Project Coordinator Careers: Salary Information & Job Description

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What are the pros and cons of becoming a project coordinator? Get real job descriptions, career prospects and salary info to see if becoming a project coordinator is for you.
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Pros and Cons of Becoming a Project Coordinator

The field of project coordination is closely related to project management, a career found in a variety of industries. Project coordinators often perform work for project managers and other supervisors. Check out some of the pros and cons below to determine if becoming a project coordinator is the right decision for you.

Pros of Being a Project Coordinator
Job growth available in project management careers (15% growth for IT field from 2012-2022)
Project coordinators are found in a variety of industries (construction, transportation and technology)***
Flexible schedules may be available****
Industry experience might result in higher pay***

Cons of Being a Project Coordinator
Fact-paced, stressful work environment****
4-year degree is necessary for most jobs****
In-state travel may be required****

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com, ***The International Association of Administrative Professionals, ****Online job postings.

Job Description and Duties

While the terms of project 'manager' and project 'coordinator' are sometimes used interchangeably, the project coordinator generally supports the project manager, engineer or other project supervisor as they plan and implement a project. Job duties for project coordinators may include scheduling work activities, working with vendors to order materials and coordinate services, attending meeting, preparing status reports, corresponding with subcontractors and tracking the timeline of a project.

Often, job duties may overlap with project managers who create project objectives, plan budgets, motivate and oversee workers and manage expenditures, typically all the tasks that ensure the project is completed on-time and within budget. Project coordinators work within tight deadlines and a variety of vendors and workers who may not perform up to standards. You might encounter stressful situations and may have to work beyond a normal workweek to get the job done. You also must be responsible for ensuring the project doesn't get behind or money is not allocated to the wrong people.

Career Prospects and Salary

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not state specific job growth numbers for project coordinators, but the fields of construction and information technology (IT) project management are predicted to experience fast-as-average growth (15%) during the 2012-2022 decade. Many of these project managers will need assistants to coordinate project details. According to PayScale.com, as of 2015, general project coordinators in the 10th-90th percentile range earned about $31,000-$60,000 per year.

Education and Job Requirements

Although specific educational requirements will vary by industry and job function, as seen in a variety of job postings, employers are often seeking project coordinators who hold 4-year degrees in business or other industry specific areas such as construction management, engineering or IT. Computer skills and work experience are highly desired, as well as interpersonal skills. You may be required to possess skills in database management and computer programming. Because you will play an important role in the implementation of a project, you must be able to make quick decisions, adapt to change and possess a professional demeanor when reporting a project status to superiors.

What Employers Are Looking For

Employers generally seek candidates who are well organized and can enter and track data on the computer. A college degree and relevant work experience are generally necessary if you want to be considered for hire. Project coordinators work with personnel and vendors, so you should be personable and have excellent skills in communicating project objectives clearly and accurately. Listed below are several job postings from March 2012 that provide a snapshot of the skills and education employers are looking for:

  • A construction company in North Dakota wants to hire an entry-level project coordinator to assist project managers with plan submission, material requisition, vendor billing and crew scheduling. A 4-year degree in construction management, business or engineering is preferred, but a combination of work experience and education can be substituted in place of a degree.
  • A medical college in New York is seeking a project coordinator with a bachelor's degree and 3+ years of related experience to prepare educational materials, create student clerkship schedules and maintain accurate records. Applicants must be able to communicate effectively, possess strong Microsoft Office skills and be detail-oriented.
  • A data management company in Pennsylvania posted a job advertisement for an IT project coordinator who has earned a bachelor's degree in computer science, business or IT, as well as 1-3 years of experience. Knowledge of various programming software in addition to Microsoft Project is a plus and strong written and verbal communication skills are desired. Candidates must be able to work in a fast-paced environment and overtime may be required.

How Can I Stand Out?

Gaining project management skills while working as a project coordinator can be beneficial if you seek career advancement. Learning how to use tracking software and taking on more duties for the supervising project manager will give you an advantage over other coordinators with only record keeping and supply ordering experience.

Get Certified

Although there are not many optional certification choices for project coordinators, you could obtain the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) designation, a voluntary certification offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI). The CAPM is designed for lower-level project administrators who want to express their dedication to and expertise in the profession. To qualify for certification, you must have a high school diploma and pass an exam, in addition to 1,500 hours of work related experience or 24 hours of education in project management. If you already have some project management experience, you might have satisfied some of the requirements for the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification, also offered by the PMI.

Other Careers to Consider

Construction Manager

If you think you would enjoy working in the construction industry, but want to earn more than a project coordinator, you should consider becoming a construction manager. The construction manager coordinates activities and plans the timeline and budget of a construction project. The BLS projected that employment of construction managers should grow by 17% from 2010-2020 because of business expansion, population growth and the need to repair and restore existing infrastructure. In May 2011, construction managers earned an average annual salary close to $94,000, with the top ten percent earning median wages of approximately $149,000.

Employers prefer candidates who have experience in the construction industry and a degree in construction management or civil engineering. Construction workers often work their way up into management positions through experience. The Construction Management Association of America and the American Institute of Constructors provides optional certification for construction managers who want to earn more and advance to executive positions in the construction field.

Computer and Information Systems (IS) Manager

Often called IT project managers, computer and IS managers earn significantly more than a project coordinator in the same industry and may have similar education requirements. IS and computer managers generally need to graduate from a bachelor's degree program in an information science or a computer related field, but some employers prefer candidates with master's degrees. However, acquisition of this job typically requires 5-10 years of experience.

IS and computer managers decide what software and hardware are needed in an organization and plan the scope and budget of implementing the projects. These managers must be knowledgeable of new technological developments and have the ability to negotiate the best prices for services provided. The BLS estimated that computer and IS managers earned an average wage of over $125,000 annually in 2011.

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Featured Schools

George Mason University

  • Master of Business Administration
  • Master of Business Administration: Business Analytics Specialization

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American University

  • Master of Science in Agile Project Management
  • Master of Science in Measurement and Evaluation

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Northcentral University

  • PhD in Business Admin - Management
  • Doctor of Business Admin - General Business
  • Master of Business Admin - General Business
  • Master of Business Admin - Accelerated General MBA

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Kaplan University

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

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Saint John's University

  • Master of Business Administration: Interdisciplinary Business

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University of Delaware

  • Master of Business Administration - Healthcare Concentration
  • Master of Business Administration
  • Master of Business Administration - Custom/General

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Saint Leo University

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

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Johns Hopkins University

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

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