Program Manager Job Description

Program Managers ensure that each program they’re responsible for generates the desired outcome for their organization. No matter what type of company they work for, their overall goal is to ensure the efficiency and effectiveness of the programs under their care.

Program Managers can work for a nearly endless array of companies in a variety of industries. This can include technology start-ups, educational institutions, healthcare companies, retail stores, law offices, financial firms and more. They work almost exclusively in an office environment, although they may be occasionally required to travel in order to attend meetings.


Program Manager Duties and Responsibilities

In order to ensure that each of their organization’s programs go smoothly and according to plan. Program Managers perform a variety of duties. We analyzed several online job postings to identify these core duties and responsibilities.

Develop Plans

Before Program Managers can begin overseeing programs, they must first develop those programs in the first place. This involves working with colleagues to create detailed and comprehensive plans covering every stage of the proposed program, including their objectives.

Refine Strategies

As each program moves along, their accompanying strategies will need to be tweaked and refined in order to adapt to changing factors. Thus, it falls to the Program Manager to analyze each program’s strategies on an ongoing basis and adjust them according to their performance.

Coordinate Across Teams

Since each program will likely involve input and work from multiple teams within the organization, Program Managers must make sure that each team is on the same page, has access to the same information, is communicating openly and is working together.

Lead and Assess

As the primary “owner” of each program, Program Managers are responsible for leading project managers as well as their respective teams, and evaluating each employee’s performance along the way. This can sometimes mean taking action to address and correct under-performing individuals.

Evaluate Deadlines and Budgets

To make sure that each program is on track, Program Managers need to constantly evaluate deadlines and budgets. This can involve rearranging schedules, prioritizing various activities, drawing up budgets and analyzing expense reports.


Program Manager Skills

Successful Program Managers are detail-oriented individuals who are just as adept at handling nitty-gritty specifics as they are at meeting big-picture goals. They are social and friendly, and are comfortable working with both high-level executives and low-level workers. In addition to these general personality attributes and traits, employers are looking for Program Managers with the following skills and qualifications.

Communication skills – Since a major portion of a Program Manager’s job involves communicating with other people, it’s essential that they have excellent written and verbal communication skills.

Program/project management skills – As the primary person in charge of an array of company-wide programs, it’s important that Program Managers have an advanced understanding of how to manage programs and projects specific to their industry.

Performance evaluation skills – The successful completion of any program relies on the dependable performance of both plans and people. Thus, Program Managers must know how to properly and thoroughly evaluate the efficacy of budgets, strategies and staff members alike.

Change management skills – Any program, no matter the industry, will by nature involve a certain degree of change. For this reason, Program Managers must know how to effectively manage change within all levels of an organization.

Organizational skills – To keep all programs organized and running smoothly, Program Managers must have excellent organizational skills and be able to apply those skills to both small- and large-scale practices.


Program Manager Salary

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for General and Operations Managers, which includes Program Managers, is $99,310. The lowest paid earn $44,290 or less per year, while the highest paid earn $208,000 or more per year. Program Managers in New Jersey, the District of Columbia and Delaware enjoy the highest median annual wage in the United States, earning $143,830, $135,090 and $124,500 per year, respectively.


Program Manager Tools of the Trade

In order to accomplish their daily goals, Program Managers use a variety of tools. If you plan on becoming a Program Manager, make sure that you’re comfortable with or proficient at the following.

Recent versions of Microsoft Office software suite – From Excel to PowerPoint to Word, many of the programs found within Microsoft Office are essential to the work of a Program Manager.

Standard office equipment – Given that the majority of their work will take place in an office environment, it’s important the Program Managers be able to operate standard office equipment such as printers, copiers and scanners.

Telecommunications equipment – So that they can communicate swiftly and properly with colleagues, Program Managers must be able to use standard telecommunications equipment such as phones (both land and cell) and fax machines.


Additional Program Manager Resources

We compiled the following list of resources to help you continue exploring your career as a Program Manager.

PM Community – With more than 30,000 members, this LinkedIn group is a great place to connect with other Program Managers.

PMLink – Another LinkedIn group that’s perfect for networking and sharing ideas with fellow Program Managers.

The Program Manager’s Blog – This active blog is full of both recent and archived articles about everything related to a Program Manager’s job.

The Handbook of Program Management – This trusted book can serve as a useful reference guide for Program Managers in any field.


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