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Four best industries for project management careers

A woman pointing out the steps in project management on a wall chart

The last 18 months have seen an extraordinary change in the business landscape, with some industries experiencing 10 years worth of digital transformation virtually overnight. While many businesses have been forced to adapt, pivot or downsize, the demand for professionals with leadership and organisation skills has remained strong.

The first reason that skilled project managers enjoy an enviably wider diversity of employment options compared to other careers is that project management skills are transferrable. If you can scope, develop and manage a project in one industry, you can do it in another.

So, while the COVID-19 pandemic put some projects on the back burner, such as tourism, it brought forward projects in healthcare. Project managers from different industries are often invited to apply for roles and prized for the additional skill-set they bring when jumping across sectors.

The second reason that project managers are in high demand in the job market is that new projects in all professional areas are becoming more complex. In addition, environmental factors are becoming more unpredictable.

According to Seek.com, the number of jobs for project managers is expected to increase by six per cent over the next five years and that’s across all industries.

But let’s get a little more specific.

In which industries can we expect growth in demand for project managers?

4 Industries Demanding Project Managers Australia

Construction

If the image that comes to mind of project management in the construction industry is hard hats, hi-vis and safety boots, think again. The construction project manager's job is largely administrative.

While you might need some safety gear for carrying out quality control on-site, you’ll spend more time managing budgets, scheduling workers, creating proposals, and reviewing designs. You’ll consult with clients and report back to them, and some PM jobs report to executive management and other stakeholders.

In the 2020 Project Management Survey conducted by the Australian Institute of Project Management (AIPM) and KPMG, almost half of all respondents were working on construction or infrastructure projects.

As new technology plays a greater role in all parts of the workforce, project managers in the construction industry are likely to use Building Information Modelling (BIM) more often. This 3D modelling technology creates a digital twin of a construction project that can simulate every step of construction.

 

Potential job titles

  • Project Manager
  • Construction Manager
  • Operations Manager
  • General Manager
  • Senior Project Manager, Construction

 

Average salary

According to Payscale, the average salary for a project manager working in the construction industry is $98,398. With commissions, bonuses and profit-sharing arrangements, your total pay packet can rise to around $163,000.

 

Clinical/healthcare

Clinical project managers are likely to be managing clinical trials, which is a test of a health-related intervention within a group of people. Clinical trials are conducted on vaccines and other medications, but also changes to diet and exercise.

Just like in construction, this project management role manages staffing schedules, identifies obstacles, and oversees risk management in clinical trial projects. Unlike the construction project manager, in the healthcare industry, you'll have a lot more facetime with members of the public and in staff training.

Another project manager career path in healthcare is managing the operations of a medical facility. If you’re coming from a construction background, you might also consider doubling your specialisation to focus on constructing buildings in hospitals and other medical settings.

 

Potential job titles

  • Clinical Project Manager
  • Senior Project Manager
  • Operations Manager
  • Capital Projects Director
  • Project Lead

 

Average salary

According to Payscale, the average salary for a project manager working in a clinical setting is $111,123. With bonuses, your total pay packet can rise to around $161,000.

 

IT/tech

Software development and information technology (IT) has popularised the use of the agile method of project management.

Unlike the sequential methodology that’s used in construction where one phase of a project is set in stone before the next begins, agile breaks projects into sprints that can be revisited and altered at any time.

In addition to having a deep understanding of the agile manifesto and the roles in a scrum, project managers in IT will also find themselves managing staff schedules and identifying obstacles and risks.

In the 2020 Project Management Survey, almost a quarter of all respondents were working on technology projects. The survey also revealed that outside of construction and infrastructure, agile is used in almost three-quarters of projects.

As a measure of the demand for IT project managers in a challenging business environment, in mid-2021 job advertisements for project management and other roles in IT continued to rise while those for other industries were declining.

 

Potential job titles

  • Project Manager
  • Implementation Project Manager
  • Business Transformation Project Manager
  • Senior Project Manager, IT
  • Program Manager, IT

 

Average salary

According to Payscale, the average salary for a project manager working in the IT industry is $107,544. With commissions, bonuses and profit-sharing arrangements, your total pay packet can rise to around $161,000.

 

Engineering

While project managers in other industries may lead other project managers and other employees, engineering project managers are likely to be leading a team of specialised engineers. For this reason, most project managers in this industry hold a bachelor’s degree in engineering as well as a postgraduate degree in project management.

Safety is a key concern for the engineering project manager. In this role, you’ll be overseeing product development and testing, as well as ensuring that your team adheres to safety regulations.

Engineering project managers also manage budgets and staff allocations. They have advanced communication skills as well as other soft skills such as leadership.

 

Potential job titles

  • Project Manager
  • Operations Manager
  • Senior Project Manager, Engineering
  • Research & Development (R&D) Manager

 

Average salary

According to Payscale, the average salary for a project manager working in the engineering industry is $122,440. With bonuses and profit-sharing arrangements, your total pay packet can rise to around $195,000.

 

Become an effective project manager across industries with RMIT Online

The 2020 Project Management Survey highlighted an increasing need for project managers with specific skills to be able to deliver increasingly complex projects, as well as EQ skills or soft skills to do that effectively.

RMIT Online’s project management programs have been designed and developed by working closely with the industry for over 20 years. We have a reputation for applied, hands-on learning and a focus on design, tech, and innovation.

Not only will you build your skills in managing complex projects, but you’ll extend your soft skills in critical analysis. This means you can validate your project management advice with authority and lead effective teams.

You have options with RMIT Online's programs, too. Our programs take project management further with two different pathways:

 

Graduate Diploma in Project Management (Generalist)

This is a project management qualification that will prepare you for all aspects of complex projects in all industries.

 

Graduate Diploma in Project Management (IT)

This is a specialist IT project management qualification that will prepare you for complex information technology (IT) and information systems (IS) projects in fast-changing environments.

Whichever path you choose and whatever background you come from, there’s a range of industries with an increasing demand for the skills you can develop in our project management program.

Learn more about our Graduate Diploma in Project Management. You can book a 15-minute chat with one of our expert Student Success Advisors via our website or call 1300 701 171.