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6 Reasons to Pursue PM Certification


The pursuit of the Holy Grail, the cup used by Christ at the Last Supper, is a story full of lore, legend, and intrigue. The vessel was given to Joseph of Arimathaea, and reportedly sustained him for years with fresh drink and food every morning while he was imprisoned.

The Grail was eventually lost. The search for it became the seedHoly Grail from which many legends were born, the most famous of which was King Arthur and the Knights of the Round-table’s pursuit of the precious artifact.

Their story concludes with Sir Galahad gazing upon the Holy Grail and he and the cup being lifted to heaven never to be seen again.

Today, “Holy Grail” is an expression or figure of speech that defines something as worth pursuing or that seems unattainable. For example, up until the 1950s the Holy Grail of athletic running was being able to run a mile in less than four minutes. Roger Bannister broke the record in 1954, and many male athletes have raised the bar since. The four-minute mile is still hard to do, but it is attainable.

What is the Holy Grail of project management? For some, it is earning their certification in project management, whether the PMP credential from the Project Management Institute (PMI) or another organization such as the International Project Management Association. Certification is an achievement that many still consider to be out of their reach, or at least intimidating.

Why Certification in Project Management May Seem Elusive

The requirements for certification in project management can seem overwhelming to the average project manager. The requirements include hours of formal training and contact with PMP educators, and hours of study spent reading books and completing coursework to prepare for the exam. Not to mention actually tracking and managing projects as part of the on-the-job criteria.

The exam is a challenge unto itself. Preparation for the exam could take months of very disciplined and focused independent study, or time spent with evening and weekend study groups. There are the additional costs of the exam and study materials, ranging anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars depending upon the path you choose.

Jumping through all of these hoops may seem oppressive when you are on this side of certification in project management. That’s why many feel that certification in project management is their Holy Grail.

Motivation for Certification in Project Management

You need some form of motivation in order to obtain your certification in project management. There’s a lot of work, sacrifice, and expense that is necessary in order to earn your certification, and having an end game or goal to shoot for will get you through these challenges. The following are some motivators that have helped others over these hurdles:

  • More Money: Earning a certification in project managementEarning a certification in project management is about investing in yourself is all about investing in yourself. There is a certain amount of risk and uncertainty that accompanies any investment of your money, but you should expect a certain return on that investment, in that the amount of interest you earn is commensurate with the amount of risk and uncertainty you are willing to undertake.It is similar with certification in project management. You are going to stretch yourself into areas that are outside of your comfort zone. You are going to spend time studying and preparing that could be spent elsewhere. You are going to spend money on training and exam fees that could be used for something else.Is the payoff worth it? Yes. On average, a project manager with PMP certification will earn approximately $10,000 more per year than a non-certified project manager. This is a significant motivator to stay committed to those sacrifices.
  • Opportunity for Promotion: When someone plots out a career path for themselves at their company, they learn that certification in project management is needed in order to get where they want to go.For example, you may have your eyes on the position of PMO Director, but the role requires PMP certification. You’ve been a successful project manager for a number of years in your company, but upward mobility will be impossible without that certification. The potential for career development then becomes a great motivator to pursue the Holy Grail of project management certification.
  • Your Company Requires Certification:  Another motivation for earning your certification in project management is when it is required by your company.Here’s the scenario: you currently don’t have a project management certification, but are a perfectly competent and capable project manager.However, your company has just landed a huge contract with a new client, who stipulated that the project be managed by a project manager who has their PMP certification. Their own project manager is PMP certified, and they feel it will allow for better interaction and engagement.Guess what? You’ve been picked to do the job…so you better get motivated to start studying for the exam.
  • It Helps You Get a New Job:  Someone may be disgruntled in their current position. They look around to see what the market for project managers looks like, and finds there are plenty of project management positions available with just one stipulation… “PMP Preferred.”This requirement is mentioned in every job description. You know you are a great project manager, but you currently don’t have your certification. You know you can do the job, but you also knowbuilding credibility and integrity your resume won’t even be considered until you have the PMP initials after your name.At the very least, certification will allow you to make it through a hiring manager’s first round of filters.
  • You Want More Initials After Your Name:  Some people in today’s workforce are focused on adding as many initials and credentials after their name as possible. The more the better; as soon as they pass the test for one certification they are on to the next. It becomes a way of life and keeps them motivated. One benefit to continual training is that it elicits feelings of confidence and establishes your credibility out of the gate.
  • You Want to Learn Something:  A final motivator for many people to pursue their certification in project management is learning itself. They may be struggling with certain issues at their place of employment and certification holds many of the solutions. They may like the mental challenge and stimulation of continuing education, so take the opportunity each year to keep their mind and skills sharp.

By all accounts, the Holy Grail was incredibly hard to find (just ask Monty Python or Indiana Jones). Fortunately, finding the Holy Grail of project management certification does not have to be as elusive. A disciplined and focused approach, a willingness to stretch yourself, and just a little bit of time is all you need to get the job done!

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