 25k salaries reported to Indeed as of September 05, 2020.

Project managers in Australia earn around $130,966 — which is the highest paying country for project managers. On the other hand, project managers in China, India and Egypt only earn around $24,201, $27,052 and $27,156.

Impact of PMP Certification on Your Salary

Your PMP certification will bring a significant difference to your salary as a project manager. Since being PMP certified means having in-depth knowledge and skills in project management, companies and organizations set this as a standard when hiring project managers.

And since more and more companies are now looking for PMP certified project managers, they are also offering higher salaries for their qualified applicants.

According to PMI’s latest Project Management Salary Survey Report, Earning Power: Project Management Salary Survey—Eleventh Edition, the median salary for PMP holders across the 42 countries surveyed is 22% higher on average than those without PMP certification.

PMP vs non-PMP salary chart

5 Factors that Can Boost Your PMP Salary

The average annual salary of a project manager varies significantly on a number of factors such as:

  • Years of experience in project management
  • Position/Role
  • Country of employment
  • Average size of project managed
  • Certification status

1. Years of project management experience

The years of your experience will prove your expertise when it comes to project management. The longer you’ve been a project manager, the more projects you’ve worked on.

And since the average salary of project managers depends on their experience levels, the higher your experience is, the higher salary a company offers you.

  • Less than 3 years – $75,000
  • 5-10 years of experience – $100,000
  • 10 years and above (top experienced project manager) – $130,000

2. Position covered and responsibilities

Another factor affecting a project manager’s salary is your current position or level in your company. Below are the different project management positions and their estimated median salary.

Director of Project Management / Project Management Office 

Directors of project management or project management offices are senior professionals who are responsible for shaping the whole project management process. Typically, they earn around  $130,000 – $150,000.

Portfolio Managers 

Portfolio managers are also senior professionals who are in charge of portfolios–usually, an entire portfolio of the organization. They are also responsible for coordinating and explaining the work to project managers and program managers. Most portfolio managers have a median salary of $130,000.

Program manager

Program managers are responsible for programs and coordinating with project managers. These senior professional figures usually earn a median salary of $120,000.

Project manager III 

Project managers III are project managers who have 5-10 years of experience. They have the most urgent and critical projects in a company. Being the top experienced project managers, they earn around $100,000 – $110,000 annually.

Project manager II

Project managers II are the ones who have 3-5 years of project management experience. These are the project managers who can work with several projects at a time, directed by portfolio managers and program managers. They have a median salary of  $90,000 – $100,000.

Project manager I

Project managers I are project managers who just started their career. They usually work with the guidance and supervision of project managers II and III. Since this is an entry-level position, project managers I earn around $70,000 – $90,000.

3. Country of employment

Whichever roles and experience, PMP salaries also vary depending on the country you’re currently working at. The highest PMP salaries come from Switzerland, US and Australia. 

Here are the top 10 highest paying countries for project managers.

PMP Salary by Country Bar Chart

4. Average size of project managed

According to PMI’s latest Project Management Salary Survey Report, Earning Power: Project Management Salary Survey—Eleventh Edition, project managers who manage larger projects in terms of project budget and number of team members reported higher median salaries than those managing smaller projects.

The differences in salary vary from country to country, but let’s take a look at the top 3 countries with the highest PMP salary reported.

5. Certification Status

PMP salary infographic

The latest PMI salary survey provides comprehensive insights from 32,000 respondents across 42 countries. 82% of the survey respondents hold the PMP certification.

Overall, the median salary for PMP holders is 22% higher than those without PMP certification. 

Salary differences vary from country to country as well. PMP holders in the Philippines and Malaysia reported the largest salary increase, over 80% than those who do not hold the certification.

In the United States, those holding PMP certification report a 26% salary increase than those who do not hold the certification.

Highest Paying Industry for Project Managers

PMP certification is valuable for project managers who want to earn more–being PMP certified also means being entitled for a higher salary. These are some of the highest paying industries when it comes to project management.

PMP Salary by Industry - Engineering

Engineering project management

Average salary: US$124,434

Engineering project management professionals are responsible for managing engineering projects. The projects are typically complex in nature, such as designing a car and developing software just to name a few. Engineering Project Managers use their expertise to coordinate with engineering and product managers the development of new products, designs or offerings.  

As an engineering project management professional, you need to have an in-depth knowledge of the project you are overseeing. So, a degree in engineering might be a prerequisite.

Aerospace project management

Average salary: US$129,732

Aerospace project management professionals work together with engineers and designers to make sure the new aircraft is delivered on time and on budget. Their areas of focus include risk management and quality control.

Aside from airplanes, an aerospace project management professional is also in-charge of some of the most advanced technology on the planet. This is why there are a lot of opportunities for mistakes if anything is missed.

Pharmaceutical project management

Average salary: US$133,246

The pharmaceutical industry is expected to hit $1.1 trillion in sales by 2022. So this explains why pharmaceutical project management professionals belong to the top paying project manager jobs.

These project managers work with doctors, researchers and engineers to make sure the research and other developmental activities remain on schedule and on budget. To be a pharmaceutical project management professional, you need to have an advanced healthcare degree and experience.

Roadmap for becoming a certified project manager

Your PMP certification is the key to more project management knowledge and a salary increase. But there are some steps and prerequisites you need to complete before you can be a PMP certified project manager.

PMP Training (Earning 35 Contact Hours)

Project management education is a prerequisite for the PMP certification. This means you have to attend courses and training relevant to the project management industry.

Before you can apply for the PMP certification, you need to complete 35 hours of formal project management education or contact hours first through an accredited training provider. You have options to choose from: live classroom or PMP online bootcamp.

Whatever you choose, make sure your chosen training provider offers certificates at the end of each course. You’ll need to submit these during your PMP application since these will prove you’ve completed the required 35 contact hours.

PMP Certification Application

After completing the required contact hours, you can now proceed to the PMP certification application. To start, you need to review your requirements first and submit an online application on the PMI website.

Once you start with the application, you have 90 days to complete it. Otherwise, you’ll have to start over. However, you can save your unfinished application and get back to it later.

There are some steps you need to take after completing your online application. You can read the full guidelines here: Applying for the PMP Exam.

PMP Exam Preparation

Enrolling in an exam prep course provider is a great choice to gauge your knowledge about project management. This will help you improve yourself in areas where you’re lacking. Mastering the PMBOK Guide will also help you know what areas are involved in the PMP certification and what knowledge and skills make a good and effective project manager.

PMP Exam Day

This is your big day! With all the knowledge you gained in your exam preparation, be confident to sit for your PMP exam.

Since there are now two options of taking the PMP certification, the things you need to prepare are different from one another.

For On-site Exam

Arrive at the testing center early and bring two IDs along with your letter from PMI. From there, they will give you six sheets of paper, two pencils and a calculator you can use for the exam. You can take a break after the first part of the exam, but you can no longer review it when you get back.

For Online Exam

This is very much different from the on-site exam. In this case, you’ll take your PMP exam through the website and there will be an online proctor watching you through the webcam. Also, you can use a virtual calculator on your computer.

You need to have a quiet room where you can take your exam alone. Before starting with the online PMP exam, you will be instructed to take a quick view of your room to make sure no one is inside other than you, and that you don’t have any notes or books open.

For either of these two, you need to clear your mind the day before your PMP exam. This is to make sure you have a fresh mind for the next day. This will also reduce the chances of experiencing mental blocks while taking the exam.


The continuously expanding job market demands more and more PMP certified project managers with extensive experience and skill set. PMP certification is definitely a game changer when applying for the project management industry.

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