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

Yellow background. Navy icons representing a project manager and a project coordinator. Insight Global logo. Title: Project Manager vs. Project Coordinator: What's the Difference?

Project manager vs. project coordinator.

Similar titles. Different roles.

Both are both crucial for project success, but their responsibilities and skillsets differ significantly. Hiring managers looking to fill critical roles need to understand these differences.

Keep reading to learn about the distinct roles of project managers and project coordinators, including their specific responsibilities, necessary skills, and career paths.

What is a Project Manager?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a project manager specializes in all elements of a project, overseeing details such as:

  • The budget
  • Staffing
  • Purchasing
  • Schedule
  • Contractors

And all other aspects of the project. These responsibilities may include managing several internal teams as well as communicating with clients, leadership, and third-party vendors.

Above all, project managers ensure a comprehensive project meets its goals and stays on schedule.

Project management roles are typically leadership positions within an organization. These people mentor and delegate rather than fixate on small details. The project manager’s staff team usually includes several project coordinators. The manager thus supervises the project coordinators’ progress as well. The project manager is accountable for the overall project quality and delivery.

Project Manager Responsibilities

A project manager guides a project from start to finish. These individuals meet with clients or stakeholders early on and map out a pragmatic plan for the project’s completion. Typical project manager responsibilities include:

  • Organizing the project into phases, each with its own attainable timeline.
  • Estimating total labor hours and resources to create a realistic budget.
  • Allocating funding and resources appropriately.
  • Effectively managing unforeseen changes in scope, schedule, and expenses.
  • Maintaining positive relationships with clients, staff, and contractors.
  • Supervising each sub-project’s progress to ensure consistent quality.
  • Overseeing high-level project metrics and reporting accordingly on progress and delays to the leadership team.

What is a Project Coordinator?

So, what about a project coordinator? As mentioned above, a project coordinator works under the supervision of a project manager.

Project coordinators focus on one aspect of the overall project. Their tasks are more hands-on. They may still supervise a team, but a project coordinator’s oversight is limited to their assigned scope.

However, project coordinators don’t work in a vacuum. These individuals understand the big picture, final deadline, and overall client expectations.

A project coordinator’s job incorporates day-to-day tasks and status meetings. Per the BLS, project coordinators focus on a limited piece of the project, but they still understand how their duties contribute to the project as a whole. These individuals report progress updates to the project manager, who then reports on or escalates issues accordingly.

Project Coordinator Responsibilities

Once the project manager outlines a project’s different phases and timelines, the project coordinators start moving the plan forward. Like project managers, communication is essential to be successful in this role. Project coordinators will often manage their own staff teams and may discuss specific questions about their assignments with clients. Typical project coordinator responsibilities include:

  • Scheduling and facilitating frequent meetings with phase stakeholders.
  • Tracking progress and sharing accordingly with the project manager.
  • Proactively anticipating issues and escalating problems to the project manager.
  • Developing a positive work culture among the project team.
  • Serving as the point of contact for the assigned working group.
  • Managing the allocated budget effectively.
  • Maintaining a tracking system for project milestones.

What’s the Difference between Project Managers and Project Coordinators?

Project managers and project coordinators share similar skills and perform similar tasks. However, a project coordinator is a more junior-level leadership position. A project manager has more experience, and they might also have additional credentials, like a Project Management Professional (PMP) certification. Project coordinators hoping to advance to the next level will need at least five years of experience and may consider earning their PMP credentials.

Managers and coordinators have an overlapping skillset. Necessary skills include:

  • Leadership
  • Organization
  • Flexibility
  • Communication
  • Time management

In addition, both managers and coordinators do tasks like tracking project progress and overseeing budgets. However, a manager supervises the entire project while a coordinator supervises just their part of the project.

How Do Project Managers and Project Coordinators Work Together?

Project coordinators typically report to project managers. In fact, a project manager might supervise multiple coordinators. Depending on the project, coordinators might work with each other in a cross-functional team.

Hire a Project Leader with Insight Global

Whichever role you hope to hire, finding the right candidates for your open project manager or project coordinator positions will help advance your organization’s goals. Insight Global can help. From writing job descriptions to screening candidates, we make hiring easy. Contact us today!

Need help finding talented employees? Visit Insight Global's Staffing Services page to get started.