APM Salary and Market Trends Survey 2017 – A Review

With the APM (Association for Project Management) releasing their latest research report APM Salary and Market Trends Survey 2017 I took some time out to see what they have to report and how this stacks up against our own Arras People 2017 PMBR (Project Management Benchmark Report).

The following are some of my observations:

It’s the biggest!

For some reason, all reports by the APM seem to come with this tag line along with “record numbers of respondents”. This went one step further to claim that it is “the largest survey of its kind in our profession”, unfortunately it failed to tell us what “its kind” is or what that means. The last time I reviewed the PMI Earning Power report they had a response rate of over 29,000. So some clarity on this positioning would be really help to set out what we are considering here. Biggest, some would say does not always make for the best!


A survey of who?

Project Management IndustryI found the report very confusing as I could not keep an easy track of which group of respondents the presented data was referring to. For some strange reason, the survey seems to have 2 core data groups, namely:

  • From APM (members and non-members) = The Profession
  • From YouGov = The wider community

We then have a further grouping who are identified as APM Members

Unfortunately, the report does not give any indication of the size of each respondent group within the total of nearly 6,000 participants.

In view of our own research and supported by the figures on page 26 of the report it would appear that the majority are APM members. This assumption is based upon the fact that the 2 largest sectors are Aerospace and Defence / Construction and the built environment; sectors that came out as 1 and 2 in supporting Chartered status in the 2017 PMBR yet regularly feature at 11 and 7 in terms of sector size in the PMBR (see 2017 PMBR page 3).


Why use YouGov?

I found it really surprising that with membership of over 23,000 plus numerous corporate affiliates that the APM could not motivate more of their members to contribute. They could have then produced a great report entitled “APM Salary and Market Trends 2017” which would paint a nice clear picture of one segment of the UK project management market.

I can only assume that they are trying really hard to be seen as meeting the “project management for the people” aspects of the Royal Charter. Unfortunately the data would suggest that YouGov participants (community of people who share their opinions in return for points and rewards – https://yougov.co.uk/account/register/ )  may not in fact be project professionals?


Year on Year comparisons

Being in its third year, I found the lack of clear comparisons against previous results really  disappointing. In such a short review, such analysis would save the reader much time trying to make their own comparisons and paint a more comprehensive picture.

I realise that this may be difficult as the data sets are changing each year, but if APM research is to be taken seriously and be seen as adding to the project management profession then it really must try harder.

The other suspicion is that the comparison would not paint the picture required by a marketing organisation, after all in their 2015 report, they told us that the APMP was more popular than PRINCE2 in the UK! Oops.


Salary by Age

Project Management SalaryPage 11 of the APM report shows the data of salary by age, breaking down their responses into ‘The profession’ and the ‘Wider community’ across 5 age brackets.

Firstly, I think we can safely ignore the ‘Wider community’ as its relevance to the project management community is questionable.

The small commentary against the results jauntily tells us how we can see a nice £10k increase across the age bands for ‘The profession’ and 18-24 salary (APM Apprentice targets?) are rising. The shock comes if you take time out to compare this with the data presented in the 2016 APM Report.

  • Age 18 – 24 +£1,381
  • Age 25 – 24 -£4,027
  • Age 35 – 44 – £15,088
  • Age 45 – 54 -£8,735
  • Age 55+ -£13,421

Wow, something is going on here! Should we be concerned?


Uncle Tom Cobley and All

Page 9 in the APM report always makes me smile as it shows the juxtaposition of trying to include all people who have APM membership and providing useful information to the wider practicing project management community.

For me this page misses out 2 key pieces of data, what is the percentage breakdown across the role groupings and what is the year on year change.

The other concern is that if you are including ‘Company director or board member’ and ‘recruiters’ etc. in all the other analysis, how is it supposed to speak to the practicing PPM Professionals and give them an indication of what is happening in their market?

Once again I would suggest that this points to a title of “APM Members Salary and Market Trends 2017”?



I shall stop at this point, having I think made my point and shared what is only my personal opinion about the APM Salary and Market Trends Survey 2017. If you would like to see my full scribbles APM Salary and Market Trends Report 2017.

My overall score on the APM’s efforts has to be a D-

They must try harder if they are going to publish serious research especially as they are in a unique position where they should be enhancing the reputation of the APM and the wider project profession. I do not believe this is good enough.


Sour Grapes

Before closing I must address the elephant in the room. No this is not sour grapes on behalf of Arras People because they have chosen to partner with Wellingtone. We have proudly been agnostic to all professional bodies and associations since we established our business in 2002; we do not and will not fly their flags blindly as we enjoy our freedom to criticize and support their works, as is appropriate. We also have a 12 year track record of providing salary and market data through the Arras People Project Management Benchmark report ( 2017 PMBR + PMBR Archive )

I am actually quite embarrassed to write this piece, especially for those within the APM who are responsible for this research report who purport to represent the wider project management profession. The APM stand on the cusp of a great opportunity; we hope they can get the right governance and professionals with project management expertise in their organisation to make the most of it and truly drive forward the value to this great profession.


Project Management Benchmark Report


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  1. Unlike John, I am going to start by mentioning my involvement in this. I was one of the many who completed the survey. I did so not for profit or gain, except an early view of the report and a want to see where I would come in the scheme of pay. I wasn’t a YouGov respondent, nor am i (any longer) an APM member.

    However I like John am disappointed with the results I got back, so much so I nearly didn’t finish reading this, only thanks to the detailed comments included in the link above did I bother to read tot he end.

    I was disappointed for the following reason: It didn’t help me.
    Why didn’t it help me, well in my case I am a middle aged, PMO person living in the south east, but working in London. I wanted this survey (and any pay surveys) to show me what could I expect to earn, both as a Contract resource and as a permanent resource.

    I would want to split down by each of the roles – PM, PMO Manager, PMO Analyst, Programme Manager etc to shown not only by work location – I liked the map (rather than where the person lives), but also by FTE and Contractor. So to make this clear a picture for each role, by work location, by role type (FTE/Contractor). Having a view as to what happened over the last few years would help to see whether rates are going up – time to move jobs, or down – time to stay

    Where rates are changing then some commentary on this would assist in an understanding of whether this is a data issue (we picked the wrong people to ask), or whether there is some underlying cause for this movement

    Some commentary around what would help my employment prospects in terms of qualifications would assist in helping me decide what is good for me as an individual (should I wish to move on or up)

    I am hoping the APM produce another survey next year, but do take some time to word the questions correctly and get the definitions correct. Without correct segmentation of the data the analysis becomes a bit useless.

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