Project managers are below average when it comes to happiness.

At CareerExplorer, we conduct an ongoing survey with millions of people and ask them how satisfied they are with their careers. As it turns out, project managers rate their career happiness 3.1 out of 5 stars which puts them in the bottom 36% of careers.

To put this into perspective, we compared how happy project managers are to similar careers in the industry. Take a look at the results below:

Salaries and satisfaction ratings in similar careers

Career Satisfaction Avg Salary
Marketing manager
3.1
$135k
Advertising manager
3.1
$127k
Digital marketing specialist
3.1
$39k
Human resources manager
3.1
$126k
Economist
3.1
$106k
Project manager
3.1
$55k
Search engine marketing specialist
3.0
$43k
Business analyst
3.0
$93k
Treasurer
3.0
$132k
Financial manager
3.0
$132k

So what does it mean to be happy in your career? Let’s break it down into different dimensions:

  • Salary: Are project managers happy with their salary?
  • Meaning: Do project managers find their jobs meaningful?
  • Personality fit: How well suited are people’s personalities to their everyday tasks as project managers?
  • Work environment: How enjoyable are project manager’s work environments?
  • Skills utilization: Are project managers making the best use of their abilities?

Are project managers happy with their salary?

Project managers rated their satisfaction with their salaries 3.3/5. Few are explicitly unhappy with their salaries, with most project managers having generally positive views of their salary.

We asked project managers how fairly compensated they are for their work.
Their response was:

3.3 out of 5 stars

6211 project managers

5 Star
15%

15% of project managers rated their compensation 5 stars

4 Star
31%

31% of project managers rated their compensation 4 stars

3 Star
28%

28% of project managers rated their compensation 3 stars

2 Star
17%

17% of project managers rated their compensation 2 stars

1 Star
9%

9% of project managers rated their compensation 1 stars

Do project managers find their jobs meaningful?

On average, project managers rate the meaningfulness of their work a 2.8/5. While most project managers aren’t very fulfilled by their work, some people may still manage to find meaning in it.

We asked project managers how meaningful they found their work.
Their response was:

2.8 out of 5 stars

6251 project managers

5 Star
10%

10% of project managers rated how meaningful they found their career 5 stars

4 Star
19%

19% of project managers rated how meaningful they found their career 4 stars

3 Star
26%

26% of project managers rated how meaningful they found their career 3 stars

2 Star
25%

25% of project managers rated how meaningful they found their career 2 stars

1 Star
19%

19% of project managers rated how meaningful they found their career 1 stars

How well are people’s personalities suited to everyday tasks as project managers?

Project managers rated their personality fit with their work an average of 3.8/5. The majority of project managers find their personalities quite well suited to their work, with relatively few having complaints about their fit.

We asked project managers how well their personalities fit into their careers.
Their response was:

3.8 out of 5 stars

6766 project managers

5 Star
28%

28% of project managers rated their career fit 5 stars

4 Star
40%

40% of project managers rated their career fit 4 stars

3 Star
22%

22% of project managers rated their career fit 3 stars

2 Star
8%

8% of project managers rated their career fit 2 stars

1 Star
3%

3% of project managers rated their career fit 1 stars

How enjoyable is a project manager’s work environment?

As a whole, project managers rated their enjoyment of their work environment 3.5/5. A solid majority of project managers enjoy their work environment, probably contributing to overall higher satisfaction with working as a project manager.

We asked project managers how much they enjoyed their work environment.
Their response was:

3.5 out of 5 stars

6754 project managers

5 Star
19%

19% of project managers rated their work environment 5 stars

4 Star
37%

37% of project managers rated their work environment 4 stars

3 Star
26%

26% of project managers rated their work environment 3 stars

2 Star
13%

13% of project managers rated their work environment 2 stars

1 Star
5%

5% of project managers rated their work environment 1 stars

Are project managers making the best use of their abilities?

Former project managers on CareerExplorer have rated their skills utilization 3.2/5. Most project managers are satisfied with how well their abilities are skills are made of use.

We asked project managers how well their abilities were used in their careers.
Their response was:

3.2 out of 5 stars

6780 project managers

5 Star
15%

15% of project managers rated their how well their skills were utilized in their career 5 stars

4 Star
27%

27% of project managers rated their how well their skills were utilized in their career 4 stars

3 Star
29%

29% of project managers rated their how well their skills were utilized in their career 3 stars

2 Star
20%

20% of project managers rated their how well their skills were utilized in their career 2 stars

1 Star
9%

9% of project managers rated their how well their skills were utilized in their career 1 stars