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Top project management certifications to level up your career

NitanshLast Updated: November 3, 2022

Project management is a challenging and fast-paced role that requires constant attention to detail and the ability to see the big picture at once. Hence, there are appropriate courses that one can take to gain the necessary skillset. PMP, PRINCE2, ITIL, FRC – there are so many different certification programs for project managers that it can be difficult to understand them all and what differentiates them. These certifications are not as straightforward as you might think… since some of the certifications are for entry-level, and others can take your career to the next level.  

Read: Project management certification and its importance

What is a project management certification?

When pursuing a career in project management, one of the first steps you’ll take is to select the right certification. You can pursue a few different types of certifications if you want to break into this industry. You can choose a general project management certification or specialize in a specific area of project management to suit your skills.

General certifications are great if you want to pursue various fields, while industry-specific certifications are great if you want to become an expert in a niche field. These certifications are more focused and will give you the advanced skills and knowledge you need to be successful in a particular area.

The best project management certifications for entry-level roles

Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)

The CAPM is the entry-level certification from the Project Management Institute (PMI). This certification is aimed at individuals who want to break into the project management industry and have little-to-no experience. It covers all the core concepts you need to know to be a successful project manager, including the project lifecycle, managing scope, cost, risk, and stakeholder management.

Certified Associate in Project Management requires that you have around 20 hours of project management education, pass a test, and demonstrate your experience. If you’re new to the project management industry, the CAPM is a great certification to pursue. It’ll give you a good overview of the skills you need to be successful in the role and give you a leg up when applying for jobs too.

Project Management Professional (PMP)

The market is currently in acute need of skilled managers. In fact, numbers suggest that employers will need to fill in about 2.2 million new project-oriented roles each year. Hence it only makes sense people start making the most of this high demand with the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification. This certification course will enhance your soft skills, help you reinforce technical aspects, and create the ideal business environment that helps you drive success. 

The certification course is designed for individuals with more than three years of experience in the field. Hence one must have a four-year degree, at least 36 months of experience in leading projects, and 35 hours of project management training or the CAPM certification. Besides that, individuals with an associate degree or high school diploma and 60 months experience in leading projects and CAPM or 35 hours of project management training can also enroll for the certification.

Professional in Project Management (PPM)

If you’re already working as a project manager and want to take your career to the next level, the PPM certification from the Global Association for Quality Management (GAQM) is a great choice. This certification gives individuals confidence in their skills and help them gain recognition in their organization too.  

One needs to dedicate 45 to 50 hours to go through the course, and then take an online test. The exam has 150 multiple-choice questions, and the certification will be provided if you get 75 percent or above. It’s worth noting that the PPM certification is among the most difficult exams for project managers to pass, with 7 out of 10 people failing on the first attempt. The certificate is valid for five years.

The best project management certifications for specialized roles

PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)

In today’s day and age, the market and business environment thrive on individuals who are ready to take agile approaches with rapid responses. The PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP) is a project management certification that recognizes your competence with agile tactics and knowledge. So, if you are a part of a team or organization that thrives on agility, then PMI Agile Certified Practitioner is the certification you need. 

The certification exam will test you with 120 multiple-choice questions, which you must complete in three hours. Further, maintaining this certification requires you to earn 30 professional development units in agile topics every three years. Anyone with a secondary degree and 21 contact hours of training while being familiar with agile practices can benefit from the certification course.

Read: Agile, Scrum, Waterfall, and More – top project management methodologies and how they’re different

The Project Management Institute (PMI) has several specialized certification courses like PMI-Professional in Business Analysis (PMI-PBA) and PMI-Risk Management Professional (PMI-RMP). While the former is meant for those who have over three years of business analysis experience, the latter helps one specialize in identifying and assessing project risks.

Agile Project Management Fundamentals (APMF)

This is another certification for those who want to become an expert in Agile Project Management, Scrum framework, etc. The best part is that this exam doesn’t require a college degree, work hours, or any project experience. One just needs to go through the self-paced course material and then take the test. The online exam has multiple-choice questions with a time limit of two hours.

The good thing about this certification is that it also covers the basics of project management, so that the skills are transferable across multiple industries or job roles.

PRINCE2 Foundation and Practitioner Certifications

The PRINCE2 certifications are aimed at individuals who want to pursue a career in PRINCE2 (Projects IN Controlled Environments) supporting environment. While the Foundation is the default exam, it also is a pre-requisite to the Practitioner certification. It also is an important certification in one’s path to becoming a senior project manager.

The certifications cover the core concepts you need to know to be a successful project manager, including the process, lifecycle, and principles of PRINCE2. The PRINCE2 certifications require that you have between 40 and 50 hours of project management education, pass a test, and have a certain amount of experience. The Foundation exam has 50 MCQs that need to be attempted within an hour, whereas the Practitioner Exam is an open-book format where one needs to answer 68 questions in 2.5 hours. In both cases, one needs to score 55 percent or above to pass.

Certified ScrumMaster and Certified Scrum Trainer (CSM and CST) Certifications

The ScrumMaster and CST certifications from the Scrum Alliance are for those who want to pursue a career as a Scrum Master or a Certified Scrum Trainer. These will help one gain the necessary skills to lead and facilitate the Scrum team. Professionals with this certification can also become Scrum trainers and coach others.

Certified ScrumMaster is an introductory course for those who want to become a Scrum Master or Scrum team member. One can then choose to become an Advanced Certified ScrumMaster or Certified Scrum Trainer. Since it’s a coveted certification, CST has an online application as well as an in-person interview and simulation.

To sum up

As you can see, these are some of the best-known types of project management certifications that have the potential to take your career to the next level. So, make sure you use this information to your advantage and make the right decision. By no means, it’s an ultimate list, so you need to evaluate your interest before choosing any specific project management certification program to see how it could help you in your professional growth.

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