Job Description

Program Managers are responsible for planning, managing, and implementing activities/projects that will help improve their non-profit’s overall performance and achieve their mission.

Rewarding Aspects of Career

“Seeing people benefit from the positive outcomes of the programs you have created and implemented.” Sharon Preston, Senior Program Manager, Junior Achievement Northern California

The Inside Scoop
Job Responsibilities
  • Implements program growth/expansion strategic plan.
  • Recruits program volunteers to meet program goals by securing new sources for volunteers and renewals from existing volunteer sources. Develops and delivers recruiting presentations.
  • Assures program quality through phone calls, classroom monitoring, participant servicing, evaluation instruments and newsletters. Continually provides feedback, program materials and resources to consultants and teachers.
  • Develops and implements volunteer orientation programs, i.e., securing location of training, developing orientation materials, scheduling volunteers, ordering program materials, distributing registration and evaluation forms. 
  • Develops and implements methods of volunteer recognition, i.e., planning logistics of event(s); informing consultants, teachers, school administrators and business executives of event; planning and distributing appreciation materials.
Skills Needed on the Job
  • Detail-oriented
  • Being a leader
  • Sales, marketing, public relations
  • Training/teaching experience
  • Presentation skills
  • Self-motivated
  • Math (budget management)
  • Strong written/oral communication
  • Event planning
  • Project management
  • Knowledge of database management; computer literacy (ex. Microsoft Office.)
Expectations/Sacrifices Necessary
  • Attention to detail
  • Long hours
  • Willingness to travel
  • Having a flexible schedule
What kinds of things did people in this career enjoy doing when they were younger
  • Was involved with organizing school activities.
  • Participated in organizations as club officers, running for school offices and participating in class government.
2016 Employment
2026 Projected Employment
Education and Training Needed
  • Bachelor’s degree or equivalent education/experience. 
  • There is no specific major that directly refers to program management but it is helpful to have degrees in social work, non-profit management or human services. 
  • NOTE: Certification to become a program manager is highly recommended. 
  • Become certified as a Program Manager Professional. With a Project Management Institute (PMI) certification behind your name, you can work in virtually any industry, anywhere in the world, and with any project management methodology. 
Things to do during high school/college
  • Begin to coordinate a variety of activities and events for a school club, class, church youth group.
  • Hold a leadership position in school organization. It is good for cultivating your communication, organization, and management skills.

 “This will expose you to managing logistics, familiarize you with working within a budget, position you to speak with a variety of stakeholders and professionals to arrange the details.” Sharon Preston, Senior Program Manager, Junior Achievement Northern California

Typical Roadmap
NonProfit Program Management roadmap gif
How to Land your 1st job
  • Pursue experiences coordinating events or one major project and build on it by adding multiple projects.
  • Seek opportunities to coordinate several events simultaneously. 
  • You can start by applying and growing your skills in a volunteer environment as well. Let your managers know your desire and inquire about the possibilities. 
How to stay competitive
  • Be an overall strong leader.
  • Be diplomatic
  • Make definitive decisions.
  • Anticipate problems your program will face and know how to fix them. 
How to Find a Mentor

Join a professional organization such as and network with the members to engage mentors.

Recommended Resources

Project Management Institute -

Plan B

Program Management skills can be used in a variety of environments and industries such as: sports, entertainment, hospitality, technology, education etc.

Words of Advice

“In the end, it’s all about making sure your program comes out on time and within budget.” Sharon Preston, Senior Program Manager, Junior Achievement of Northern California


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Source: Interview, Bureau of Labor Statistics

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