Association For Project Management Salary Survey 2021

Reveals a financially resilient profession with an average salary of £47,500

  • Portfolio managers see a £10,000 increase in salary (from £57,500 to £67,500), and programme managers salaries rise from £57,500 to £62,500. Almost half (49 per cent) of project professionals now earn over £50,000
  • Energy and utilities is the most lucrative sector for project professionals, with the average salary increasing from £52,500 (in 2020) to £60,000
  • Project professional salaries highest in London, East Midlands and South East (average of £52,500) and for those working overseas (an average of £67,500)
  • Salaries for 25-to-34-year-olds have increased from £37,500 (in 2020) to £42,500

25 March 2021 – The findings of the latest annual Salary and Market Trends Survey from Association for Project Management (APM), the chartered body for the project profession, reveals the average salary for a project professional in 2021 is £47,500 (compared with the overall UK average salary of £31,4611). The average salary for the profession has remained unchanged for the past year, bearing testament to a strong and resilient profession, despite the unprecedented challenges and impact of the global pandemic.

The research, commissioned by APM, saw YouGov survey 2,626 project professionals across the UK, drawing insights from across the profession, including salary (by region, sector and job role), job satisfaction, future trends, diversity and gender. The findings reveal that almost half (49 per cent) of professionals now earn over £50,000; up from 42 per cent last year. Further up the pay-scale, 20 per cent of professionals now earn over £70,000; an increase from 16 per cent.

APM’s study also highlights that salaries for those in the early stages of their career have increased, with the average salary for 25-to-34-year-olds rising from £37,500 to £42,500. And for those aged 18 to 24 years old, the average salary remains at a competitive £27,500.2

Energy remains the most lucrative sector for project professionals, with average salaries leaping from £52,500 (in 2020) to £60,000; 64 per cent of those working in this sector now earn over £50,000, up from 51 per cent in the previous year.  

Other sectors to see a significant increase in average salary include financial services and consultancy (both up from £47,500 to £57,500), while salaries in business and professional services have also increased, along with local government, telecoms, and the health sector. Financial services also have the third highest proportion of high earners, with 62 per cent earning over £50,000.  

Further insights from the study reveal that job satisfaction remains high across the project profession, despite the enormous challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic and Brexit. In total, 83 per cent of project professionals report feeling satisfied with their role, and the proportion of those feeling very satisfied has risen from 24 per cent to 28 per cent.  

Debbie Dore, chief executive of APM, said: “Our latest salary survey findings provide an interesting snapshot from across the profession, demonstrating that despite the significant impact of the global pandemic, project management salary levels across a range of sectors continue to rise, providing financial stability, and offering high levels of job satisfaction.

“As the chartered body for the profession, we are committed to supporting and promoting the value of project management, and the insights drawn from our study will help to ensure that we can act and advocate on behalf of our members and the entire profession.”

APM Salary Survey 2021 – Average Salaries by Sector:

Sector20212020
Energy and Utilities£60,000£52,500
Financial services £57,500£47,500
Construction£52,500£52,500
Manufacturing£52,500£47,500
Retail and wholesale£52,500£47,500
Telecoms£52,500£47,500
Health£47,500£42,500
IT£47,500£47,500
Transport and logistics£47,500£47,500
Local Government£42,500£37,500

Average Salary by Role:

A variety of project management roles have seen an increase in salary over the past year, including portfolio managers rising from £57,500 to £67,500.  Programme managers have also seen their value increase, with average salaries rising from £57,500 to £62,500. Project planners have also enjoyed an uplift of £10,000 in their average salaries, reaching £47,500.  Consultants continue to enjoy an average salary of £57,500. 

Heads of projects/programmes (£72,500), assistant project managers (£32,500) and senior project managers (£57,500), project engineers (£42,500) and project directors (£82,500) have seen no change in salary levels.

Coronavirus and employment

Of project management professionals in full employment, the majority of respondents (85 per cent) say that their employment status did not change as a result of the pandemic. In total, 6 per cent were placed on furlough and then returned to normal working hours while 2 per cent worked reduced hours. A minority (2 per cent) were made redundant but have since found alternative employment.

Among contract workers, 70 per cent said their contract continued as normal but 10 per cent reported that their contract was altered and 9 per cent found their contract cancelled – but have since secured further employment (*These findings are based on those currently in contract work or actively employed.)

Future Trends:

A turbulent and challenging past twelve months has seen general optimism within the profession take a hit  – in terms of the supply of jobs, organisation growth and the economy. The survey shows that 70 per cent of those who found themselves unemployed after the start of the pandemic say the virus was either to some extent or completely responsible.

The impact of the pandemic across the profession is also reflected in the number of professionals who consider it to be the key challenge facing the project profession in the next five years. The survey reveals that two-thirds of respondents (64 per cent) recognise it as a challenge and one-fifth (22 per cent) say it is the most significant challenge.  Other significant challenges include the impact of Brexit (54 per cent), developing skills and the talent pipeline for future work (47 per cent), and developing more innovative and digital services (44 per cent).

But despite these challenges, there is a clear sense that the profession as a whole will rise to them: a majority of respondents feel short term difficulties will be overcome by a combination of long-term planning, investment in innovation and the application of core skills. Most also feel that the profession is well positioned to make a positive impact in the future by demonstrating leadership – both within projects and beyond.  

To download a full copy of APM’s Salary and Market Trends Survey visit www.apm.org.uk/salary-survey-2021/

More on The Pandemic’s Effect on Project Work here.

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