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Program Manager Salary California: Trends and Factors Affecting Salary


Program Manager Salary California

California is famous for its thriving tech industry, world-renowned universities, and picturesque beaches, making it an attractive destination for job seekers from various domains. The Program Manager job is highly desirable in California’s job market due to its significant role in managing and delivering complex programs that lead to business success. The increasing demand for skilled Program Managers may have job seekers in California curious about compensation and job prospects.

In this blog, we will explore the Program Manager Salary California, including the factors affecting pay, salary trends, and job outlook for this role.

What is a Program Manager’s Starting Salary in California?

The initial wage of a program manager may differ based on the industry, organization, and place. In the United States, an average program manager earns $98,000 annually, according to Glassdoor. However, California’s average program manager salary is higher than the national average due to the state’s high cost of living and demand for skilled program managers.

In California, the starting salary for a program manager can range from $90K to $152K per year, depending on the location and industry. Entry-level program managers typically have 0-2 years of experience and may start at the lower end of the salary range. In comparison, those with more experience can expect to earn closer to the higher end of the salary range.

In addition, Program managers can receive bonuses and other types of compensation on top of their base salary, such as stock options or profit-sharing. These additional forms of payment can significantly increase a program manager’s total earnings.

Program manager salaries in California are higher than the national average due to high demand in industries like technology and healthcare.

Program manager starting salaries in California range from $70k to $198k per year, with experienced program managers earning $120k per year. Additionally, skilled program managers in the technology industry can expect to earn higher wages owing to the high demand.

What are the Factors that Can Affect Program Manager Salaries in California?

Let’s take a closer look:


The industry in which a Program Manager works can significantly impact their salary. For example, Program managers in the technology industry typically receive higher wages than those working in the nonprofit sector. According to Glassdoor, the highest-paying industries for Program Managers in California are technology, aerospace and defense, and Technical Program managers.

Years of Experience

As with many professions, the more years of experience a Program Manager has, the higher their salary will likely be. Per Payscale, the average pay for a Program Manager in California with less than one year of experience is $79,000 annually. In contrast, those Program Managers with over 20 years of experience can earn more than $160,000 annually.


Although a bachelor’s degree is generally the minimum educational requirement for Program Managers, those with advanced degrees, such as an MBA or a Ph.D., can expect higher salaries. According to Payscale, those with a bachelor’s degree earn an average of $120,000, while those with an MBA make $135,000 annually.


As mentioned earlier, the location within California can significantly impact Program Manager’s salaries. Program Managers working in cities such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego tend to earn higher wages than those working in more rural areas.

Company Size

The company’s size can also affect Program Manager’s Salary. According to Payscale, A program manager at a company with 50 employees or fewer makes $107,000 annually, while those with 10,000 earn over $150,000.

What Are The Qualifications And Skills That Recruiters Generally Seek While Hiring PgMPs?

Recruiters generally seek a combination of qualifications and skills while hiring Program Management Professionals (PgMPs). Some key capabilities include a bachelor’s or master’s degree in a relevant field, such as business administration or engineering, and a PMI PgMP certification is necessary.

Acquiring a Program Management(PgMP) Certification not only provides an additional qualification but also enhances an individual’s knowledge and skills compared to non-certified program managers. Furthermore, the salary of program managers increases with the complexity level of program management, particularly for technical program managers. The average annual wage for technical program managers in the United States ranges from $114,032 to $285,559.

Given the forecasted job growth in the program management domain, obtaining a Program Manager Certification is highly beneficial. Surveys indicate a 40% increase in demand for technical program managers worldwide by 2027, leading to two million job opportunities across diverse industries in the program management field. Organizations must hire certified professionals to achieve their business objectives in the post-pandemic era.

Can Experience Impact a Program Manager’s Salary in California?

The salary range for Program Managers in California varies based on their experience, as shown in the table below:

Experience Level75th QuartileMedian25th Quartile
0-2 yearsUSD 88,000USD 60,000USD 45,000
3-5 yearsUSD 107,000USD 84,000USD 61,000
6-8 yearsUSD 123,000USD 105,000USD 84,000
9 yearsUSD 131,000USD 115,000USD 96,000

It’s also important to note that non-certified program managers may receive additional benefits and equity alongside their salaries. However, those who have undergone program management training in California and obtained certification can expect a more lucrative pay package. Furthermore, individuals interested in working internationally can benefit from securing program management certification.

What is the Highest-Paying Program Manager Job Role That is in High Demand?

As per industry research and surveys, the most sought-after PgMP role in terms of salary is the Technical Program Manager. This is because Technical Program Managers are responsible for managing complex and technically challenging programs and, thus, require a unique set of skills highly valued in the industry. Technical Program Managers must possess strong technical knowledge and expertise and excellent project management, leadership, and communication skills.

Regarding salary, Technical Program Managers are often the highest-paid PgMP role. As per Glassdoor, the average yearly salary of a Technical Program Manager in California ranges from $150,000 to $200,000. Nevertheless, various factors such as industry, company size, location, and experience level can influence the salary of a Technical Program Manager.

Apart from Technical Program Managers, other PgMP roles that are highly sought-after in terms of salary include Business Program Managers, IT Program Managers, and Engineering Program Managers. The industry is highly demanding for these roles, requiring unique skills and expertise.

In conclusion, the PgMP role with the highest salary depends on various factors. Still, Technical Program Managers typically receive the highest pay because of the complex and technically challenging programs they oversee. However, other PgMP roles, such as Business Program Managers, IT Program Managers, and Engineering Program Managers, also offer high salaries and are highly sought-after in the industry.

Program Manager Salary Trends in California

California is one of the world’s largest economies, home to many large enterprises, start-ups, and technology companies. The state has a high demand for program managers, and compensation for this role reflects that demand.

Program Manager Salary California: By Experience

Experience is one of California’s most significant factors affecting program manager compensation. As program managers gain experience, their salary increases. According to Glassdoor, the average wage for a program manager with less than one year of experience in California is $91,000 annually. Program managers with 1-3 years of experience earn an average salary of $105,000 per year. Those with 4-6 years earn $119,000 per year, while those with 7+ years earn $140,000 yearly.

Program Manager Salary California: By Industry

Another factor that affects program manager compensation in California is the industry in which they work. The technology industry, which is dominant in California, tends to pay higher salaries for program managers compared to other sectors. According to Glassdoor, program managers in the technology industry in California have a median total compensation of $132,000 per year. Healthcare program managers earn $113,000 annually, while those in finance and insurance earn $116,000 annually on average.

Program Manager Salary California: By Location,

A program manager’s location in California also significantly affects compensation. San Francisco Bay Area program managers usually earn higher salaries than other regions. This is because the Bay Area is known for being one of the most valuable neighborhoods in the state. Program managers in San Francisco earn $132,000 annually, while those in Los Angeles and San Diego earn $119k and $111,000 per year, respectively.

What is Causing the Increasing Demand for Individuals with PgMP Certification?

Companies are increasingly interested in hiring certified Program Management Professionals (PgMPs). These individuals can efficiently perform the following tasks:

  • Manage complex enterprise-level projects.
  • Develop strategies to implement technology in projects.
  • Oversee programs until completion to achieve desired outcomes in alignment with business objectives.
  • Supervise project teams and managers.
  • Respond quickly to unforeseen problems and offer appropriate solutions.
  • Provide detailed progress reports to stakeholders.
  • Establish effective relationships with internal and external partners.

What are the Key Skills of A Program Manager?

Program management is a multifaceted role that requires a diverse set of skills. Some essential skills for a program manager include

Leadership: Program managers must be influential leaders who motivate and guide their team members toward a common goal.

Strategic Thinking: A program manager must have the ability to develop a strategic plan for the program and its projects, including identifying goals and objectives, determining priorities, and allocating resources.

Communication: Program managers must be excellent communicators who clearly articulate the program’s vision and goals to stakeholders, team members, and executives. They should also be good listeners to understand the concerns of team members and stakeholders.

Project Management: As program managers oversee multiple projects, they must be well-versed in project management methodologies, tools, and techniques.

Risk Management: Successful program managers should understand risk management techniques to identify and mitigate potential risks and ensure the program’s success.

Change Management: Program managers must be able to manage changes to the program or its projects effectively. They must be able to adapt to changes and help the team members do so as well.

Budget Management: A program manager should have a good understanding of financial management and budgeting, as they are responsible for managing program budgets, monitoring expenses, and ensuring that the program operates within budget.

Stakeholder Management: Program managers must manage various stakeholders effectively, including team members, executives, clients, and vendors, among others.

For program success, a program manager needs strong leadership, strategic thinking, communication, project management, risk management, change management, budget management, and stakeholder management skills.


Ending Note,

This article highlights that the salaries of program managers in California depend on various factors, including experience, education, and location. 

It recommends building a portfolio, improving interview skills, taking a certified program manager course, and showcasing progress in the portfolio as ways to earn a fair salary.

ProThoughts offers training classes for individuals and corporates to enhance Program Management Skills and gain a competitive edge. Enrolling now can unlock opportunities for career advancement. So What are you waiting for?

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