What qualifications do you need to land a project management job? It depends on what’s required by your potential employer.
What Are Project Management Qualifications?
Being qualified for a position as a project manager means you have the skills, experience and temperament for the job. Therefore, qualifications in this context can have a variety of meanings, depending on the organization and the position they’re looking to fill.
Some of the more general qualities associated with being qualified for a project management position include:
- Being able to communicate is the thread that runs through all the responsibilities of project managers.
- Having three years of experience as a project manager, or thereabouts, shows you have relevant experience.
- Having formal training is another indication that you’ll be able to walk into the job and know what to do.
- Having PMP certification is an industry standard to show that you’ve learned the basics and know the various project management methodologies.
Video: Project Management Qualifications Overview
Learn about the top-10 project management qualifications in this tutorial video featuring Jennifer Bridges, PMP.
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Top 10 Project Management Qualifications
There are many project management qualifications. It’s a discipline that wears many hats, as the saying goes. Here are 10 of the most important.
1. Project Planning
Project planning is organizing tasks, the resources needed to complete them, costs and schedules to deliver a product or service by the deadline. Project planning is the second stage in project management, after initiation and before execution, monitoring and controlling and closing.
2. Project Scheduling
The project schedule is the organization of the project tasks from the start of the project to its completion, which is usually a hard deadline. Each task will have a duration with its own start date and end date.
3. Project Budgeting
The project budget is what the project will cost to complete. It includes all project resources, from people to equipment and materials, which are needed to execute the project. Project budgets are estimated by project managers and then approved by the project client or stakeholders.
4. Risk Management
A project risk is an unexpected event, which can be positive or negative. Risk management is a process to identify, manage and resolve these risks, whether it’s to take advantage of a positive one or mitigate a negative one. Risks are identified, a plan of action is devised and the impact and likelihood of the risk occurring are determined.
5. Resource Management
As mentioned above, a resource is anything needed to execute the project. These resources must be sourced, scheduled and managed so the right amount is on hand when needed. This is done through a resource management plan.
6. Business Analysis
Business analysis is the process of understanding the needs of business stakeholders and defining how to meet those needs. The project should be driven by business analysis that directs the benefits of delivering its product or service.
7. Team Management
Team management is the actions, strategies and methods used to get a group of people working better together. The goal is team building, which leads to a more effective project team. It also involves monitoring the team and their workload to make sure they’re working at capacity without being overburdened.
8. Leadership Skills
Leadership skills refer to the ability to strengthen and guide a group of people to work together as a team and achieve a common goal more effectively. Some leadership skills are being able to motivate others, communicate effectively and resolve conflicts.
9. Stakeholder Management
Stakeholder management is a process of maintaining productive relationships with project stakeholders. Stakeholders are those people who have a vested interest in the project. They need to be informed and their expectations met, all of which is helped by good stakeholder management.
10. Interpersonal Skills
Interpersonal skills are the ability to work with a wide range of people on a project. Projects are made up of many different people, with different responsibilities, from teams to managers and executives to suppliers, vendors and more. Each requires a slightly different approach and the better one can communicate with everyone clearly, the better for the project.
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Types of Project Management Qualifications
These are the four core qualifications, broken down into their basic components.
Project Management Skills
- Project management: Naturally, you’ll have to start with an understanding of project management, which can itself be broken down into four core competencies: Time, as in the time it takes to complete the project; cost, which involves the financial investment; scope, or the work that the project requires; and quality, meeting the needs of the customer.
- Business: There’s a business component to project management, of course. That includes knowledge of the project financials, an understanding of profit and loss, as well as the skill of creating and sticking to a project budget.
- Leadership: Leading a project inherently means being a leader. Leadership is not a technical skill, but it can be studied and taught. Some leadership skills include being able to resolve conflicts, communicating, speaking and writing clearly, having negotiating skills, being persuasive and leading teams.
Project Management Training
Training is one of the most important project management qualifications. There are two channels that lead to learning the skills necessary for being a project manager.
- Formal: There are many structured courses of study devoted to the skill of managing a project, from getting a degree at an institution of higher learning to any number of certification programs (more on that later).
- Informal: Some organizations have in-house programs to help you transition into project management or offer to mentor and shadowing programs. There is also volunteer work you can do to get the experience an employer will want from a candidate.
Project Management Experience
Speaking of experience, let’s dive deeper into that asset:
- Volunteering: As noted, volunteering is a way to get the experience you need. This can be through seeking projects that need guidance or leadership, or you might find such opportunities at your current place of employment. Raise your hand when there are requests for extra work, don’t be shy. It’ll pay off in the long run.
- Internships: Look for opportunities to intern at some business or organization that is looking for people to help with managing their projects. This could lead to full-time employment, but at the very least it adds real experience to your project manager resume.
- Co-Op: This is just another way to volunteer or intern at an organization. It usually applies to students who are seeking professional experience and consists of both formal training and learning experience.
- Entry level/advanced level: Depending on your level of experience, newcomers to the industry can seek entry-level positions, while those with some years of project management experience can look for a more advanced-level position.
Project Management Certifications
There are various project management certifications offered to individuals looking to make themselves more viable candidates for project management positions:
- PM/BA: You can receive certification or a degree in project management from any number of undergraduate and graduate education programs.
- PMP: PMP stands for Project Management Professional, and is an internationally recognized certification offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI).
- Agile/Scrum: Organizations, such as the Scrum Alliance, offer training and certification in these newer project management practices.
- Take it further: And once you land that dream job, you’ll want to equip yourself and your team with the best project management software for your needs.