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Account Manager vs. Project Manager: What Are the Differences?

Learn about the two careers and review some of the similarities and differences between them.

If you’re interested in a career in management, you may be wondering what the difference is between an account manager and a project manager. Both roles are important in different ways, and the title you hold may depend on the company you work for and the industry you’re in. In this article, we compare and contrast these two management positions, and we offer advice on how to choose the right path for you.

What is an Account Manager?

An Account Manager is responsible for maintaining and developing relationships with a company’s existing clients. They work to increase customer satisfaction and loyalty so that clients will continue to do business with the company. Account Managers typically have a background in sales or customer service. They work closely with other departments within the company to ensure that clients’ needs are being met. Account Managers typically create and present reports on account activity and performance to company executives. They also develop strategies to increase sales and grow their accounts.

What is a Project Manager?

Project Managers are responsible for leading and coordinating a team of people to complete a specific task or project within a given timeline. They work with all members of the team to ensure that everyone is on track and meeting their deadlines. Project Managers also work with outside vendors and contractors to ensure that all materials and services needed for the project are obtained in a timely and cost-effective manner. They also create reports and presentations to update stakeholders on the project’s progress.

Account Manager vs. Project Manager

Here are the main differences between an account manager and a project manager.

Job Duties

Account managers and project managers share some job duties, but there are differences between the two roles. An account manager oversees a client’s entire business, so they perform various tasks that help their company improve its services and products. These professionals contact clients to determine what needs they have and how their company can meet those needs.

A project manager focuses more specifically on the projects their company creates for clients. They oversee each step of the creation process, from determining a client’s needs to creating timelines and assigning resources. A project manager makes sure each aspect of a project is complete before sending it to a client.

Job Requirements

To become an account manager, you typically need at least a bachelor’s degree in business administration or another related field. However, some employers may prefer candidates with a master’s degree. Additionally, many account managers have several years of experience working in customer service or sales before being promoted to an account manager role.

Project managers also typically need a bachelor’s degree, but their field of study can vary. Some project managers have degrees in engineering, construction management or business administration. Others might have degrees in fields like psychology or sociology. Many project managers also have certifications from the Project Management Institute (PMI), which offers different levels of certification depending on a project manager’s experience and education.

Work Environment

Account managers and project managers often work in different environments. Account managers typically work in an office setting, where they can collaborate with other team members to develop strategies for their clients. They may also travel to meet with clients or attend conferences related to their industry.

Project managers usually work in a more dynamic environment, such as a construction site or manufacturing facility. They may spend most of their time on-site, overseeing the implementation of projects. Project managers may also work from home, depending on the type of project they’re managing.


Both account managers and project managers need to have excellent communication skills. They will be communicating with clients, team members and other stakeholders on a regular basis. They also need to be able to listen carefully to understand the needs of their clients and team members.

Organization is another important skill for both account managers and project managers. They need to be able to keep track of multiple deadlines and tasks at one time. They also need to be able to delegate tasks to team members effectively.

Account managers also need to have strong negotiation skills. They may need to negotiate with clients about the scope of work or with team members about deadlines. Project managers also need to be able to negotiate, but they typically do so with vendors and suppliers about costs and timelines.

One key difference between these two roles is that account managers typically work more closely with clients. They need to build and maintain relationships with clients. They also need to be able to understand the needs of their clients and match them with the services that the company can provide. Project managers typically work more closely with team members. They need to be able to motivate team members and help them solve problems.


Account managers can earn an average salary of $75,495 per year, while project managers can earn an average salary of $87,628 per year. Both of these average salaries may vary depending on the size of the company at which you work, location of your job and the level of experience you have prior to pursuing either position.


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