What does a project administrator do? (Job roles and salary)

Updated 19 January 2023

As a project administrator, your primary responsibility is to assist the project manager during the project stages. Knowing how to create effective methods to move a project along can be essential to completing it on schedule. Understanding what a project administrator role entails and how it aligns with your career goals can help you determine if it's the right role for you. In this article, we cover what a project administrator does, what qualifications are required and the skills and behaviours necessary to fulfil the role.

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What does a project administrator do?

Knowing the answer to 'What does a project administrator do?' is essential when pursuing a role in working with projects, no matter the field. They are more likely to find work in firms that manage more complicated projects and, as a result, demand larger project teams. In many ways, the project administrator often handles smaller duties so that the project manager may concentrate on the more critical items and keep an overview of the bigger picture.

As a result, working as a project administrator could be the first step to becoming a project manager. Throughout the project cycle, they work hand in hand with the project manager and can be an apprentice in the trade. That isn't to say that a project administrator may simply assume the role of project manager, it's first recommended they learn about the methodology and potentially become certified. A project administrator's duties may include:

  • creating and maintaining project library and plans, and file, recording and reporting systems

  • maintaining project management methods, standards and processes

  • assisting and advising team members on procedures, disciplines and recording and reporting requirements

  • tracking risk and issue logs and changing control data

  • developing and maintaining effective project team communication systems

  • developing and implementing procedures for configuration management

  • producing project summary reports and coordinating the preparation of all reports

  • setting up and maintaining cost-recording systems

  • defining and documenting methodology procedures

  • assisting with other administrative responsibilities assigned

Depending on the organisation and the project, these responsibilities can differ. The project administrator helps by completing minor obligations for the project manager or preparing work for the project manager to complete. It's a fantastic approach to getting a behind-the-scenes look at project management while honing essential skills. To do these tasks effectively, having a solid understanding of project management concepts and an awareness of how to apply that knowledge to these specific supporting activities is important.

Related: What are project management tools

Key skills of a successful project administrator

People are the most crucial component of project management. How you collaborate with others is what makes projects effective. The project administrator is a vital member of the project team, and your interpersonal and behavioural skills are just as critical as anybody else's. Here are key skills necessary for this role:

  • ability to work as both part of a team and independently

  • able to manage time effectively

  • attention to detail and accuracy

  • strong interpersonal, oral and written communication skills

  • knowledge of relevant technology and software

  • prioritisation skills

  • organisational abilities

  • self-motivator

  • eager to learn

Project administrators are project management experts who coordinate all project activities. You may be responsible for scheduling regular meetings, creating and updating procedures, doing risk analyses, and ensuring that all projects meet quality standards and deliver on time and within budget. Project administrators also develop and distribute documents to internal teams, keep track of expenses and projected costs, and provide project performance updates. It is your responsibility to develop ways to ensure the team meets these objectives, potentially by breaking the project down into smaller, manageable tasks and establishing timetables and objectives.

Related: Project management skills and how to improve them

Project administrator salary

The national average salary for a project administrator is £22,666 per year. Each project administrator may have a different salary depending on who they work for and the responsibilities of the role. Your geographic location can also affect your salary as a project administrator.

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How to become a project administrator

If you're interested in becoming a project administrator, there are a few steps you can take to ensure you have the relevant education, experience and skill set to help you excel in your career. Although formal qualifications are not required to become a project administrator, they may be advantageous. Strong computer literacy and office management abilities are helpful. Here is a step-by-step guide to how to become a project administrator:

1. Pursue a relevant degree

Since a project administrator position is entry-level, pursuing relevant degrees can be essential to get noticed by hiring personnel. Any degree can get you into general project administration, but business or degrees focusing on project management are especially valuable. Field knowledge is also necessary for more specialist roles, such as those in engineering or IT, so an undergraduate degree in a related subject could be helpful.

A postgraduate degree is not required, though if your first degree is unrelated, a master's may improve your chances of success. While a degree in project management can prepare you for the work, professional qualifications and short courses could help you advance. It's not required to complete these requirements before looking for work because most firms provide on-the-job training to new hires.

Related: Project manager requirements (with duties and skills)

2. Gain certifications

When pursuing a role as a project administrator, also consider and research the various certifications that can help in this role and preparing you for a role as a project manager. You can gain certifications from the Association for Project Management (APM) and the Project Management Institute (PMI) that can provide specific training regarding this role. The following certifications are available from APM:

  • APM Project Fundamentals Qualification (PFQ): This certification is an introductory project management terminology training, and it doesn't require prior project management skills or experience.

  • APM Project Management Qualification (PMQ): This knowledge-based qualification allows applicants to demonstrate their knowledge of all aspects of project management. Previous experience and a complete PFQ are necessary.

  • APM Project Professional Qualification (PPQ): Addresses project managers' fundamental and specialised skills. It's for anyone interested in becoming a member of the APM who works in any form of project management.

Shorter courses are also available from the APM, such as the Single Subject Risk Certificate, which builds on the information earned through the PMQ or other management certifications. The PMI also offers several credentials for experienced project managers. You may need a bachelor's degree and at least three years of project management experience for most of these programmes. The following are some certifications available:

  • Professional Project Manager (PMP)

  • Professional in Program Management (PgMP)

  • Professional in Portfolio Management (PfMP)

  • Associate in Project Management Certification (CAPM)

  • Agile Certified Practitioner by PMI (PMI-ACP)

  • PMI Scheduling Professional (PMI-SCP)

  • PMI Risk Management Professional (PMI-RMP)

Related: The 6 agile methodology steps for project management

3. Pursue additional relevant certifications

When considering additional certifications to focus on, look into software course options like Agile and PRINCE2. Agile is well-suited to fast-paced environments like IT because the methodology focuses on continual improvement in product development by using short development cycles called sprints. The two levels of training available for this course are foundation and practitioner.

PRINCE2 is a structured approach for end-to-end project management that is widely utilised. New hires with a rudimentary understanding of project management processes can take foundation courses, after that, going on to the practitioner level, which is designed for working professionals. PRINCE2 is a project management framework that focuses on a set of sequential phases from project inception to project completion, whereas Agile does not enforce a project structure, but is a way of thinking about how to organise and complete projects.

4. Obtain work experience

Previous work experience can assist you in becoming a project administrator. Many project administrator jobs, in fact, necessitate prior experience in a position such as an administrative assistant. Many project administrators have prior work experience in positions such as office manager or executive assistant. Any expertise in leading and organising a team's activities could be beneficial. Look for internships as a junior or assistant project manager and set up job shadowing with an experienced professional or a volunteer in a leadership position. Signing up for clubs can also help you gain experience organising events, managing projects and leading teams.

Related: How to become a project administrator (with definitions)

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at the time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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