From the outset – and at the risk of sounding like a politician who is anything but clear — let me be perfectly clear: I am a strong believer in the concept of project management certification. Certification provides reasonable assurance to organizations that those who attain project management certification possess the level of technical knowledge and the skills necessary for managing the complexities of the entire project delivery process.
Many career fields require certification, so it’s perfectly logical that Project Management would as well. For example, in the U.S., the field of accounting has the designation of Certified Public Accountant; lawyers are required to obtain a Juris Doctor degree and write a comprehensive bar exam; educators are required to obtain teaching certification. There is comfort in the rigor required to achieve the certification, and in the standardization of process that it provides.
In the field of Project Management, at least five certifications rise to the top:
- Project Management Professional (PMP) from the Project Management Institute (PMI);
- Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM), also from PMI;
- Project + from Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA);
- Master Project Manager (MPM) from the American Academy of Project Management (AAPM); and
- Certified Project Manager (CPM) from the International Association of Project and Program Management (IAPPM)
Of these, the PMP certification is clearly the most well-known and widely accepted. Over the past few years, I’ve seen an increasing number of government-issued Requests for Proposals (RFPs) that require PMP certification as a mandatory or a highly desirable scoring criterion. Similarly, in non-governmental organizations, “the number of CIOs who require their project managers to be certified grew from 21 percent in 2005 to 31 percent by 2009.”1 And that continues to increase.
I am often asked by up-and-coming Project Managers if certification is necessary for their careers. I’m also a public speaker, so I’ll borrow my response from that of accomplished platform speaker, Patricia Fripp. When she was asked if humor is necessary in public speaking, her answer was, “only if you want to get paid.”
Is project management certification necessary for your career? More and more the answer is, “only if you want to get paid.”
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