Not for the first time, I got an email from someone who attended one of my Practical Project Management seminars, asking about project management qualifications.
I wrote a blog a while ago called “How do I become a Project Manager?” answering that question, so I thought I would adapt my answer to Paul, and publish it. Please note that I am writing from a UK perspective.
Three Types of Qualification
For generic project management qualifications, there are three principle types to consider and investigate further. Each has its own merits and can be combined with the others, to build up your portfolio.
But the first question to ask yourself is: “why take a qualification?” I say this, because there will certainly be costs and time commitments attached to each. However, they will help you access certain jobs and also may help with career progression.
That said, experience is also vital and to get PM roles, you will need to review your CV to show your experience in a PM light.
The three principle types of qualification are:
- Branded methodologies
- Professional body certification
- Academic qualifications
The best known and most widely recognised in the UK are the OGC suite of methodologies that include PRINCE2. This is called the Best Management Practice Portfolio and you can see the whole range here: http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/resource-library/best-management-practice-bmp-portfolio. (Note that the OGC is no more – subsumed into Cabinet Office)
There may well be specific methodologies appropriate to your sector, but it is worth noting that PRINCE2 is a widely recognised qualification in the UK (and beyond) and is therefore a valuable asset for a general Project Manager. You can study on courses (3 and 5 day versions for fundamentals and practitioner status) and also online with providers like Aikona Academy – which I have sampled and been impressed with. There are many licenced providers, with APMG being the master provider in terms of over-arching ownership.
Professional Body Certification
Whilst there are a number of professional bodies for project managers, the two principle ones are:
- the Association for Project Management (APM) – UK-based
- the Project Management Institute (PMI) – US-based but with big UK representation these days
http://www.pmi.org/ and the UK Chapter: http://www.pmi.org.uk/
Both have their own qualifications and levels of professional membership. Both offer a high degree of credibility and high standards, as well as all of the other benefits (networking, resources, etc) that an international professional body can offer.
I should also mention the International Project Management Association, based in Switzerland. It also offers qualifications, but I have yet to meet anyone who is a member.
Many higher education institutions offer PM qualifications. Perhaps the most relevant to a working professional – unless you have the appetite for a year-off – is the Open University. Lots of “bricks and mortar” universities offer diploma and MSc level courses in the UK and elsewhere.
The “so what?”
I don’t feel able to advise further as I have not investigated much beyond this basic level, and I have none of these PM qualifications myself.
To learn more, I recommend using the web as a resource. If you are on LinkedIn, do join some PM groups and get involved in their discussions.
Blogs can be useful too. Perhaps the most relevant blogger is Josh Nankivel. Josh is US-based and is writing mainly for a US audience, and his blog is about getting PM skills, experience and qualifications. Any reader will find some useful stuff at PM Student. Josh runs it as a business, and I believe he is also a working PM.