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What is a Project Planner? Responsibilities and Career Path

13 Jun, 2024 - By Hoang Duyen

Ever dreamt of transforming a vision into reality? Or maybe you thrive on organization and keeping things on track? If so, then the world of project planning might be the perfect fit for you! 

But what exactly is a Project Planner, and what do they do? How can one embark on a career path to become a proficient Project Planner? Furthermore, what differentiates a Project Planner from a Project Manager? 

This comprehensive guide aims to answer these questions and provide insights into the responsibilities and pathways associated with the role of a Project Planner. 

So, whether you're a seasoned professional looking to expand your skillset or a curious newcomer eager to explore a rewarding career path, this guide will be your one-stop shop for navigating the exciting world of project planning!

What is a Project Planner? 

what is a project planner

A Project Planner is a key member of a project team responsible for the meticulous planning, scheduling, and tracking of a project's lifecycle. They are the organizational backbone, ensuring the project stays on course and achieves its goals within the set timeframe and budget.

Their role involves detailed scheduling, resource allocation, budgeting, and risk management. Project Planners work closely with project managers, team members, and stakeholders to outline project milestones, track progress, and make necessary adjustments to keep the project on track. Their primary goal is to facilitate the smooth execution of projects by providing a clear roadmap and identifying potential issues before they arise.

What does a Project Planner do? 

A project planner is responsible for coordinating and organizing various aspects of a project to ensure its successful completion. Their role involves several key responsibilities:

Planning and Scheduling

what does a project planner do

Planning and scheduling are some of the core responsibilities of a Project Planner. 

One of the primary responsibilities of a Project Planner is to create comprehensive project plans. These plans outline the project's objectives, scope, deliverables, timelines, and resource requirements. They serve as roadmaps for the project team to follow throughout the project lifecycle, ensuring that everyone understands the goals and expectations. By detailing each aspect of the project, planners help to align the team's efforts and facilitate smooth execution.

Project Planners develop detailed project schedules and timelines, identifying key milestones, tasks, and dependencies. They use scheduling tools and techniques, such as Gantt charts or specialized software, to allocate resources and establish realistic deadlines for completing project activities. This process involves careful coordination to ensure that all parts of the project move forward in a logical sequence, avoiding conflicts and delays.

Taking the project manager's vision, Project Planners breaks it down into specific tasks with clear deadlines and assigned resources. This detailed breakdown is akin to creating a roadmap for the entire project, providing a clear path from start to finish. Maintaining these plans involves regular updates and adjustments to accommodate changes and keep the project on track.

In addition to creating schedules, Project Planners are responsible for managing them throughout the project. They use visual tools like Gantt charts to help the team and stakeholders understand the project timeline and identify potential overlaps or bottlenecks. Effective schedule management is crucial for anticipating issues and ensuring timely completion of project tasks.

Ensuring that the project has the necessary resources is another critical task for Project Planners. They must make sure that people, equipment, and materials are available at the right times to complete each task. It involves coordinating with various departments and managing the logistics of resource distribution to prevent shortages or delays.

Project Planner's work helps ensure that projects are well-organized, resources are efficiently utilized, and timelines are adhered to, ultimately contributing to the project's success.

Budgeting and Reporting

Project planners ensure that financial resources are allocated effectively, track spending against the budget, and provide stakeholders with regular, detailed reports on project progress and financial health. 

Project planners generate regular status reports and updates to keep stakeholders informed of project status, risks, and issues. They monitor project progress against the established plans and schedules, tracking key performance indicators and milestones. 

Project deliverables must meet quality standards and adhere to client requirements. So, project planners establish quality assurance processes and conduct reviews to identify and address any deviations or deficiencies.

Project planners identify cost-saving opportunities and optimize resource utilization to maximize efficiency. They manage project budgets, track expenses, and ensure that costs are within budgetary constraints. 

Project Planners may assist in developing project budgets and monitor spending throughout the project lifecycle. They identify potential cost overruns and alert the project manager for correction.

They generate reports on project progress, including completed tasks, upcoming deadlines, resource utilization, and potential risks. This information keeps the project manager and other stakeholders informed.

Overall, Project Planners are the detail-oriented heroes behind successful projects. They ensure all the pieces of the puzzle come together at the right time and within budget to achieve the project's goals.

How to Become a Project Planner?

how to become a project planner

Becoming a project planner involves acquiring a combination of education, skills, and experience. Here are the steps to help you embark on a career as a project planner:

Step 1 - Educational Background

There's no single mandatory educational path to becoming a Project Planner. But having a good educational background will open the door to new opportunities.

  • Bachelor's Degree: While not always mandatory, a bachelor's degree in a relevant field like project management, business administration, engineering, or information technology can be beneficial.

  • Obtain a Relevant Degree: Start with a bachelor's degree in a related field or a specific industry related to the type of projects you want to manage.

  • Consider Advanced Degrees: A master's degree in project management or a related field will provide advanced knowledge and improve job prospects.

Step 2 - Develop Necessary Skills

Becoming a Project Planner requires a blend of technical knowledge, practical skills, and personal qualities. 

  • Technical Skills: Familiarity with project management software like Microsoft Project, Asana, Trello, or Jira is highly sought-after by employers.

  • Soft Skills: Excellent communication, collaboration, organizational, and problem-solving skills are essential for success.

  • Time Management: Ability to prioritize tasks, meet deadlines, and manage multiple aspects of a project simultaneously.

Step 3 - Gain Experience

While formal education and certifications are valuable assets, practical experience showcases your ability to apply project management principles to real-world situations.

  • Entry-Level Positions: Start with entry-level roles in project management or coordination to gain practical experience. Look for internships, assistant roles, or junior project planner positions.

  • Industry Experience: Experience in the specific industry you wish to work in (e.g., construction, IT, healthcare) can be highly beneficial. Understanding industry-specific challenges and processes is crucial.

Step 4 - Certifications

Project management certifications significantly strengthen your resume and career prospects. 

Step 5 - Build a Professional Network

Building a strong professional network is a vital asset for any career path, and project planning is no exception.

  • Join Professional Organizations: Organizations like PMI offer networking opportunities, resources, and events.

  • Attend Conferences and Workshops: Engage in industry events to learn about the latest trends and connect with other professionals.

  • Mentorship: Find a mentor who is an experienced project planner or manager to guide you through your career development.

Step 6 - Stay Updated with Industry Trends

The world of work is constantly evolving. You should learn about new skills, technologies, and best practices relevant to your field. 

  • Continual Learning: Stay informed about the latest project management methodologies, tools, and best practices.

  • Professional Development: Regularly attend workshops, courses, and training sessions to keep your skills and knowledge up to date.

Step 7 - Apply for Project Planner Positions

Applying for a Project Planner position requires a well-prepared strategy to highlight your skills, experience, and enthusiasm for the role.

  • Create a Strong Resume and Cover Letter: Highlight your education, certifications, relevant skills, and practical experience.

  • Prepare for Interviews: Be ready to discuss your previous project management experiences, how you handle challenges, and your approach to planning and executing projects.

Project Planner Salary

project planner salary

According to data provided by ZipRecruiter (ZipRecruiter is an online employment marketplace that connects job seekers with employers. It is one of the largest and most popular job boards in the United States, with over 25 million job seekers and over 2.8 million employers using the platform.), the average annual pay for a Project Planner in the United States is $87,541, which translates to approximately $42.09 per hour. It equates to $1,683 per week or $7,295 per month.

While ZipRecruiter reports that annual salaries for Project Planners can be as high as $137,500 and as low as $46,500, the majority of salaries fall within a narrower range. Specifically, most Project Planners earn between $68,000 and $101,500 annually. Top earners in the field can make as much as $122,500 per year.

The significant variance in the salary range for Project Planners (spanning $33,500) indicates substantial opportunities for salary growth and advancement. Several factors contribute to this wide range:

  • Skill Level: Advanced skills and certifications in project management, such as PMP (Project Management Professional) or PRINCE2, can significantly enhance a Project Planner's earning potential.

  • Experience: More experienced Project Planners typically command higher salaries. Those with several years of experience and a proven track record of successful project completion are likely to earn more.

  • Location: Geographic location plays a crucial role in determining salary. Project Planners in major cities or regions with a high cost of living tend to earn higher salaries compared to those in less populated or rural areas.

  • Industry: The industry in which a Project Planner works can also impact salary levels. Certain industries, such as technology, finance, and construction, may offer higher compensation due to the complexity and scale of projects.

  • Career Advancement: Given the wide salary range, Project Planners have numerous opportunities for career advancement and increased pay. Enhancing skill sets, gaining more experience, and possibly relocating to higher-paying regions or industries allow Project Planners to boost their earnings.

Summary: The salary landscape for Project Planners in the United States is quite dynamic, with substantial variation based on skill level, experience, location, and industry. While the average annual salary is $87,541, there is potential for significant earnings growth, making this a lucrative and promising career path for individuals with the right qualifications and experience.

Write a Project Planner Template

write a project planner template

This template can be used to plan and track any project, big or small. Fill out the sections as needed and adjust them to fit your specific project requirements.

Project Information:

  • Project Name: (Insert your project name here)

  • Project Manager: (Name of the person responsible for the project)

  • Start Date: (Date the project begins)

  • Target Completion Date: (Date you aim to finish the project)

Project Goals & Objectives:

  • Overall Goal: (State the main goal you want to achieve with this project)

  • Objectives: (List specific, measurable objectives that contribute to the overall goal)

    • Objective 1: (e.g., Develop a new marketing campaign)

    • Objective 2: (e.g., Launch a new product by Q4)

Project Scope:

  • Briefly describe what the project will include and what it will not include.

  • This clarifies expectations and helps avoid scope creep (adding tasks or features outside the original plan).

Project Deliverables:

  • List all the tangible outputs or outcomes expected from the project.

  • This could include reports, presentations, prototypes, software releases, etc.

Task Breakdown:

Start Date
End Date
(Brief description of the task)
(Start date for this task)
(Target completion date)
(Name of the person responsible)
(Not started/In progress/Completed)
(Any additional notes or dependencies)

Task Breakdown table  

Here's how to use the Task Breakdown table:

  • Break down your project into smaller, manageable tasks.

  • Each task should have a clear description, start and end date, and an assigned owner.

  • Update the status column as the project progresses.

  • Use the notes section for any additional details or dependencies between tasks.

Project Budget:

  • Estimate the total cost of the project, including personnel costs, materials, software, and any other relevant expenses.

  • You can create a separate spreadsheet for detailed budgeting.

Communication Plan:

  • Define how project information will be communicated to stakeholders (people affected by the project). This might include team meetings, progress reports, or a communication platform.

Risk Management:

  • Identify potential risks that could impact the project (e.g., delays, budget constraints, resource limitations).

  • Develop contingency plans to mitigate these risks.

Remember: This is a basic template. You can customize it to fit your specific needs. Project management software can also be a helpful tool for detailed planning and tracking.

Project Planner vs. Project Manager

project planner vs. project manager

In the realm of project management, the roles of Project Planner and Project Manager are distinct yet interconnected, each contributing to the successful execution of projects. Understanding the differences between these roles can help organizations allocate responsibilities effectively and ensure that projects run smoothly. Here's a detailed comparison of a Project Planner and a Project Manager:

Project Planner
Project Manager
Primary Focus  
Planning and scheduling, resource allocation
Execution and leadership, stakeholder communication
Key Responsibilities  

Break down projects into actionable tasks.

Develop project schedules using tools like Gantt charts.

Estimate resource requirements (time, budget, personnel).

Monitor project progress and identify potential risks.

Track project budget and expenses.

Maintain project documentation and reports.

Develop and define project scope and objectives.

Lead and motivate the project team.

Manage stakeholders (clients, sponsors, team members).

Manage project risks and issues.

Oversee communication and collaboration within the team.

Ensure project deliverables meet quality standards.

Manage project budget and keep stakeholders informed.

Organization, time management, attention to detail, strong analytical skills, and proficiency in project management software (e.g., MS Project, Asana).
Leadership skills, communication skills, proficiency in project management methodologies.
MS Project, Primavera, Asana, budgeting tools
Agile, Waterfall, performance monitoring tools
Typical Industries  
Construction, Engineering, Manufacturing, IT
IT, Construction, Healthcare, Finance, Marketing

Comparison of a Project Planner and a Project Manager


Think of a project plan as a detailed roadmap for a journey. The project planner meticulously researches, prepares the map, identifies potential detours, and estimates travel times. The project manager, on the other hand, is the driver who leads the team, navigates the road, makes real-time decisions based on conditions, and ensures everyone reaches the destination safely and on time.

Additional factors to consider:

  • Project Size: Smaller projects might have a combined role where one person handles both planning and management.

  • Company Structure: Some companies might have dedicated project planner positions, while others might expect project managers to handle planning tasks.


So, are you ready to embark on your project-planning adventure? With the knowledge and resources gleaned from this guide, you possess the foundation to excel in this multifaceted role. Remember, a successful project planner is all about staying organized, adapting to challenges, and fostering a collaborative environment. Embrace the challenge, unleash your planning prowess, and watch your projects soar toward successful completion!

To become a successful project planner, you need more than qualifications and knowledge. Let's hone your skills with Skilltrans today by registering for our courses.

Hoang Duyen

Meet Hoang Duyen, an experienced SEO Specialist with a proven track record in driving organic growth and boosting online visibility. She has honed her skills in keyword research, on-page optimization, and technical SEO. Her expertise lies in crafting data-driven strategies that not only improve search engine rankings but also deliver tangible results for businesses.