Every business project has a lot of moving parts and a number of team members with different responsibilities and roles to see it through to completion.
Two such roles which have very similar-sounding titles, but which are actually quite different when you dig beneath the surface, are that of project coordinator and project manager.
To get to the bottom of what each entails, here is an overview of the functions each person fulfills within a project, and the other distinguishing features that set them apart.
Project management unpicked
In most organizations, project managers sit at the top of the tree when overseeing specific projects, and thus this role is best suited to people with lots of experience and training to back up their credentials.
Indeed there are specific qualifications and certifications focused on project management, and with the help of a PMP certification training course, employability in this field can be further enhanced.
This also leads to higher average salaries, with mean annual wages for project management specialists sitting at just over $84,000, according to BLS figures. Meanwhile the average senior project manager salary is over $100,000.
With a hefty salary comes a long list of responsibilities, and project managers are ultimately held accountable for the direction a project takes and the eventual outcomes that are achieved. They do this by delegating duties to the team members in their charge, and by overseeing the work of others to ensure that everything runs smoothly and any issues are ironed out rather than left unaddressed.
Project coordination considered
A project coordinator’s role will involve organizing whatever aspects of a project the senior manager assigns to them.
The nature of their duties will vary wildly from company to company and from project to project. Generally speaking, project coordinators might be asked to do everything from straightforward material procurement and budget tracking to doling out training to new hires and looking for efficiency savings in current business processes.
While a project manager will give direction to project coordinators, this does not mean that everything they do needs to be micromanaged. The best project managers will trust their coordinators to follow their best instincts and make decisions without needing direct oversight at every moment, even if the most important turning points of a project are still deferred to the expertise of the most senior member of staff.
Salaries for project coordinators are not tracked separately, but earnings are typically below that of managers, albeit aligned with the kind of pay you’d expect for the organization and the industry it occupies.
Project management and project coordination may be considered as two separate roles, but there is a lot of overlap in terms of the responsibilities, as well as the skills required. This is why many project coordinators eventually get promoted to full blown project management roles, whether internally within their current organization, or by seeking more senior positions elsewhere once they have adequate experience and training under their belts.
Multitasking and communication are two of the most important soft skills that are associated with both disciplines. Project managers in particular need to keep a lot of plates spinning without letting any smash through neglect, and coordinators will also be burdened with an array of different duties, as discussed.
Working as a project coordinator or a project manager can be fulfilling and satisfying, as well as financially sustainable as a career option. And of course the two are naturally connected to one another.
If you have aspirations to enter either role, you will face stiff competition, so gaining experience and seeking accreditation is sensible.