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Project Manager

Kaiwhakahaere Kaupapa

Alternative titles for this job

Project managers manage delivery of projects from beginning to end, usually improving or adding to the business. They manage the strategic, financial, operational and technological aspects of projects.


Project managers usually earn

$55K-$135K per year

Source: Absolute IT, 2017 and Trade Me Jobs, 2016.

Job opportunities

Chances of getting a job as a project manager are good because constant change means organisations often have projects needing management.


Pay for project managers varies depending on the industry they work in.

  • Project managers in the construction industry earn $55,000 to $135,000 a year.
  • Project managers in the engineering industry earn $65,000 to $125,000.
  • Project managers in the information communication and technology (ICT) industry earn an average of $99,500 a year. The lowest-paid 25% earn an average of $80,000 a year. The highest-paid 25% earn an average of $120,000

Sources: Absolute IT, 'Remuneration Report', 2017; Trade Me Jobs, 'Salary guide', 2016.

(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our pay information)

What you will do

Project managers may do some or all of the following:

  • define project deliverables
  • manage the project delivery timeline
  • manage communication with stakeholders and project team members
  • forecast and manage the budget and resources
  • produce and update all project documentation
  • meet project goals on time and to the required standard
  • manage the project team to ensure group and individual performance is met
  • ensure suppliers deliver the products and services requested to agreed specifications
  • hire staff to work on projects.

Skills and knowledge

Project managers need to have:

  • knowledge of project management methodology
  • skill in developing, piloting and implementing new business processes
  • an understanding of the strategic direction, structure and issues affecting the organisation they work for
  • the ability to identify risks and issues that could affect the project, and put in place effective solutions
  • a commercial business understanding.

Working conditions

Project managers:

  • usually work regular business hours, but may have to work evenings and weekends to meet deadlines
  • usually work in offices, and sometimes on-site depending on the industry they are working in, such as on a commercial building site
  • may travel around the country and overseas to clients' worksites.

What's the job really like?

Kaushiki Roy

Kaushiki Roy

Project Manager

Kaushiki Roy loves the energy that comes with projects and she's upfront about what brings that energy – it's the unexpected and the challenges.

"You have to be on your toes all the time – the project manager has to be aware of the project's risks, and be prepared for surprises. Some are very common, such as someone leaving the project suddenly – it happens all the time.

"And you have to be 'firm but nice' – conflict management becomes a challenge and you have to take tough decisions.

"Over 90% of a project manager's role should be communication. You communicate with lots of different sorts of people – that's challenging but it brings energy.

"To be a good project manager you have to learn the art of letting go. That means having complete responsibility for the project, but not being attached to the outcomes. You need to be able to keep an open mind. Above all, you have to be a good leader.

"And it's a way of managing stress too – to say 'This is the best I can do', raise risks and issues early on – being open about it. Having a sense of humour is very important.

"It's quite a rewarding profession. There's a huge skills shortage, and it's pretty well paid. It hones many skills – thinking, communication, planning, time management. A good project manager has to be a well-rounded generalist."

Entry requirements

There are no specific entry requirements to become a project manager. However, most employers prefer you to have a tertiary qualification in your specialised area such as engineering or information and communication technology (ICT).

A diploma or degree in project management is also useful. Most employers prefer courses approved by the Project Management Institute (New Zealand chapter).

Secondary education

A tertiary entrance qualification is required to enter tertiary study. Useful subjects include English, maths and technology.

Personal requirements

Project managers need to be:

  • organised
  • assertive and able to have hard conversations
  • accurate, with an eye for detail
  • able to lead others
  • excellent at communicating and negotiating
  • skilled in writing and presentation
  • innovative, but also able to make practical decisions
  • able to relate well to a wide range of people
  • motivated
  • able to work well under pressure.

A project manager has to be a good leader, and also someone who wants to learn, because the nature of projects is becoming more complex.

Photo: Kaushiki Roy

Kaushiki Roy

Project Manager

Useful experience

Useful experience for project managers includes:

  • work in a project team
  • work in an area of specialisation, such as ICT
  • business and management experience.

Find out more about training

Project Management Institute New Zealand
(04) 970 2005 - PMINZ@pmi.org.nz - www.pmi.org.nz
Check out related courses

What are the chances of getting a job?

High demand for project managers in construction and ICT

The roles of construction project manager and ICT project manager both appear on Immigration New Zealand's long-term skill shortage list. Construction project manager also appears on Immigration New Zealand's construction and infrastructure skill shortage list. This means the Government is actively encouraging project managers from overseas to work in New Zealand.

Demand for project managers in construction is due to:

  • an infrastructure boom with many new road and large motorway projects planned for the next five years
  • a housing shortage increasing the need for large-scale housing projects.

Demand for project managers in ICT is due to an increasing number of organisations making improvements and implementing new software systems.

According to the Census, 19,131 project managers worked in New Zealand in 2018.

Types of employers varied

The main industries employing project managers include:

  • information and communications technology (ICT)
  • forestry
  • project management firms
  • engineering, construction and property
  • government.

A constant state of change and innovation in the private and public sectors creates a high demand for experienced project managers to ensure the delivery of projects.


  • Bilingham, G, senior project manager, self-employed contractor, Careers New Zealand interview, March 2017.
  • Careers New Zealand research, March 2017.
  • Global Construction website, 'New Zealand is at the forefront of the construction boom', July 2016, (www.constructionglobal.com).
  • Immigration New Zealand, 'Construction and Infrastructure Skill Shortage List', 27 May 2019, (www.immigration.govt.nz).
  • Immigration New Zealand, 'Long Term Skill Shortage List', 27 May 2019, (www.immigration.govt.nz).
  • Project Management Institute New Zealand website, accessed March 2017 (www.pmi.org.nz).
  • Stats NZ, '2018 Census Data', 2019.
  • Stuff website, 'The road well-travelled: The rise and rise of New Zealand tourism', accessed June 2016, (www.stuff.co.nz).

(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our job opportunities information)

Progression and specialisations

Project managers usually progress from smaller projects to work on bigger or more complex projects, higher risk profile projects, and projects with higher level stakeholders. Project managers working for large organisations may progress to senior project management roles. They may also work as self-employed contractors.

Project managers can specialise in:

  • architecture
  • construction
  • engineering
  • forestry
  • information and communication technology
  • property.
Kaushiki Roy standing up at a table with a group of people sitting round

Project managers usually work with groups of people from different backgrounds on a specific project

Last updated 18 September 2020