It’s a timeless debate. Is project management certification like project management professional worth pursuing? Organizations promoting the necessary coursework will always say yes but others have varying opinions.
Derek Singleton, writing at SoftwareAdvice, posed that question to several project management and hiring experts to get a better sense of who should get a PMP, what it takes to get one and the potential payoff.
It may seem obvious but Singleton observes that you need to believe you really want PMP after your name before you engage on the lengthy path to certification. At a minimum, folks with a bachelor’s degree need three years experience, 4500 hours documented time leading and directing projects plus 35 hours of project management education.
Singleton writes, “The first thing to understand about the PMP certification is that it’s best-suited for individuals who already know they want to pursue a career of planning and executing projects across functional teams from beginning to end. In other words, if you want to pursue a career that isn’t focused on project-based work (e.g. a sales career), then the PMP isn’t for you. As Kevin Archbold, consulting manager at Key Consulting, puts it, ‘It’s not really appropriate for individuals whose work is individually based and doesn’t depend on others for completion.’”
The website offers a different perspective. “Some people are concerned with the question should they certify themselves at all. Some want to know what is the easiest way to become certified. There is also a question of which certification should they go for, as there are several options,” the site’s author Dino Butorac says before adding the most honest response of all. “The answer to all of these questions is: it depends.”
One advantage to certification, Singleton claims, is it makes you stand out when competing against others for work. It could be more valuable than a graduate degree. “Some recruiters even value the certification over a master’s degree. According to Rosemary Guzman, executive recruiter at Hook The Talent, ‘The master’s is a nice to have, but the certification lets the hiring director know you already have proven experience and you’ve passed rigorous criteria approved and accepted by a national project management community [as opposed to] a lone university,’” he writes.
But there is an interesting twist to PMP certification. Singleton offers anecdotal evidence that just the education itself – and not the certification – may be enough. He cites the case of a woman who took “a PMP training course while she was working in the financial services department at Apple. After completing the course, [she] landed a position as [a program manager] where her salary immediately doubled. (No perspective is added on what it doubled from.)
The woman says that being able to put PMP training on her resume helped her “gain instant credibility and attention for a role [she] otherwise wouldn’t be considered for without a four-year degree.” In her mind, Singleton said, it immediately put her on equal footing with candidates that had more prestigious educational backgrounds.
Butorac offers good advice on making sure you’re even qualified before heading down the path to certification. He writes, “Here are some of the tasks that you may have been performing and which would be acceptable:
- “Define the high-level scope of the project based on the business and complience requirements, in order to meet the customer’s project expectations.”
- “Present the project plan to the key stakeholders (if required), in order to obtain approval to execute the project.”
- “Execute the tasks as defined in the project plan, in order to achieve the project deliverables within budget and schedule.”
- “Communicate project status to stakeholders for their feedback, in order to ensure the project aligns with business needs.”
- “Obtain final acceptance of the project deliverables by working with the sponsor and/or customer, in order to confirm that project scope and deliverables were met.”