Program Coordinator Careers: Job Description & Salary Information

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The starting salary for a program coordinator is approximately $29,000. Is this worth the education and training requirements? Learn the truth about job duties and career outlook to decide if becoming a program coordinator is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of Being a Program Coordinator

Working as a program coordinator requires that you have strong communication, interpersonal, leadership and organization skills in order to coordinate a particular project or program for a business or non-profit organization. Following is a list of pros and cons that can help you decide whether or not this profession is right for you.

Pros of Being a Program Coordinator
A 4-year degree is sufficient for most jobs (51% have a bachelor's degree)****
Good job growth (expected 21% from 2012-2022 for all social and community service members)**
Several job specialties (health, human services, education)*
Can work in multiple industries (non-profit, social services, government)**

Cons of Being a Program Coordinator
Low starting salary (about $29,000 for non-profit sector)***
Budget cuts at the state and federal level can hinder job growth**
Job duties may be stressful (for example, trying to raise funds for programs)**
Licensure or certification may be required for some positions in healthcare*

Sources: *CareerBuilder and Idealist Job Postings, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, ***Payscale, ****O*NET OnLine.

Career Information

Although program coordinators can work in multiple industries, many are employed by non-profit organizations, for-profit social services companies and government agencies. Most job postings for program coordinator positions show that the duties are very similar to those of social and community service managers, as described by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). For instance, professionals in both occupations are responsible for developing and coordinating programs to meet community needs, gathering and analyzing statistical data to determine program effectiveness, managing a budget and communicating with funders to raise money, maintaining program records, and recruiting, hiring and training staff members and volunteers.

Both career fields also offer several specialties in which to seek employment. These include community development, education, healthcare, human services and youth development. In many instances, you may work on a program that combines several of the areas mentioned. For example, your responsibilities for a community development program may involve overseeing an after-school tutoring, enrichment or summer program for youths or working at a community clinic assisting mothers with feeding infants.

Salary and Job Outlook

According to Payscale.com, program coordinators at non-profit organizations earned a salary of about $29,000-$53,000, as of July 2015. For social and community service managers, the BLS reported that those in the lowest tenth percentile earned a median wage of about $38,000, while those in the highest 90th percentile earned approximately $105,000, as of May 2014. The BLS also reported that employment for social and community service managers is expected to increase at a faster-than-average rate of 21% from 2012-2022.

What Do Employers Look for?

Most job postings listed a 4-year degree as the minimum education required. Most employers didn't list a specific major, but requested that candidates have work experience related to the specific target audience of the program. The BLS reported that social and community service managers are required to have a bachelor's degree in social work, public administration, urban studies or a related field. However, some employers prefer to hire managers who have a master's degree. In addition, those with a bachelor's degree are encouraged to gain work experience to develop leadership and managerial skills.

Job Postings from Real Employers

Listed are some job postings for program coordinator positions in the non-profit, government and social services industries that can give you an idea of what real employers were looking for during May 2012:

  • A San Francisco public school is looking for a candidate to provide academic and enrichment program support to promote student success in and out of the classroom. Some of the duties listed include recruiting, hiring and training volunteers, and developing after school tutoring and enrichment programs. This employer requests that applicants have a 4-year degree and experience in academic intervention and program development.
  • A family health and birth center in Washington, DC, seeks a candidate to oversee a breastfeeding program. Job duties include educating mothers on how to avoid problems with breastfeeding, maintaining client records, referring clients to community resources and assisting with grant funding. This candidate must be a licensed registered nurse, have 2-3 years of experience in a community health facility and training in lactation management.
  • A Wisconsin city is looking for a candidate to develop programs for its senior center. Job responsibilities include planning and implementing activities that can enhance quality of life. This position requires a 4-year degree related to older adult care and one year of experience developing senior programs. This employer is offering about $44,000-$50,000 annually.
  • A hospital in New York City wants to hire a program coordinator for its HIV treatment center. The candidate will be responsible for coordinating administrative services between two hospitals, collecting data and creating reports, communicating with funders and following up with patients. This position requires a bachelor's degree and five years of professional experience, preferably in a hospital-based HIV testing program.

How to Stand Out

As noted by the BLS, many employers are more favorable to social and community services managers who have a master's degree. Since this position is related to the job of a program coordinator, earning a master's degree can give you a competitive advantage for those positions as well. Degree programs available that are relevant to this field include those in non-profit management, public service management and public administration. Common courses you may study for these programs include ethical leadership, organizational and program development, non-profit and government financial administration, needs assessment and policy design. These programs are also applicable to jobs in public healthcare, higher education and urban affairs.

Alternative Career Paths

Meeting, Convention or Event Planner

If you're interested in a career that focuses on coordinating events, consider working as a meeting, convention or event planner. In this position, your responsibilities would include meeting with clients to discuss the purpose of the event, researching and selecting venues, soliciting bids and negotiating contracts with suppliers, working with hospitality staff members to coordinate activities and registering guests at the event. To work in this field, you typically need a bachelor's degree in hospitality management, marketing or public relations. This career field can also provide you with good job security, as employment is projected to increase much faster-than-average at a rate of 44% from 2010-2020, according to the BLS. The BLS also reported that meeting, convention and event planners earned a median wage of about $46,000, as of May 2011.

Urban or Regional Planner

If you would like a career that focuses on community development as it relates to land use, then consider becoming an urban or regional planner. In this role, you would meet with government representatives, building developers and community residents to discuss the best use of a plot of land. Other duties you may have include addressing economic and environmental concerns, coordinating building projects, deciding how work should be delegated and helping communities attract new businesses. According to the BLS, you usually need a master's degree and several years of work experience to become an urban or regional planner. Within the 2010-2020 decade, employment for these professionals is expected to increase by 16%, which is about as fast-as-average compared to other occupations. As of May 2011, the median salary earned by urban and regional planners was approximately $64,000, according to the BLS.

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Featured Schools

Johns Hopkins University

  • MA in Public Management
  • Master of Science in Government Analytics

What is your highest level of education?

Purdue University Global

  • M.S. in Management
  • BSBA in Management
  • AASBA in Business
  • Executive Leader Graduate Certificate

Which subject are you interested in?

Saint Leo University

  • BA: Business Administration - Management
  • BA: Business Administration - Logistics
  • AA: Business Administration

What is your highest level of education completed?

The University of Scranton

  • MBA - Operations Management
  • Master of Business Administration
  • Dual MBA-MHA

What is your highest level of education?

Grand Canyon University

  • DBA - Management
  • M.B.A. with an Emphasis in Project Management
  • Bachelor of Science in Business for Secondary Education

What is your highest level of education?

Georgetown University

  • Master of Professional Studies in Real Estate
  • Masters of Professional Studies in Technology Management

What is your highest level of education completed?

Colorado State University Global

  • MS - Management
  • BS - Business Management
  • Undergraduate Certificate - Project Management

What is your highest level of education?

Regent University

  • Doctor of Strategic Leadership
  • Master of Arts in Law - Business
  • Bachelor of Applied Science in Management and Leadership

What is your highest level of education completed?