With opportunities in communications, e-commerce, finance, construction, healthcare and many other industries, becoming a senior project manager is one of the most versatile career moves. These business professionals help an organization succeed by developing whatever projects are needed to meet established goals. The road to becoming a senior project manager career can begin with enrolling in a Master of Business Administration degree program.

Job Outlook

A review of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) categories that typically employ senior project managers – including construction, IT, cost estimating and management consulting – reveals predictions of strong employment growth in coming years. Business expansion and increasing complexity will spur demand for qualified project managers. Those with specialized knowledge, experience and advanced degrees should have the best job prospects.

Senior Project Manager Job Duties

A senior project manager (PM) may generalize or specialize in a particular industry. Depending on the employer, they may be responsible for improving an organization’s performance in areas such as accounting, customer service, information technology, operations, sales and production.

Project management typically begins in strategic planning, and senior project managers will often be involved in this activity. They are usually responsible for managing projects from initiation and development to execution and follow-up. Specific job duties may include creating a project calendar, accurately estimating time and resources required to complete the project, organizing and communicating information to key stakeholders, and assigning resources to each phase.

Another important aspect of a senior project manager’s job is avoiding risk by analyzing data, anticipating, identifying and mitigating risk factors. Senior PMs act quickly to determine problems and make decisions to solve them; these aspects of the job are vital to successful project deployment.

Developing budgets, negotiating contracts and managing external vendors are additional duties of the senior project manager. They typically monitor a project’s progress throughout its duration, and communicate project status to senior management and staff through reports and presentations. Leading project teams, including recruiting, hiring, training and supervising, are typical required duties of a senior project manager.

The work environment of a senior project manager varies according to industry and employer, but they typically work in comfortable offices. A 40-hour week is standard, but longer hours are sometimes required at a project’s launch or completion. Travel may be required.

Potential Salary for Senior Project Managers

According to national salary data on PayScale.com, as of January 2011 the median total annual income for senior project managers was about $99,834, with those in the 25th to 75th percentile earning between $77,741 and $121,928 in total pay.

PayScale.com data also indicated that earning potential can be significantly impacted by earning a master’s degree. In fact, senior project managers with an MBA brought in a median total annual income of about $106,585 – a boost of nearly 7%!

The data show that the top salaries generally go to those with the experience and advanced education to sustain growth in a fast-changing business environment.

Education and Training Requirements

Most senior project manager positions require a bachelor’s degree at minimum. Many employers look for industry experience, as well. Some show preference to candidates with advanced education, including master’s degrees.

The skills and knowledge required to land a top senior project manager job can be obtained by enrolling in a Master of Business Administration program. Coursework typically includes international business management, strategic project management, managerial economics, organizational behavior and database management technology.

Employers can be confident that professionals who have earned an MBA are able to:

  • Utilize analytical skills to make critical decisions and solve problems.
  • Assess financial, economic and statistical data to manage risk.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of modern leadership and negotiation theories.
  • Anticipate and manage change in a quickly moving global business environment.
  • Leverage advanced knowledge and skills to succeed as a senior project manager.

Becoming a Successful Senior Project Manager is Within Your Reach

Strong analytical skills, the ability to communicate clearly and effectively, and the flexibility to handle fast-changing conditions are necessary to succeed as a senior project manager. If this sounds like a description of your attributes, you might want to consider pursuing this career. The knowledge and respect you’ll gain by earning an MBA will position you head and shoulders above the competition for top senior project manager positions.

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