Project Management Certification is worth investing in if you’re going to work as a project management professional. Having the qualification on your resumé will increase your chances of getting a job and the certification will give you a framework to use to manage the projects you are are working on.
You don’t have to be a project manager to get certified. Project management is a discipline that is used in many aspects of business and IT, and knowledge about planning, scheduling, budgeting and delivery of projects will be valuable to employees in many different organisational roles.
Before deciding on a project management certification, there are a few things you need to ask yourself that will help you decide what kind of certification you need:
- do you want an internationally recognised certification?
- are you looking for a broad overview of project management or do you need in-depth training?
- how much can you afford to spend on the training?
- will you be able to attend full or part time lectures, or is an online course preferable?
- is there a particular certification that is preferred by the company you are already working in?
- what industry do you work in? What certification is best suited to that industry?
Project management certifications
Here is a brief summary of the most well known international certifications.
Project Management Professional (PMP)
PMP is probably the most widely accepted certification and is offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI). It is internationally recognised, held by over 700 000 professionals and based on the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK). The certification requires a combination of education and experience, the passing of a multiple choice exam, and also the maintenance of credentials through ongoing work credits. You can write the certification exam as a paper or computer based exercise and the cost is $400 for members. Many project management training organisations offer guided preparation courses to help you prepare for the PMP exam.
Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)
Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) is also a credential offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI). It is an entry level certification for project professionals but you will still need a secondary degree to apply, as well as 1 500 hours of project experience. To keep this project management certification, you need to rewrite the exam every 5 years. It covers all the basics of project management and although it is much easier to learn for than the PMP, it does not hold as much weight as a qualification.
Microsoft Project Certification
Managing Projects with Microsoft Project 2013 (Exam 74-343). This is designed for people who use Microsoft Project or Project Professional and may be useful if you are working in an organisation that uses MS Project as its standard project management software. The exam tests your ability to perform certain tasks with the software including initialising a project, creating tasks and schedules, managing resources and communicating project information. After passing this project management certification, you become a member of the Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) community with access to all of the benefits provided through the Microsoft Certification Program.
Prince 2 Practitioner
PRINCE2 stands for PRojects IN Controlled Environments, and is a popular process-based methodology used in project management. PRINCE2 is used extensively by the British Government and the certification is managed by Axelos. It is a preferred certification in many project management job descriptions. The project approach is structured around business case, organization, quality, plans, risk, change and progress. Prerequisites for the Prince 2 Practitioner examination include either the Foundation course, PMP, CAPM or certain IPMA qualifications.
The International Project Management Association “Promotes the recognition of project management and engages stakeholders around the world in advancing the discipline.” It has a global network of project management certification bodies in many countries and boasts certification membership of more than 250 000. there are 4 levels of qualification – IPMA Level A® (Certified Projects Director), IPMA Level B® (Certified Senior Project Manager) or IPMA Level C® (Certified Project Manager) and IPMA Level D® (Certified Project Management Associate). The certification process generally has 3 stages – Self-assessment, 360-degree feedback, and a corporate case study session with assessor interview.
Certified Scrum Master
If you’re interested in improving your Agile skills and are using SCRUM, there are a few SCRUM certifications you can do. SMAC or Scrum Master Accredited Certification from the International SCRUM Institute. This is a fairly straightforward online exam of 50 multiple choice questions.
The Certified Scrum Master (CSM) from Scrum Alliance includes all the basic of SCRUM. They also offer certification for the Product Owner and Developer roles. Once you have one of these you can become a Certified Scrum Professional with a combination of work experience and further education units.
Agile Methodology has gained significant respect and momentum in the past few years and Agile project management certification can be a valuable career booster. One of the best Agile certifications include the Project Management Institute Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP). The International Consortium for Agile (ICAgile) also offer 13 different certifications in a number of countries across the globe.
Many other project management certifications may be available from accredited training organisations in your own country. Most universities offer project management qualifications like full degrees, or one or two year diplomas. If you are starting out in project management, it may be worth getting a local qualification first and then once you have work experience, continuing with an internationally recognised certification to improve your employment opportunities.