Project Manager vs. Project Coordinator - What’s the Difference?

Project Manager vs. Project Coordinator - What’s the Difference?

Written by : CPS Network


What are some key differences between the roles of a project manager vs. a project coordinator? 

Project management is an excellent choice for a career. Currently, there are over 16.5 million active project managers globally. The sector is certainly booming! 

But what exactly does a project manager do, and how does this differ from a project coordinator job? 

Here’s how each role impacts project management in the workplace.



What does a project manager's job look like? 


Project managers manage teams of people through strategic planning and task management. Typically they will be assigned tasks to individuals or teams and ensuring that each task gets done per: 

  • Budgets
  • Timelines 
  • Forecasting 
  • Key project goals 
  • Management requirements  
  • The needs of key stakeholders 

Project managers are in charge of tracking the progress of various projects, mentoring teams, motivating workers, identifying problems, and assessing risk. 

It certainly might be a project manager’s job to stay on top of these things, but project managers have a higher level of responsibility for these more extensive pieces of the puzzle.  

If you’re a project management professional seeking new opportunities, check out our job board


What are some of the skills needed to become a project coordinator?  


When it comes to the skill sets of a project manager vs. project coordinator, there are some key strengths that hiring managers will be looking out for. 

It’s worth noting that some environments or projects may require different leadership and management styles so that each organization might hire based on a different set of criteria. 

But some critical skills for both a project manager and project coordinator would be: 

  • Familiarity with project management software and tools 
  • Some level of technical ability 
  • The ability to communicate well through various digital mediums 
  • The ability to understand and work with budgets
  • Problem-solving skills 
  • Time management skills 
  • Good decision-making skills

Project coordinators looking to expand their career possibilities and increase their earnings through management positions should consider getting their Project Management Professional (PMP) Certification


What type of person would make a good project manager vs. project coordinator? 


As discussed here, different skills and even personality traits are required for management positions than admin positions. 

However, to be considered for either role, a person will need to demonstrate that they are: 

  • Highly organized 
  • Proficient with project management software 
  • Experienced with project management theories 
  • Exceptional communicators 
  • Strong leaders 
  • Able to make key decisions quickly 
  • Able to implement team-building techniques well
  • Able to effectively motivate and inspire others 

Learn more about the role of a project manager in this blog


What does a project coordinator do?


Project managers and project coordinators work similarly that most managers work with administrative assistants. However, coordinators will take care of more of the “day-to-day” pieces, and managers will stay on top of budgets and more significant issues. 

Just like any administrative role, project coordinators have an important role. They need to understand all aspects of a given project and how the project manager intends on completing the project per standards. 

They must have an understanding of what’s needed to plan, execute and complete a project effectively. 


How Project Manager Duties Differ from Project Coordinator Responsibilities  


The main difference between a project manager and a project coordinator is that the project coordinator must keep the “smaller” moving parts online. On the other hand, the manager will be fundamentally responsible for keeping the “bigger picture” things in line.

The project coordinator rarely will need to make significant decisions about the project. Still, they need to have enough understanding that they could make some decisions if required. 

The project coordinator’s day-to-day responsibilities will typically revolve around keeping the project running between parties, as well as coordinating the various stages of a project plan. 

This essentially leaves the project manager the time and space they need to pay attention to bigger problems and aspects. 

The coordinating element will likely involve extensive communication between teams, management, clients, and all other parties in a project. 

They will also be in charge of bringing problems and challenges to the project manager. 


Should you become a project manager or be a project coordinator? 


There are plenty of pros to building a career as a project manager or project coordinator.

Consider being a project manager if:  

  • You truly thrive under pressure 
  • You want to have a higher earning potential 
  • You love leading teams 
  • You are highly organized 
  • You want a highly challenging and rewarding career 
  • You crave variety, responsibility, and excitement 

Project management roles can be high-stress and demanding. Aim for this type of position if you are ready to take on high levels of responsibility and are willing to get certified.

A project coordinator role might be more suited to someone who: 

  • Prefers to stay a little “behind the scenes.” 
  • Doesn’t (yet) have well-developed management skills 
  • Does not thrive in a full-on leadership role but wants a medium level of responsibility 
  • Is considering a career in project management but is not yet sure if it’s right for them 
  • Likes managing projects but can’t commit to the long hours and high demands required in most project management positions 

Anyone who is just entering a career in project management would do well to take on a few project coordinator jobs first to understand the differences between a project manager vs. project coordinator role.    


Find the Perfect Project Manager Job or New Hire


Are you looking to hire a project manager or find your dream job? We can help. Follow our blog, post a job here, or send us a message to learn more.

Project Manager Jobs is created by the PMI Partner Network, an authority within the project management industry with decades of combined experience. We’ve leveraged our expertise and connections to create the most robust and best project management job board in the world.


Enjoyed this article? Here are three more to help:


10 Questions to Ask When Interviewing a Project Manager 

5 Key Tips for Strategic Project Planning

5 Minor Issues that can Kill a Major Project