What does the average project manager look like?

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The Arras People Project Management Benchmark Report contains a useful snapshot summary of responses by job title this year. It means we can take a look at what an ‘average’ project manager looks like, if there is such a thing. Bear in mind that the survey is mainly targeted at UK project managers although there were a fair few responses from those working outside the UK.

Let’s meet our average PM.

Demographics

  • He is male: 75% of the project managers responding to the survey are male (and that figure has stayed broadly the same for as long as I can remember reading this annual report).
  • He works in the UK.
  • He is aged between 35 and 59.
  • He has at least one degree (a Bachelor’s degree) and is quite likely to have a Master’s too. Most likely his higher degree is in project management or is an MBA.

Experience

  • He has more than 10 years of experience in this role…
  • …and considers himself a practitioner rather than an expert or a foundation/junior member of the team based on his assessment of his education, professional accreditations and experience.
  • He has domain knowledge as well as project management knowledge.
  • He is PRINCE2 certified with further accredited training courses in leadership and managing people.
  • He holds membership to a professional body.
  • He’s aware of Agile but not using it and doesn’t hold any Agile certifications. That’s probably because his company doesn’t use Agile.

Employment

  • He works in the private sector.
  • He’s an employee, not a contractor or self-employed.
  • He earns between £40,000 and £49,999 a year: the average salary for respondents was £47,180 in the UK.
  • He leads new product development or service transformation projects.
  • He has no direct reports.
  • His span of control is less than 10 people.
  • His budget responsibility is either significant (£5m to £10m) or nothing at all.

Does any of this sound like you? Nearly 45% of the respondents to the Arras survey identified as project managers so this is data from a very representative sample.

Let’s have a look at some of the outlier responses and create a different sort of project manager.

The outlier

  • The outlier is a woman.
  • She’s under 24 with a PhD and membership of a professional body that isn’t PMI or APM.
  • She has hardly any experience and works in defence.
  • She has no domain expertise alongside her project management knowledge.
  • She manages a team of between 8 and 10 and earns either under £25k or over £75k. She manages budgets of £501k to £1m.

This really doesn’t sound likely as a profile, does it? It’s a collection of the least common responses from people in the survey, but it doesn’t hang well together as a pen portrait of an atypical project manager. I could extrapolate from this that the ‘average’ project manager I constructed above from the most common responses to the survey is also not a particularly accurate profile.

Statistics are useful – in this case they help set salaries and responsibilities for people in professional project management positions. But they need to be considered in context.

Get a copy of the survey and see the details for yourself here.

Posted on: March 25, 2015 10:45 AM | Permalink

Comments (4)

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Great post! Even tough the target audience was UK I believe this PM persona would fit the bias for many other locations as well, with the exception of the "He works in the UK" part, of course.

Thiago, I think you're probably right - that brief sketch of a project manager is likely to be attributable to many countries where PM is an established job.

He will most likely have a PMI certification (in case outside UK)

I agree, this is not an accurate picture.

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