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Project Practitioners > Certification Alphabet Soup

Certification Alphabet Soup

By Brian Irwin

Just a few decades ago, a college degree pretty much guaranteed you’d have a job.  That’s no longer the case; a statement I’m sure many reading this would agree with.  Now, it’s a standard to entrance into the professional world and only puts you on the same playing field with others.  Much like money, the more in circulation, the more it takes to purchase something.  Likewise, you might say a Master’s degree is worth what a Bachelor’s degree used to be worth; although, that no longer guarantees you’ll gain career admission.

How about certifications?  Several years ago I received my Project Management Professional (PMP) certification.  It set me apart from my peers in the organization at that time.  Now, almost every one of my peers has one.  It’s become an expectation to job entry for project managers.  Since that time, PMI now offers a total of six certifications:

  1. Project Management Professional (PMP)
  2. Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)
  3. Program Management Professional (PgMP)
  4. PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)
  5. PMI Risk Management Professional (PMI-RMP)
  6. PMI Scheduling Professional (PMI-SP)

Why so many?  It’s easy for me to get cynical here, as I distinctly recall a lot of questions and scenarios based on scheduling and risk management on the PMP exam.  In addition to the PMI certifications, there are a myriad other certifications that you can earn through other organizations, such as the Scrum Alliance Certified Scrum Master (CSM) and Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO).

Personally, I know several project managers that hold the PMP certification that are, frankly, not very good project managers by any measure.  Likewise, I know other project managers without any certifications that are exceptional.  Here is how I view certification and how I would use it in a hiring decision.  What certification offers is an assurance that the individual in question understands the language of project management.  What it really tells me is that an individual has at least made some level of commitment to professional growth and development.  Being committed to continuous personal and professional development is a keystone.  What are your thoughts?



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