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What Are Project Management Certifications?

Project management is a methodology for planning and assembling an organization’s resources to bring a specific set of tasks, processes, or events to successful completion. Project management certification is a proof that an individual’s abilities to oversee, guide, and control projects are rock solid. Certification signals that the holder has demonstrated knowledge and experience in an objectively measured process of study and examination.

Many types of management professionals oversee projects. For most, their capacities were learned in formal education and on the job experience. Project management certification applies standards to the field of project management. Certification occurs when a neutral organization assesses, tests, and certifies an individual in order to attest to their level of knowledge and experience.

Certified professionals must verify training, education, and experience and pass specific exams. Employers can expect certified professionals to be familiar with the standard language, terms, and processes for project management. Project management professionals have skills and tools that translate into many settings and they are able to guide many types of projects to successful outcomes.

Certification can help employers make selection decisions when they are looking to hire or promote employees. When combined with a record of experience, project management certificate holders are much more likely than others to gain project management positions.

Project management courses teach the basics of managing teams, plans, budgets, tasks, and goes further to provide specific types of hands-on experience. Project management education will teach students to control the scope and pace of a project, the resources committed to achievement, and the time management required to complete the project on time.

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Who Needs Project Management Certifications?

Companies and organizations around the globe are awakening to the benefits of project management. Companies that use project management professionals report cost savings and greater efficiency. Completing projects on time and within budget contributes to a positive bottom line. For example, PMP certification is an industry standard; the knowledge and skills demonstrated by the certification are transferable across trades, roles, and organizational divides. The demand for Project Management Professional capabilities is growing, and employers will need to meet their talent needs by actively recruiting certified and experienced Project Management Professionals.

The below listed economic sectors are leaders in utilization of project management.

  • Industry, Construction, and Manufacturing
  • Information Technology, Information Services, and Publishing
  • E-Commerce, Finance, and Insurance
  • Management Consulting and Professional Services

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Employees benefit from project management training and education. Many public, private, and non-profit roles benefit from project management certifications. Information technology professionals can add value by certifications that focus on cyber security, such as the CSM and PMITS. Administrators, business analysts, and data analysts can create new career paths through the PMP certification. Portfolio managers, program managers, and directors of project management hold typical corporate roles that utilize project management professional certifications.

Professionals with project management certifications earn more than their counterparts without certificates.

The list below describes typical course topics for PMP certification:

  • Project management concepts and terminology
  • Project scope, procurement, and management tools
  • Project costs and risk management
  • Change controls and tools
  • Stakeholder communication
  • Quality management
  • Closing processes

As the field of project management evolves, organizations discover new uses for the capabilities of project professionals. Complexity is a driving force behind expansion of the roles of project managers.

Why a Business Might Need a Project Manager

Project managers are important to nearly ever organization. Project management helps anticipate challenges and risks and work to reduce or eliminate them. Project management can positively impact an entire business or organization by making sure that critical tasks run smoothy. Projects that run off course or too slowly can complicate other components of the organization. This means that project managers can add value to any business by promoting efficiency and successful outcomes.

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Project management develops clear and organized planning functions that are needed for team collaboration. The essence of project management is defining roles clearly and eliminating confusion and risks. Well-defined goals provide a basis to align the project team with organizational goals. Project management professionals bring agile and flexible approaches to their work, which can then adapt to unexpected challenges and changed circumstances.

Where to Find Project Management Certifications

Project management certifications come mostly from professional organizations. Certification organizations develop standards to represent their professional classifications.

The list below includes leading providers of widely accepted certifications:

  • PMI
    The Project Management Institute offers the PMP, Agile project management options, and technical project management certificate programs. PMI is a leader in predictive, agile, and hybrid project management certifications. The PMP certification is a global standard for project managers and is the leading certification for adding value to nearly any career or occupation.
  • Global Association for Quality Management offers certificate programs in project management that may be more accessible and affordable than other providers.
  • EC-Council was established in response to the events of 9/11. The goal was to support better responses to cyber-terrorism. The EC-Council offers certifications aimed at information technology experts.
  • American Academy of Project Management (AAPM) is a global organization providing project management standards, education, and certification.
  • Schools, Colleges, and Universities

    Schools, colleges, and universities can provide undergraduate and graduate level education that is aligned with the exam, education, and experience standards of the certification organizations. Leading educational institutions provide training and education to equip students to qualify for certificate examinations. Academic instruction provides valuable exam preparation and general education to help certification applicants succeed.

    Schools can work with certification bodies to design coursework that specifically addresses their exams and continuing education requirements. Academic institutions provide convenient access to training and education for project management study. Using standards like the Project Management Body of Knowledge, schools and colleges can deliver on-campus, hybrid, and remote learning that will allow students to more easily gain whatever project management certification they need.

Top Project Management Certifications

Project management certifications demonstrate a level of knowledge and capability in the field, which is important to many industries and organizations. Planning can mean little without sound execution, and project management focuses on moving projects forward on time, and within the resources available.

Project management has evolved from traditional patterns of planning and following that plan carefully with little deviation to the more dynamic and responsive agile styles appropriate to the modern age.

Project management applies to a wide range of settings and solutions such as the completion of construction projects, complex culture changes in corporate settings, and technology-based solutions management. Traditional project management used phases of project development to indicate the appropriate steps. Initiation, planning, execution, monitoring, and closing.

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Today, project management employs technology, and management tools including software and online systems and it has grown to meet the fluid environments of business and government. Moving from traditional planning, project management applies approaches that accept the uncertain nature of events by adding the ability to make changes and react quickly. Here are some great PM certifications if you’re looking to improve your resume.

  • Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)

    The Certified Associate in Project Management is an excellent entry-level certification. It is ideal for new project managers that need to demonstrate and expand expertise in project management and there are no specific prerequisites for the CAPM. The minimum educational level is a high school diploma or equivalent and exam preparation requires 23 hours of project management education.

    The CAPM certificate requires that candidates earn a passing score on the CAPM exam. The preparatory education consists of courses like Foundations of Project Management, Project Initiation, and Project Execution. Students should also know the fundamentals of agile project management and the Scrum Framework. Students may complete preparation with a capstone project in a real-world setting.

    The CAPM exam is three hours long and consists of about 150 questions covering the role and scope of project management.

  • Certified Project Director

    The CPD is a high-level certification designed for senior and experienced project managers. The certification helps experienced project managers demonstrate their ability to work on complex projects and multiple projects at the same time. The certification training coursework equips graduates to manage complex projects or programs and students focus on advanced topics like risk management, quality management, and budgeting.

    The CPD requires a training course and passing the CPD exam. The educational prerequisites are a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, or higher. You’ll also need to pass a Professional in Project Management certification or equivalent exam (the PMP, PRINCE2Practitioner, or CPM).

  • Certified Project Management Practitioner (CPMP)

    Offered by the International Council of E-Commerce Consultants (EC-Council), the CPMP certification equips graduates to learn through hands-on experience with strong tools and techniques for real-time project management. The EC-Council is a large organization that specializes in certifications for E-business and information security professionals.

    The CPMP is designed for new project managers seeking to gain skills through experience and study. The course teach efficient methods of managing complex projects and the program guides students to develop managerial leadership, management skills, and advanced tools. The organizational focus of the EC-Council is to focus on cyber-terrorism and information security.

  • Certified Project Manager (CPM)

    Offered by the International American Academy of Project Management (IAAPM), the CPM is a mid-level certification. It is ideal for students seeking to develop capacity in business analysis, project or program management, and portfolio management. The CPM is a level above the MPM or an entry-level graduate certificate. The IAAPM classifies the CPM as an equivalent to the PMI PMP certificate.

    The CPM equips graduates to work in a wide range of business, commercial, and industrial settings. Graduates gain enhanced communication, human resources management, and quality management skills. The program provides excellent training for applications in IT, finance, and systems and process integration.

  • Certified ScrumMaster (CSM)

    The CSM is a widely recognized agile project management certification. Offered by the Scrum Alliance, this certification demonstrates the ability to manage projects in a wide range of environments that use agile methodologies.

    Students will gain important exposure to various methods and principles through a required two-day training course. After the course, students must get a passing grade on a thirty-five question, multiple-choice test. The passing score is 68%, with freedom to re-take the exam an additional two times. Graduates must maintain good standing with payment of fees to the organization to maintain their certification.

  • CompTIA Project+ Certification

    Comp TIA+ certification is a type of project management aimed at business professionals. This entry-level certification, which educators designed for students with one year or less of project management experience, is meant to equip students to manage small to medium sized projects. A large segment of the business world consists of small to medium sized businesses with relatively simple project management needs. Project+ provides multiple methodologies for project management within this range. Graduates will understand basic project elements, constraints, tools, and documentation. Comp TIA project+ emphasizes communications with teams and stakeholders.

  • Master Project Manager (MPM)

    The Master Project Manager certification, offered by the American Academy of Project Management (AAPM), is an entry-level certification. The program equips graduates to manage business projects with substantial technical components. It is ideal for IT professionals that work within or lead project management teams. Professionals with technical backgrounds can use the MPM to expand their roles and repertoire of team management tools.

    The MPM is a two-year certification that requires biennial recertification. Students can qualify for the MPM exam with three years of experience in project management, a master’s degree, or an equivalent level of demonstrated knowledge and experience.

  • Professional in Project Management (PPM)

    The PPM is a mid-level certification offered by the Global Association for Quality Management (GAQM). The goals of the PPM program are risk management, crisis management, and team leadership, and the course content has project management training modules. For example, students will complete modules in planning, execution, project controls, and project completion or close out. Students will gain skills in scheduling, project performance measures, and approaches to leadership.

    The prerequisites are a demonstrable level of prior experience in project management and completion of a required E-course. Students should possess experience in project management and a strong concept of E-commerce.

  • Project Management in IT Security (PMITS)

    The PMITS is a training course and certification in the E-business field. The program equips students to manage IT security projects and the EC-council offers specialized training and education for security project managers. The goals of the PMITS are designed to support the needs of experts in IT security. The EC-council was formed in the aftermath if the 9/11 terror attacks and was purposed to improve security professionalism on the national security level.

    The PMITS is not an entry-level certification and the required educational background must have a focus on security. The program requires a minimum of two years of high-level experience in the field of information technology security. Course topics include risk management, software development, and systems development. Graduates will have a process for analyzing outcomes in their security projects including plans, legal standards, and corporate IT security.

  • Project Management Professional (PMP)

    This high-level certification offered by the Project Management Institute is an excellent credential for demonstrating project management competency. The PMP equips graduates to manage the essential constraints of project management: time, cost, and scope.

    The PMP is widely accepted and regarded as a standard of excellence in project management though it does not focus on specific fields like information security. Rather, it is an effective demonstration of overall or broad project management skills and competencies.

  • Agile Certified Practitioner (ACP)

    Agile Certified Practitioners have the skill and knowledge needed to manage Agile projects. Agile methodology is the modern method for project management, as distinguished from waterfall or traditional types of planning and management.

    Agile uses incremental development to accommodate requirements and solutions that evolve over the course of the project. It produces adaptive planning, development over a timeline, and delivery scaled to the changing needs of the project. Agile technology is widely known for being flexible and responsive to change. Prerequisites are eight months of Agile experience, 21 hours of training, and readings and studies in Agile technology.

Frequently Asked Questions

What qualifications do I need to be a project manager?

Qualifications vary by the type of certification. The minimum educational qualification for entry-level certificates is a high school diploma or equivalent. Most mid-level certificates require a bachelor’s degree and some period of experience in project management. Advanced certificates require specialized education such as a degree in information security, and some period of experience in the field.

Will earning a PM certification allow me to find a new job?

A project management certification offers job opportunities and career pathways. Project management certification can enhance an existing set of skills, education, and experience. Project management certification is a widely accepted demonstration of capacity and competence among public and private employers.

Over time, the awareness of the value and usefulness of project management skills have increased and the number of organizations, companies, and employers using project management skills continues to grow.

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