To Certify or Not to Certify – Still a Burning Project Management Question

project management certification

Project management certification. Is it helpful? Does it get you jobs? Does it increase your project management skills? Does it add value to you as a project manager? Does it add value to the organisation you work for? Monetarily…is it worth it? Should hiring organisations require it? Should hiring managers demand it?

These are all great questions and the answer to most is probably…”it depends.” It depends on the person, the company, the project management office (PMO), the sector and/or industry you work in, the customer’s needs and preferences, and sometimes even the amount of work that the hiring company wants to put in to hiring the best project managers around.

Let’s consider a few factors…

 The job posting.

I’ve long upheld that – at least in my opinion – only the most lazy hiring organisations or human resources departments actually demand project management certification. Yes, some projects and market niches really require it. For example, some public sector positions may require it to meet certain quotas or standards. And some organisations doing business in those sectors may need to require it in order to secure contracts in that sector. That’s very understandable. But if that is not the case, then I think the organisations that outright require it are using lazy hiring practices and likely missing some of the very best project management candidates available for every one of those “certification required” PM jobs. In my opinion, go with experience first, and then take certification as a nice add-on if it comes with the candidate. I’ve built great teams with that philosophy.

 Is it value added?

Yes. I believe, without a doubt, that any certification in a field you are dedicated to adds some value to you as a candidate. And, therefore, it would add value to the organisation that hires you as a project manager because to is a certification to the profession. I’m not stating that it makes you a better project manager – I haven’t gotten to that point yet – but it is still a certification in your chosen field so yes, in my opinion, it adds value. To you and to the organisation.

 Does it make you a better project manager?

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say “no.” I realise that any knowledge – any positive knowledge, at least – usually makes you better. But in terms of a better project manager, more organised, more ready to lead your team and project and customer to project success? I’m going to say overall…no. I think an argument could go either way on this so I know I’m going to catch some flack for this stance.

 Monetarily…is it worth it?

I think to truly answer this question we would need to pose it to the newer project managers who have the minimum hours of experience and are gaining project management certifications. We need them to answer here…is it helping you find your first big project management gig? Is it helping you increase your salary and move up in the organisation? My answer – in general here…and especially since it isn’t that costly – would be yes. But keeping up with the training and the PDUs can be an issue. Still, I would answer this one personally with a yes.

 Summary / call for input

I’d really like to hear feedback from project managers – new ones, old ones, certified ones, non-certified ones, employed ones, and those looking for new or next project management jobs. What’s your take on this? Is project management certification – most notably PMP (project management professional) certification from the Project Management Institute (PMI) or any similar certifications – worth it today? And, the next question is, which is best? Which should you get first? Let’s hear responses and discuss.

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Brad Egeland

Author: Brad Egeland

Brad Egeland is a Business Solution Designer and IT/PM consultant and author with over 25 years of software development, management, and project management experience leading initiatives in Manufacturing, Government Contracting, Creative Design, Gaming and Hospitality, Retail Operations, Aviation and Airline, Pharmaceutical, Start-ups, Healthcare, Higher Education, Non-profit, High-Tech, Engineering and general IT. Brad is married, a father of 10, and living in sunny Las Vegas, NV. Visit Brad's site at http://www.bradegeland.com/

1 thought on “To Certify or Not to Certify – Still a Burning Project Management Question”

  1. Hello Brad, I agree 100%! The lazy hiring organisation wants a formal project management certification, especially as the recruiter often does not have the skills to measure or determine competency, so they use the presence of this qualification as a gateway. In the same way many job adverts still ask for “a degree”, whether it be in Social Science or Chemical Engineering.

    More modern organisations are are now discounting whether you have a degree or not, they want to know how good you are at something, do you have evidence of that, and what can you do for their organisation, and do you display true leadership attributes? They don’t want to hire you so they can tell you what to do, they hire you so you can tell them what to do – faster, smarter, better!

    One can understand the requirement for a degree or formal qualification only if its directly job specific, like a Medical Doctor or CA accountant. For the rest, drop the paradigm, and seek evidence of how really good that person is and if the people skills and “fit” is good, which are much more important attributes.

    Keen to hear the views of others.

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