Career Development

What Does a Program Manager Do?

Find out what a program manager does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as a program manager.

Program managers are responsible for managing the development of a product or service. They oversee all aspects of the project, from planning and design to execution and delivery.

Program managers may work on projects of any size or scope—they might manage the development of a new app, website, or piece of software, but they could also be tasked with overseeing the creation of an entire marketing campaign or other large-scale initiative. Regardless of the specifics, their job is to ensure that everything gets done on time and according to plan.

Program Manager Job Duties

A program manager typically has a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Coordinating with other members of the team to ensure that projects are completed on time and within budget
  • Establishing priorities and managing multiple projects simultaneously to meet deadlines
  • Managing the team’s workflow to ensure that tasks are completed on time
  • Preparing budgets and tracking expenses to ensure cost controls are in place
  • Communicating with clients or customers to gather information about their needs and expectations
  • Developing strategies to improve company processes and procedures to increase efficiency or improve results
  • Ensuring that the project conforms to legal requirements and industry standards
  • Identifying risks and working with stakeholders to develop mitigation plans
  • Evaluating project results to determine if they met objectives or were successful

Program Manager Salary & Outlook

Program manager salaries vary depending on their level of education, years of experience, and the size and industry of the company. They may also earn additional compensation in the form of bonuses or commissions.

  • Median Annual Salary: $92,500 ($44.47/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $174,000 ($83.65/hour)

The employment of program managers is expected to grow faster than average over the next decade.

Demand for program managers depends largely on the overall health of the economy. As demand for products and services grows, so does demand for program managers to organize and direct these activities.

Program Manager Job Requirements

A program manager typically needs to have the following qualifications:

Education: Most employers require program managers to have a bachelor’s degree in a related field, such as business administration, management or computer science. Some employers may hire candidates who have an associate’s degree or a related certification.

Many employers prefer candidates who have a master’s degree in business administration (MBA). An MBA program typically takes two years to complete and includes coursework in business management, accounting, finance and marketing.

Training & Experience: Most program managers will receive on-the-job training in their new role. This training will help the program manager learn the company’s policies and procedures, as well as the software and technology they use. The training may last for a few weeks or months, depending on the company.

Certifications & Licenses: Program managers are not required to obtain a certification or license. However, employers may prefer candidates who have one, as it demonstrates a commitment to excellence.

Program Manager Skills

Program managers need the following skills in order to be successful:

Communication: Program managers communicate with many different people throughout the workday. They often communicate with their team, clients, donors, volunteers and other stakeholders. Effective communication is important to ensure everyone understands the message and can respond accordingly. Program managers also need to communicate complex ideas in a way that others can understand.

Leadership: Program managers often have leadership roles in their organizations, so they need to be able to direct and motivate others. Leadership skills can include being able to delegate tasks, motivate employees and inspire others to work hard. Program managers can also use leadership skills to help their organizations grow and develop.

Problem-solving: Program managers often have to solve problems that arise in their work. This can include everything from finding a new speaker for an event to finding a solution to a conflict between two employees. Program managers who are skilled at problem-solving can find solutions to issues quickly and effectively.

Project management: Program managers often oversee several projects at once, so project management skills can be essential for this job. Program managers often use project management software to track the status of projects and the progress of teams. They may also use project management skills to create schedules for their teams and to delegate tasks.

Organizational: Program managers need organizational skills to keep track of their many responsibilities. You may have several projects going on at once, so it’s important to be able to prioritize your tasks and keep track of your responsibilities. This can help you to complete your work on time and to the best of your ability.

Program Manager Work Environment

Program managers are responsible for the overall coordination and management of specific programs within an organization. They develop and implement program goals, objectives, and activities, and they monitor and evaluate program progress and outcomes. Program managers typically work in office settings, although they may travel to attend meetings or to visit program sites. They usually work full time and may occasionally work overtime to meet deadlines or to resolve program issues. Program managers need to have excellent communication, interpersonal, and organizational skills and be able to work well under pressure.

Program Manager Trends

Here are three trends influencing how program managers work. Program managers will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

The Need for Agile Project Management

The need for agile project management is becoming increasingly important as businesses become more reliant on technology. This trend is causing a shift towards more flexible and adaptable project management methods, which require a different set of skills from those traditionally required by project managers.

As project managers are asked to work in an agile environment, they will need to be able to manage projects quickly and efficiently while still meeting the needs of their clients. They will also need to be able to communicate effectively with team members and be able to track progress throughout the project.

Project Managers Will Be More Accountable

As project management becomes more popular, project managers will be held more accountable for the success or failure of their projects. This means that they will need to be able to manage both people and resources effectively in order to meet deadlines and achieve goals.

In addition, project managers will need to be able to communicate effectively with stakeholders and be able to understand the needs of their customers. This will help them to create projects that are successful both financially and in terms of customer satisfaction.

More Attention to Risk Management

Risk management is becoming an increasingly important focus for businesses across all industries. As project managers are responsible for managing projects, they too are being asked to pay more attention to risk management.

This trend requires project managers to be able to identify potential risks and develop strategies to mitigate them. In addition, they need to be able to communicate these risks to other members of the business so that everyone is on the same page.

How to Become a Program Manager

A program manager career can be a great way to use your skills in project management, planning, and organization. It’s also a field that offers many opportunities for growth. As you gain experience, you may move up the ranks from junior to mid-level to senior program manager. You may also choose to specialize in a particular area of programming, such as software development or IT systems engineering.

No matter what stage of your career you’re at, it’s important to stay up-to-date on the latest trends and technologies in your industry. Read industry publications, attend conferences and webinars, and connect with other professionals online. This will help you develop new ideas and find ways to improve your programs.

Related: How to Write a Program Manager Resume

Advancement Prospects

There are many ways to advance your career as a program manager. One way is to move up within your current organization. This could involve taking on more responsibility, managing more complex programs, or supervising other program managers. Another way to advance your career is to move to a different organization, where you might have the opportunity to take on a more senior role or manage larger programs. You could also choose to specialize in a particular area of program management, such as healthcare or information technology. Alternatively, you could become certified as a Project Management Professional (PMP) or a Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM). This could make you more attractive to potential employers and help you to command a higher salary.

Program Manager Job Description Example

The Program Manager is responsible for the successful initiation, planning, execution, monitoring, controlling and closure of one or more programs. The Program Manager will work with the Program Director to develop the program strategy and will be responsible for ensuring that the program meets or exceeds stakeholder expectations. The Program Manager will also be responsible for ensuring that the program delivers the expected business outcomes and value.

The Program Manager will work closely with the project managers of the individual projects that make up the program, and will be responsible for ensuring that the projects are coordinated and integrated. The Program Manager will also be responsible for managing risks and issues, and for ensuring that the program stays within its budget.

The Program Manager will need to have excellent communication and stakeholder management skills, as well as experience in program and project management.

Duties & Responsibilities

  • Serve as the primary point of contact for all programmatic inquiries, issues, and concerns
  • Oversee and manage multiple programs concurrently, ensuring that each is delivered on time, within scope, and within budget
  • Establish and maintain relationships with key stakeholders, clients, and partners to ensure smooth communication and collaboration
  • Define program objectives, deliverables, timelines, and budgets in consultation with relevant parties
  • Develop and implement comprehensive project plans to track progress and milestones
  • Monitor and report on project progress, risks, and issues to relevant parties on a regular basis
  • Facilitate resolution of project conflicts and roadblocks
  • Identify and procure necessary resources to support program delivery
  • Manage program changes and updates in a timely and efficient manner
  • Conduct post-mortem analyses of completed programs to identify areas of improvement
  • Maintain up-to-date knowledge of industry best practices and trends
  • Perform other duties as assigned

Required Skills and Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree in business, project management, or related field
  • 5+ years experience in program management with increasing levels of responsibility
  • Proven track record of successful program delivery
  • Demonstrated ability to manage multiple programs concurrently while maintaining quality standards
  • Strong understanding of program management methodologies (Agile, Waterfall, etc.)
  • Excellent communication, presentation, and interpersonal skills

Preferred Skills and Qualifications

  • Master’s degree in business, project management, or related field
  • PMP certification
  • Experience managing global programs
  • Experience with enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems
  • Familiarity with Six Sigma or other process improvement methodology

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