Contracting as a Project Manager

Successful Project Managers are in high demand across many industries as organisations strive to deliver successful projects at a faster pace in increasingly complex environments. Contract Project Managers are particularly high in demand as companies often require specialists to come in for a set period of time to manage specific one-off projects.  

There are many benefits to contracting as a PM over permanent PM roles including:

  • More control over the projects you're involved with
  • More choice of which projects you work on
  • The variety in contracts will build up your PM experience in a much shorter period
  • The opportunity to earn more money

What does a Project Manager do?

As a Project Manager your main responsibility is to ensure successful completion of a project by working to a series of pre-determined goals and objectives. Although the role of  Project Manager will vary depending on the industry and specific project you are working on – several responsibilities remain key across the board including:

  • Executing, monitoring, controlling and closing a project
  • Creating and implementing schedules to meet deadlines
  • Cost estimation and budget development
  • Team structuring, resourcing and management
  • Performing quality assurance
  • Managing and mitigating risk 

What skills and qualifications does a Project Manager need?

Project Managers will require different skills depending on which industry and specific project they are working on. Project Manager Contractors in particular will need to have developed and specialised their skillset in order to secure contracts, as contractors are expected to hit the ground running and will not receive the on-the-job training that their permanent counterparts do. There are some skills which will remain essential for all project management contractors though which include:

  • Critical thinking and problem solving
  • Time management and organisational skills
  • Team and individual leadership
  • Conflict resolution
  • A strong attention to detail
  • Oral and written communication skills  

Many project management contracts also require relevant training, more often than not the PRINCE2 qualification (Projects IN Controlled Environments). Other popular certifications include project management based degrees, CMP (Certified Project Manager) and PMP (Project Management Professional). 

How much does a Project Manager earn?

The average salary for a Project Manager is around £40,000; however as a Contract Project Manager the average daily rate is £400. Though salaries and daily rates vary depending on industry and project – you will find that the daily rate for a contractor will more often than not give you more take home pay than a permanent Project Manager salary.

Companies often bring contractors on board for specific projects to provide skills that the in-house team may not have. And as they are not required to pay any sick pay, holiday pay, redundancy pay or employer’s national insurance for contractors, as they are with permanent employees, they can usually afford to pay contractors more.

Have a look at our market demand updates and latest contractor rates here.  

How do I find a Project Manager contract?

The internet is the most popular medium used for job hunting and for many the first stop will be online job boards, where you can use their search facilities to find the work you are looking for and apply to vacancies from a variety of different clients and agencies – search engines will provide you with access to the majority of contract vacancies on offer too. Specialist websites such as a specialist Project Management Jobsite and our own IT Contract Search will be particularly helpful when looking for Project Manager Contracts. 

It is also wise to consider networking to find a contract – both online and offline. LinkedIn is an especially handy tool for building your network and keeping in touch – letting them know when you are available for contracts and keeping abreast of the latest contracts and news in relevant LinkedIn groups.

By Laura Foster