A Guide to Project Management Certifications

In the next decade, demand for professional project managers is expected to spike, the Project Management Institute (PMI) predicts; however, much-needed project management talent may fall short of demand, generating a talent gap.

Professionals across industries and sectors looking to capitalize on this gap and move into a project management role should consider the multiple options for project management certifications available. For professionals planning to pursue a certification, it’s essential to assess the costs, requirements and skillsets in the scope of each certification.

Not only can earning a professional project management certification provide a competitive advantage, but it can also increase project management skills and position professionals for more attractive salary options. For example, the PMI reported that PMP® certification holders earn almost 20% more on average than project managers without certification in the 10th Edition of Earning Power: Project Management Salary Survey.

Recognized project management certifications to consider include:

Project Management Certifications from the Project Management Institute (PMI):

Most PMI certifications require at least a secondary degree, and many allow a four-year degree to reduce the number of required hours invested in leading projects and earning project management education.

PMP® (Project Management Professional) – This certification centers around leadership competence, establishing a skillset for leading and overseeing project teams. This certification is globally recognized.

PgMP® (Program Management Professional) – Created for project management professionals who manage projects for strategic or organizational-level results, this certification specializes in multifaceted, complex projects.

PfMP® (Portfolio Management Professional) – Project managers responsible for coordinating portfolio management to achieve strategic goals generally pursue this certification.

CAPM® (Certified Associate in Project Management) – Professionals pursue this certification as a measure of understanding core project management terminology, processes and general knowledge.

PMI-PBA® (PMI Professional in Business Analysis) – To showcase adept business analysis skills, professionals pursue this certification, which establishes skills defining business needs with stakeholders, guiding project output and driving outcomes.

PMI-ACP® (PMI Agile Certified Practitioner) – For project management professionals who specialize in Agile practices, the PMI-ACP® requires a blend of training, experience and an exam. This certification assesses all Agile approaches, including SCRUM, XP, LEAN and Kanban.

PMI-RMP® (PMI Risk Management Professional) – Professionals with expertise assessing and identifying risks, planning for hazards and identifying opportunities on projects earn this certification to demonstrate their knowledge.

PMI-SP® (PMI Scheduling Professional) – This certification acknowledges expertise and in-depth knowledge establishing and adhering to project schedules, a highly specialized project management area.

CompTIA Project +

This certification recognizes project management skills outside any single methodology or framework, assessing business professionals who work on smaller projects for their expertise in managing project life cycles, communicating well, resource management and accurate project documentation.

Certified ScrumMaster®

For project management professionals who apply Scrum practices to deliver successful projects, the CSM® certification demonstrates a core Scrum knowledge. CSM® certification holders support their team as “servant leaders,” removing distractions from the team and encouraging project teams to partner together and understand Scrum framework.

IAPM Certification (International Association of Project Managers)

Aimed at project managers with basic project management expertise, including project planning, coordination and implementation, the IAMP does not require professional expertise.

Global Association for Quality Management:

GAQM certifications are classified into three levels based on role, designation and audience. Depending on the level, some prerequisites may be required.

   Associate in Project Management (APM)– Aimed at entry-level project managers, this certification helps new project managers launch a career in the field.

   Professional in Project Management (PPM)™ – For experienced project management professionals, this certification demonstrates critical project managers skills and knowledge, for project managers who manage tactical project execution, including risk and crisis management.

   Certified Project Director (CPD)™ – Established for experienced project management professionals who possess significant project experience and typically hold, or are planning to hold, a more senior, strategic role. CPD-certified professionals manage or direct multiple projects or programs, overseeing management, budget, scope, teams and barriers. This program requires PPM or an equivalent as a prerequisite.

Project Management Resource Group’s Master Project Manager®

For both experienced and establishing project management professionals, the MPM® establishes project management principles and practices, ranging from leadership skills, motivating teams, avoiding pitfalls and errors, establishing scope, creating a timeline, change management, and project close.

PRINCE2 Certifications

A process-based approach to project management, PRINCE2, or PRojects IN Controlled Environments, is an international certification that offers two qualification levels.

Foundation – This certification can be a stand-alone or a prerequisite (for the Practitioner) to establish PRINCE2 practices and terminology.

Practitioner – Building from the Foundation certification, the Practitioner applies practices to specific projects and outcomes.

American Academy of Project Managers (AAPM) Certifications

CIPM (Certified International Project Manager)© –  For both project managers and project leaders, the CIPM establishes knowledge, training and skills that are multi-national.

   MPM (Master Project Manager)© – A graduate-level project only for project management professionals with college degrees, the MPM is designed for senior project managers or project directors.

   PME (Project Management E-Business)© – For professionals adept in management, leadership, international law, marketing/SEO, e-commerce and IT principles.

   MCP (Management Consultant Professional)© – Aimed at small business owners for its ability to establish leadership expertise, organizational best practices and marketing skill, the MCP equips consultants who will oversee projects and manage their own hours.

PMP, PgMP, PfMP, CAPM, PMI-PBA, PMI-ACP, PMI-RMP and PMI-SP are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.

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