Many students on our PRINCE2 courses are seeking to gain certification to boost their careers. This is a wise choice, as PRINCE2 is recognized by employers around the world as proof of project management knowledge. We interviewed Lindsay Scott, Director at Arras People, a project management recruitment consultancy, to find out what employers really think about PRINCE2. Read this interview if you want to start a career in project management and are trying to weigh up the benefits of gaining PRINCE2 certification.
Why do UK employers look for candidates with PRINCE2?
PRINCE2 has had an interesting history – over ten years ago, practitioners took their PRINCE2 training because they wanted to learn more about a standard or method to deliver a project which was mandated by the UK government. That was a strong selling point – something official in the project management world which was focused very much on the method – as opposed to the techniques and processes approach favoured by PMI and APM.
Over the last decade or so – organisations thought that by using PRINCE2 as a requirement in their job advertisements it would be a good way to distinguish between those people who had done ‘project management’ versus those that had actually trained in it.
I think what those organisations ideally wanted was both – someone with practical experience in projects plus some form of accreditation to support that. Truth is, it could have been anything – but PRINCE2 it was – and it was a government thing so that was good too.
The fact remains that many employers hiring project practitioners who still ask for PRINCE2 – and PRINCE2 alone – are by and large quite immature project organisations. It’s these organisations that find it hard to articulate what kind of project practitioners they want so fall back on box ticking exercises like ‘must have PRINCE2 accreditations” regardless of the fact that the organisation doesn’t even run PRINCE2 projects. It’s one of the bizarre things about project management in the UK!
Do PRINCE2 Practitioners earn more money?
It’s difficult to definitely say one way or another because it’s the practical experience that goes alongside an individual’s accreditations. One thing we have seen is that PRINCE2 alone does not guarantee a higher salary – we see people with higher salaries who have done more than PRINCE2 – say MSP, APM, PMI etc., but they are also doing higher level roles like Senior Project Manager, Programme Manager, PMO Manager, Portfolio Manager etc.
Salaried Project Practitioners
|£30,000 - |
|£50,000 - |
|IC - APM Introductory Certiﬁcate||16%||39%||29%||16%|
|CAPM - PMI Certiﬁed Associate in Project Management||17%||50%||25%||8%|
|APMP - APM||3%||41%||45%||12%|
|PMP - PMI Project Management Professional||0%||17%||67%||16%|
|MSP - Managing Successful Programmes||2%||27%||50%||22%|
|PgMP - PMI Program Management Professional||0%||0%||100%||0%|
|CPM - APM Certiﬁcated Project Manager||0%||0%||66%||34%|
|P3O - Portfolio, Programme and Project Oﬃces||6%||28%||45%||22%|
|MoV - Management of Value||0%||50%||50%||0%|
|MoP - Management of Portfolios||0%||24%||47%||29%|
|PfMP - PMI Portfolio Management Professional||0%||0%||0%||100%|
|M_o_R - Management of Risk||5%||35%||39%||22%|
|Risk Management - APM Certiﬁcate||8%||42%||34%||16%|
|RMP - PMI Risk Management Professional||0%||100%||0%||0%|
|ITIL - IT Service Management||4%||38%||43%||16%|
|None of the above||18%||68%||77%||36%|
Contract Project Practitioners
|£300 - |
|£500 - |
|IC - APM Introductory Certiﬁcate||33%||44%||11%||11%|
|CAPM - PMI Certiﬁed Associate in Project Management||0%||50%||0%||50%|
|APMP - APM||11%||51%||33%||4%|
|PMP - PMI Project Management Professional||14%||37%||43%||6%|
|MSP - Managing Successful Programmes||5%||42%||42%||10%|
|PgMP - PMI Program Management Professional||0%||0%||0%||0%|
|CPM - APM Certiﬁcated Project Manager||0%||50%||33%||17%|
|P3O - Portfolio, Programme and Project Oﬃces||6%||45%||34%||17%|
|MoV - Management of Value||0%||40%||20%||40%|
|MoP - Management of Portfolios||0%||14%||50%||36%|
|PfMP - PMI Portfolio Management Professional||0%||25%||50%||25%|
|M_o_R - Management of Risk||8%||46%||40%||7%|
|Risk Management - APM Certiﬁcate||0%||33%||33%||33%|
|RMP - PMI Risk Management Professional||0%||0%||33%||67%|
|ITIL - IT Service Management||4%||46%||47%||3%|
|None of the above||30%||74%||73%||19%|
What jobs exist for candidates without work experience?
It’s a tricky one – it depends on their work experience to date. Straight out of university for example with no work experience, a degree and a PRINCE2 Foundation is not likely to help anyone get into PMO unless it’s a specific graduate role. If people are wanting to transition into project management, having worked in a previous role of any nature and decided to take their PRINCE2 to help get a foot in the door – it depends heavily on what works experience they do have. Our advice is that you have to utilise that and capitalise on it. How to do that is only something you can do when you’re advising someone one-to-one.
What additional jobs are available to PRINCE2 certified candidates?
The ones where the job advertisement stipulates the candidate must be PRINCE2 accredited! Having said that, if a person’s experience is absolutely bang on what the organisation is looking for, they will overlook the PRINCE2 requirement.
What experience is required for entry-level roles?
This is kind of related to the other question about getting into project management – it depends. It depends also on what you class as an entry-level role. Many people make the mistake of thinking that a position like Project Administrator – because it is at the lower end of the pay scale – that it is a role that you could step into with minimal experience. They have to remember that actually there are many people out there that are experienced Project Administrators – who are not using it as a stepping stone to another role like PM – therefore these people are the competition when someone with minimal experience tries to apply for a role like that.
How can beginners gain work experience?
Often I’ll tell people that if you’re in a current role at the moment which is not necessarily related to projects, why not use some of that PRINCE2 training and start bringing in some of the principles and processes of good project management into what you do. Bottom line is there are two types of project management – formal and informal – this explains it.
So in the first place, start with the informal project management stuff. If there are projects within their current organisation – they need to get closer to them – find out who the project managers are – is there any chance of some shadowing work? Perhaps getting that role as a co-ordinator or administrator.
It’s much tougher to gain the experience when you don’t have opportunities like this – it’s the classic chicken and egg. One thing people can do is volunteer – for something like a charity or take up a position at your professional body – APM or PMI are always wanting volunteers. The other thing to do is use their own network – someone will be more willing to give an opportunity to someone who they know and know what they are capable of – this is how most people get into a more formal project management role.
How should a beginner write their CV?
They need to understand project management beyond PRINCE2 – it’s only a method, they need to understand the wider best practices, processes, tools, techniques etc. that make up project management. They also need to understand the terminology. When they understand these two things – they then need to think about what transferable skills they have which are closely aligned to project management. They then write about these using the right terminology and demonstrate that they understand project management by writing about their previous experiences in a way that uses all the common keywords associated with project management.
What are the top skills that employers look for on a CV?
It depends. For PMO people it’s stuff like reporting and analytical skills. For Project Managers it’s the demonstrable use of PM techniques (both soft and hard) to deliver the project successfully. For Programme Managers it’s the programme level standards plus great stakeholder management. For each role, often the stumbling block for a successful hire is not the skills someone has – it’s the previous experience in the sector plus whether that person culturally fits into that organisation.
What are the benefits of PRINCE2 certification for contractors?
It’s purely a box ticking exercise for a lot of contractors – they need to make sure they are marketable and competitive and they would hate to lose out on a contract because they didn’t have that on their CV. A lot of them resent it though – they’re experienced people who don’t really need to be doing something like this every 5 years!
What roles open up after gaining experience?
The world is their oyster really – we’ve written a lot on career progression and stuff like that. They can stay within project management or use their project management skills in a more senior executive position – start their own businesses – become contractors – anything they want. Project management is a great set of skills that just help anyone get organised and do stuff.
Lindsay is a Director at Arras People, the programme and project management recruitment specialists. You can find out more about Arras People and follow Lindsay on Twitter. Lindsay also writes the careers column for PMI's Network magazine and writes about project management careers for a wide variety of outlets. She created the first PMO Conference in the UK and currently runs the PMO Flashmob