Around the world


by Kevin Gault and Jeffrey Bouley

Talk to project managers around the world and you'll learn the employment picture varies dramatically from region to region. To land that elusive dream job, project managers must come in armed not only with the requisite skills, but also with a keen understanding of the region's business climate and personality.


Project managers searching for great job opportunities are coming up anything but short in Australia. The Australian economy is thriving: Its GDP increased 3.8 percent in the second quarter of 2007, and that growth is expected to continue for the next few years. The economy is dominated by the services sector, which makes up 68 percent of GDP, with the mining and agricultural businesses here accounting for 65 percent of exports.

“Jobs are plentiful for project managers here,” says Paul Burgess, strategic consultant at Commander pty Ltd. in Queensland. “Right now, the mining sector is making a major contribution to the strength of the Australian economy with an associated demand for engineers and project managers. Banks are also doing quite well, especially large international investment banks. Finance and government organizations here tend to use project managers more than other types of organizations.”

But the success of certain industries—in particular, the mining, engineering and construction sectors—is causing a shortage of skilled and qualified managers, says Patrick Weaver, PMP, managing director of Mosaic Project Services pty Ltd., an education provider in Melbourne.

“This extreme demand for people is forcing employers in the boom states of Queensland and West Australia to accept almost anyone capable of ‘doing the job’ and is forcing up contract rates across the nation,” he says. “The shortage of skilled workers and managers is exacerbated by the demands from the [Persian] Gulf region, particularly Dubai, [United Arab Emirates].”

To address the shortage of project managers in Canberra, in 2006, the Canberra Institute of Technology launched a diploma program in project management. The current labor market in Canberra requires project managers “across all areas,” especially in IT, change management and workplace restructurings, the institute said in a report last year.

One of the key project management skills in short supply is scheduling, Mr. Weaver says. “The Defence Materiel Organisation…has unfulfilled requirements for schedule analysts despite offering salaries of $100,000.”

Key industries: Mining, agriculture, government, finance

In demand: Change management skills, aligning projects to business goals, scheduling skills, certification

Median salary:US$79,838*

*Source: PMI Project Management Salary Survey—Fourth Edition



While the economy in Brazil may be thriving—it's the ninth-largest in the world and the largest in Latin America—project management employment opportunities aren't growing nearly as fast. Brazil's export-oriented economy, which relies heavily on the industrial sector, accounts for three-fifths of industrial production in South America.

“It has been difficult for project managers to find jobs here,” says Luis Augusto dos Santos, PMP, president of the PMI São Paulo, Brazil Chapter and project director at PGP5 Consuiting, São Paulo. “But the economy is predicted to [continue to] grow through the end of 2007, and job opportunities should increase.”

In the future, project managers will be needed in less-traditional fields, such as marketing, politics, medicine and sports, says Alcides Santopietro, PMP, founder of Proage, a project management technology, consulting and training company in São Paulo. “In addition, since Brazil is a country that contains a great amount of entrepreneurs, it is expected that small projects will begin to utilize the project management best practices more and more,” he says.

For those organizations currently in need of project managers, the issue becomes finding experienced, skilled professionals, says João Gama Neto, PMP, vice president of the PMI São Paulo, Brazil Chapter, and director and senior consultant for project management consulting and training company Gapcon. The difficulty arises because “there are not enough specialized or certified [Project Management Professional (PMP®) credential holders.]”

Indeed, for companies in search of project managers—mainly mining, banking, pharmaceutical, healthcare and financial firms—the PMP credential is a selling point, Mr. dos Santos says. “Most employers here look for the PMP credential,” he notes. “Many workers here are studying for the PMP exam to improve their career outlook.”

Project managers must also be able to create and maintain cordial working relationships. “In Brazil, we're very dedicated and formal in our work processes, but we're very relaxed and informal in our work relationships,” Mr. dos Santos says, adding that Brazilians often spend time with coworkers outside of the workplace. “Being able to interact with colleagues in that manner is important here, along with the ability to communicate effectively and manage conflicts well.”

Key industries: Mining, banking, pharmaceutical, healthcare, financial, telecommunications

In demand: Communication skills, people skills, certification

Median salary: US$68,166*

*Source: PMI Project Management Salary Survey—Fourth Edition



In Saudi Arabia, job opportunities for project managers are everywhere—if you know where to look. “Most project management jobs here are in the construction, oil and gas, and chemical fields,” says Husain Al-Omani, project manager at the Ali A. Tamimi Co., a construction, contracting and manufacturing group of companies in Qatif, Saudi Arabia.

Job opportunities are plentiful for both locals and foreigners. In fact, about 5.5 million foreign workers are employed in Saudi Arabia, particularly in the oil and service sectors. The country holds 25 percent of the world's proven petroleum reserves and ranks as the world's largest exporter of petroleum.

Project managers are also in high demand for large-scale construction projects to build roads for expanding oil and gas companies and to create new facilities for power-generation companies, he says.

And if you're looking for project management work in Saudi Arabia, think big. “Focus on the large companies that require higher qualifications than the smaller firms. At the larger firms, there is also a lot more opportunity to acquire [the Project Management Professional (PMP®)] credential,” Mr. Al-Omani says.

At some of the very large organizations in the country—Saudi Aramco and Saudi Electricity Co., for example—project managers are well-trained and have advanced skills. But many smaller sub-contractors, Mr. Al-Omani says, hire less-qualified project managers—a move that has caused some problems.

Key industries: Construction, oil and gas, chemical

In demand: Cost estimation and planning skills, certification, risk management skills

Median salary: US$59,845*

*Source: PMI Project Management Salary Survey—Fourth Edition


For some recent well-known projects in Saudi Arabia, he says, project managers without strong qualifications “have managed the projects poorly, which has been very costly for the companies they work for.” Mr. Al-Omani cites a large project for Saudi Electricity Co. in Jeddah in which the contractor hired for the project had to leave it unfinished because he lacked the expertise required to complete it.

Organizations in the country are searching for experienced project managers with cost estimation and planning skills, Mr. Al-Omani says. Some Saudi project managers create rough budgets for projects without truly understanding the entire business situation and aren't sufficiently skilled at creating solid overall plans for projects.

Additionally, credentialed professionals are a hot commodity. “Most of the project managers here don't have the PMP credential—the ones who do, however, are sought after,” he says.


Project management jobs in the United States can be characterized in one word: variety. “There are project managers in the IT business who focus on implementing software or buying hardware. There are folks who manage project management offices and focus on training their employees in project management methodologies,” says Cornelius Fichtner, PMP, president of the PMI Orange County, California Chapter and president of ScopeCreep Project Management Consultants, Silverado, California, USA. “We're all project managers, but we do so many totally different things.”

Key industries: IT, banking, healthcare, finance, automotive, pharmaceuticals

In demand: Portfolio management skills, resource management skills

Median salary: US$90,000*

*Source: PMI Project Management Salary Survey—Fourth Edition


The U.S. has a mixed economy where companies make their own economic decisions while being regulated by the government. The country has a relatively low unemployment rate (4.6 percent in July), but concerns about national debt and consumer debt are common.

There are quite a few large companies in Southern California—mostly in banking, healthcare, finance, automotive and pharmaceuticals—and the main focus for project management at these companies is in IT, Mr. Fichtner says.

On the other side of the nation, the Northeast region shows a strong demand for project managers in the banking, construction and engineering sectors, says Jacqueline May, PMP, president of the PMI Buffalo, New York Chapter and vice president of Buffalo-based M&T Bank.

“[Nationally,] there are a lot of different projects and a shortage of professional project managers,” says Jim Pennypacker, director of the Center for Business Practices in Havertown, Pennsylvania. “[IT] will probably continue to be the biggest single area for project management opportunities, with the healthcare and financial services markets also showing a lot of increasing use of project management. But all the project management skills are badly needed in all market segments.”

And as project management increasingly becomes the method by which organizations manage most or all of their business-critical activities, one of the most-needed skills is portfolio management. “In the good old days, project managers were typically responsible for very narrowly defined large projects,” he says. “Today, they are often managing multiple projects that are smaller, have shorter timeframes and are more complex.”

Resource management is another area where project managers need more experience, he says, adding that it “is causing organizations in the U.S. the most pain right now.” C

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