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What is a Program Coordinator?

By Carol Francois
Updated May 16, 2024
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A program coordinator is someone who is responsible for the daily operations and decision making that supports a specific program or initiative. This role is found in the health care and education fields and in some business organizations. The term "program" can be used to describe any project with a specific time frame, delivery method and outcome. For example, a health care program to reduce diabetes will have a specific time frame, well-defined steps and tasks, a target audience and a desired outcome. A marketing program includes the same items listed above but is focused on increasing sales of a product, not reducing diabetes.

The skills required to become a program coordinator are fairly consistent, regardless of the field. These skills include working with multiple, conflicting priorities, creating a project plan, communications and interacting with people at all levels of the organization. Formal post-secondary training is common but might not be a job requirement, depending on the work environment. For example, formal training in social work is necessary to work in this position in a social services agency but is not relevant in a manufacturing company.

The primary responsibility of a program coordinator is to ensure that the program is delivered properly. The actual details of the program material are the responsibility of the trainer, manager or another staff member who has expertise in this area. In most cases, the actual program is delivered by a subject matter expert or front-line team member. For example, a customer service program is delivered by the customer service representatives, but making sure they are all trained and following the program is the responsibility of the coordinator.

The organizational structure varies across different industries, but this usually is considered a senior administrative role. Most program coordinators do not have management responsibilities but work closely with a team of people all dedicated to the delivery and support of the program. For this reason, interpersonal skills are extremely important.

Career advancement opportunities for a program coordinator include project management or the roles of supervisor or program manager. A minimum of four years of experience as a program coordinator typically is required to qualify for these roles. Many people who want to advance their careers take part-time courses to expand their skill set. Possible areas of interest include written communication, conflict resolution, advanced computer skills and management.

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Discussion Comments
By croydon — On Feb 16, 2013

@KoiwiGal - It is a job with such a broad range of applications it really depends on what you're doing and who you are doing it with. I have a friend who was working as a science fiction convention program coordinator and she said it even varied between years. Sometimes the sponsors were flaky and didn't deliver what they promised, sometimes everything went like a dream and everyone was happy.

I think that the good bits usually outweighed the bad bits or she wouldn't still do it and it can definitely be a very well paid job. But, you have to like that kind of work.

By KoiwiGal — On Feb 15, 2013

This can be a highly stressful position. I was hoping to get a job as a program coordinator at a retirement home once, but I passed after talking to the person I would have been replacing. She said that when you are in that position, you answer to everyone, both above and below you and you get blamed for everything, although you rarely get credit when things go well.

Obviously it depends on the company that you're working for, but I can definitely see how coordinator jobs could be stressful.

By anon182384 — On Jun 02, 2011

It's good, but I think it needs to be related to management examples for better understanding.

By hangugeo112 — On Jan 14, 2011

Bariatric program coordinators should have a background in understanding and dealing with the harmful effects of obesity. This sort of helpful leadership requires a recognition of various weight and eating-related disorders, including bulimia and anorexia.

By TrogJoe19 — On Jan 13, 2011

Wellness program coordinators find jobs in psychological, spiritual, and fitness positions such as leading yoga programs and counseling groups. These people are required to recognize and respond to felt needs in the groups they oversee, and to invent and understand new ideas in the science of understanding people's wellness goals.

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