is admin and project management paid better than trades?

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    This is just a post about something I noticed today.

    Due to another of my posts in ‘tough times’ I am currently doing a lot of soul searching (and job searching) online. I come from Sheffield in the UK and I was really surprised when I did some job searches recently.

    I always imagined that business owners and trades made the most money. I imagined that those who learned a skill would make the most money as they had a function a skill and a definite job to do. I imagined those who earned more would be the boss, the line manager or the business owner which makes sense.

    I was recently surprised when I looked at the highest paying advertised jobs in the area where all project managers. Most of them specified some experience in certain fields but it was project management that is the highest paid salary. I can appreciate that a project manager is the one sticking their neck out when they take on a job however I have to say I was stunned when you take into account the difference in wage between the manager and the actual worker its huge. Yet the worker is the one putting most of the effort in.

    When did admin and pencil pushing roles become more important and higher paid than actual trades workers?

    I am really considering that if I cannot have my dream job why don’t I just forsake my trade and just go for one of these better paid boring jobs.


    I know the feeling. Why is it okay that the people doing the grunt work are almost always paid the lowest? I can understand that we pay more to those that can see the whole picture to make things happen, but what about the ones doing the actual work? without them, we wouldn’t be able to pull these big ideas together. Sometimes I wonder about this world.



    I agree with your topic because it’s certainly amazing how the people in the service industry make a lot more money, than people with a degree or more than one. Really sad, as people go into debt educating themselves. It’s as if people are better off working in the service industry, it pays a lot more than an hourly job nowadays.

    What are your thoughts?


    After thinking on this a bit I believe it is mainly down to accountability. The project manager could really be anyone, they just agree to oversee the project and take the blame if anything goes wrong. They don’t necessarily need low level knowledge of the subject matter (though it would help a bunch I imagine) they need to be able to organise people and track progress as well as think fast and put out fires where necessary. They need someone with authority and responsibility so perhaps this is paid so well as getting someone willing to make decisions and be accountable for them especially when large sums of cash are on the line is a big deal.

    On the other and should educated or trained grunt workers be paid as little as they are?…hell no. But I do think they are their own worst enemy when it comes to pay. In the more appealing fields it is common for highly skilled and talented workers to work for less and less just because if they don’t someone else will due to massive amounts of competition for jobs. Similarly why grad schemes and volunteer work is bad for industries as it devalues the trade. Why hire a professional when you can hire a grad straight out of uni work them like a dog for a year then swap them out when they are burned out for another batch of fresh grads.

    It also doesn’t help that a lot of trade workers study their field due to passion and personal interest thus will work for less because they enjoy or want a job they enjoy. Mainly in art fields in my experience but no doubt occurs elsewhere.

    There is also a big issue in the west with companies outsourcing the actual work on projects to eastern countries who can afford to work for much less due to numerous reasons. This means there is a ton of workers in the west who cannot get a foot on the ladder as there are so few jobs. A western company can hire one skilled worker and then have them manage a team of eastern contractors and just set the quality bar and monitor standards. When the project is done they simply end the contract with the outsourcing company and all they have to do is have the one worker on the payroll.

    This has created a complete gap in the jobs market because graduates cannot get on the ladder to begin their journey to n years experience and why a lot of employers say they cannot find experienced skilled workers in their fields (on the rare occasion they need one).

    This is obviously my opinion the economics of all this goes way over my head but this is what I believe.


    Curious on your basis for comparison – most project management jobs quoted on popular job search websites will be contract roles – so there’s a premium paid as you have much less job security and rights than perm employees. Plus the advertised rates are usually let’s say on the attractive-side of realty to get CV’s through the door for agencies to then talk them into lower paid roles.

    That said, you will find most PM’s have a degree in something. A good PM is a lot more than pencil pushing admin and worth their money in savings on the project.

    Sadly, there are a lot of not so good PM’s where I’d entirely agree the workers are the ones which end up making the project happen.

    Annoying but apparently true fact of life – job interest is inversely proportional to wage! Unless you happen to really really love accounting ( apols to all the very nice and not dull accountants that I know! )


    My basis for comparison was a few searches in my local area. You are right many of them were contract roles but the rate of pay was still way above that for more hands on workers. Im not saying that they do not deserve it just that the deciding factor in wage seems to be responsibility rather than ability. Which isn’t necessarily wrong imo just surprised me being a skilled worker I never thought much about these things just ploughed on with my goals.

    I would probably agree that interest in skilled work is certainly proportional to wage. I can of course see why this is but its a shame that this almost punishes people for choosing an attractive career but obviously thats just a symptom of competition.

    The PM’s getting paid more didn’t surprise me it was the size of the difference between the rates of pay that did. It seemed very much like the PM was valued much more than the workers themselves which makes sense the sheer difference was astounding.

    Anyway I wasnt causing a fuss just really surprised me. My area is quite industrial too so there where quite a lot of these advertised online. Probably not a good overall representation.

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