Project management certifications are an important part of any education and training strategy for your staff. Just providing education to your staff in how you manage projects is unlikely to attract good people. To get the best, you have to think about helping people progress with their project management career. Providing support for people to get an appropriate certification and making it clear in your job adverts that you will do this is an important element of your project manager recruitment strategy.
This doesn’t mean that you don’t need to provide general education on how to manage projects to supplement any formal certification. Certification alone is unlikely to give you the maximum benefits possible in your organization. Staff needs to understand the context, including:
- Why you are using a particular methodology for managing projects.
- What your desired outcomes are.
- Which management principles are most important for you.
- What are the business drivers.
- What type of culture do you want to promote.
Project management certification choices
There are different levels of certification in project management. These range from a basic level that provides a general understanding of the terminology and principles; to the highest level that verifies the candidate’s ability to manage complex and demanding projects.
Which certifications you select must be appropriate for your chosen methodology and for the different roles in your teams. For example, while taking a project management degree course could be useful for the person responsible for your strategy for managing projects, it won’t be appropriate for project team members.
Similarly, helping your staff to get an agile project management certification will be a wasted investment if you don’t use an agile methodology. That said, requiring all of your project team staff to have the same foundation level project management professional certification can help you gain consistency in managing projects. This is particularly the case with certifications that are routinely updated every few years, for example, PRINCE2.
Many of the project management certification schemes available today have qualifications at different levels. These recognize that staff may have different degrees of responsibility and provide a defined project management career path as individuals progress through the different certification levels.
Here are two examples of project management certifications at different levels.
Certified associate in project management (CAPM)
The certified associate in project management (CAPM) is an entry-level certification for people working on the delivery of projects. This project management qualification is designed for those with less experience in managing projects. People taking the certification will gain a good understanding of the fundamental knowledge, terminology, and processes for managing projects.
The syllabus is based on the widely available PMBOK body of knowledge for managing projects and covers:
- Introduction to Project Management
- Project Environment
- Role of the Project Manager
- Project Integration Management
- Project Scope Management
- Project Schedule Management
- Project Cost Management
- Project Quality Management
- Project Resource Management
- Project Communication Management
- Project Risk Management
- Project Procurement Management
- Project Stakeholder Management
There are no prerequisites to take a course for this certification.
Project Management Professional (PMP) certification
The Project Management Professional (PMP) certification is a globally recognized advanced qualification that tells potential employers, peers, and a wider group of people that you know how to manage projects. This project management professional certification can be useful for anyone that helps to bring a project to completion. It recognizes your ability to manage projects in the real world successfully.
Unlike some other certifications, the PMP certification requirements are at a high level. Getting this particular certification from the Project Management Institute (PMI) requires considerable commitment and a demonstration of managing projects in real life. The PMP certification requirements include the following.
- A project management degree qualification.
- Three years of experience in leading the delivery of projects.
- 35 hours of relevant project management training or a Certified Project Manager (CPM) certification.
- A diploma or degree level qualification in another subject.
- 60 months experience of leading projects.
- 35 hours of relevant project management training or a CPM certification.
A typical syllabus for this project management qualification includes:
- Beginning a project
- Applying Project Management Processes
- Stakeholder Analysis
- Stakeholder Register
- Planning Projects
- Creating a Project Development Plan
- Creating a Scope Management Plan
- Scope Baseline
- Creating a Project Scope Statement
- Developing Project Schedules, Budgets, and Estimating Costs
- Creating an Activity List
- Creating a Project Network Diagram
- Estimating Activity Resources and Durations
- Estimating Project Costs
- Planning Project Staffing, Communication, and Quality
- Creating a Quality Management Plan
- Creating a Communications Management Plan
- Staffing Management Plan and HR Management Plan
- Analyzing Risks and Planning Risk Responses
- Creating a Risk Management Plan
- Performing Quantitative and Qualitative Risk Analysis
- Developing Risk Response Plans
- Carrying Out Project Work
- Executing Project Plan
- Quality Assurance
- Develop and Manage the Project Team
Classroom or online learning?
Training for most project management certifications can be done in the classroom or online. A project management certification online course allows students to learn at their own pace from anywhere. This helps them to adapt the learning time to their work schedules, allowing them to take the exams when they feel ready. Classroom teaching for a project management certification covers the same topics and allows students to focus 100% on learning but expects them to be ready to take the exam at the end of the course.
Project management certifications will benefit both individuals and organizations. The selection of an appropriate certification must be made carefully and in consideration of the chosen methodology for managing projects, the different roles in the project team, and the available budget. Getting any certification requires investment in both time and money by the individual and their employer. This means that it should be treated like any other investment, measuring the return given at regular intervals. Success in managing projects depends on making the best return on these investments.