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How to choose right (for you) project management certifications – part 3

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I would like to thank you for the many comments, tips and suggestions to the previous two parts of the article. The second part of the post was particularly popular, it compares Certification: PRINCE2, PMI (PMP) and the IPMA. As promised (though much later) the next part of the article will address mainly about what is or shall be followed in the process of right (for you or for your employees) certification selection. In this article you’ll also find comparison of project management certification popularity throughout the world.

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There are things related  with the project management certification selection process, among the others: funding (training, materials, exam, and later also recertification process), personal sacrifices often associated with spending a lot of time for exam preparation (whether it’s our time, or your  employees), so taking a decision requires answer a few questions in advance.

The first and most important!

Why do I want to be certified? Why do I want to certify their own employees? What I want to achieve by that?

The most common answer is probably:

– I want to be certified in order to improve my chances in the job market. I need it in my CV. I want to change my job. I want to earn more.

In this case,  you shall do a little research in advance to find out what certificates are noticeable by employers in the country in which you want to work?

Does your current or future employer esteem  any particular certifications? Is there an official policy of the company, which involves obtaining promotion / pay rise with a specific certificate?

The best way to find out is to enter into several popular websites in the country with job offers and in the search box type in the name of the certificates. Number of retrieved results should give you a really good perception. If you are interested in working for a particular company you  might use social networking websites (e.g. LinkedIn) and look for people from the company on similar positions and see what certifications they currently have. You can also ask them, but I don’t if they will be glad to answer you (you’re theirs competition).

One note, it is rarely that the certification itself  will automatically give you the right to rise or promotion (but it can be an additional arguments), but there  are companies in which holding a particular certificate is required to cover the position. It is also true that denser sieves of recruiters requires very often a certificate to pass it through when changing the job.

 The good news is that I made a little research on project management certifications popularity in various country. They are below. 


Project managements certifications popularity job offers for project managers
Project managements certifications popularity job offers for project managers


As you can see the PMP is almost worldwide (probably already has become a sort of license for the Project Manager profession). Please note, however, that there are a few countries with the full PRINCE2 dominant role (Netherlandes, UK, Australia)).

I would also mention research conducted in the U.S. that show that a person with PMP certified earn significantly more than those with other IT certificates (although it is difficult to determine whether it is due the certification or it is just relted to the postion).

– I want to get formal confirmation of my experience and skills.

In this case, you shouldn’t bother with ‘the lower levels certifications’ , just start right away on these on higher level  (unless the ‘lower level’ certifications  are required to obtain a higher level). The truth is that the number of persons holding certificates IPMA-B, or IPMA-A or PgMP is still limited, and the issuing organizations want to maintain their elitism. So if you truly have  a great experience in managing projects / programs the best way is to choose this path.

 – I want to make sure that my staff (project managers) have the appropriate knowledge and competence to manage projects.

This, in turn, is very often the response of management. In my opinion, it is worth to seriously consider certificates from IPMA, it  is checking not only literal knowledge but also the skills and competences held by the Project Manager (from level C). If your organization is dominated by PRINCE2, above all, you shall takie into account the PRINCE2 certification (but rather the Practitioner level). However, it would be worth it to support it with one of the Project Manager competence models (e.g. from IPMA, but there are others), when the periodic employee assessments time comes. Similarly, you can deal with PMP certification.

– I want to make sure that my staff (project managers) are perceived by customers as a professional.

The choice of a certificate depends on the market in which the organization conducts its business. In this case, you will need to perform the same exercise (or use the attached chart by me) as if you wanted to find a job at the customer’s company, with the difference that the study shall be conducted for the decision makers’ country / region.

– I want to reduce the risk of project failure.

The right management system and the introduction of the methodology of project /risk management, rather than just individual training and certification of project managers should help you. But taking into account that it is still rare situation in which a person who start project managing has a formal preparation in this area, so the training and certification of fresh Project Managers (the lower levels certification:  CAPM, PRINCE2 Foundation, IPMA-D) is a pretty good idea which will help avoiding many potential problems in the project. However, it should be remembered that the training and certification are not able to replace well-structured methodology and lessons-learned database.

Great punch line will be he a response from one of linkedin users – Susan de Sousa, who answered my question:

Lastly, in my experience learning PM theory is all well and good, but you will find it doesn’t help in real life. After all most PM’s in the public sector have at least one if not several PM qualifications, and the track record of IT projects in this sector is appalling. In fact in the UK we have wasted conservatively £18 Billion on failed NHS IT projects all of which were managed by PM Qualified personnel.

– I want to create a career path for project managers

Think about certifications, which offers several levels, which takes into account the evaluation and development of the project manager, and not only checks the knowledge – the most close to the ideal is IPMA scheme. But the certification provided by PMI have now three levels, and they  enable specialization in areas of project management such as: PMP-SP (Scheduling Professional) and PMP-RMP (Risk Management Professional), which allows you to build a career path, not only in vertical direction.

Other, but equally important questions:

What is the most popular certification in the country / industry?

Setting the appropriate certification, as a standard in the company will help you to attract workers from the job market and accelerate their implementation within the organization. On the other hand, you can also worry about the migration of your certified staff.

What are the standards the client require from us?

 The customer very often has the power to force use particular project management methodology,it is very common to require specific certificate from the project managers. In particular, it is popular in the public sector, for example in Poland the public sector is dominated by the PRINCE2 methodology and the government contractors are often required to have an adequate number of workers certified PRINCE2 Foundation or Practitioner in order to tender.

What is the budget (in person / in the organization) for the certification?

Certification does cost! Not only the time needed to devote for preparation, but also requires the money – the real cash. Money will be associated with:

• Training – to be able to accede to the CAPM or PMP exam you have to demonstrate participation in training related to project management (least troublesome, but the most expensive is a training in a Registered Education Provider), for PRINCE2, IPMA exam  there is no such requirements . so the training prices are correspondingly lower. Remember, however, that training is not only the money spent, it also devoted time to them.

• materials for the exam (books, courses, flashcards, audio books, etc.)- the costs for different certification are comparable, but in the case of PMP it is much larger selection of available materials than for any other

• Examining / certification cost- a relatively small for ‘lower lever certificates’ but it can be costly to obtain ‘higher level’ ones

• recertification costs – PMP, IPMA certifications, Prince2 Practitioner. PRINCE2 Foundation in the case doesn’t require recertification.

• additional requirements related to 360 degree evaluation – for ‘higher level certifications’

What experience do you have in a project management?

 Some certifications such as PMP or IPMA at appropriate levels require relevant experience , whether at work in the projects, or conducting  projects  of appropriate complexity. Before you send people for training, or they will begin to learn – a good idea is to check first whether they meet the experience criteria. Note for IPMA certification, the age of the candidates is it is also important.

 Is there any particular project management methodology in your company?

If your organization was built on the basis of PRINCE2 methodology, it would be hard to train and certify people from PMBOK.

Are there any training to prepare for certification?

Especially important if you want to opt for a more exotic certification, or you want to certify workers at a level higher than the standard, it may be that you’ll have to get trainers from abroad, which cost extra money.

What other methodologies or frameworks do you use in other areas?

Often, we use  methodologies in other areas, which are closely related to a specific project management methodology (e.g. PRINCE2 with ITIL).

Does the certification should require recertification?

On the one hand, requiring recertification of certificate is more expensive to maintain, however, an employer is more certain that the certificate after few years will still provide a value (it reflects the skills / knowledge of the employee).

I hope that I managed to raise all the important issues in this article. As always, I encourage you to discuss and forward your comments or ideas for further articles. I have a special request to my readers to verify the chart of the project managements certications popularity in different countries, whether it coincides with reality, if I chosen not representative job portals or omitted  your country, please send me info or comment the post.

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