According to the Project Management Institute (PMI), the demand for project management professionals will reach nearly 88 million positions across myriad industries by 2027. While many of those will be entry-level jobs, there’s also a growing need for senior project managers.
What Is a Senior Project Manager?
A senior project manager is a project management professional who has the skills and experience to work on larger, more complex projects. They’re often tasked with managing a program or portfolio of projects. But there’s no one-size-fits-all approach for senior project managers. Their responsibilities can vary drastically from company to company.
One thing all senior project managers share in common is the need for powerful project management software to help them work more effectively. ProjectManager is award-winning project management software that gives project managers the features they need to plan, manage and track projects in real time. For example, our robust Gantt charts go beyond the capabilities of the competition, linking all four task dependencies, filtering for the critical path and setting a baseline to track planned versus actual effort in real time. Get started with ProjectManager today for free.
Senior Project Manager Skills
To rise to the level of senior project manager requires at least five years of experience in project management with work in a senior position. Senior project managers will also have to show a variety of hard and soft project management skills. That is, having technical proficiency, but also excellent communication, problem-solving and leadership skills.
Senior Project Manager Education
Experience and skills are important for a senior project manager, but most employers will also require a certain level of education from candidates seeking the position. Typically, they’re asked to have at least a bachelor’s degree in business, finance or marketing, though a graduate degree is sometimes required. On top of education, many job applicants are expected to have some certification, such as the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification.
Sample Senior Project Manager Job Description
To help applicants understand what’s expected of a senior project manager when they’re hunting for that job and for employers who are looking to fill an open position, we’ve provided a sample senior project manager job description below. This template can be customized to fit the particulars of a specific company and its requirements.
A senior project manager should have the experience and skills expected of that profession, with hands-on knowledge of the field and a proven track record of leading projects and teams to successful completion. We’re looking for someone who can communicate effectively across diverse departments and provide coaching and training as needed. Ours is a highly competitive industry and demands a candidate who can problem-solve, pays close attention to detail and stays cool under pressure.
Duties & Responsibilities
- Collaborates with stakeholders and reports to them on a regular basis
- Ensures projects remain on schedule, within budget and in scope
- Creates, manages and distributes project communications, including charters, schedules and budgets
- Leads team through execution of project
- Assists in business development, such as proposals, RFPs and estimates
- Monitors and reports on project’s progress and performance
- Plan, schedule and track projects and staffing
- Establishes key metrics, KPIs
- Develop project controls and risk management procedures
- Responsible for training, managing and motivating team members
- Resolves technical and operational issues
Requirements & Qualifications
- Excellent communication, management and interpersonal skills
- Builds strong relationships
- Ability to run effective project meetings, workshops and conferences
- Knowledge of different project management methodologies
- Solid technical understanding
- Strong analytical skills
- Willingness to learn
- Bachelor’s degrees in project management, business management or related field, graduate degree preferred
- PMP certification preferred
Must have at least five to seven years of relevant work experience at a senior level managing projects and leading teams in large, complex projects
Senior Project Manager Salary
The salary for a senior project manager can vary depending on the region in which they’re working and the amount of experience they have. But, on average, a senior project manager in the United States can expect to earn an annual salary of $123,324.
Video: How to Become a Senior Project Manager
Want to become a senior project manager? First, you must know how one differs from a typical project manager. Jennifer Bridges, PMP, explains and provides you with practical steps to achieve your career goals.
Here’s a screenshot of the whiteboard for your reference!
Project Manager vs. Senior Project Manager
A project manager is a person who uses tools and methods to plan and direct the work of an individual or a group or a team. They also monitor that work and take corrective action when it is not progressing as planned.
A senior project manager has a higher level of expertise, furnished by in-depth knowledge of project management and extraordinary skills in the discipline. The knowledge and skills of a senior project manager include the strategic planning of a focused program; the analysis of business activities, expenses, profits and established goals; and the communication of strategy throughout the organization.
Of course, a senior project manager also plans and directs the work of individuals, including managers and other project managers.
How Can a Project Manager Become a Senior Project Manager?
Jennifer said that there are only two primary steps that a project manager must take to rise to the level of a senior project manager:
- Invest in yourself: Put in the time, money and energy needed to advance your career.
- Create your plan: Apply a practical course of training, experience and guidance from a coach and/or mentor.
Looking closer at these steps, Jennifer reminds us that the goal here is to gain in-depth knowledge and extraordinary skills through the development of a plan. That starts with training, whether by taking courses, doing research, reading, or, best of all, a combination of all three.
While you can do a lot of training on your own, experience in project management isn’t going to come from sitting in a classroom or library. It comes from, well, hands-on experience. That means practicing your trade, volunteering, failing and trying again through apprenticeships—or by any means necessary.
Then, with some experience under your belt, the guidance of a coach is key. They’ll help you hone the skills you have and develop the ones you need, which means a non-partial person who can assess your skills and behaviors.
A mentor can also steward you toward a position as a senior project manager. They’re like a trusted advisor who has already successfully traveled the road you’re on and can offer their real-life experience as a teaching tool.
Of course, the one constant running through all of this is time. It takes time. Anything of value does. But if you set your sights on a goal, make a plan to achieve it and work hard, you’re going to get there. It’s just like any project.
If you’re a project manager or senior project manager interested in learning more about ProjectManager, take a free 30-day trial today.