What are the different project management certifications?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 8 June 2022

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.

Project management certifications are universally appealing to many prospective employers. This is because possessing a project management certification shows that you have several essential management skills that are transferable across industries, regardless of the sector you work in. There are many types of certifications to gain. In this article, we explore some of the most popular and commonly gained project management certifications and why it's worth gaining certifications in project management

What is a project management certification?

Project management certification refers to any type of certification relating to essential project management skills. Holders of project management certifications have likely undergone assessment, such as sitting an examination or passing an audit in the workplace. Many authoritative bodies award project management certifications, including several accredited companies.

Types of project management certification

There are many project management certifications that you can gain. These certifications range in prestige and requirements, with some requiring a more rigorous assessment process than others. Below are some of the most commonly gained project management certifications if you're looking to boost your CV credentials:

PRINCE2 Qualifications

PRINCE2 (Projects IN Controlled Environments) qualifications are one of the most reputable project management certifications worldwide. The PRINCE2 framework for the certification undergoes annual review, as has been since its creation in 1989. One of the chief advantages of completing the PRINCE2 qualification is that the principles taught through the certification are useful in a range of situations, sectors and scenarios.

There are various PRINCE2 qualifications available for you to gain, including the PRINCE2 Foundation course and the PRINCE2 Practitioner course. Successful completion of the PRINCE2 Foundation course is a requirement for progression of the PRINCE2 Practitioner course. Students can gain PRINCE2 certifications 100% online, which is ideal for those with accessibility issues. It is globally recognised and awarded by AXELOS and PeopleCert.

Related: How to write a project manager CV (plus essential skills)

Project Management Institute (PMI) Qualifications

The Project Management Institute has a popular project management certification, which leads to the status of Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM). The CAPM qualification is the PMI's intermediate certification, with the Project Management Basics being the predecessor foundational course and the Project Management Professional course being the following advanced course.

A CAPM course appeals because it grants holders the ability to proceed onto the advanced course, which leads to fully qualified project manager status. It involves answering 150 multiple-choice questions. It's necessary to resit the exam every five years in order for holders to keep their CAPM certification and the associated status.

Related: How to become a project manager

Association for Project Management (APM) Qualifications

The Association for Project Management (APM) is the U.K.'s Chartered project management body. Because of this, they offer a broad selection of project management courses and sub-sequential certifications. There are four levels of training and certification to gain, depending on your experience.

These levels range from a foundational level to an advanced level. Within the APM frameworks, there are 47 competencies to learn. You don't need any prior knowledge if you wish to gain certification in the foundational course. The APM awards the certifications themselves, meaning these certifications can achieve recognition and rewarded within project management positions. Those that are PRINCE2 Registered Practitioners can sit a shorter exam and complete the course quicker.

Related: How to write a project manager cover letter (with examples)

CompTIA Project+ Qualification

The CompTIA Project+ Qualification is a certification that is designed and provided by CompTIA. CompTIA is among the world's leaders in technology, meaning that this is a project management course with a distinctive technological focus. The CompTIA Project+ Qualification aims towards entry-level managers or managers of smaller firms and businesses. The final CompTIA Project+ Qualification exam comprises 95 questions that need answering within the allotted time of 90 minutes.

Scores range from 100 to 900, with 710 being the minimum mark required to pass. One of the primary advantages of gaining the CompTIA Project+ Qualification is that, unlike some other certifications on this list, it doesn't expire. This means that the requirements are you simply sit and pass the exam once with no continual renewal needed.

Related: Project manager interview questions with answers

Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) Qualification

A Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) Qualification is a certification that specialises in the principles and techniques of scrum management, which is an increasingly popular form of management within the workplace. The Scrum Alliance designed the Certified ScrumMaster Qualification. Scrum Alliance is one of the prominent scrum-focused organisations in the U.K. and a not-for-profit organisation. The final Certified ScrumMaster Qualification exam comprises 35 questions.

Anyone that has a basic knowledge of the scrum technique can undertake the exam to gain certification. Membership to the Scrum Alliance because successfully passing the final Certified ScrumMaster Qualification exam lasts for two years. After that period, you can renew it by retaking the exam.

Related: Project management skills and how to improve them

Professional in Project Management (PPM)

The Professional in Project Management (PPM) certification is a certification that is provided by the Global Association for Quality Management (GAQM). The PPM certification is most suitable for those that have previous experience at a middle management level. This qualification encompasses a range of universal management concepts, such as crisis aversion, risk management, resource allocation and more.

An advantage of the Global Association for Quality Management (GAQM) certification is that there are no prerequisites, which is the case with many other project management certifications. Studying the e-materials prior to completing the final exam can be recommendable. The final PPM exam comprises 150 multiple-choice questions. A pass rate of at least 75% is a requirement for gaining the qualification.

How to gain a certification

Gaining a project management certification varies depending on the specific requirements of each certification. The fundamental process of becoming certified is the same for most certifications. Below are the steps you can expect to take to gain this kind of certification:

1. Meet the prerequisites

Before you undertake any certification course, it's important that you meet the prerequisites. Certifications may have several requirements, including but not limited to having prior experience in the field or having a higher-education certification such as a BA (Hons) or BSc. If you do not meet the prerequisites for a particular course, there is likely to be a foundation-level alternative that enables you to gain skills and experience.

2. Study the course material

Once you have enrolled in the course, your next step is to prepare for the final exam. This includes studying the course materials to ensure that you understand all the topics. It may also require you to attend in-person training, depending on the individual course. Travel and accommodation expenses are an extra expense if this is the case, so ensure that you check prior to enrolment if you require this.

3. Pass the exams

The ultimate step in gaining certification is to undertake and successfully pass the final exam. The requirements for each of these exams differ depending on the individual provider, as does the length of the exam and the style of questions. Multiple-choice questions are common for project management certifications; there may be other types of examination that you can complete too.

4. Keep up with renewal

Following successfully gaining a certification, there may be a strong likelihood of renewing it in the future. While this isn't true for all certifications, it is certainly true for many. The renewal period differs between certifications too; some may require renewal every 2 years, whilst others are every 5 years and so on. You receive notice of the renewal requirements upon completion of your certification exams.

What to do following project management certification

Once you have gained certification in project management, update your CV and any other formal documentation with the details. This also includes professional social media networks online. Ensure that you remain up-to-date with the specific renewal requirements of your certification, if there are any. Mentioning your project management certifications during the stages of a job application, such as during an interview, is a recommended idea. This is because possessing any kind of certification, but especially one that proves managerial skills, helps to set you apart from other talents within the candidate pool.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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