“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way”
John C. Maxwell
Think back to your college days:
- Were you the champion of meeting tight deadlines?
- Did you juggle classes, work, and a social life (with minimal sleep deprivation)?
- Were you the ‘organized kid’? The one that bought and actually used planners?
- Did you always end up taking charge of group projects?
If any of these rings true, you’ll probably thrive as a project coordinator.
Good. So let’s dive into the specifics of project coordinator jobs.
They help businesses tackle their goals – both the big and the small.
Project coordinators supervise and coordinate day-to-day activities on the project they’re assigned. They are managing the project schedule, overlooking spending, coaching and managing team members, providing administrative support…
As a project coordinator, you will work under the project manager (PM). While PMs, among other executives, are responsible for project planning, you’ll be ‘on the battlefield’, leading and providing support.
In this article, we will cover everything you need to know about the career:
- Types of project coordinators and project managers
- Key requirements and skills
- Education and certification
- Project coordinator salary
- Successfully applying for project coordinator jobs (with sample interview questions!)
- Job prospects and perks
To get you pumped, here are some of our favorite project coordinator facts and figures:
Project Management Vs Coordinator Jobs: In A Nutshell
First things first:
What is the difference between project coordinator and project management (PM) positions?
Project managers make strategic decisions – from start to finish. They do things like critical path analysis, resource estimate for the project, team selection, etc.
Project coordinators oversee the execution. They are the point of contact for everybody involved in the project (a.k.a. stakeholder management). Coordinators keep track of schedules, log progress and challenges, and make decisions based on the project manager’s strategy.
Project coordinators are also sometimes referred to as ‘assistant project manager’ or ‘junior project manager’. Entry-level project coordinator jobs can help you progress to manager.
Here is a handy table, comparing the two positions:
Project Coordination: For Beginners
Does project coordination/management sound like an interesting opportunity? Here is how to seize it:
Education & Certifications
A high school diploma is the bare minimum here. According to O*NET’s information on administrative services managers (this is the cluster where project coordinators fall):
- 34% have a high school diploma or equivalent (GED)
- 24% hold a Bachelor’s degree
- 13% have post-secondary certificates
Most employers don’t require candidates to be certified but it is a major perk in your resumé. The Project Management Institute (PMI) offers credentials like:
- Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)
- Project Management Professional (PMP)
- PMI Scheduling Professional (PMI-SP)
The PMP, which we discuss later for project managers, is your best choice. To sit for it, you first need to meet the requirements for hours spent on managing projects and on education.
In other words: you need experience. And speaking of that:
Internships & Junior Positions
Entry-level project coordinator jobs usually require previous employment in your field. Whether it’s IT, construction, or event planning – this will give you insight into the practical aspects of projects in your sphere of work.
If you’re not interested in an administrative or development position, consider applying for an internship. Project coordinator/manager internships are usually designed for Business students or fresh graduates.
To apply for an intern program, aim to keep your cumulative GPA above 3.0 (some companies require even higher). Strong communication skills are a must for interns, too. Be prepared that companies can change your working hours and you might have to do overtime. Not fun, I know, but internships exist to help you learn – so get the most of it while you’re there.
Project Coordinator/Manager in IT
Managerial positions in IT have a few extra requirements.
For starters, 52% of all project coordinators in IT have a B.S. while 20% of all hold a Master’s degree as well. Post-secondary education in tech or an analytical field is much preferable as it gives you perspective on the field from the inside out.
To work as an IT coordinator, entry-level employment as either a software developer, or IT infrastructure.
Essentially, employers expect you to have done the job before you manage people who do it.
IT project coordinator jobs aren’t as business and strategy-focused as other positions. Instead, companies expect you to be proficient in things like predictive methodologies (the waterfall model), adaptive methodologies (Scrum, DSDM, XP), IT infrastructure (hardware), etc.
Project Coordinator: Comprehensive Job Description
As a project coordinator, you will be responsible for making things happen. On a day-to-day basis, you will be supervising your team, keeping track of expenses, managing expectations, and communicating with externals.
Some of your key responsibilities will include:
- Understanding and clearly communicating stakeholder needs
- Maintaining and monitoring project plans
- Initiating, coordinating, and enforcing policies
- Managing the project schedule
- Coordinating resources and documentation
- Analyzing and constantly improving documentation effectiveness
- Adhering to service-level agreements (SLAs) and project deadlines
Strategic decisions, on the other hand, are on the project manager. The PM is also the person directly responsible for project outcomes (within scope, timeline, and budget).
As a project manager you will:
- Participate in the project scope definition, taking into account feasibility and stakeholder needs
- Create and implement work breakdown structures
- Performing risk assessment and managing the project risks
- Manage client relationships (through constant communication and striving to accommodate expectations)
- Establish and/or manage relationships with third-party vendors
- Integrate internal team members and third-party stakeholders to meet project milestones
- Track performance through earned value management
- Coordinate projects from their initiation up until project closure
General Coordinator Positions
The average project coordinator made $49,517 a year or $19.84 per hour in 2019. Their total pay ranged between $34k and $68k.
This data is for a general or unknown type of project coordinators. This means the data takes into account people working in a wide variety of companies – from real estate to medical devices and everything in-between.
The majority of people surveyed were entry-level or early career professionals. Their scope of responsibilities included things like coordinating project activities and resources, scheduling and keeping track of the calendar, as well as administrative tasks.
These are not (for the most part) technical or IT-specialised professionals.
The pay was highest in Seattle and New York City (6-7% above the national average).
IT Project Coordinator
The average project coordinator in IT made $54,993 last year (or $22.92 per hour). Their total pay, including bonuses, profit sharing, and commission ranged between $37,293 and $78,298.
This covers professionals responsible for large IT projects, both in software development and IT infrastructure. Being able to work with Microsoft Project increased their earnings by 7%.
The more ‘general’ type of IT project coordinators, the ones doing customer relationship management (CRM) for example, tend to earn less.
The salaries were higher than average in Atlanta, Georgia (by 16%), San Diego, California (by 8%), and Doral, Florida (by 6%).
Project Management Jobs (General)
The average project manager makes $73,654 per year or $25.41 per hour. Their total pay ranges between $45,544 and $117,928.
Since this is the data on all project managers (IT project management included), it includes people working with Microsoft Project. Microsoft Project mastery, in fact, is the skill that statistically affects salaries the most. PMs that have it make 10% more than their peers.
Project managers in Jacobs Engineering Group Inc and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. (JPMCC) are the top earners in their field.
Earnings are the highest in Washington, District of Columbia (14%), Houston, Texas (11%), and Los Angeles, California (8%). Other areas with high salaries include New York and Washington. A project manager in NYC made 6% above the national average and Seattle managers earned 7% more.
Technical Project Manager Jobs
The average PM in technology makes $87,865 per year or $43.44 per hour. Their total pay ranges between $53,615 and $137,148.
Some of the skills that affect your salary as an IT project manager include:
- Agile Software Development (7%)
- Strategic Project Management (7%)
- Microsoft Project (3%)
- Business Analysis (2%)
The highest salaries were in Washington, District of Columbia (20%), New York, New York (13%), and Houston, Texas (8%).
So how do I find these high paying project coordinator jobs near me? Our directory is a solid place to start!
Are There Any Remote Project Manager Jobs?
Project managers make strategic decisions and oversee that they are followed through. Their role involves communication with internal team members and external stakeholders. This is why most project manager (and project coordinator) positions are office jobs with standard working hours.
That being said, project managers might have to travel to clients and meetings, communicate with vendors, and do administrative work (which can happen as teleworking). Depending on the company, flexible hours might be an option.
IT project managers get some additional freedom, so long as they can keep the project on track from their home office.
True freelancing options are available if you come into a company as a consultant. This is usually reserved for highly skilled and specialised managers. Remote project coordinators jobs, on the other hand, are a rarity.
Education and Certifications
In terms of post-secondary education, you have two career paths:
- Business or related degree
- Degree in the respective field (i.e. Computer Science for IT managerial positions)
The major perk of a Business degree is that it gives you an in-depth understanding of business motives and operations. This makes you adaptable into corporate environments and gives you upward mobility in the hierarchy.
Some business skills and knowledge are a must in all project manager jobs.
Top business schools in the US include:
- University of Pennsylvania (Wharton)
- Stanford University
- Harvard University
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Sloan)
- University of Chicago (Booth)
- Columbia University
- Northwestern University (Kellogg)
Access to top project management positions often begins with an MBA programme, so consider graduate school, even if you’re already in the workforce.
Bachelor’s in Computer Science?
To become a software project manager, a background in computer science, software development, or network management is pretty much required.
Even if you have (or are currently pursuing) a business degree, consider extra coursework in these fields to be competitive in IT. This will improve your collaboration with the project engineer team and ultimately make for better, more successful projects.
Some of the top schools for computer science include:
- Carnegie Mellon University
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- Stanford University
- University of California–Berkeley
- University of Illinois–Urbana-Champaign
Certifications & Credentials
The main certification to consider is the Project Management Professional (PMP) designation by the Project Management Institute (PMI). This credential tells employers that you’re trained and qualified to manage projects and it’s recognized on a global scale.
To receive it, you sit for a 200-question closed-book exam with prerequisites depending on your previous education:
- If you have a four-year degree or higher (B.S, M.S., PhD, etc.), you need 3+ years of project management experience and 4500+ hours spent managing projects.
- If you have a secondary degree (or anything below a four-year degree, such as Associate’s), you need 5+ years of project management experience and 7500+ hours spent managing projects.
After that, you do 35 hours of project management education (and get a certificate of completion). Only then can you apply for the PMP.
The exam fee is $405 for PMI members and $555 for non-members. Membership to the Project Management Institute is an additional $139. PMI Membership + exam fee is essentially the same as the non-member fee. Besides, the membership gives you additional perks so it’s best to go that route.
5-10% of applicants are selected for random audit. The PMI asks them to provide proof of their degree, the completed project management education, and a signed experience verification form (to show their previous project manager jobs)
From the time your application is approved, you have one year to schedule an online exam and sit for it. It takes 4 hours to complete the 200 multiple-answer questions exam and you see your grade right after. If you fail the exam, retake fees are $275 for members and $375 for non-members.
To keep your certification, you have to complete 60 professional development units (PDU) and pay a renewal fee of $60 for members and $150 for non-members.
Certifications for IT Managers and Coordinators
Specific certifications for IT project manager jobs include:
- Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) – 2-day certification course costs around $1000-$1400; renewal fee is $100 and you have to do it every two years
- Scrum Master Certified (SMC) – 450$ examination cost and you have to rack up at least 40 recertification units every two years
- Agile Certified Practitioner (ACP) by the PMI – $495 for non-members and $435 for PMI members
- SAFe Scrum Master – the mandatory course and the certification cost between $995 and $1,295.
These aren’t normally a requirement but they are an advantage to help you stand out from other candidates.
Scrum master is essentially a synonym for project manager in IT. Scrum is just one of the Agile approaches, though. Here are the technical skills and knowledge you need to manage teams in software development projects:
- SDLC (Software Development Life Cycle)
- Agile approaches: Scrum, XP, Lean, Kanban
- Software development skills and experience
Psst! We have more info on scrum master jobs here!
For IT infrastructure project management, you need to know the IT department inside and out.
- Network management – Ethernet and wireless technologies
- Diagnostics and problem-solving for both hardware and software
- Data storage and backup
- Cyber security
Soft Skills for Project Managers and Coordinators
Soft skills are crucial for both PMs and coordinator jobs. A large portion of your daily work will be communication and collaboration with others.
You can’t survive on tech skills alone!
It’s your responsibility to meet expectations, making sure that the project is completed on time and within the scope.
Key skills for success include:
- Strategic planning, one of the major PM tasks is, in fact, essential for coordinators as well.
- Organization skills such as time and resource management, as well as employee supervision will ensure you keep the project on track.
- Communication skills, both client-facing and internal, will help you get your point across and manage employees and stakeholders efficiently.
- Staffing and coaching skills will help you select the right members of your team and keep them motivated throughout the project.
- Negotiation and mediation skills for effective communication with vendors and stakeholders.
In most positions you will also be asked to work on multiple projects at once. Strong multitasking skills, combined with a keen attention to detail, are a must if you hope to handle them successfully.
There are tens, sometimes hundreds of people working on a single project in any company. Thousands of dollars are invested, and hundreds of days spent.
As a project coordinator, you help everything come together.
It’s a position where you get to do a bit of everything – from coaching and mediating, to keeping track of schedules, managing expenses, and communicating with clients and external stakeholders.
Challenging? Yes, absolutely.
But rewarding? 100%. There is a good reason why project coordinators enjoy such high job satisfaction (as well as motivating salaries).
Project Coordinator Jobs FAQ
In a coordinator position, you will be making things happen. From keeping track of schedules to communicating with vendors, and resolving conflict within the team, the project coordinator is invaluable for success.
Let’s go over some of the most common questions about the position:
Q: What Is the Role of a Project Coordinator?
A: Project coordinators keep track of decisions and action items.
After the project planning stage, they manage resources and spending, coordinate the work of the team, provide support when problems arise (or escalate them, if needed).
They make sure the project is finished on time and within budget. Project coordinators are also points of contact for all employees involved. They organize and participate in stakeholder meetings, determine project changes, provide administrative support for the project and keep a log of any progress and changes.
Q: Is There a Difference Between a Project Manager and a Project Coordinator?
A: The project coordinator works under a project manager.
Managers have a larger scale of responsibility. They are the ones who define the project strategy and make key decisions.
Project coordinators, on the other hand, are managing communication, expenses, and procurement.
For instance, the project manager (along with other members of the corporate team) defines the budget. Project coordinators, on the other hand, coordinate the spending and resolve/report any issues.
Sometimes, the project manager and project coordinator positions can overlap. However, in most cases, the manager is more senior and they are responsible for strategic planning, decisions, and final outcomes.
“Junior project manager”, “assistant project manager”and “project coordinator” are used interchangeably, depending on the company.
Q: How Do You Become a Project Coordinator?
A: Typical project coordinator requirements include:
- Bachelor of Business, Business Administration, or a related field (technical degree for IT and software development)
- Experience in the related field (i.e. construction project coordinators are expected to have a background in the construction industry)
- Strong organization and time-management skills
- Exceptional communication skills – conflict resolution, written communication, presentation skills
- MS Office and G Suite
- Knowledge of administrative procedures (i.e. file management)
Project coordinators and project managers in the IT industry also need a strong background in software development or management of information systems. Even if they don’t have a computer science (or related) degree, employers expect some coding skills as a minimum.
Q: What Skills Do You Need to Be a Coordinator?
A: Key skills for success include:
Organization – having your things together; as a project coordinator, you are overlooking everybody’s schedules, the budget, and the day-to-day activities. Strong organization skills are the foundation you can’t go without.
Leadership – communicating and inspiring the project team to achieve goals, as well as coaching, team building, and conflict resolution.
Verbal communication – active listening, cultural awareness, empathy, and the ability to convey ideas and plans clearly.
Written communication – documenting progress, administrative support, file management.
Decision-making – resolving any problems in line with the overall project strategy.
Soft skills dominate the field but there are still some tech requirements. MS Office and the G Suite apps are essential, as well as Asana, Slack, and other project communication applications. Presentation skills combine strong verbal communication by creating great visuals to convey ideas.
IT project coordinators need to know about adaptive methodologies like DSDM, Scrum, and XP, as well as the waterfall model of project management. Strong knowledge of the software development cycle (SDC) and a background in development are other typical requirements.
Network-oriented project coordinators should brush up on their knowledge of servers, storage, and data security. Tech skills in both hardware and software are greatly appreciated (and needed).
Q: How Do I Get a Project Management Certification?
A: The most popular credentials and certifications include:
- Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)
- Project Management Professional (PMP)
- PMI Certified OPM3 Professional
These all come from the Project Management Institute (PMI).
The PMP credential is by far the most common among project managers. It’s a 200-question closed-book exam, available online in Prometric testing centers around the globe. The paper-based version is available if you don’t have a Prometric testing center nearby.
To sit the exam, you must meet prerequisites for hours leading and directing projects, as well as hours of project management education. The exact prerequisites depend on your degree.
The certification is not a requirement for project coordinator jobs but it will help you stand out from other candidates, as well as progress into a project manager.