All officially recognized project management certifications are equally valid, but it can be confusing knowing where to start with so many certifications on the market such as PRINCE2, PMI Project Management Professional (PMP)® and AgilePM to name just a few.
While all project management qualifications are good to have, some are more specialized than others. It pays to know which qualifications can be applied to your work, and which are tailored to suit specific industries or work environments. A PRINCE2 Agile® qualification for example, is aimed at those who already have a PRINCE2 qualification and what to adapt what they know to suit an Agile environment.
Every qualification has a different purpose, different pre-requisites and different learning goals. So, what you really have to ask is: “What project management certification is best for me?”
What is the best project management certification for me?
Let’s break this down into 3 categories: Beginner qualifications, intermediate qualifications and expert qualifications.
Beginner qualifications are those that require no previous experience or knowledge. If you’re new to project management, or if you don’t have any other qualifications, you’ll want to start here.
Intermediate qualifications are a bit of a mixed bag. Some are just extensions of beginner qualifications, while others are aimed at working professionals with at least a few months of project management experience. For the purpose of this article, we’ll consider intermediate qualifications as those that have some entry requirements but don’t require you to be an expert in project management.
Expert qualifications are still fairly rare. There are only a handful, and those that do exist are less of a learning opportunity and more a badge of excellence rewarded to project managers who take a keen interest in project management theory.
Beginner project management certifications
Like we said, this category will include only those courses that have no entry requirements and are suitable for new project managers or those who have some prior experience in project management and want to gain their first official qualification.
The Association for Project Management offers the Project Fundamentals Qualification to help newcomers gain a broad understanding of project management principles. An APM PFQ course teaches common project management terminology and will help you make positive contributions towards any project.
The Project Management Institute offers the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)® qualification. This qualification is aimed at helping you understand project management fundamentals.
This qualification does require that you possess a secondary degree however, and completion of this course requires that you attain 35 hours of project management experience over the duration. This certificate needs to be renewed every 5 years.
In the UK, PRINCE2 qualifications are considered the industry standard in project management. The PRINCE2 Foundation course teaches you the PRINCE2 principles, PRINCE2 technical terms and how to structure business practices around a PRINCE2 framework.
The course content is flexible and can be used in combination with any other project management methodology making it a popular choice for employers and project managers alike.
Intermediate project management qualifications
Intermediate project qualifications have some entry requirements. We’ll start with the easiest and make our way up to the hardest. These are the ones that really count. Beginner courses give you a general idea of what project management is all about. These courses will teach you how to apply project management techniques to real scenarios.
A PRINCE2 Practitioner course requires that you first pass a PRINCE2 Foundation. This course teaches you how to apply PRINCE2 ideas to real projects. In addition, it helps you understand how you can work PRINCE2 principles into other project management frameworks.
The Association for Project Management offers the Project Management Qualification to help more experienced project managers gain a deeper understanding of project management. An APM PMQ course is best for students having a few years’ experience of project management.
CompTIA offers some of the leading IT qualifications in the world. CompTIA Project+® focuses on managing smaller, less complex projects within the IT industry. This course also teaches students about the specific industry tools used for documentation and requirements analysis.
This course has no entry requirements, but without the recommended 135 hours of IT project development experience, you might find yourself a bit lost.
PMI’s Project Management Professional (PMP)® qualification is the most sought-after qualification on this list. To be eligible for this course you need to have 5 years of project management experience already. The PMI PMP exam will cover every aspect of project management from your ability to plan projects to monitoring and controlling project tasks. Maintaining your PMI PMP qualification requires you continuously accumulate ‘points’ through studying or volunteering which are monitored by PMI.
Expert project management qualifications
There aren’t a lot of qualifications more difficult than those already mentioned. If you’re want to work as a project manager or are already employed in a similar role, an intermediate certificate will be all you’ll ever need. The following courses are dedicated to the theory of project management and the thought process behind project management.
The APM’s own Project Management Chartered Standard (ChPP) examination similarly takes place over 3 days. In the first 2 days you’ll be given coaching by a ChPP professional and get your paperwork in order. On the final day, interviewed a board and will have to provide comprehensive documentation of your work over the past several years.
The board will be looking to see that you’ve not only encountered several setbacks in your project management career, but that you’ve also overcome these challenges with a little ingenuity an out-the-box thinking.
This list is by no means complete. There are dozens of project management qualifications out there, these just happen to be some of the most widely recognized certifications in the UK and EU. No matter how much experience you have, or what you’re looking for a project management certification, there’s likely a solution out there. If you you’d like to begin learning, why not look at some of the project management courses offered by Knowledge Train.