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

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

A project planner and a project manager are two important roles in any organization. Both positions are responsible for ensuring that a project is completed on time and within budget. However, there are several key differences between these two job titles. In this article, we discuss the similarities and differences between a project planner and a project manager. We also provide information on the skills and experience you need to pursue each role.

What is a Project Planner?

Project Planners work with Project Managers to develop and track project timelines, milestones and deliverables. They also create and maintain project documentation, such as project charters, scope statements and project plans. In addition, Project Planners coordinate project resources, including human resources, equipment and materials. They also track project progress and performance, and report their findings to the Project Manager. Project Planners typically have a background in project management, business administration or a related field.

What is a Project Manager?

Project Managers are responsible for leading and coordinating teams of employees to complete specific goals within a certain timeframe. They develop project plans, track progress and milestones, and ensure that projects are completed within budget and on schedule. Project Managers also develop and maintain relationships with key stakeholders, vendors and clients. They may be responsible for managing multiple projects at once and must be able to prioritize and adjust as needed. Project Managers must have excellent communication and organizational skills to be successful.

Project Planner vs. Project Manager

Here are the main differences between a project planner and a project manager.

Job Duties

Although project planners and managers share some duties, they also have unique responsibilities. A project planner develops the project schedule, organizes meetings with stakeholders and creates a project budget. They also research the necessary resources for the project and determine which team members to hire. In comparison, project managers oversee the implementation of the project plan by directing the project team and ensuring that each member fulfills their responsibilities. They monitor the progress of the project and communicate with clients or higher management to ensure client satisfaction.

Job Requirements

Project planners and project managers typically need at least a bachelor’s degree in business administration, engineering or another relevant field. Some employers prefer candidates to have a master’s degree as well, but it is not required for entry-level positions. Additionally, many professionals in these roles pursue certifications through the Project Management Institute (PMI). The PMI offers training programs that teach professionals how to use project management software and other tools they might need on the job.

Work Environment

Project planners and project managers often work in different environments. Project planners typically work in an office setting, where they can access the necessary resources to complete their projects. They may also travel to meet with clients or attend meetings.

Project managers usually work on-site at construction sites or other locations where their teams are working. They may spend a lot of time outdoors overseeing their team’s progress and ensuring that they’re completing tasks correctly.


There are several similarities in the skills used by project planners and project managers. Both roles require excellent organizational skills to keep track of deadlines, milestones and budget restrictions. They also both need to be able to communicate effectively with team members, clients and upper management.

However, there are some key differences in the skills needed for these two jobs. Project managers benefit from having strong leadership skills to motivate their team and keep everyone on track. They also need to be able to make quick decisions in order to keep the project moving forward. Project planners, on the other hand, need to have strong research and analysis skills to develop realistic plans. They also need to be detail-oriented in order to create comprehensive schedules and budgets.


Project planners can earn an average salary of $84,142 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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