Project managers looking to take their skills to the next level might be considering whether project management certifications are a good idea. There's a wide range of associations offering all kinds of courses at every level, so project managers should try to figure out what's right for them before they start spending their resources on getting endorsed by a professional organization.
The big players
The most popular certification by a wide margin is the Project Management Professional certification offered by the Project Management Institute. Widely recognized, the PMP program requires years of experience and plenty of hours spent in class. But that investment is worth it: The institute stated that PMP managers make 17 percent more than those without it.
PMI also offers the Certified Associate in Project Management program, which has less stringent requirements than the PMP, but also calls for expertise in the Project Management Body of Knowledge, which is PMI's guide to industry standards.
The American Academy of Project Management offers accreditations as well: the Master Project Manager and the Certified International Project Manager, among others. Getting these credentials also require industry experience, some of which can be waived by attending training from AAPM, according to its website.
Then there is the Certified Project Manager program that is offered by the International Association of Project and Program Management. The organization said that it requires the usual work experience as well as a formal education. It also demands that candidates take the CPM Exam, a multi-hour test that involves the fundamentals of successful program management defined in its CPPMGuide standard.
The bottom line
It's important to remember that endorsements are not free, and they are certainly not easy. Preparing for an exam is time-consuming, and becoming certified commonly involves (but not always requires) becoming a member of the host organization.
"Certification doesn't automatically make someone a project management savant."
Additionally, according to PMI, maintaining PMP credentials requires accumulating 60 Professional Development Units over three years, which are accrued by continuing project management education or by giving back to the community by sharing project management experience with others and through volunteer work.
As an important note, certification does not automatically make someone a project management savant. Each framework is built by organizations with different priorities to different specifications. And all the accreditation in the world won't be a replacement for experience and hard work.
Becoming a certified project manager is a good choice for those who want to demonstrable proof of their talents in this field. It takes some resource investment, but getting a PMP, CPM, MPM or any one of a number of other endorsements can give project managers a leg up in their expertise.