A program manager is very similar to a project manager. The major difference of program manager vs. project manager is that the former will lead many different projects. On the other hand, the latter leads just a couple of them. Program managers look at the bigger picture of how all the projects work together. Have you led a project and enjoyed being in charge of the teamp and driving the vision necessary to make that project happen? This program manager job description will show that they manage several project managers and see how all of the different projects will benefit the company.

What Does a Program Manager Do?

They possess the vision for the program. The program manager role is to outline goals and objectives. These professionals then identify different projects that can help the program meet its goals and delegate qualified individuals to each team. While the projects under the umbrella of the larger program will have a deadline and tangible outcomes, the program is dynamic and evolving. A project manager or project coordinator must be able to handle this change and ensure the mission and vision align with current projects.

program manager job description of daily tasks

A program manager job description shows that they generally need a bachelor’s degree. Experience weighs heavily in this field. However, it’s possible for someone to progress to the position of program manager without a degree. These professionals work full-time and can serve as a consultant for many different businesses. The program manager salary median is $81,385, but this will vary widely by industry.

Program Manager Job Description for Resume – Responsibilities

A resume for a program manager position should show that the person has a wealth of experience in leading projects and creating strong teams. The responsibilities listed below are generic descriptions of bullet points for resumes. To strengthen your own, you should personalize them.

  • Create new programs and supervise existing programs.
  • Identify opportunities for funding whether through fundraisers, grants, or a combination of the two.
  • Set goals for the program and evaluate the success of individual goals.
  • Identify what projects will help the program achieve the targeted objectives.
  • Create a mission for the program and label tangible outcomes.
  • At a high level, coordinate all of the moving parts of the program.
  • Communicate the progress of the program to upper-level executives through reports and presentations.

America’s Job Exchange provided the motivation for this list of responsibilities.

Program Director Required Skills

  • Management skills. Program managers, naturally, need to manage the programs they are responsible for. This involves managing the different aspects of the program and managing the people who work under it.
  • Communication skills. These professionals need to communicate with many different people from members of the team, to higher management, to the customers or clients that the program serves. They need to know how to talk to these different groups of people.
  • Strategic thinking skills. A program manager job description shows that they need to think strategically about the overall program and how it is working in practice. Seeing how the different pieces work together is vital.
  • Detail oriented skills. While this person needs to see the big picture, they also need to focus on details of records management and organization. To track the history of the program and provide context, they must keep accurate records.

How to Become a Program Manager

The ideal path for becoming a program manager is to obtain a bachelor’s degree in a related field or management. This person then needs to gain experience in handling projects and smaller groups of people before they take on the role of managing a program. There are fewer certificates for program managers than for project managers, but some still exist.

Education Requirements

Program managers should pursue their bachelor’s degree in either the type of industry they want to work in or in management. While program management is most common in information technology or health care, they can practice in all fields. In some domains, they may have a different name. For example, a department head in academia completes very similar functions to a program manager.

A student can gain a lot of practical experience to show they excel at managing programs. For example, they could become the leader or president of a student organization, take leadership roles in their class, or work in a professor’s research lab. In addition, they should get an internship in an industry they want to work in.

As far as program manager certification or licensing, it’s not a requirement. However, it is a good idea to explore those that might be valuable in the field. Two examples of certificates for program managers are the Insider Threat Program Manager and the Six Sigma certification. Additional licenses can show you are a leader or have project management experience.

There are multiple conferences for program managers. It is a good idea to invest professional development money in them. This can introduce you to cutting edge trends in the field and can also convey to employers your interest in becoming the best program manager possible.

Work Experience

Program management is not an entry-level position. Therefore, prior work experience is required. This experience should show a proven track record of managing successful programs. Thus, keeping a portfolio of learning goals and actual outcomes can show if you are able to make progress towards leading programs.

This experience does not have to come in a professional job. Several volunteer opportunities involve program management. If your current job does not allow you to accumulate the necessary experience, consider volunteering for a local church, nonprofit, or educational entity.

Work Schedules

Many program managers are self-employed or work in a consulting role for a company. These individuals have flexible hours and move on to a new program or job when the majority of the work is complete.

A daily description of a program manager shows that this person may need to recruit people, plan different events for the team, create training opportunities, get involved in fundraising, and manage the marketing and communication for the team.

Career Prospects

There is not a specified job outlook for program managers. However, if there is good growth for project managers, then the same can be expected for managers at the next highest level, programs. The Project Management Institute states that the project management field will grow 12 percent through the year 2020. Program managers have a unique skill set and are a valued asset to a company. Their job is essential to maximize efficiency and reduce turnover.

The salary range for program managers is $48,853 to $128,811. Successful program managers can see a nice bonus, profit share, and commission as well. The total pay reported on Payscale reaches $138,341. A typical trajectory for program managers is to advance to a specialized program manager or a director of operations. For a select few, this can lead to a senior executive position.


This program manager job description showed that these professionals look beyond individual projects to see how they will affect the program. When a project ends, the program manager’s role typically does not end because there are others to manage. They need to constantly assess the work of the program to see if it is staying true to the original mission.