PRINCE2 qualification: everything you need to know

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 29 January 2023

Published 20 May 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

PRINCE2 (PRojects IN Controlled Environments) is a popular approach used around the world to manage a project systematically. It's been around for 30 years, but with constant revisions and input from project professionals, it's as relevant as ever. The collective goal of project teams is to maintain the efficiency of a project and deliver it successfully. Planning projects at the beginning can mitigate a lot of the risks and unexpected issues. There's no need for each project team to develop their own way to plan and manage projects.

In this article, we discuss the PRINCE2 methodology and qualifications. We also take a look at some of the job prospects relevant to PRINCE2.

What is a PRINCE2 qualification?

A PRINCE2 qualification validates the understanding of PRINCE2 theory. It can also certify that the recipient can apply and tailor the PRINCE2 approach in practice.

A qualification in PRINCE2 can boost your skills and confidence when working on projects. It can also offer you enhanced employment prospects. Many projects adopt PRINCE2 and require their team to be competent and qualified to practice the method.

What is the PRINCE2 method?

The PRINCE2 method is an outlined approach with key principles to manage a project. It's used globally and is even the UK government's chosen standard. This is because it takes a broad goal (successful project delivery) and breaks the process down. PRINCE2 outlines a process that can be applied to all projects in any industry. It offers a structured approach that clearly lays out the roles and responsibilities of managing a project.

Large projects can consist of several elements and tasks that often need to be completed in a sequence for the next one to progress. PRINCE2 divides the project into project plans, stage plans and team plans. It ensures nothing within the project gets lost in the planning, and all the pieces are assigned an action.

The PRINCE2 method is made up of seven key principles:

  1. Projects must have a business justification. The project should have a need and a clear benefit.

  2. Teams should learn from every stage. Lessons are collected and reflected on to improve in the future.

  3. Roles and responsibilities are clearly defined. Everyone should know what they're responsible for.

  4. Work is planned in stages. Breaking the project up can make it easier to manage.

  5. Project boards "manage by exception". This means the project manager takes charge of the daily management.

  6. Teams keep a constant focus on quality. This ensures the result of a project is of a high standard.

  7. The approach is tailored for each project. The plan should be specific to the project.

Companies can create the project stages and steps by asking a few questions about delivering a project. The answers to these questions can define what the team wants to do and how to do it. These questions are:

  • What are we trying to do?

  • When will we start?

  • What do we need?

  • Can we do it alone, or do we need help?

  • How long will it take?

  • How much will it cost?

Advantages of the PRINCE2 methodology

PRINCE2 offers some great benefits for both the qualification holder and the project:

Makes projects predictable

Projects are full of variety. It can sometimes seem like the only constant is unforeseen problems cropping up. So, an approach that makes projects predictable is a welcome one. The PRINCE2 methodology breaks projects down into stages so that every step is seen clearly. This helps to acknowledge problems before they become a concern for the entire project. It keeps the project on track towards its intended goal.

Utilises best practices

Best practices are industry-standard approaches to doing tasks. The best way to successfully deliver a project is to use best practices in all aspects of a project. PRINCE2's utilisation of best practices is a contributing factor to its popularity. For example, PRINCE2 uses the best practice of submitting and reviewing regular progress reports. This allows management to clearly see the progress of the project and highlight any concerns early on. Practising this is known to eliminate many uncertainties and minimise risk.

Related: Project manager vs scrum master: what's the difference?

Standardisation

PRINCE2 standardises every aspect of the project. This ensures all team members and third parties are working under the same standard. Standardisation means consistent terminology, documentation and filing processes among the entire project. This enhances communication and direction within teams and project staff.

Time efficient and cost effective

Considering the standardisation approach, PRINCE2 can make it easier for you to start on a new project. Your PRINCE2 qualification can ensure that you know the methodology in all the projects that use PRINCE2. This should make it easier for you to slot into a new role. It can also save you and the project time by minimising the need for training.

Companies that use PRINCE2 also save time and money because of its best practice approach. Utilising methods that are known to be effective can improve the chances that tasks are done right and don't need to be repeated or fixed.

Types of PRINCE2 qualifications

There are four types of PRINCE2 qualifications, each consisting of its own exam:

PRINCE2 Foundation

This level shows an understanding of the principles and terminology of the PRINCE2 method. Gaining the Foundation certification shows that you're able to act as an informed team member on a project.

PRINCE2 Practitioner

Practitioner level validates that a candidate can apply PRINCE2 while managing a basic project. Practitioners demonstrate that they can apply and tailor the PRINCE2 method to overcome a problem in a project scenario.

PRINCE2 Agile Foundation

The Agile Foundation aims to measure whether a candidate can act as an informed member of an agile project management team. ‘Agile' refers to a type of project management. So the Agile Foundation course validates that an individual can demonstrate the PRINCE2 approach in an Agile setting.

PRINCE2 Agile Practitioner

Agile Practitioner is the highest PRINCE2 qualification. It certifies that candidates can apply agile methods while running and managing PRINCE2 projects.

PRINCE2 qualification exam requirements

PRINCE2 qualifications are received by passing an exam. The requirements to take the PRINCE2 examinations depend on which certification you're going for. The PRINCE2 Foundation and Agile Foundation exams have no pre-requisite qualifications. That means you can sit their exams regardless of your current position.

However, the PRINCE2 Practitioner and Agile Practitioner exams do have prerequisites. They require you to have passed one of the following exams:

  • PRINCE2 Foundation

  • Project Management Professional (PMP)

  • Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)

  • IPMA Level A (Certified Projects Director)

  • IPMA Level B (Certified Senior Project Manager)

  • IPMA Level C (Certified Project Manager)

  • IPMA Level D (Certified Project Management Associate)

PRINCE2 qualifications never expire. However, to maintain your status as a Practitioner, you will have to re-sit the exam every five years. This is because the PRINCE2 methodology goes through revisions to stay up to date with the latest advancements.

The PRINCE2 manual contains just about everything you need to know to sit the exams. However, it can be a good idea to join an accredited learning course where a trainer can ensure the manual is interpreted correctly. In the UK, you can take the PRINCE2 exams in the formats below:

  • As part of a PRINCE2 accredited training course through your PRINCE2 training provider

  • Online

  • At a public PRINCE2 examination centre

What jobs can you do with a PRINCE2 qualification?

PRINCE2 qualifications can open a lot of doors for you in the project management world. Below are three examples of jobs that you can land with a PRINCE2 qualification:

Project Administrator

A project administrator supports the project team with the administration and planning of the project. They're responsible for ensuring the agreed project management methods are maintained throughout the project lifecycle. A PRINCE2 Foundation qualification is generally enough for project administrator roles.

National average salary: £22,997

Project Analyst

Project Analysts use data to help the project manager plan the project effectively. As the project evolves, valuable data can become available. Data can clarify uncertainties and identify problems. This can impact management decisions by showing beneficial ways of executing the remainder of the project. Project analysts are tasked with delivering this information. A PRINCE2 Foundation certificate can land you a Project Analyst role. Although, a Practitioner qualification is advantageous, it can get you a higher salary.

National average salary: £30,449

Project Manager

Project managers oversee the entire project from start to finish. They are responsible for the organisation, planning, scheduling and budgeting of a project. Project managers can delegate these tasks to teams while overseeing the project as a whole. The main goal of a project manager is to deliver the project successfully. Usually, that means it's delivered on time and within budget. To reach this goal, they require organisational and leadership skills. Tracking progress and making decisions is a consistent task for a project manager. Given the scale of projects, the national salary ranges broadly.

National average salary: £42,699

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Related:

  • A practical guide on how to get a PRINCE2 certification

  • PRINCE2 project management: principles and benefits

  • What are PRINCE2 processes? (A guide to uses and benefits)

  • Agile project management certifications (with details)


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