Project Manager vs. Project Coordinator: Which Should You Hire?

By Chelsea Williams
Senior Copywriter
Dec 29 2022 read

In professional services, you spend a lot of time focusing on client projects. You may be in the process of building out a full project team comprised of various project management roles as your business and client base expand. Or, you may just be looking to add one team member to help manage projects.

Project managers and project coordinators are two key roles that, while they may sound similar, fulfill different needs. If you’re a manager or other leader looking to decide whether to hire a project manager vs. project coordinator next, we’re here to help.

Below, we’ll review the educational background, skills required and job responsibilities for each position. Then, we’ll discuss which role might fit best with your company’s hiring budget and how supportive technology tools can help you present your case for bringing on one or the other — or even both.

Degree Programs and Qualifications for Project Coordinator Job

Because project management is an essential function in many industries, people can arrive in project management jobs with varying backgrounds. Thus, someone looking to become a project coordinator could choose to get a bachelor’s degree in their selected field and then pursue a certificate or additional training to move into project management. 

However, it’s also possible to succeed on this career path by foregoing a four-year degree and taking one or more project management education courses, such as the Google Project Management Professional Certificate.

Degree Programs and Qualifications for Project Manager Position 

Project managers must be experienced leaders, so becoming a project manager requires more hands-on project management experience than becoming a project coordinator.

An aspiring project manager will often possess a bachelor’s degree in the industry in which they’re looking to specialize or in a widely applicable field, such as Business, along with 3,500+ hours of project management work.

Popular project management certifications include:

Differences in Skills Required

The skills necessary to succeed in these relative roles have a good amount of overlap.

Both project coordinators and project managers need to have:

  • Great communication skills
  • Tech literacy skills specific to common project management software
  • Conflict resolution and problem-solving skills
  • An understanding of team capacity and task delegation

The above skills are a great start, but there are some key differences in requirements that might make someone better suited for one role.

A project coordinator will need to ensure they have:

  • Excellent organizational and administrative skills
  • A good handle on budgeting and expense management
  • Advanced data entry abilities
  • Superior time management

A project manager should be more seasoned at:

  • Being a great leader and displaying soft skills
  • Communicating with clients and making good decisions about customer service
  • Noticing and correcting inefficiencies amongst team members
  • Setting goals and thinking long-term

Project Manager vs. Project Coordinator Responsibilities

Project managers need to have a broader range of skills because their position is somewhat like an umbrella leadership role. Often, project managers oversee project coordinators.

So, while the project coordinator completes administrative tasks, manages a calendar and helps a team adhere to project schedules, project managers are more responsible for the overall picture of how a project team is doing. They report and make recommendations to upper management, often engaging in risk assessment to help identify potential roadblocks and prevent scope creep.

In a client-based business, both roles are important, but depending on your business’s size and your existing hierarchy, you may choose to hire one before the other.

Which Role Fits Your Company’s Hiring Budget?

According to Glassdoor, the average project coordinator makes $53,842 per year in the US, while the average project manager makes $78,973 per year. These figures do not include additional benefits or bonuses.

It’s important to keep salary in mind, as the most skilled project management professionals will seek competitive pay.  

TIP: Whether you’re hiring for a project coordinator or project manager role, it’s wise to include a salary range in your job description. A study by Glassdoor found that money was the most important factor for 67% of job seekers.

Use Quality Tech Tools To Make the Case for a New Role

Think you’ve chosen which role your team needs most but have to convince your higher-ups? One of the best ways to know whether you truly need a project manager vs. project coordinator is to collect accurate data on how your team is performing now and demonstrate the gaps that could be filled by a new member. 

Next steps? Explore team management platforms, then develop an airtight business case for new software.



About the Author


Chelsea Williams is Senior Copywriter at Accelo, where she shares unique insights with service professionals and tells user stories via blogs, eBooks, industry reports and more. She has over 15 years of B2B and B2C writing experience — primarily in tech, sales, education and healthcare. Chelsea is an AWAI-certified Master Copywriter trained in brand storytelling and microcopy.

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