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Implementation Specialist vs. Project Manager: What Are the Differences?

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

A career in project management can be both challenging and rewarding. If you’re interested in this field, you may be wondering what the difference is between an implementation specialist and a project manager. Both roles are important in ensuring the successful completion of a project, but they have different responsibilities. In this article, we compare and contrast these two positions, and we offer advice on how to choose the right career path for you.

What is an Implementation Specialist?

Implementation Specialists are responsible for ensuring that a company’s new software system is up and running smoothly. They work with the software developers, customer support team and company executives to ensure that the system meets all of the company’s needs. Implementation Specialists also train employees on how to use the new software. They create user manuals and provide one-on-one instruction to employees to help them understand the features and functions of the software. In some cases, Implementation Specialists may also be responsible for troubleshooting software issues and providing support to users.

What is a Project Manager?

Project Managers are responsible for planning, organizing and directing the work of a team to achieve specific goals within a specified timeframe. They work in a variety of industries, including construction, IT, engineering and manufacturing. Project Managers typically create project timelines, assign tasks to team members and track progress to ensure the project is completed on schedule and within budget. They also work with clients to ensure that their needs are being met and that they are satisfied with the project.

Implementation Specialist vs. Project Manager

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

Job Duties

An implementation specialist’s job duties can vary depending on the company and project they’re working on. Typically, their responsibilities involve creating a plan for how to implement a new product or service. They may research customer demographics and behavior, analyze data about similar products and services and develop strategies for reaching target customers effectively.

In contrast, project managers often have fairly consistent job duties that apply across most projects. For example, they typically oversee multiple aspects of a project, including scheduling, budgeting, resources, deadlines and troubleshooting issues that arise. They also regularly communicate with stakeholders—people who have an interest in a project, like employees, customers and executives—to ensure everyone is well-informed about a project’s status.

Job Requirements

Implementation specialists typically need a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information technology or another related field. They might also benefit from pursuing certifications in specific software programs that they will be working with on the job. Project managers usually need at least a bachelor’s degree as well, although some employers prefer candidates to have a master’s degree in business administration (MBA) or another related field. Many project managers also pursue certification through the Project Management Institute (PMI).

Work Environment

Implementation specialists and project managers often work in different environments. Project managers typically work in an office setting, where they can collaborate with other team members to develop a plan for the project. They may also travel to meet with clients or attend meetings related to their projects. Implementation specialists usually work in a more hands-on environment, such as a construction site or manufacturing facility. This allows them to closely monitor the implementation of the project and ensure that it’s completed correctly.


Both implementation specialists and project managers need to have excellent communication skills. They will often be working with a team of people and need to be able to give clear instructions, provide updates on the project’s status and answer any questions that team members may have.

Both roles also require strong organizational skills. Implementation specialists need to be able to keep track of all the details of a project and ensure that everything is moving forward according to plan. Project managers need to be able to juggle multiple tasks and priorities at once and make sure that each task is completed on time and within budget.

Implementation specialists need to have in-depth knowledge about the product or system they are working on. They need to be able to understand how it works and be able to troubleshoot any issues that may arise. Project managers do not need to have the same level of technical expertise, but they should have a basic understanding of the product or system.

Finally, both implementation specialists and project managers need to be able to think creatively to solve problems. They need to be able to come up with new ideas and find innovative ways to overcome obstacles.


The average salary for an implementation specialist is $61,287 per year, while the average salary for a project manager is $87,628 per year. The average salary for both positions may vary depending on the size of the company, the location of the job and the level of experience the employee has prior to taking the job.


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