Being a project manager in any industry is to put it simply, difficult because, in addition to being an expert in their particular field, they also need to have experience and knowledge in the fields of time management, risk assessment, integration as well as managing stakeholder’s expectations.
Project managers are in charge of making sure that all the five phases of a project life cycle: preparation, planning, execution, control, and project closing go without problems. In essence, they are the captain of the ship and the success or failure of a project literally relies on them.
If you have been a project manager for quite some time, the issue of certification might have crossed your mind. And, you might have been asking yourself is it worth the time, effort and money to get?
Certifications are given by professional organizations, and it focuses on only one area of study. Certification is not a degree which is given by universities and it might be good to know that having a certificate doesn’t mean that you are able to practice a specific kind of profession (doctor, electrician etc.) because, for that, you need what is known as a license.
Choosing the Right Type of Certification
There are a lot of available PM certifications in the market, with some pertaining only to a specific industry like IT or Engineering. Some certifications are entry-level certifications, and still, some are for higher-ups like the IPMA which is for certified Project Directors.
If you are feeling a bit confused about which certification you should get, you might want to consider a couple of things.
- Ask your colleagues on what certification they already have, as well as their opinions and experience about this.
- Look at job boards from your particular industry, and you can easily see what type of certifications they are looking for, and you can start your search from there.
4 General PM Certifications
To help you get started, here are five of the most popular generic PM certifications. These certifications are not industry-specific, and although they might not be able to answer business-specific questions like what is RFI or what is the best commercial construction bidding software, they are good choices that you can consider.
1.CAPM( Certified Associate in Project Management )
If you have not been a project manager for a long time, and your qualifications are not yet enough so that you can get certification for PMP ( Project Management Professional), you can get the CAPM.
The CAPM is the starting point for the PMI’s (Project Management Institute) PMP course and is suggested for professionals who don’t have a university diploma and possess only basic project management experience.
Below are the requirements for CAPM.
- High school diploma/ Associates degree or an equivalent
- Possess 1500 hours of project management experience or in lieu of this, 23 hours project management education.
2. Project Management Professional (PMP)
This certificate is one of the most popular choices for a project manager because it’s all-encompassing. It is also one of the most respected certifications internationally. Currently, there are about 750,000 project managers that are PMP certified.
The PMP is considered to be one of the hardest certifications to get because it requires extensive experience, has a difficult application process and a challenging exam.
For you to be able to be eligible to take this certification, you must have the following qualifications:
- Have finished a four-year secondary degree as well as three or more years in project management experience
- Have 4,500 hours of leading and directing projects
- 35 hours of education in project management
If you don’t have a University degree, you have to hold a high school diploma and the following:
- Five years or more project management experience
- 7,500 hours of leading and directing projects
- 35 hours of project management education
To maintain your PMP, you have to make 60 PDU’s ( professional developmental units) every 3 years.
3.CompTIA Project +Project Management Certification
If you are worried that you might not be able to pass the exam for the CAPM. Then you might want to try to take the CompTIA Project +Project Management Certification instead.
This certification is set at a similar level as the CAPM certification, but it’s easier to take. The exam only has 95 multiple choice questions with 90 minutes to complete it compared to the 150 multiple choice questions that CAPM has.
Another advantage CompTIA has over CAPM is that it doesn’t have to be renewed.
Requirements for CompTIA
- One year project management experience
4.PRINCE Foundation and PRINCE2 Practitioner
PRINCE is an acronym for Projects in Controlled Environment. PRINCE is a popular and recognized PM certificate in the United Kingdom and Europe and is administered by the ILX Group.
This certification emphasizes on the delivery, managing and directing of any project thru the 5 phases of its lifecycle.
The Prince Foundation, on the other hand, is a base level certification that concentrates on the basics of project management. This includes industry terminologies and methods. The Prince 2 Foundation is a prerequisite for anyone who wants to take the PRINCE2 Practitioner.
In addition to these, there are myriads of other project certifications that you can take, but these four are a good place for you to start.
It is also worth mentioning that it’s not only organizations like the PMI or the ILX Group that can give out certifications, in fact, but local colleges also offer these. So if you are interested, you can go to your local college or check out their offerings online.
Advantages of Project Certification
Granting that you are going to invest money, not to mention time and effort to get certified, are there benefits to getting certified? Here are some ways that it can benefit you and your career.
- Higher Salary. Studies show that people who are certified get a higher salary if you compare it to people who work in the same position but are not certified. So if money is something that you are after, then being certified can certainly earn you big bucks.
- Shows Dedication: If you are going to choose PM as your career path, then getting certified will certainly show dedication and your seriousness in being one. After all, it takes a lot of effort and commitment to take and pass the exams required.
- It Gives You Bragging Rights. Certifications are a sure fire way to boost your self-confidence. Having this self-assurance can certainly make you more confident when you are dealing with your subordinates, coworkers as well as investors.
To answer the question whether or not one needs a certification – well, it’s not a fundamental need like food or water and you can certainly get away with it depending on what industry you are in. But, it is nice to know that you have it, and you’ve made an effort to get it.
But, it’s always good to remember that all the certificate in the world will not make you a successful project manager. True, you know all the theories behind project management as well as the right way to act given a certain situation. However, being a successful project manager takes more than certificates and theory, it requires heart and experience – 2 things that can never be taught in a classroom setting.