Navigating the project management salary negotiation

Published on: 5 Feb 2024

It can always be a little awkward trying to figure out how to approach a money question with your boss. But in the dynamic landscape of project management, negotiating a higher salary that reflects your worth can be a pivotal moment. Whether you’re aiming for a more substantial compensation package or angling for that long-overdue raise, effective negotiation skills are key.

salary

Before we dive into negotiation tactics (a skill all project professionals should be used to using), let’s acknowledge the encouraging trend in project management salaries. According to the APM Salary and Market Trends 2023 Survey, project managers across different roles have witnessed significant salary increases. From project managers to consultants, coordinators to senior project managers, the upward trajectory of salaries underscores the growing recognition of the project profession's value.

For example, project managers have seen their salaries surge from £42,500 to £47,500, while project management consultants have enjoyed a salary increase from £57,500 to £62,500.

Project management is an industry that is growing significantly, with many companies, in various sectors, looking for project professionals to help enable successful change. What’s more, the APM Salary Survey highlights that Full members of the Association for Project Management (APM) earn, on average £20k more than non-members. This underscores the undeniable advantage of being part of a professional body like APM; it can truly enhance your journey, not just in skill development but also in boosting your earning potential.

How to elevate your earning potential

Before you go into a room with your manager to talk about the higher salary you want, it’s important to prepare yourself for the best possible outcome.

Upskilling and continuously developing your professional capabilities is one of the best ways to negotiate a pay rise; build up your experience within your current role, improve on current skills and learn new skills. The APM Competence Framework is a guiding light for upskilling. It provides a structured path to develop the skills you need for career progression, enabling you to align your abilities with industry demands. Take a look at the role you have and then explore the competences listed in the APM Competence Framework – are there any areas you could focus on? As an APM member you can use the APM Competence Framework self-assessment tool to compare and analyse your own competences against the benchmark. You should also explore various qualifications and certifications to help you stand out, such as the APM Project Management Qualification or APM Project Professional Qualification. By leveraging these resources and taking time to upskill, you can fill any knowledge gaps and position yourself as a highly competent professional, qualities that employers reward with higher compensation.

Volunteering is another great way to increase your earning potential whilst contributing to the project profession and enriching your CV. Look for opportunities where you can use your project management skills to improve the world outside of work, for example at a local school or to support a charity. Or why not engage in volunteering initiatives as an APM member and contribute to a local APM Branch or Specific Interest Group? There are lots of volunteering opportunities you can find through events and webinars, for example. Volunteering within projects showcases your dedication and expertise, setting you apart in the job market. Employers recognise the value of such commitment, often translating it into higher salary offers, so don’t forget to include this in your negotiation pitch and CV.

Joining a professional body like APM is an important step to take if you’re serious about project management and being paid your worth. APM is a globally recognised professional body, in fact, it’s the only Chartered project management organisation in the world. Moreover, APM has a wealth of resources available exclusively to members, for example APM Learning where you can improve your skills, and the APM Community where you can network with other members, passionate about project management. You’ll have access to the latest events, webinars and publications, such as the APM Conference and Project journal where you can hear from industry experts. Having the APM Member badge improves how employers see you: a serious professional who is part of a community built on bettering the project management practice and delivering meaningful change.

Top tips for a higher salary negotiation

  • Be prepared to have a conversation. Think about what you want to say to your employer so you can secure a higher salary; what sort of words are you going to use and where will you have this discussion?
  • Understand the current value for your position before you go asking for a raise. It’s not just about how much you think you deserve to be paid, but also about the benchmark for the position you have. The APM Salary Survey is a great tool to help you see what others in your position, region and sector are earning.
  • Know your worth. Make sure you gather relevant information about your achievements and the value you bring to the organisation. Show your manager that you can do the work and manage a team effectively to bring your projects in on time. Highlight how your contributions have made a positive impact using real examples and figures.
  • Anticipate alternatives. You’re unlikely to get an answer straight away, but if you’re sensing a ‘no’, have various solutions in your mind; demonstrating flexibility can help you win your case and shows your willingness to find mutually beneficial results.

Negotiating a salary can be daunting, but it’s an essential skill that can significantly impact your professional trajectory. There are so many variables that need to be taken into consideration when it comes to salary; and with project management being so mixed, your requirements and expectations can change from one project to another. With the right preparation and strategy, and by leveraging the array of resources APM has to offer when you become a Full member, you can confidently navigate salary negotiations, securing a compensation package that truly reflects your worth in the project management sphere.