Tackling Project Management Job Titles

Looking through the data from the 2019 Arras People Project Management Benchmark Report (2019 PMBR) it really reinforces the fact that project management is so richly diverse when viewed across the many organisations and industries where these important skills are used. The point is drawn out further when looking at the many job titles that project management practitioners have even when they identify as belonging to the same groups such as ‘project manager’ or ‘project support’.

In fact, organisations have some weird and wonderful titles that obviously mean something within their own businesses but in the marketplace – or when it comes to finding a new job – these titles can leave you scratching your head.

Here are just a few from the 2019 PMBR to highlight what I mean:

Identified Practitioner Group Job Title
Change/Transformation Manager Adoption Manager
PMO Analyst Planning & Resource Enablement Specialist
PMO Co-ordinator/Administrator Build Centre Coordinator
PMO Manager Group Delivery Head
Portfolio Manager Head of PMO
Programme Manager Change Director
Project Manager Integration Lead

When someone is looking for a new position, their job titles can often make it difficult to really convey what they actually do and my recommendation has always been to add an industry recognised job title alongside the actual job title you had. That way when it comes to reference checking later in the process, the real job title is still there, it’s just that you’ve added something alongside it which is more meaningful to the wider marketplace and the role against which you are looking to identify.

Here’s an example:

  • Project Support Specialist (Project Co-ordinator)
  • Delivery Manager (Project Manager)

>>Arras People: Latest Vacancies


Industry Recognised Job Titles

So what are the most recognised titles to use?

Let’s start with the supporting roles in project management:

  • Project Administrator – supports a single project, is considered to be entry-level.
  • Project Co-ordinator – can support single or multiple projects, is not working in a PMO.
  • Project Support Officer – like a Project Co-ordinator but works in the public sector.
  • Project Office Co-ordinator – works in a Project Office supporting projects.
  • Programme Office Co-ordinator – works in a Programme Office supporting programme/s.
  • PMO Analyst – works within any kind of PMO supporting projects or programmes.
  • PMO Specialist – they will have a specialism in a certain area like risk, communications, finance etc.
  • Portfolio Office Analyst – works within a Portfolio Office.
  • PMO Manager – can be managing a Project, Programme or Portfolio Office.
  • Project Planner – can support one project or work within a PMO on multiple projects.
  • Programme Planner – can support one programme or work within a PMO.
  • Project Controller – like a combo Project Co-ordinator and Project Planner. Mainly found in heavy industries like engineering, construction etc.
  • Document Controller – purely focused on documentation on programmes and projects.

If you’re currently working within a support role in project management, one of these titles will be closely aligned to what you do. If you do have a different title, try using one of these alongside it so readers of your CV will pick it up in their keyword searches.

So what about the delivery roles? Here are some of the industry recognised ones:

  • Assistant Project Manager – used to be Junior PM until age legalisation law changes. It can mean delivering small uncomplicated, low-risk projects or working alongside a Project Manager on a larger project. It’s an entry-level project delivery role.
  • Project Manager – can be used regardless of how experienced you are. It means you deliver a single project or multiple projects at the same time. It’s obviously the most recognised name within project management.
  • Senior Project Manager – used when a PM has a lot of experience or is working on large projects with high values and high risk.
  • Programme Manager – managing a programme of work. The programme should include multiple projects, with the Project Managers reporting to the Programme Manager.
  • Programme / Project Director – denotes a senior role and can mean either managing a huge programme or project OR heading up the department, sometimes seen as:
  • Head of Programmes/Projects – managing the whole delivery organisation, is a senior executive and “C” level executive.

What to do when you have a hybrid role?

Sometimes people have a dual role within project management. We see this a lot, it might be a Programme Manager who also performs the role of Programme Office Manager too – they run the programme as well as setting up the Programme Office structure, then manage the Programme Office team. A recent one I saw was IT Project Director, which was essentially a programme manager who also created and manage the whole project department. As you can see that title could cause a lot of confusion!

If you have a similar type of position my advice again is to go with an industry recognised job title in brackets afterward which is closely aligned to the dominant role you perform AND the new position you are pursuing. So in the case of the Programme Manager example above, this person was actually spending the majority of time actually managing a programme of work now and not the PMO set up. On the CV it would therefore be:

  • IT Project Director (Programme Manager)

Having clearly identified the next stage of course in any CV is to concentrate on creating a good overview of what you actually did. If you’re looking for advice on how to do that, you can check out the three webinars on how to create a great project management CV (which has already been accessed by thousands of project managers)

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