Project managers prepare a list of detailed tasks--called a work breakdown structure--and an associated schedule for a business operation. Project managers oversee project resources and report on project status. Project managers develop budgets and control expenses. A project may have a few people or several hundred people working on large, complex development efforts.
Companies usually prefer the simple title of project manager. However, because the size and complexity of projects may vary significantly, individuals may enhance the title, project manager, to senior project manager or senior system project manager, when the responsibilities include overseeing large, complex endeavors. The project manager name approved for certification from the Project Management Institute is Project Management Professional or PMP.
Functional project manager names add a descriptive term to the core job title of project manager. In a recent interview with Karen McGraw, CEO of Cognitive Technologies, she reported receiving applications for a project manager position with names or titles including: associate project manager, project coordinator, business project manager and technical project manager. Hiring managers need to get specific information about an applicant’s job responsibilities. Note that the Project Management Institute offers certification as an associate in project management with the designation, CAPM.
Sometimes people inflate their job titles to appear more capable or important. If a job applicant uses unusual project manager names, such as chief project manager or vice-president project manager, hiring supervisors should seek details on the significance of that title. To understand the project management responsibilities met by an individual claiming the name project manager, ask questions about the size of the project, the number of employees, the duration and the budget for which he was responsible.
A program manager, as defined by the Project Management Institute, oversees several projects. The name, program manager, when accompanied by formal certification from PMI, reflects a senior-level professional with extensive project manager experience. A program manager may also be called a portfolio manager, if the scope of his responsibility encompasses business objectives and corporate strategic alignment.
- Project Management Institute: Project Management Professional (PMP)
- NASA: Project Management Competencies
- Interview Karen McGraw, CEO Cognitive Technologies, on February 2, 2011
- Project Management Institute: Certified Associate in Project Management
- Project Management Institute. "Earning Power: Project Management Salary Survey, Eleventh Edition," Pages 300–306. Accessed Oct. 14, 2020.
- Indeed. "How Much Does a Project Manager Make in the United States?" Accessed Oct. 14, 2020.
- Project Management Institute. "Project Management Professional (PMP)®." Accessed Oct. 14, 2020.
- International Project Management Association. "Certification Program Overview." Accessed Oct. 14, 2020.
- American Management Association. "AMA Certified Professional in Management™." Accessed Oct. 14, 2020.
Barbara Brown has been a freelance writer since 2006. She worked 10 years performing psychological testing before moving into information research. She worked as a knowledge management specialist and project manager in defense and health research. She is studying to be a master gardener and has a master's degree in psychology from Southern Methodist University.