How to Hire a Program Director (Job Description Included)

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A program director is an essential position that oversees projects. They can be found in nearly every type of industry but are most common in business and healthcare. But how do you go about hiring a program director that will do what you want and fit into your organization?

What you need is a program director job description, detailed and tailored to seamlessly integrate with what you do and how you do it. First, we’ll explain what a program director is and what they do, then we’ll get into the skills, education and salary expectations.

What Is a Program Director?

A program director is a part of the upper-management tier in an organization. They’re responsible for coordinating, implementing and overseeing details related to the operations and programs of the organization. They do everything from monitoring the budget to creating community programs to supervising other managers and developing better business practices.

Of course, a program director’s responsibilities depend on the industry and employer. Some program directors have sweeping responsibilities over the organization. Others focus solely on specific departments. All program directors, however, are responsible for initiating goals based on strategic objectives and allocating resources as needed to achieve employer goals.

For example, in project management, a program director defines the programs and their objectives. They’re also responsible for measuring how those objectives affect the organization. One of their duties is to come up with strategies that realize the defined program objectives. A program in project management is a collection of related projects and the program director must support their long-term growth.

Program directors are not project managers. However, as with project managers, program directors’ jobs are made more efficient with project management software.

ProjectManager is online software with features that allow program directors to oversee programs and manage their resources to stimulate growth and meet the organization’s goals. One tool that helps do this is the program dashboard which offers a high-level view of all projects. It collects real-time data automatically and displays it in six program metrics including time, costs and more to help you stay on track. Best of all, there’s no setup required with our dashboard. Get started with ProjectManager today for free.

ProjectManager's dashboard view
ProjectManager’s program dashboard has real-time data for more insightful decisions. Learn more

What Does a Program Director Do?

We’re briefly touched on what a program director does in terms of overseeing programs and aligning them to the organization’s strategic goals, but let’s dive into greater detail. As noted, program directors operate at a high level, delegating tasks and coordinating operations.

Program directors are involved in the sales process related to the program they’re overseeing. If there’s a product launch, they’ll be responsible for orchestrating that, too. They often execute work tied to the marketing plan and training for customers and/or employees.

Again, program directors aren’t involved with the nitty-gritty work in those initiatives. Their work is more analytic and strategic. They have a broad, high-level view of the program that helps all the individual project managers work more efficiently and effectively. Program directors are tasked with making sure the programs they oversee deliver the best return on investment (ROI) possible.

Main Duties and Responsibilities of a Program Director

Program directors are managing more than one project and, therefore, more than one project manager. Their duties and responsibilities are unique; they need to look at the projects in their program and conduct them in a synchronous way. We’ve listed some of the duties and responsibilities of program directors below.

  • Plan and monitor program execution
  • Coordinate projects and manager interdependencies
  • Create and manage budgets
  • Manage resources across projects
  • Identify and mitigate issues and risks
  • Maintain program documentation
  • Communicate with stakeholders
  • Align deliverables with program outcomes

Program Director Skills & Education

Program directors need high-level skills in order to execute their jobs. They need to have procedural skills, which means they have established methods to fulfill the tasks for which they are responsible. They should demonstrate leadership skills, have a strategic mindset and have the ability to multitask. Another skill is oversight, as they oversee many projects and different processes related to that work.

Naturally, collaboration is key to success. Program directors have program managers under them and stakeholders to whom they report. While there are many ways to lead programs, fostering collaboration is critical to getting the most out of your team and managing stakeholder expectations.

Innovation is also important. It’s not as if program directors need to reinvent the wheel, but they need to look at systems and organizational structures to make them more efficient. This takes creativity and insight to solve these organizational problems.

Another required skill is communication. As leaders, program directors must implement their strategies, and poor communication leads to confusion, mistakes and delays that directly impact the return on investment.

Program directors must have experience in project and program management, including a variety of methodologies depending on their organization. Project and program management skills take years to develop and there are certification programs that can help employers determine if candidates are qualified.

In terms of education, a program director usually has at least a bachelor’s degree in disciplines such as human resources, accounting, business management, business administration or communications. While some organizations have cross-training opportunities that put candidates on a track to advancing to the program director, others expect applicants to have a master’s degree and even specialized degrees in specific industries. There are certifications such as activity director certification (ADC) and certified project director (CPD).

Program Director Job Description Sample

When you’re in the market for a program director, you have to post the job listing. Most of what you need to know has been covered, but to make it easier for employers, we’ve created a basic template that you can tweak to fit your organization or use it as is to attract the right candidate. Simply cut and paste the program director job description sample below.

Job Summary

Seeking an innovative, organized, strategic-minded and dependable program director. You must be detail-oriented and have great leadership qualities with oral and written communication skills. We need a master collaborator, ready to prepare, plan and implement program initiatives and monitor their progress to completion.

Duties and Responsibilities

  • Develop a plan to run the program from inception to completion
  • Manage daily operations to support and implement program objectives
  • Create a strategic program schedule and timeline and follow it
  • Oversee and advise program staff
  • Ensure proper functioning of current programs
  • Identify and mitigate program risks
  • Improve program functions through innovative planning and processes
  • Drive productivity by developing effective work systems and processes
  • Assist in the creation of marketing initiatives to increase awareness of the program
  • Set and track program goals, progress and performance
  • Track, record and compile program documentation
  • Analyze program and report to management/stakeholders
  • Develop creative program alternatives to implement
  • Make and maintain budgets
  • Help secure and manage program funding
  • Lead program with a strategic vision
  • Keep programs aligned with the organization’s mission

Requirements and Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree in management, human services, or related field, master’s degree preferred
  • 4+ years of experience as a program director
  • Basic accounting and data management skills
  • Strong business sense
  • Proficient using Microsoft Suite (Excel, Outlook, Access, etc.) and other program-related software
  • Organized and detail-oriented
  • Exceptional communication skills, both oral and written
  • Excellent customer service skills

Program Director Salary

According to various career sites, a program director can earn an annual salary between $50,000 to $140,000. This large range is due to various factors such as location. These salaries are compiled from jobs in the United States, but even across the country prices can vary. There’s also the increasing use of remote workers that factors into the price. Experience affects a program director’s salary. Generally, the more years of experience, the higher the salary.

ProjectManager Is a Great Tool for Program Directors

Finding the right program director can be hard, but giving that person the right tools is easy with ProjectManager. Our software delivers real-time data to help you make more insightful decisions and has the tools you’ll need to plan, monitor and allocate resources to your program to keep it profitable and on track.

Use Roadmaps to Allocate Resources

Program directors need a high-level view of multiple projects in order to determine how to best allocate resources. Our roadmap feature on our Gantt chart is a timeline of your projects, each a distinct bar chart, so you can manage product strategy, vision, goals, objectives, strategic initiatives, product releases, user stories, epics, resources and much more.

ProjectManager's roadmap on the Gantt chart
Get Real-Time Progress and Performance Reports

The roadmap helps you plan and manage your program, but you need more detailed information to help you make the right choices. Our one-click reporting features give you real-time data on program status, costs, tasks, workload and much more. Each report can be filtered and easily shared with stakeholders and management to keep them updated.

ProjectManager's portfolio status filter

Program directors get the tools they need to manage their projects, but also connect with project managers with our collaborative tools. You can make comments and share files, and tag others in the project team to bring them into the conversation, no matter what department they work in or even if they’re remote. Our online tool is a virtual town square.

ProjectManager is award-winning project management software that delivers real-time data to manage all your projects and keep them on schedule and on budget. Program directors get features to plan, monitor and report on their projects. Join teams at NASA, Siemens and Nestle who have used our software to deliver success. Get started with ProjectManager today for free.

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