Program DirectorJob Description, Salary, Career Path, and Trends

Program directors manage and coordinate programs for an organization. They plan, assign, and directly supervise program staff and implementation, including program preparation, evaluation, and budgeting. Program directors must ensure programs meet business objectives, minimize risk, and maximize benefits. 

Sample job description

A motivated and talented program director is needed to lead [Your Company Name]. Your position will be at the forefront of the organization, and you will be in charge of every aspect of management. This will include managing employees, hiring staff and new team members, managing the budget and overseeing finances, and working on marketing in coordination with the team marketer. The program director must be willing to work hard and full-time and must be dedicated enough to work overtime if needed. This position is not for the faint of heart. If this sounds like you, and like a position you could excel in, please consider applying!

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Oversee the administrative aspects of program implementation
  • Evaluate program effectiveness and provide recommendations for areas of improvement 
  • Plan and manage program activities 
  • Coordinate the tasks of colleagues 
  • Maintain accurate records of all projects
  • Establish a plan and budget 

Education and experience

This position requires a bachelor’s degree in business administration or a specific industry-related field. Many employers prefer candidates who have a master’s degree. 

Required skills and qualifications

  • Critical-thinking and decision-making skills
  • Expertise in communication and organization
  • Proficient in finding creative solutions to complex problems
  • Strong time management skills and ability to multi-task 
  • Ensure program meets the objectives of the organization

Preferred qualifications

  • 5+ years of experience managing employees
  • Strong sense of purpose and self-driven
  • Excellent time management skills
  • Master’s degree in business
  • Ability to interview and hire dedicated employees

Average salary and compensation

The average salary for a program director is $76,500 in the United States. Position salary will vary based on experience, education, company size, industry, and market.

LocationSalary LowSalary High
Phoenix, Arizona$76,100$102,950
Los Angeles, California$85,850$116,150
Denver, Colorado$71,550$96,800
Washington, DC$87,150$117,900
Miami, Florida$71,200$96,350
Orlando, Florida$65,700$88,850
Tampa, Florida$66,350$89,750
Atlanta, Georgia$69,600$94,150
Chicago, Illinois$80,000$108,200
Boston, Massachusetts$86,500$117,000
Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota$68,950$93,250
New York City, New York$91,050$123,150
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania$74,150$100,300
Dallas, Texas$72,200$97,650
Houston, Texas$71,550$96,800
Seattle, Washington$83,250$112,600
National Average$65,050$88,000

Typical work environment

Program directors work in organizations and often non-profit industries. These program directors are required to manage and oversee all aspects of the operation in an organizational initiative. Program directors will oftentimes be responsible for developing, troubleshooting, and deploying a non-profit’s initiatives and programs. A program director may be in charge of managing employees and staff, hiring new employees, working on the marketing aspect of the initiative, and managing finances. This position will require travel, as the program director will oftentimes be in charge of multiple locations and areas of the organization. Strong communication and leadership skills are required for a program director to be successful, as well as the ability to streamline and resolve problems in operations.

Typical hours

Typical hours for this position are from 9 AM to 5 PM, Monday through Friday, in an office setting. 

Available certifications

A program director is not required to have any certifications, as this position is largely based on leadership and organizational skills. There are certain certificates that can benefit a program director, however, such as the following:

  • Program Director Certification (PDC). The program director certification is an online course offered to help train and certify program directors. This course is offered by the BVOP, and can be beneficial for both beginning program directors, aspiring program directors, and established program directors.
  • Program Management Professional (PgMP). The Program Management Professional Certification is offered by the Program Management Institute, which is a recognized and reputable organization for program directors. This certification course and exam costs $1,000 for non-members and $800 for members. It ensures that program directors are of professional level skill sets.

Career path

The path to becoming a program manager starts by earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration or a specific industry-related field. Employers may prefer candidates who have a master’s degree, as well as those with on-the-job experience. Program directors may have the opportunity to advance to positions such as senior program manager. 

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 11-9151

2020 Employment174,200
Projected Employment in 2030200,700
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift 15% increase
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift26,400 increase

Specifically, within a service-oriented industry, program directors will have increased opportunities as a result of population growth, an aging population, and an increase in those seeking treatment for addiction and substance abuse. In other industries, demand for program directors should increase with the development of new organizations and the expansion of existing ones. 

Sample interview questions

  • Do you have any previous experience managing a non-profit organization or similar team?
  • Are you confident in your leadership and delegation skills?
  • As a program director, what would be your ideal method by which to inspire your team?
  • How would you screen new staff members before hiring them?
  • What would you say the most important responsibilities are for a program director?
  • Can you tell me a little bit about a time you put some problem-solving and conflict resolution skills to use?
  • How would you go about ensuring a successful marketing campaign for [Your Organization Here]?
  • When your organization makes a mistake, it may fall on you. How would you handle a mistake made under your direction?
  • What is different about managing a non-profit business versus a for-profit business?
  • Are you passionate about our cause?

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