Project management certifications are important for any manager or small business owner. The certificates are proof of project management education, expertise, and hands-on experience. Moreover, the world has become driven by a project environment. Almost everyone holds a position that involves leading others toward a common goal. Such people must have some basic project management knowledge.
Unfortunately, many junior project managers may not know which certifications to pursue. According to a 2021 report, the demand for project professionals will hit 25 million by 2030. This shows a talent gap that current and prospective project managers can exploit. Even experienced project managers may be in a dilemma.
Luckily, this article offers actionable advice on pursuing certifications in project management. We define what they entail and their benefits. We also provide some practical tips for choosing the right certification.
What are project management certifications?
Project management certifications are accreditations provided by professional organizations. They certify that an individual has undergone the required project management education, and in some cases, has demonstrated the required experience.
Some examples of project management certifications include:
- PMI Project Management Professional
- Certified ScrumMaster
- PRINCE2 Foundation and PRINCE2 Practitioner, and
- PMI Scheduling Professional.
Project management professionals can enroll in one or more professional organizations. Usually, professionals choose specific programs depending on their career growth and development goals. For example, you can choose a general project management certificate. You can also specialize in specific concepts like agile or scrum methodologies.
Some notable examples of professional organizations offering project management certifications include:
- Project Management Institute
- International Project Management Association
- Association for Project Management, and
You should receive accreditation upon meeting the requirements for certification. It confirms your competence as a professional in project management. You can then use the certification to pursue career opportunities in lucrative sectors. You could also angle for a promotion in your current workplace.
Benefits of having a project management certification
There are many benefits to receiving a project management certification. Some people feel a sense of accomplishment. Some earn respect among their colleagues. Others use it to increase their career opportunities.
Credibility as a trained and certified project manager
A project management certification proves that you are a qualified project professional. It shows you can apply project management skills in the real world. You can also use it to create networking opportunities.
Transferability to many industries and professions
You can apply your certifications in many industries. They remain valid even when you move from one industry to another.
You can also move across continents. Your certification will be proof of your skills and knowledge. This transferability offers a good starting point when you move abroad. It may be a life-saver in countries where your undergraduate degree may not be marketable.
Competitive advantage in the job market
A project management certification gives you an advantage when applying for a job. Many organizations hunting for project professionals list credentials as an added requirement. Even an entry-level project management certification may make a difference. It gives you an edge over the next best job candidate.
Opportunity for career growth and higher income
Project management certifications provide growth opportunities. You may receive a promotion in the organization where you work. You may also branch to a different company or industry. You can also use it to start a career in project management consultancy.
A project management certification helps you ask for a better salary. A 2021 report showed that individuals with a PMI-PMP earned up to 16% more than their colleagues.
Up-to-date with current project management standards
Tutors and examiners revise project management certification courses. This keeps them relevant to current industry practices. As such, people doing these courses have up-to-date knowledge. What they have learned is relevant to their daily project management tasks.
4 Tips for choosing the right project management certification
Any certification from an accredited professional organization boosts your resume. But it may be a waste of time to get the wrong credential. For example, advanced project managers should not apply for a basic certification.
Choose a certification that matches what you do. Below are four tips to remember when choosing the project management certification.
The certification should match your career goals
Ask yourself one question when choosing a certification. What do I want from this course? This will help you know which course to take.
Choose a certification that matches what you want to become. Take a course that makes you better at your job. You may also choose a certification that matches the career path you want to follow.
Choose a certification that matches your level of experience
The certification you choose should match your experience. Avoid taking introductory courses if you have some work experience. For example, a project manager could reach higher and complete the Master Project Manager certification. This prepares them to become better leaders.
Account for the cost of completing the certification course
Ensure you can afford the certification program you want. Do not start a course and drop out later. Budget for other expenses you may have when taking the course. They may include tuition and exam fees.
Consider the available learning options (remote or traditional classrooms)
Choose a course that is convenient for you. Some may prefer going to class. Others may choose online classes.
The 10 best project management certifications to pursue
There are several project management certifications you can take today. Each program has its requirements and tuition fees. We selected 10 of the most marketable certifications and discussed them below.
1. Project Management Professional
Project Management Professional (PMP) is a globally-recognized certification. It shows that you have the required skills to manage projects.
PMI members can sit the exam for $284. Non-members must pay $555 for the exam.
2. Certified Associate in Project Management
The Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) is an entry-level certification. It is suitable for people who want to be project managers. Taking this course prepares you to be a junior project manager. You will also qualify to apply for the PMP certification.
PMI charges members $158 and non-members $210 to sit for the certification exam.
- High school diploma.
- Project Management Basics online course or 23 hours of hands-on project management training.
3. Certified ScrumMaster
The Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) certification is the gold-standard course for Scrum methods. You learn how to use Scrum concepts in different industries. Examples include:
- Data analytics
- Software development, and
- Human resource management.
Scrum Alliance charges an all-inclusive fee of $299. This covers the certification course and exam. You can take Advanced-CSM and Certified Scrum Professional - ScrumMaster after this course.
There is no educational or professional prerequisite.
4. CompTIA Project+ certification
The CompTIA Project+ certification is the best course for IT professionals. You will learn how to manage small to medium-sized projects. You will also learn how to do everything that involves IT project management. This includes:
- Project documentation,
- Identifying project constraints, and
- Responding to project constraints.
CompTIA charges $358 for the exam voucher. You can also pay $2,299 to cover the following:
- Online training
- Exam voucher, and
- Practice resources.
Small to medium-sized projects: At least 12 months of project management experience.
Small, less-complex projects: At least 6 to 12 months managing IT-related projects.
5. Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)
The PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP) course is for people working on Agile projects. PMI-ACP covers several Agile project management frameworks, including:
- Lean, extreme programming (XP), and
- Test-driven development.
This course will help you deliver projects on time. You can also help your company respond to market trends.
PMI charges $305 for its members. Non-members pay $347 to sit the PMI-ACP exam.
- High school diploma or global equal.
- At least 21 hours of training in Agile methodologies.
- At least 12 months working in project management. This should be in the past 5 years.
- At least 8 months using agile practices during project management.
6. PMI Scheduling Professional
The PMI Scheduling Professional (PMI-SP) course is for people with project scheduling roles. They should know how to develop and maintain project schedules. The course covers the following areas:
- Schedule strategy,
- Schedule planning and development,
- Schedule monitoring and controlling,
- Schedule closeout, and
- Stakeholder communications management.
PMI charges members $364 and non-members $670 to sit the exam.
PMI also offers professional certifications in other stages of project management. They include:
- Risk Management Professional (RMP),
- Program Management Professional (PgMP), and
- Portfolio Management Professional (PfMP).
7. PRINCE2 Foundation and PRINCE2 Practitioner
Candidates must finish the Foundation course before taking the Practitioner certification. Those doing the Foundation course learn the project management process. It includes project planning, scheduling, managing, and delivering. Most of the training is theoretical.
You can take the PRINCE2 Practitioner Program after finishing the Foundation course. It tests how you will handle project management situations.
It costs $700 to $900 to learn and take the exam for the Foundation Certification. The PRINCE2 Practitioner Certification costs $800 and $1,000 for training and examination.
Anyone can take the PRINCE2 Foundation course. Having some formal education is helpful.
Those who enroll for Practitioner Certification must have one of the following courses:
- PRINCE2 6th Edition (Foundation)
- Project Management Qualification
- Project Professional Qualification
- IPMA Level A, B, C, or D.
8. Certified Project Management Practitioner
This certification is suitable for small business owners. It is also good for anyone who wants to learn project management tools like Motion. Finishing this course will give you technical and managerial skills. You will learn to handle most project-related issues and challenges.
The EC-Council charges a fixed fee of $199 per attempt.
Anyone can take this course.
9. AAPM: Master Project Manager
The AAPM-Master Project Management is a globally-recognized certification. It shows you have project management knowledge and experience. Candidates must prove they have the expertise and ethics to manage at any level.
The American Academy of Project Management charges a $150 fee for certification. Certified holders must then renew it every two years.
- Approved AAPM degree
- Pass the online Project Management Exam
10. GAQM: Certified Project Director
The Certified Project Director (CPD) is one of the more advanced certifications you can get. It is suitable for business owners and project management executives. You will learn advanced project management skills in various areas. They include quality, risk, scope, and budget management skills.
The Global Association for Quality Management charges $210 for the exam voucher.
- Bachelor’s or Master’s degree
- Have at least one certification from the programs below:
- PRINCE2 Practitioner
Improve how you run your projects through project management certifications
Project management certifications prove your skills and expertise as a project professional. They give you a competitive advantage and expand your employment opportunities. This boosts your career growth and development.
There is no one-fits-all project management certification. Choose one that matches where you are in your career and which path you want to take.
Career development is like a project. It requires proper planning, allocation of time and money, and identifying milestones. Individuals can use Motion to plan their professional development journeys. You can use Motion’s calendar to schedule your classes. You can also create a roadmap for how to achieve a specific certification.
Try Motion’s 7-day free trial to manage your career development journey today!