I had no idea that my project coordinator job responsibilities would so greatly impact the path of my career.
When I decided to move back to Memphis after returning from my Peace Corps work in Chile for two years, I wasn’t sure what type of job or work or to pursue.
I’d worked as a family coach teaching communication, negotiation, anger management skills and such.
I’d worked in local government in Chile, doing gaps analyses and community outreach, grants research and such.
And I had a Master’s degree in Sociology.
However, this hodgepodge didn’t seem to point to anything concrete as a next logical step.
Since I’d been working in local government in a small town in Chile, I phoned up the City of Memphis Division of Housing and Community Development and told them I’d love to come in and chat. I wanted to learn about what had been happening here in Memphis while I was away.
“Sure!” they said. “And bring your resume.”
Unexpectedly, they offered me a job that day, during that very visit.
As it turned out, the current Project Coordinator was moving away, and they needed to fill that position. The woman in that role explained that her Project Coordinator job responsibilities involved managing grant funding, budgets, contracts, and pulling together and coordinating projects. It sounded great to me!
I took the job.
And I enjoyed it. The work was diverse. I had the independence to take responsibility for small projects and make things happen. I loved the interaction with clients, the community, and team members. I could take on greater responsibilities and move into larger projects as I gained more experience. There was flexibility to learn new things and grow in areas that interested me.
And then I learned that there’s a whole career path around project management! I’d stumbled into my calling!
And I’ve loved working in Project Management ever since.
These days, when someone asks me about moving into project management with little experience, I often suggest looking into the role of Project Coordinator as an entry point.
If Project Coordinator job responsibilities are a mystery to you, and Project Management is a path you’d like to follow, read on.
Project Coordinator Job Responsibilities – Not A Consistent List
Project Coordinator job responsibilities can vary from organization to organization. Even so, the Project Coordinator is a valuable member of a project team. Working in this role can be satisfying in itself, and it can prepare you for a Project Management career if that’s the path you’re seeking. Not all companies or teams employ this role. When they do, the Project Coordinator is a valuable contributor to project success.
Project Coordinator job responsibilities can include being in charge of coordinating tasks, tracking milestones, or organizing activities across groups. They could also include budget management or work with stakeholders. There are many ways to utilize the Project Coordinator on a project, and this leads to many ways you could grow into a project management role. I’ve even heard of Project Coordinators serving as the Project Manager and leading the entire effort.
The Project Coordinator is especially helpful for very large projects. In these initiatives, the scope may be so large that the Project Manager needs support in executing all the project management responsibilities.
The distinction between Project Coordinator and Project Manager
The primary difference between Project Coordinator and Project Manager is the degree of responsibility and ownership for the project. The Project Manager traditionally has full ownership for the success of the project. The Project Coordinator serves in a supporting role and assists with the project.
What a Project Coordinator Does – Project Coordinator Job Responsibilities
To get an idea of what might be included as potential Project Coordinator job responsibilities, I looked at the job site Indeed.com. In this post “How to write a Project Coordinator Job Description” they lay out several suggestions for the Project Coordinator job responsibilities. Based on this, along with my personal experience in this role and viewing multiple job postings over the years, I’ve compiled a list of possible Project Coordinator job responsibilities:
- Ensure the team has what is needed for meeting milestones
- Create project schedules with task durations and dependencies
- Create or assist with project budgets
- Assist with or create / maintain project documentation
- Create project reports
- Work with the project team to address issues as they arise
- Coordinate project activities and resources
- Work with customers (internal or external) to gather information regarding project scope and requirements
- Assist with project contracts
- Manage or assist with project purchases / procurement
- Assist with project communications. This could vary from creating a communication plan to executing project communications via multiple channels
- Monitor project progress and provide team status reports
- Help plan how solutions will be delivered to the customers, and assist with actual customer adoption
Because Project Coordinator job responsibilities are not a formally established set of tasks across every organization, the Project Coordinator could handle only some of these items, or work with all of them.
Many Paths Can Lead to a Project Coordinator Role
One reason the Project Coordinator position is a great entry to Project Management is that it usually doesn’t require special certifications or special degrees. My diverse background in teaching communications, conducting needs assessments, working with grants and creating documentation made me a great candidate for the position offered to me. Likewise, there are many roles that utilize the skill sets that are valuable as a Project Coordinator. Planning, great communication, organizational skills, accountability, and follow-through are key, but many types of experience can prepare you for this role.
How a Job as a Project Coordinator Prepares You for a Job as a Project Manager
The Project Coordinator does many of the things a Project Manager does. For this reason, the Project Coordinator role gives you direct experience with project management tasks. I’ve spoken with project coordinators who’ve managed projects from beginning to end.
As stated above, the Project Coordinator job responsibilities can vary depending on what organization you happen to be working in. For this reason, you likely have the opportunity to take on more responsibility as you gain experience in the role. As your team develops more trust in your capabilities, you’ll be able to take on more work with more responsibility. You’ll get real project management experience to prepare you for applying for project management roles.
And if you love the organization you happen to be working in, you just might transition to the PM role there.
And there’s even a bonus – if you hope to take the PMP certification exam, much of the experience you gain while working as a Project Coordinator counts toward qualifying you to sit for the exam!
If you’d like to know about other job titles that can lead to a Project Manager position, check out the Project Management Career Path.
To learn what I did next on the path of my project management career, read How I Made the Move to IT Project Management with No Technical Experience.
And if you have questions, let me know. I love helping people determine how their skill sets apply to the Project Management career path.
I currently am fresh out of college with a BS in Information Systems and would like to start my career as a Project Coordinator. I have no experience, have worked at only Pizza Hut as a delivery driver, and have 6 months of experience as an Assistant’s Agent with mainly administrative duties. I’m starting to study for my CAPM since I have enough college education hours to meet the requirement. I’ve noticed many job postings want 2-5 years of experience. What positions should I be looking at so that I can gain that experience? I believe I read somewhere that Administrative Assistant positions are a good starting point. What is your opinion on this? Also, will the CAPM count as PM experience when it comes to job applications?
Thank you for your time,
Since you already have a degree in Information System, and some job experience, I suggest you continue to look for a project coordinator position. If you frame your search for an entry-level project coordinator position, you’ll likely see quite a few positions. I just tried it myself and many came up.
I also suggest using your network. Let others know that you’re looking for an entry-level project coordinator position and are eager to work hard and learn.
The administrative assistant position could be a good start, but I keep hearing that the job market is particularly good right now, so I’d keep looking a bit more for the project coordinator role.
Best of luck to you!
I am in interested in the project management profession. I don’t have the background to gain employment as a project manager now but I believe my background qualifies me to get a job as a project coordinator/project analyst. I have my entry-level project management certification from CompTIA (Project+) and I have my Competent Leadership (CL) and Competent Communicator (CC) from Toastmasters and I am the president of my Toastmasters club. My education is in Geography (Bachelor’s and Master’s). For the project coordinator role, should I have experience implementing project management practices? I have participated in many academic projects but academic projects normally don’t follow project management guidelines so I am not certain how to frame my experiences. Thanks for putting together a wonderful resource for people looking to get into the project management field.
You can certainly apply for project coordinator roles with your Master’s degree and certifications! You’ll be playing a support role to project managers and the team, and gaining valuable experience and learning at the same time. Go for it!
To get a good idea of how to frame your experience, look at project coordinator job postings and translate your experience into the language that they’re using. Don’t limit yourself to looking at postings you can apply for – look at others for key phrasing to give you ideas. Don’t lie, but speak about your experience in the terms that you see on the postings.
Start networking and work with recruiters, too.
Best of luck to you!
Hi Leigh, this was a very insightful and interesting article for me. I have been a Project Coordinator for around 9 months now and I am already looking for more responsibility. How much experience should you acquire before attempting to move into a Project Manager role?
I’m glad you found the article helpful! I’d suggest exploring the opportunities in your current company as a way to do it sooner. Many project manager job postings will require more experience – anywhere from two to 5 years. But if you have a good reputation in your current company, there’s a good chance they’ll support you taking on more responsibilities. Talk with your boss about the possibility of managing a small, low risk project to allow you to start moving into more direct project management. Good luck to you! I’m excited for your career growth!