Whether you want to join the project management profession or improve your prospects in your current career, a project management qualification may be for you.
However, when you begin your research on the certifications out there, you might end up confused by the sheer variety of project management qualifications on the market.
To get the most out of your time studying, you want to ensure that you select the right certification for you, which will vary depending on where you want to work, your industry, and your experience.
Check out this handy guide to learn about the best project management qualifications 2019 has to offer you!
PRINCE2 (PRojects IN Controlled Environments) is one of the most popular project management methods in the world. The UK Government pioneered this methodology back in 1989, then updated it into its second iteration in 1996. The framework continues to be updated on a yearly basis.
The PRINCE2 method can be tailored projects of any size, scope, complexity or sector, giving it a wide range of uses. Project managers around the world can take the principles of this technique and customise it for their working environment.
As well as project managers, this can also benefit those that work closely alongside them, such as project board members and team managers.
To begin learning this project management method, you’ll start with the PRINCE2 Foundation qualification unless you already hold a relevant project management qualification. The Foundation course is open to anyone, regardless of experience or education.
You’ll then progress to the PRINCE2 Practitioner course, which teaches you to apply the initial knowledge learned at foundation level to real-life projects in varied sectors.
There are seven key principles defined within this standard, all created with the intention of making the project management process smoother. The framework also outlines the seven themes that should be addressed throughout any project and (you guessed it) the seven phases of organising a project.
- 88% of practitioners say PRINCE2 has been valuable to their career, including 91% of consultants*
- A project management methodology that can be adapted to suit any project in any industry or sector
- Globally recognised qualification
- No experience required for Foundation level
- A 60-minute exam for Foundation level and a 2-hour and 30-minute exam for Practitioner level
- Awarded by AXELOS and PeopleCert
- Practitioners must renew their certification every three years
- Can be studied and completed 100% online
Association for Project Management (APM) Qualifications
The APM is the UK’s Chartered project management body and offers a wide range of qualifications with four levels of training available. These range from the fundamentals to in depth instruction for senior project management gurus.
The Project Fundamentals Qualification (PFQ) is recommended for those with little to no experience within the sector. It gives a high-level view of the basics of project management, with an emphasis on the principles of the profession.
If you’d like to start at a higher level or continue your training, the Project Management Qualification (PMQ, formerly known as the APMP), Project Professional Qualification (PPQ), and Practitioner Qualification (PQ) will allow you to climb the ladder.
You can also gain the PMQ through the Associate Project Management apprenticeship.
There are 47 competencies within this framework, which are split across technical, behavioural and contextual sectors. Their Body of Knowledge is tested through a 60-question exam for the fundamental level.
If you’re a PRINCE2 Registered Practitioner, you can achieve the Project Management Qualification in a shorter timeframe, studying a condensed course and sitting a two-hour rather than three-hour exam.
- No experience needed to enter the foundation-level course
- Four qualification levels
- 47 competencies to learn within the standard
- PRINCE2 Registered Practitioners sit a shorter course and exam
- Awarded by the Association for Project Management
Project Management Institute (PMI) Qualifications
Project Management Professional (PMP)
The PMP qualification is for those who are experienced and actively working within the project management profession. The prerequisites are strict as it’s not an entry-level course.
An application showing your experience in project management must be submitted to the PMI (Project Management Institute) to undertake this course. Applicants must be able to prove their hours of experience and their prior project management education.
It’s a globally recognised qualification and those who pass become a part of the PMI. According to the awarding body, those surveyed with this certification were found to earn 20% more on average than those without the certification.
This qualification is valid for three years and successful graduates must earn and report a further 60 professional development units before this time. If you keep up with these units over the course of the three years the qualification will renew; if not, it will expire and you’ll have to reapply.
The exam is designed to test five domains of project management: initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling, and closing. There are 200 questions for candidates to complete over the course of four hours, either at an exam centre or remotely.
- Designed for experienced project management professionals
- Awarded by the Project Management Institute
- Expires after three years should professional development units not be completed
- A single four-hour exam covering 200 questions
- Globally recognised qualification
Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)
The CAPM qualification is also distributed by the Project Management Institute but is aimed towards less experienced learners than the PMP qualification.
If you don’t have any experience in project management, you must pass an initial course in Project Management Basics before applying to the CAPM course. This acts as an introduction to the terms and scenarios that will be discussed within the CAPM qualification.
The CAPM can be a stepping stone towards the full PMP qualification and is a great introduction to the world of project management.
The course culminates in an exam with 150 multiple choice questions. Those that pass should be prepared to resit the exam every five years in order to maintain their status.
- Less advanced than the PMP.
- Ideal if you have some project management experience or have completed the Project Management Basics course
- Awarded by the Project Management Institute
- The exam consists of 150 multiple choice questions
- Resit required every five years to refresh qualification
Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) Qualification
Agile workplaces and Scrum methodologies are becoming ever more popular. Agile may have been born in the chaotic early days of software development, but it’s now applied in many modern workplaces outside of the tech world.
While there are many certifications out there for those who want to study these principles, Certified ScrumMaster is one of the most popular. The course was designed by Scrum Alliance, a non-profit organisation with a mission to change the world of work.
From a project management perspective, this course can be a valuable way to save time. The streamlined collaboration and communication that this framework offers leads to effective prioritisation, and the method can be helpful for staff morale and productivity, as large tasks are broken into more manageable chunks.
As a ScrumMaster, your role is to reduce distractions and keep the project on task using the Scrum methodology.
To complete the certification, you’ll be required to pass an exam comprising of 35 questions. The membership to the Scrum Alliance that is part of this certification lapses every two years and should be renewed.
Further learning is available through the Professional ScrumMaster certification.
- Open to anyone with a basic knowledge of Scrum
- Final exam includes 35 questions
- Created by the Scrum Alliance and distributed through training providers
- Membership to the Scrum Alliance expires every two years
Six Sigma Qualifications
The Six Sigma system focuses on improving processes to reduce defects and save money, benefitting employees, project managers and the company as a whole.
Six Sigma was initially coined in the 1980s, with the Motorola team behind its inception. It’s a totally comprehensive framework, which gives it the advantage over alternative initiatives like Total Quality Management (TQM).
There are three levels for those that want to become Six Sigma certified. They’re based on martial arts bands, including Yellow, Green and Black Belt – don’t worry, you don’t need to get stretching to achieve these!
The training works on the concept that spending time improving processes is cheaper than dealing with dissatisfaction and errors. There are five phases to work through: define, measure, analyse, improve and control. When practiced correctly, this should lead to only 3.4 mistakes made for every million processes.
Anyone can undertake this training and the exam will have you answering 100 questions. They’re a mix of multiple choice questions and true/false questions, with a time limit of four hours to complete.
- Open to any learner
- Focuses on improving processes to save money
- Three bands available: Yellow, Green and Black Belt
- Final exam takes place over four hours with 100 questions
We hope that this article has helped you decide which project management qualifications would be best for you.
Each of these courses has their own pros and cons, so weigh them up carefully before you decide which you want to embark on. With the right project management certification, you may be on your way to bigger and better prospects in your career!
* AXELOS 2016 PRINCE2® Report
If you want to embark on a Project Management course, get PRINCE2 qualified online at your own pace with us.