What is a Project Director? Job Description, Skills, Salaries

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A project director leads a team of project managers, software developers, web developers, graphic designers, testers, network engineers, and other staff essential to a project. Their primary responsibility is completing an IT project on schedule and within budget. They work within the project’s scope of work (SOW) or function specification documents (FSD).

A project director makes critical decisions, adjust the budget and add resources related to project governance processes. They receive regular reports from project managers or team leads. Thereafter, report directly to senior management, such as vice president, chief technology officer, or company president. Project directors may work in an office setting, factories, or in a field environment. They may spend almost half of their time traveling to remote locations to check on an operation’s status.

Additionally, a project director often manages multiple projects at the strategic level. They are typically the project’s point person. They manage resources and oversee finances to ensure that the project progress is on time and budget. The project director reviews regular progress reports and makes staffing, financial, or other adjustments to align the developing project with broader outcome goals.

A project director role is a real leadership task, operating at a strategic and tactical level. They are expected to understand the broader context of the organization, the many changes being undertaken beyond the program, and the direct operational area. They align the project approach, impact, and timing with the broader environment.

The project director provides advisory services to the client management team concerning the project approach and integration with different activities. The project director needs little direction and supervision from the executive team. They provide leadership, advice, guidance, and coaching to the project manager and the broader project team. The advice concerns the project approach, activities, risks, issues, and general management. They manage upwards strategies to influence effective executive and project board governance

Project Director Job Description

Project directors formulates strategic and operational plans for each major project. They monitor and report on programmatic and financial milestones. They ensure internal and external stakeholders are informed of progress, deviations from plans and risks. Project directors collaborate with project managers to identify where management and technical reinforcement is needed. They develop and test effective combination of training and placement interventions, diverse delivery mechanism, public and private sector engagement tactics. They integrate innovative solutions to accelerate outcomes and form strategic and operational projects.

Project director job description entails:

  • Coordinating the efforts of various workers in order to ensure that the required tasks are accomplished
  • Developing a timeline for the completion of a certain milestone for a given project
  • Creating budget for the completion of a particular task, and monitoring the amount of money spent in order to ensure the project does not exceed this amount
  • Recommending changes to a project that is ongoing if it appears not proceeding on schedule or is producing unsatisfactory results
  • Developing an alternate course of action for completing a job should the initial plan fail
  • Making presentations to investors, business partners and company executives concerning different phases of a project
  • Reviewing proposals, approving or denying them
  • Contracting with outside agencies for support on a needed basis
  • Managing available resources, including teams working on the project
  • Tracking different elements of the project plan and making adjustment where needed to stay on track

Project Director Skills

The project director monitors project progress, oversees finance, and ensures project quality. They make strategic decisions and provide leadership and direction to project managers to implement those decisions. Nonetheless, project directors meet with clients and build strong working relationships.

Project directors manage risks to avoid delays or reputational damage. They devise cost-effective plans to enable them to complete a project effectively. They ensure permits and legal papers are secured ahead of a project. Project managers also manage project managers and allow them to supervise and control their teams.

Project directors need to have excellent skills and knowledge to execute these duties effectively.

Project director skills include:

  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills
  • Attentive to details
  • Math knowledge
  • Knowledge of computer operating systems, hardware, and software
  • Strong Leadership and business management skills
  • Good budgeting skills and the ability to reduce cost without making an adjustment that affects the quality
  • Strong interpersonal skills
  • Ability to act as change agents and instill confidence to embrace change as well
  • Results-driven and detail-oriented

The success of a project depends on the skills and knowledge a project director has. All these skills play a vital role in the duties of a project director. Practical communication skills are the most crucial for all project directors. They need to align everyone on a single goal and ensure all the right information finds its way to people. Project directors with solid communication skills are empowered to lead more successful projects and help organizations outperform their competitors. Strong communication skills enable project managers to establish healthy, trusting relationships with their team and stakeholders.

Project Director Career Requirements

Project directors are involved with a project from start to end. They have a full understanding of what the expected outcome is. Therefore, they develop strategic plans to ensure they meet their goals using available resources. If several projects are running simultaneously, they plan about effective sharing of the available resources to guarantee timely completion. Thus, organizations are very specific when it comes to qualification in order to get the right individual.

Majority look for an individual with the following qualifications:

  • Three years and above experience as a project director
  • Bachelor’s degree in project director field
  • Excellent computer skill and ability to use relevant software
  • Ability to conduct project status meetings, daily stand-ups, and retrospective meetings
  • Ability to continuously follow up on the progress, risks, and opportunities of the project
  • Proven ability in measuring project performance using appropriate tools, systems, and techniques
  • Ability to direct all project management phases
  • Ability to align various teams to maintain the quality of deliverables
  • Ability to make recommendations for project improvement

Project Director Salaries

The average salary of a project director is $93,394 per year, according to pay scale. The highest-paid project directors are from Houston, TX, with the average wage 41% higher than the national average salary. Charlotte, NC, comes second, with an average salary 34% greater than the average national salary. New York State follows with the average salary 21% higher than the average national salary. It is followed by Dallas, TX, with an average salary 19% greater than the national average wage.

According to Payscale, the salaries of project directors according to years of experience are as follows:

Average Salary for Project Director

Certifications for Project Director

A certified project director has the proven ability to lead multiple, complex projects, programs, and portfolios of work. They make high-level decisions and use initiative and judgment to navigate diverse activities. These activities span functions, organizations, regions, and cultures. Different organizations offer specific certifications. The institutes teach project directors complete dedication and wise management of the organization. They require them to know all areas needed by contemporary project development, optimized program management, and positive team support. Some of the certification offered by different organizations include:

The purpose of a credential certificate is to protect the position a project director. It guarantees that a project director has met a minimum standard for professional and ethical standards. Certification guides career enhancement, increased salary, and greater success in the project director profession. Certification is important because it provides a foundation of broad and deep understanding of the roles of a project director. It demonstrates that a project director is committed to his/her profession. A project director with the right certification can work anywhere in the united states because national certifications are valid throughout the country. Certification lastly increases job mobility and choices even in the face of a tough job market.

Masters Degree for Project Director

A master’s degree in project directing is an excellent pursuit for project directors, who are ready to focus on the project leading as a significant functional area of their business. The level of expertise obtained through the master program, can position a project director to become a trusted leader to other stakeholders involved in the project at hand. Excellence in project directing comes from a combination of experience and knowledge. Earning a master’s degree helps project directors gain both. Project directors who have a robust portfolio of skills and experience stand out among other project directors. Earning a master’s degree in the project directing field makes a project director have a more prominent company’s voice and expand their career opportunities. The area of project directing relies so heavily on knowledge of processes and methodologies. Thus, having a master’s degree qualifies a project director as it impacts him/her with experience in the process and procedures.

Tools and Software for Project Director

Project director tools and software help project directors to be more systematic and better organized when planning, scheduling, tracking progress, maintaining documentation, managing the budget, allocating resources, and controlling risks and changes. There are hundreds of project director software and tools available. A software tool enables project directors to hone up their organizational skills, refine their schedule, and better understand how and why things go right or wrong in a particular project. The type of software and tool depends on the needs of an organization.

Project directors use software such as; Ace Project, a web-based project tracking software that manages projects end to end. Pro core, which creates schedules, closes RFIs faster, tracks project mails, archives documents, and photos. It also manages submittals, daily logs, change orders, project costing, and punch lists. Lastly, project directors use computer applications such as Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Project, and Microsoft publisher in creating their projects.

Software tools help project directors manage different projects effectively by communicating and collaborating efficiently with them. These tools make it easy for project directors to assign resources efficiently, ensure changes are kept under control and have the right priorities. They enable the project director to track progress accurately, ensure changes are kept under budget, ensure the project stays within the scope, manage documents efficiently and adequately manage tasks. Companies with the right tool have many advantages and benefits. The software and tools help the company deliver projects that provide expected results within the cost and time.

Role of Project Director in Project Management

A project director directs and integrates the activities of multiple, primary project operations. They ensure that the project’s efforts are generally cohesive, consistent, and effective in supporting the mission, goals, and strategic plan of an organization. Moreover, a project director establishes policies, strategies, and operating objectives consistent with its organization. These strategies ensure efficient and effective implementation of major cross-organizational projects. They participate and supervise the development, performance, and maintenance of individual project objectives and short and long-range plans.

Project directors develop, track, and evaluate programs to help accomplish established project goals and objectives. They manage and administer a large and diverse team of professional/technical and support staff, both directly and through lower-level managers and supervisors. Project directors establish and manage complex, multi-faceted budgets, and business plans. They do so for component units related to project development and deployment at an organizational level.

They maintain the currency of knowledge concerning a company’s strategic directions and procedures and relevant state-of-the-art system technology. Project directors provide strategic leadership and technical, operational, financial, and managerial leadership to implement project activities successfully. They conduct monthly reviews to ensure all project activities are accountable, accurate, and timely financial deliverables and obligations. They also ensure that the project progress follows its contractual obligations and complies with donor regulations and internal organizational policies.

Project directors act as the primary project contact person and liaison. They ensure the project is represented in national technical, policy, and planning forums with stakeholders. They promote a project through advocacy, presentation, and participation in-country, regional and international technical forums. The project directors therefore have to be alert and organized to ensure the success of all their engagements.