Project Management professionals can invest countless hours and thousands of dollars as well as enduring tremendous stress trying to earn a PMP or other project management certification. The application process can be tedious and time consuming. The test is challenging and stressful. You've been leading projects for years without a certificate and have found good success in your career. It begs the question, Is a Project Management Certificate worth it?
We work with many different clients across a variety of industries. Regardless of size, industry or specialty we always get the same question from PMO Directors recruiting new talent, "What do you think about having a PMP certification as a requirement?" A project management certificate can be a valuable asset for professionals looking to move up in their careers. There are a plethora of certification choices for project managers to earn but is it worth the time and money to get one?
Is a Project Management Certificate Worth It?
We'll get to an answer to this question but before we do, let's examine a little deeper to better understand the question and provide a thoughtful answer. We should also consider the steps you'd need to take to earn a project management certificate.
Step 1: Determine if you need a project management certificate
Step 2: Research the different types of project management certificates
Step 3: Choose a program that meets your needs
Step 4: Register for the program
What is a Project Management Certificate?
A project management certificate is an educational credential that is typically earned by completing a coursework program in project management. The credential may be earned by completing an accredited program, or by passing a certification exam. The project management field is growing rapidly, and many employers now require a project management certificate in order to hire candidates.
Some common project management related certificates are:
- PMP certification - The Project Management Professional (PMP) certification is the most common project management credential. The PMP certification is earned by passing an exam from the Project Management Institute (PMI).
- CAPM certification - The Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) certification is also a popular project management credential. The CAPM certification is earned by passing an exam from the Project Management Institute (PMI).
- Agile Certified Practitioner certification - The PMI-ACP certification is a project management certification that is based on the principles of the PMI charter. The PMI-ACP certification is earned by completing an accredited program, and passing a certification exam from the Project Management Institute
- Scrum Master certication - The ScrumMaster certification is a project management certification that is based on the Scrum framework. The ScrumMaster certification is earned by completing an accredited program, and passing a certification exam from the Scrum Alliance.
- PRINCE2 certification - PRINCE2 stands for PRojects IN Controlled Environments, and is used and recognised all over the world. It has become quite popular and is the go to standard for project management in most UK government departments.
What are the Benefits of Getting a Project Management Certificate?
A project management certificate can offer a number of benefits to those who earn it. These benefits may include:
- Enhanced job prospects
- Increased knowledge and skills
- Improved communication and collaboration skills
- Increased self-confidence
Additionally, a project management certificate may provide a competitive edge when applying for positions in the project management field. Many companies also choose to pay a higher salary to employees who are certificate holders. You may also feel a sense of personal accomplishment which would outweigh all the other benefits listed. Knowing that you committed to your profession and yourself to get better and continue your professional and career growth is a huge benefit to consider.
What are the Requirements for Getting a Project Management Certificate?
A project management certificate (PMP) is a credential offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI) that indicates that the holder has met the educational requirements for a project management certification.
To qualify for PMP certification with PMI you need to meet the following requirements (as found on the PMI website)
A four-year degree
36 months leading projects
35 hours of project management education/training or CAPM® Certification
— OR —
A high school diploma or an associate’s degree (or global equivalent)
60 months leading projects
35 hours of project management education/training or CAPM® Certification
How Much Does it Cost to Get a Project Management Certificate?
There is no one answer to this question as the cost of getting a project management certificate can vary depending on the certification being earned, program of study, your location and where testing is offered. It is not unrealistic to expect to spend well over $1000 to preparation and testing. That is a significant investment to make and that does not place a dollar value on your time spent preparing, nor the stress you'll experience throughout the process.
While the cost can be significant, there are also opportuntities to find some relief from those costs. For example, if you are a veteran there are several programs which can help you offset the costs. Also, check with your employer to see if they will cover the costs. Most PMOs include training costs in their budget to cover continuing education for the project delivery team which would include project management certification expenses.
How Long Does it Take to Get a Project Management Certificate?
As with the previous topics, the length of time it takes to receive a project management certificate can vary depending on the program and the individual. Generally, programs offer a one- or two-year program that culminates in a certificate. However, you must consider the time to study for the exam as well as your life circumstances which may interfere with your ability to properly prepare.
We're project managers so it's best to use the skills we have learned and build yourself a schedule. Include when you'll take any required coursework, time to complete the application process, time to study and take practice exams as well as the day for the test and the next day to celebrate passing the exam!
So, is a project management certificate worth it?
Well, that depends on you.
- Where are you in your career?
- What do you want to gain from earning a certification?
- Do you have the time and finances necessary to prepare for the certification?
When we look at resumes we don't discount someone because they don't have a certificate, but we do inquire as to why not. Most candidates offer a valid justification and provide practical experience to demonstrate they are qualified for the role. However, we also hear excuses such as, "I started but never quite got around to it". It isn't up to me to tell you if it is worth it to you to earn a project management certificate but there is value to it.
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