Program Director Salary at a Nonprofit

by Rick Suttle

Whether they're creating programs to feed the poor or cleaning up the environment, nonprofit agencies need program directors to create and execute strategies for these programs and ensure their effectiveness. Nonprofit program directors also hire and manage staff members, oversee the efforts of volunteers and manage program budgets. If you want to become a program director at a nonprofit organization, you need at least a bachelor's degree. In return, you can expect to earn nearly $60,000 annually.

Salary and Qualifications

The average annual salary for a nonprofit program director was $58,000 as of 2013, according to Simply Hired To work in this job, you need at least a bachelor's degree in public administration, social work, urban studies or a related major, and 3 or more years of experience at a nonprofit organization. Other essential requirements include compassion and integrity and analytical, leadership, organizational, managerial, decision-making and computer skills.

Regional Salaries

In 2013, average salaries for nonprofit program directors varied the most within the South region, according to Simply Hired, where they earned the highest salaries of $92,000 in Washington, D.C., and lowest of $45,000 in Mississippi. Those in the Midwest made $45,000 to $62,000 in South Dakota and Minnesota, respectively. If you worked as nonprofit program director in Montana or California, you'd earn $47,000 or $66,000, respectively, which were the lowest and highest earnings in the West region. In the Northeast, you'd make the most in Massachusetts or the least in Maine -- $71,000 or $52,000, respectively.

Contributing Factors

A program director who works for a nonprofit agency may earn more working for a larger organization -- like Salvation Army or Red Cross -- which has more financial resources to pay higher salaries. These program directors earn more in Massachusetts and Washington, D.C., because living costs are higher in that state and district. For example, if you earned $60,000 as a nonprofit program director in Jackson, Mississippi, you'd have to make $92,905 in Boston to enjoy the same living standard, according to CNN Money's Cost of Living calculator. In Washington, D.C., you'd need to earn $95,075 for the same reason, or approximately 58 percent more.

Job Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn't estimate jobs for nonprofit program directors. It does project a 27-percent increase in employment for social and community service managers from 2010 to 2020, which is faster than the 14-percent growth rate for all occupations. Since nonprofit program directors perform similar work as social and community service managers, they may also experience an above-average growth in jobs. Population increases among the elderly may create more job opportunities for those who create programs for seniors. You may also find more available jobs with nonprofit organizations that assist people with substance abuse problems.

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