Which Project Management Certification Is Right for You?


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Project management certification is a way to distinguish yourself from a crowd of managers. It’s a document from an impartial third party that says you have the education and the skillset for a job.

There’s been project management certification for years, and we’ve covered it here , but as the profession evolves, we want to keep you updated with the changes.

For example, every five to seven years the Project Management Institute (PMI) conducts an industry-wide survey about project management. Because of the new information gathered through the most recent survey, PMI will update its PMP certification, which will become an effective first quarter of 2018.

Certification is also a way to stay current with a discipline that is always changing. Keeping up with the newest technology, techniques and trends is how you keep yourself employed and well-compensated for that certification. Certification leads to a higher project manager salary.

Ok, but is certification really necessary? It doesn’t hurt. So, what is the best project management certification? That depends on you. But getting certified is an ongoing concern and one that you should always be aware of. Here are the best project management certifications, from IT project management certifications to more traditional industries.

Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)

PMI administers many of the certifications in our field, including this one, the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM). This is the first step in your certification journey. It doesn’t require much more than a high-school diploma or equivalent and at least 1,500 hours of project management experience or 23 hours of project management education. But it gives you the basics and is a way to differentiate yourself from others trying to break into the business.

Price: PMI members, $225, nonmembers, $300

CompTIA Project+ Certification

Another entry-level certification, but with fewer requirements than CAPM, CompTIA Project+ is recommended for people who have had one year of managing a small- to medium-sized project management experience. With this certification you’ve opened the door to a career in project management, having learned the knowledge and skills needed to lead a project to a successful end.

Price: $285

Project Management Professional (PMP)

Again, managed by PMI, the PMP certification is a rigorous and thorough test that covers all aspects of project management. From the triple constraint of time, cost and scope, to every phase of the project from initiating, planning and executing to monitoring, controlling and closing, it shows you’re the best of the best. The exam is based on PMI’s Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK), and requires that you have a high-school degree or equivalent, 7,500 hours of managing projects or 35 hours of project management education. If you have a four-year degree, however, you can qualify with only 4,500 hours of managing a project.

Price: PMP certification costs vary online, PMI members pay $405, nonmembers, $555; for printed exams, members, $250, nonmembers $400.

Associate in Project Management (APM), Professional in Project Management (PPM) and Certified Project Director (CPD)

All three tiers of certification are offered by the nonprofit Global Association for Quality Management (GAQM), APM covers a broad spectrum of project management skills at the entry-level and requires no experience. PPM is the next level up, targeting experienced project managers with some formal management experience. CPD is exclusively for professionals who have significant experience in the field. It’s suited for complex projects and focuses on managing, budgeting and scope when working on multiple projects.

Price: APM, PPM and CDP $300 each

Certified Project Management Practitioner (CPMP)

You don’t need any experience to take CPMP certification, but it’s recommended to take the three-day preparation course for the exam. Proctored by the EC-Council, an organization formed after 9/11 to deal with cyberterrorism, CPMP crosses many methodologies and types of projects, usually more complex ones, and is recommended for project managers looking to add value to their already established skillsets.

Price: $199

Master Project Manager (MPM)

The MPM certification is handled by the American Academy of Project Management (AAPM) and is recognized around the world. It requires you have three years of project management experience, though waivers are available for those holding a qualifying master’s degree. The program is best for those who work in business and technical professions.

Price: $300

Certified Scrum Master

Scrum is part of Agile, which has become a standard in IT projects. It is used in software development, for small teams of developers who work in short “sprints.” The certification, a great way to get started in the discipline, is offered by the nonprofit Scrum Alliance. It teaches you how to properly work in Scrum, its values, practices and applications. To get certified as a Scrum Master you first must have some knowledge of Scrum.

Price: Between $995 and $1,395

PRINCE2 Certification

PRINCE2 is an acronym for Projects in Controlled Environments. It was developed in England and is more common in Europe, where it’s used by most governmental organizations. The certification is provided by the AXELOS, a joint venture between the UK and Capita, which trains participants in directing, managing and delivering projects from initiation to close. There are two certifications available, PRINCE2 Foundation and PRINCE2 Practitioner. The former being an entry-level certification on basic project management terms and methods, with the former for more advanced project managers who have already passed PRINCE2 Foundation.

Price: PRINCE2 Foundation, $200 and PRINCE2 Practitioner, $340

Project Management in IT Security (PMITS)

Like CPMP, PMITS is operated by the EC-Council and focuses exclusively on managing IT security projects. Candidates need at least two years of project management experience, plus, preferably, a bachelor’s degree or higher. There’s an EC-Council training program offered before the exam, which is recommended.

Price: $250

Whatever project management certification you get, you’ll still need the right tools to apply that knowledge. ProjectManager is a cloud-based project management software developed by project managers to help with every phase of the project. Take your learning to the next level by trying out our software free for 30-days.

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