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A guide to project manager salaries: Free ebook

By on 07 Dec 2018

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This comprehensive guide explains what project managers expect to earn in the UK. Discover where the highest/lowest paid project managers work and which industries they work in. If you're thinking of a career in project management and considering investing in training as a means to enter the profession, then read this ebook.

If you're a more established project manager, learn how much you could be earning.

Overview

Project managers in the UK are certainly well paid. According to Glassdoor, nationwide salaries in the UK average £42k [1]. PayScale reports project manager salaries ranging from £25k to £60k, with a median UK salary of £38k [2].

However, when looking further at reported salaries, it is clear to see that project managers in certain regions, or those working in certain industries, are earning well above the national average.

As you might expect, London is where a lot of these higher earners are located. With regards to industry worked in, it is perhaps unsurprising that the IT project manager reports higher than average salaries, earning up to £66k [3], and construction project manager salaries up to £65k [4].

However, some sectors actually pay below the UK national average. You may not be surprised, but project managers working in the marketing industry, usually a glitzy and well-paid industry, earn just £31k [5].

London

As noted previously, London is home to some of the highest earning project managers in the UK, where they earn significantly more than the national average.

London may be an obvious place for high earners to live and work, whatever the job role, but delving deeper to try and understand why project managers in particular earn more in the capital than elsewhere is quite interesting.

If we look at what is happening in London at the moment, the need for project managers is incredibly high, with projects springing up across the city. Old buildings are being demolished, entire boroughs are undergoing regeneration, and let's not forget famous projects such as Crossrail and Battersea Power Station.

With so much engineering and construction happening in the capital, it is safe to say that London-based project managers working in these industries are earning big money.

In fact, London-based project managers in the engineering industry earn on average over £48k [6], which is £5k above the UK average for engineering project managers. In construction, salaries are £4k higher than the UK average of £42k [7].

If we also look at the other high-earning industries such as IT, salaries in London are 18% higher than the average IT project manager salary of £42k [8].

Scotland

A more surprising region for high project manager salaries is Scotland. Take a quick glance at the chart below, and you will see how engineering project manager salaries compares with the other regions. Although Glasgow salaries are less than the UK average, in Aberdeen they are the highest of anywhere in the UK.

So, just what does Aberdeen have to offer a potential project manager? Aberdeen is the centre of the UK's oil industry. Known as the 'oil capital of Europe', the abundance of natural gas, oil and renewable energy companies has made Aberdeen one of the wealthiest places in the UK.

Located in Aberdeen alone are Wood Group Engineering, GL Noble Denton, The Cammach Group and Wellahead Engineering - all companies which focus on engineering products for energy, such as drills and machinery, offshore oil exploration and welding projects.

With so many expensive energy projects ongoing in Aberdeen, it surely must follow that project managers with the right knowledge are in high demand and will therefore be rewarded with an excellent salary.

In Edinburgh, the finance industry is strong. In fact, Edinburgh is a banking hotspot, with Standard Life, Scottish Widows, Royal Bank of Scotland and Tesco Bank all based there. Around 35,000 people are employed in Edinburgh's financial sector [9] which is the highest number of any city outside of London.

The IT sector is also doing well in Edinburgh, with major tech firms such as Amazon, Rockstar and Skyscanner all based in the city, which has in recent years become a tech hub.

Edinburgh is also home to large companies such as Cairn, an oil and gas exploration company, as well as Pelamis Wave Power and Aquamarine Power, two large renewable energy companies.

With such an array of employers to work for, one would expect project manager salaries in the city to be relatively high, but this is not the case. Construction project manager salaries in Edinburgh are only a fraction over the UK average at £43k [10]. IT project managers fare much worse with a salary of £36k compared to the UK average of £42k [11].

South East England

The South East hosts major industries such as aerospace, healthcare & life sciences, automotive, financial services, electronics and the creative sector [12], and the close proximity to London, the Eurotunnel and two major airports (Gatwick and Heathrow) make the South East an economic powerhouse.

Figures show that South East England is the second most prosperous region of the UK [13], and a huge number of multinational corporations have their UK bases in the South East, and they will all no doubt be wanting the cream of the crop when it comes to project managers.

Companies such as Amazon, BMW, Pfizer, American Express and Unilever all have headquarters in the region, and there is a cluster of tech companies around the M4 motorway, known as Silicon Alley, which includes Microsoft, Oracle, Dell UK, IBM and Sony. This explains why IT project managers in Reading can earn on average of £51k [14].

South West England

The South West of England is a largely rural area dominated by the tourism sector with historic and scenic areas such as Cornwall, Devon, the Cotswolds, Wiltshire, Somerset and Bristol all in the region. Nevertheless, there are clusters if high-tech industries such as aerospace, digital, low-carbon and engineering industries [15].

The absence of large financial or IT industries explains why project manager salaries in Bristol are only £39k - £3k less than the UK average [16]. However, with Bristol having a 70-year history with the key aerospace industry – in fact the city has links to the famous Concorde aircraft – one might expect that engineering salaries would be better than the UK average. It’s somewhat surprising therefore to learn that project managers in the engineering sector only pick up a salary of £36k, which is well below the UK average of £43k [17].

However, in construction, salaries fare better with £48k being the highest of anywhere in the UK [18].

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West Midlands

The UK was once a major global player in the manufacture industry, owing its success to the Industrial Revolution. The West Midlands in particular played a major role in manufacture during these prosperous times, with the region being dubbed the 'Workshop of the World'.

Despite the region suffering long-term decline over many decades it is still a major exporter of manufactured goods. It also hosts a large automotive industry, with the likes of Rolls Royce, Jaguar Land Rover, Aston Martin and Norton Motorcycles all having factories in the region.

With it’s long-term decline evident, it might be expected that salaries are lower than the UK average. Whilst this is the case for engineering project managers, whose salaries are £5k under the UK average of £43k [19], it’s not the case for either IT or construction. In IT, salaries are just above the UK average of £42k [20], and in construction they are £5k over the £42k UK average [21].

The North

Similar to the West Midlands, the North of England used to be the powerhouse of the Industrial Revolution. The major cities of Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield and Newcastle have all suffered huge declines over the decades, and debates about the north-south divide have partly been built upon the fact that salaries in the north are substantially below those of the south.

Evidence of this can be seen in all of the graphs above, where salaries of project managers in Manchester are some of the lowest in the UK in all the sectors described.

The UK Looking to the future

At the end of 2018, uncertainty clouds the horizon with the key Brexit vote in Parliament yet to be taken. Being in limbo is certainly not helping the UK economy, and across the UK salaries in 2018 remain lower than they were a decade earlier when the credit crisis began.

Project managers wanting to get ahead need to consider gaining professional project management qualifications if they haven’t already got them and broaden out their qualifications set if they already hold one certification.

It’s still the case that the project management qualifications most in-demand by employers in the UK remains PRINCE2. However, in the IT sector AgilePM are gaining popularity.

Looking wider, the demand for project managers is only going to increase [22] according to the Project Management Institute (PMI) which forecasts worldwide demand for project managers to increase by over 20 million in the decade from 2017. This includes an increase of 200,000 project managers in the UK alone.

So, if you are already a project manager, or thinking of becoming one, the future looks rosy over the next decade despite the Brexit uncertainty over the next year or so.

References

[1] Glassdoor. (2018). Project Management Salaries in United Kingdom. Available: https://www.glassdoor.co.uk/Salaries/uk-project-manager-salary-SRCH_IL.0,2_IN2_KO3,18.htm. Last accessed: 01 December 2018.

[2] PayScale. (2018). Average Project Manager, (Unspecified Type / General) Salary. Available: https://www.payscale.com/research/UK/Job=Project_Manager%2c_(Unspecified_Type_%2f_General)/Salary. Last accessed: 01 December 2018.

[3] PayScale. (2018). Average Project Manager, Information Technology (IT) Salary. Available: https://www.payscale.com/research/UK/Job=Project_Manager%2c_Information_Technology_(IT)/Salary. Last accessed: 01 December 2018.

[4] PayScale. (2018). Average Project Manager, Construction Salary. Available: https://www.payscale.com/research/UK/Job=Project_Manager%2c_Construction/Salary. Last accessed: 01 December 2018.

[5] PayScale. (2018). Average Project Manager, Marketing Salary. Available: https://www.payscale.com/research/UK/Job=Project_Manager%2c_Marketing/Salary. Last accessed: 01 December 2018.

[6] PayScale. (2018). Average Project Manager, Engineering Salary. Available: https://www.payscale.com/research/UK/Job=Project_Manager%2c_Engineering/Salary. Last accessed: 01 December 2018.

[7] PayScale. (2018). Average Project Manager, Construction Salary in London, England. Available: https://www.payscale.com/research/UK/Job=Project_Manager%2c_Construction/Salary/c29b0be9/London. Last accessed: 01 December 2018.

[8] PayScale. (2018). Average Project Manager, Information Technology (IT) Salary. Available: https://www.payscale.com/research/UK/Job=Project_Manager%2c_Information_Technology_(IT)/Salary. Last accessed: 01 December 2018.

[9] Investinedinburgh.com (unknown) Industry strengths: financial services. Available: http://www.investinedinburgh.com/industry-strengths/financial-services/. Last accessed: 01 December 2018.

[10] PayScale. (2018). Average Project Manager, Construction Salary, in Edinburgh Scotland. Available: https://www.payscale.com/research/UK/Job=Project_Manager%2c_Construction/Salary/b7bccca8/Edinburgh. Last accessed: 01 December 2018.

[11] PayScale. (2018). Average Project Manager, Information Technology (IT) Salary, in Edinburgh Scotland. Available: https://www.payscale.com/research/UK/Job=Project_Manager%2c_Information_Technology_(IT)/Salary/93e274d2/Edinburgh. Last accessed: 01 December 2018.

[12] Investinuk (unknown). The South East England. Available: http://www.investinuk.net/state/south-east-england/south-east-england. Last accessed: 01 December 2018.

[13] Barclays (unknown) Wealth Management: Research: UK Wealth Prosperity Map. Available: https://wealth.barclays.com/en_gb/home/research/research-centre/uk-wealth-prosperity-map/prosperity-map/prosperity-map-south-east.html. Last accessed: 01 December 2018.

[14] PayScale. (2018). Average Project Manager, Information Technology (IT) Salary, in Reading England. Available: https://www.payscale.com/research/UK/Job=Project_Manager%2c_Information_Technology_(IT)/Salary/4a62273b/Reading. Last accessed: 01 December 2018.

[15] Bristol and Bath. (Unknown). Invest Bristol & Bath (unknown) Economic Strengths. Available: https://www.bristolandbath.co.uk/economic-strengths/. Last accessed: 01 December 2018.

[16] PayScale. (2018). Average Project Manager, Information Technology (IT) Salary in Bristol, England: Bristol. Available: https://www.payscale.com/research/UK/Job=Project_Manager%2c_Information_Technology_(IT)/Salary/1716a46c/Bristol. Last accessed: 01 December 2018.

[17] PayScale. (2018). Average Project Manager, Engineering Salary in Bristol, England. Available: https://www.payscale.com/research/UK/Job=Project_Manager%2c_Engineering/Salary/bec187c4/Bristol. Last accessed: 01 December 2018.

[18] PayScale. (2018). Average Project Manager, Construction Salary in Bristol, England. Available: https://www.payscale.com/research/UK/Job=Project_Manager%2c_Construction/Salary/27bc1446/Bristol. Last accessed: 01 December 2018.

[19] PayScale. (2018). Average Project Manager, Engineering Salary in Birmingham, England. Available: https://www.payscale.com/research/UK/Job=Project_Manager%2c_Engineering/Salary/863408da/Birmingham. Last accessed: 01 December 2018.

[20] PayScale. (2018). Average Project Manager, Information Technology (IT) Salary in Birmingham, England. Available: https://www.payscale.com/research/UK/Job=Project_Manager%2c_Information_Technology_(IT)/Salary/ce9ad900/Birmingham. Last accessed: 01 December 2018.

[21] PayScale. (2018). Average Project Manager, Construction Salary in Birmingham, England. Available: https://www.payscale.com/research/UK/Job=Project_Manager%2c_Construction/Salary/b35721f9/Birmingham. Last accessed: 01 December 2018.

[22] Project Management Institute. (2017). Project Management Job Growth and Talent Gap 2017-27. Available: https://www.pmi.org/-/media/pmi/documents/public/pdf/learning/job-growth-report.pdf. Last accessed: 01 December 2018.

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