The right project can help a company meet its goals faster and cost-effectively, ensuring longevity and competitiveness. However, successful projects need qualified project managers to make them happen.
This article tackles the subject of project management qualification, including a definition, what qualifications entail, the eligibility requirements, a sample project manager career path, and why PMP certification training is so necessary.
But first, let’s review the definition of project management as it applies to today’s business world.
Project Management: A Brief Definition
According to the Project Management Institute, the first and last word on project management, “Project management is the use of specific knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to deliver something of value to people.” Similarly, projects are temporary efforts designed to create value via a specific process, service, or product. Since projects have characteristics like tasks and activities and stages such as initiation, planning, and execution, they require oversight and management.
That’s where the project management professional comes in. As the name implies, they manage projects, providing control and structure so that all the activities create the proper results that meet the client’s expectations. With a certified project manager at the helm, leading and directing projects, things get done, and the organization and the customers benefit.
Now, let’s dissect the concept of PMP qualifications.
What Exactly Does “Qualification” Mean?
Simply put, being qualified means possessing the necessary experience, skills, and temperament for the position. This definition applies to any vocation, including a project management career. So, an overarching set of qualifications is standard in project management regardless of the industry or company. Here’s a collection of typical qualifications typically expected of a project management professional, or PMP, irrespective of the organization’s size or type:
- At least three years of experience in the role of project manager
- Formal training, typically an undergraduate program that emphasizes management and human resources
- The ability to communicate effectively
- Project management professional certification of some kind
However, organizations typically have unique, different project management requirements. This demand could be anything from the candidate’s years of project management experience, different sets of project management skills, or how many project management certifications the candidate has earned.
So, let’s look closer at specific project management requirements and qualifications and see if we can create a complete picture.
Project Management Qualifications and Requirements
In this section, we sort the project management requirements into four groups loosely based on the above-mentioned general qualifications.
Project management training is divided into formal and informal methods. Formal training covers organized courses of study provided by an undergraduate or graduate program, continuing education classes, or online courses and bootcamps. Informal training includes in-house mentoring and shadowing programs where candidates acquire training as they observe and help the established project managers in their everyday tasks.
Four core competencies are associated with every project (Cost, Quality, Scope, and Time), and project managers must have the skills to manage all four. Project management also requires business skills. This skill set includes understanding the project’s financials, comprehending profit and loss, and the ability to create and stick to a project budget. Finally, a project manager needs sound leadership and communication skills. These skills include conflict resolution, clear communication, speaking and writing, negotiation and persuasion, and the ability (and confidence) to lead a team. Granted, some skills can only be gained through practice and experience; others can be learned through classes and organized education. And while we’re on the subject of expertise.
Experience is a great teacher and a vital part of project management education. There are several fulfilling paths available to the aspiring project manager.
- Entry Level Positions. Entry level positions offer the project management candidate an open door on the ground floor. Although not typically the best-paying work, it’s an excellent way to improve a skill set and earn project management qualifications through on-the-job training.
- Internships. Internships tend to pay even less than entry level positions, if at all. On the plus side, they typically don’t require a full-time commitment, so the candidate can work a part-time job and earn a living while benefiting from the hands-on training of an internship. In addition, many internships eventually lead to a full-time job and help the candidate make valuable connections and contacts in the industry.
- Volunteering. This option applies only to aspiring project management candidates currently employed in the organization, perhaps in a different department. In this instance, volunteering means offering your time and energy to help with a project management-related task to gain valuable experience, get noticed as a project management hopeful, and make solid connections like an internship.
Note that, of the three methods mentioned above, only the entry level position offers any measure of security and appreciable compensation. Internships and volunteering involve taking a chance and investing time and energy into something which may or may not work out. But at least, ideally, the candidate will have gained skills to turn into a stable, secure project management career.
Lastly, there are internationally recognized certification programs that help professionals meet project management requirements. Project management certification programs give the candidate valuable skills and training while showing a prospective employer verifiable proof of the candidate’s abilities. Here are some of the more popular project management certification programs:
- Agile or Scrum. These project management philosophies are prevalent in today’s business world. Organizations such as the Scrum Alliance provide the needed training and certification.
- PMP. The Project Management Institute offers the Project Management Professional certification. Once you pass the PMP exam, you’ll be a certified professional with PMP qualifications with have an advantage over other candidates.
- Project Management Certification via Degree. You can participate in an undergraduate program that majors in project management.
- Other Programs. Many different project management certification programs are available online through classes and bootcamps.
Why Should You Pursue a PMP Certification?
So, why are certifications worthwhile? Here’s a list of reasons why.
- Certifications provide recruiters and potential employers with verifiable proof that you have the skills necessary for the positions they’re posting for. In addition, they provide a paper trail of your training.
- Certification courses typically teach skills, knowledge, and best practices that conform to an industry standard. Thus, you become eligible to apply for project management positions in any industry, anywhere in the world.
- Certified professionals typically earn more than their non-certified counterparts. For example, Ziprecruiter.com shows that, as of March 2023, a PMP-certified project manager in the United States can make an average of $112,973 annually.
- Since certified professionals are assumed to have a standardized set of appropriate skills, they have an advantage over the non-certified competition.
The Project Manager’s Career Path
A career in project management offers an impressive variety of potential positions. Consider this career path for professionals with project management qualifications, and the different jobs featured in its trajectory.
- Training/Education. The best place to begin is by getting your education and skills squared away. This education creates a solid foundation for building your fulfilling project management career.
- Project Coordinator. This is an entry level position that covers generating and distributing project reports. Consider this position as a support role for the project management team.
- Project Scheduler. As the name implies, project schedulers are responsible for scheduling the project’s work and deadlines, work, and managing project requirements. In addition, project schedulers help project managers plan, coordinate, and monitor the project’s timelines.
- Assistant Project Manager. Assistant project managers typically cooperate with the project manager, assuming tasks the latter cannot finish. APMs are usually needed for large-scale projects. The assistant project manager usually attends meetings and works on selected minor parts of the project as time allows. Finally, the assistant project manager regularly meets with the project manager to report on the project’s progress and discuss any potential challenges that may arise.
- Project Manager. Here’s the position that we’re shooting for! The project manager oversees the whole project from beginning to end, handling the project’s budgets, timelines, plans, and product demos. Whether working alone or with an assistant project manager, the project manager delegates chosen tasks and collaborates with the remainder of the project management team. In summary, the project manager is responsible for seeing the project through to its successful completion.
- Senior Project Manager. This position is the next logical step for the standard project manager. The senior project manager usually manages several projects simultaneously and determines their priority. A senior project manager is often part of a larger management team comprising other project managers, assistants, and related professionals.
- Director of Project Management. The chief purpose of the director of project management is to develop, guide, and instruct project management operations and structure the workflows. In addition, project management directors provide overall project governance by establishing protocols, standards, and tools that ensure effective project delivery. The director’s position typically requires at least five years of experience in project management, plus specific additional skill sets.
- VP Of Operations, COO. Welcome to the top of the mountain! The VP of Operations is responsible for coordinating, planning, operating, and managing the overall project handling operations. The VP of Operations implements rules and procedures that ensure smooth operations. In addition, the VP of Operations deals with individuals outside of the project and collaborates with other companies to guarantee the best project delivery operational services.
Which Industries Use Project Management Most Often?
Although many industries benefit from project management, these industries require professionals with he right project management qualifications the most.
- Information Technology/Software Development
- Health Insurance
How to Learn More About Project Management
Consider this highly informative project management course if you’re contemplating a complete career change or are already on the project management career path and want to upskill. This post graduate program in project management, held by UMass Amherst Isenberg School of Management is aligned with PMI-PMP® and IASSC-Lean Six Sigma, trains you in valuable skills such as agile management, customer experience design, design thinking, project management, leadership skills, and much more.
Once you meet the PMP certification requirements, you receive your certificate, membership in the UMass Alumni Association, and 146 Professional Development Units (PDUs) to help you maintain your CCR for future PMI-related certifications.
Sign up today to boost your project management qualifications and chances for a better project management career.