Interested in earning a project management certification?
A good project manager must be able to plan and manage multiple projects efficiently.
And becoming a certified project manager is one of the best ways to acquire the knowledge and skills for that.
Think that sounds as daunting as appearing on “Suits” as a partner at Specter Litt Wheeler Williams?
Don’t worry, it’s not that complicated!
To become a certified project manager, all you need to do is register for a certification exam and clear it. (You should be eligible, of course!)
But when there are tons of certifications, which is the best one for you?
In this article, you’ll learn what a project management certification is and why you need one. We’ll also highlight 5 key certifications you can earn and how you can use your certificate to become an effective project manager in 2020.
This Article Contains:
(Click on the links below to jump to a specific section)
- What is a project management certification?
- 3 Reasons why you need a project management certification
- Top 5 project management certifications
- How to put your project management certification to use
Let’s get started.
What Is A Project Management Certification?
Note: If you’re familiar with what a project management certification is and only want an in-depth look at the five certifications, click here to jump to that section.
A project management certification is a formal confirmation that an individual has the skills and abilities to manage projects efficiently.
Think of it this way:
Under regular circumstances, Mike needed a certification to get accepted into the Pearson Hardman law firm. That certification would’ve shown his employers that he has the necessary skills and knowledge for the job.
Lucky for him, Harvey – a senior partner there, saw his potential and hired him anyway – even though he didn’t pass the exam.
(We don’t recommend doing this btw!)
Obtaining a certificate in project management not only adds value to your resume but also equips you with the ability to manage projects to make you feel like this:
But will this certificate only be recognized for a specific project management profession?
Most project management certifications are valid across multiple professions in industries, like:
- Information technology
- Banking and finance
But wait… how does this certification help you manage projects?
3 Reasons Why You Need a Project Management Certification
You may be wondering:
“Getting a project management certificate sounds like too much work…how useful could it really be?”
The short answer:
It’s very useful.
Regardless of the type of project management certificate you choose, you get tons of benefits!
So in the words of Harvey Specter:
Here’s a look at some of the benefits you’ll get:
1. Enhances your skillset
Managing multiple projects teaches you a lot of things over the years, like:
- Effective project planning and execution
- Task prioritization
- Resource management
- Project team collaboration
However, in a project management certificate program, you learn these things over a shorter span of time.
Look we’re not saying you only need to take one course to become the next Harvey Specter. You need tons of experience, determination and hair gel for that:
But what a certificate can do is add depth and value to your management skills to give you a headstart for project manager roles. Moreover, it makes managing project teams a less stressful experience, especially in remote project management.
This way, you’ll become an experienced project manager in no time!
2. Help you transition into an effective project manager
A project manager is expected to handle any challenge that comes in the way of successful project completion.
But how do you know how to tackle these challenges?
Project management certification courses teach you strategies to deal with those hurdles properly.
These courses are kind of like Mock Trials — a simulation of court hearings where attorneys test their theories out.
I mean, Mike didn’t learn to throw arguments in law school, right?
Similarly, during certification courses, you receive the knowledge you need to handle tricky situations the right way. It also makes you organized and better equipped to catch problems before they snowball, saving you time and other resources!
3. Shows your dedication towards the role
Let’s be honest:
Harvey giving Mike a shot out of nowhere would never happen in real life.
Most companies require you to have a certification for two reasons:
- It shows them that you have the necessary skills for the job
- Obtaining a certificate in project management indicates your dedication as a project manager
Through hands-on experience, you’ll learn the techniques needed to manage and complete multiple projects efficiently — which, in turn, boosts your skills, abilities, and knowledge.
Sure, this requires some time and effort.
But eventually, your knowledge area and skills will be advanced enough for you to handle even complex projects efficiently.
Now, you know why you need a project management certification.
But which certification is the right one for you?
Let’s find out…
Top 5 Project Management Certifications
Unlike Pearson Specter Litt, you don’t have to go to Harvard to get a project management certificate.
To help you get started, here are 5 great project management certifications.
For each certification, we’ll highlight:
- Which project management body offers it
- Which domains the course covers
- What are its program prerequisites
- How much does it cost
1. Project Management Professional Certification (PMP)
The Project Management Professional Certification is a globally recognized project management certificate program. It’s a rigorous certification program designed to enable credential holders to manage all the phases of a project successfully.
The certification exam consists of 200 questions and is 240 minutes long.
Project Management Institute
What domains does the PMP exam cover?
Project Management Professional Certification covers three essential constraints of a project –– time, cost, and scope.
The PMP credential also covers all the phases of project management processes, like:
- Project initiation
- Planning and execution
- Monitoring and control
As this is such a comprehensive course, anyone passing it is going to have what it takes to be a great project manager.
What are its prerequisites?
There are two sets of requirements for this professional certificate program (you need to satisfy either of them):
- Have a high school diploma or an associate’s degree (or global equivalent)
- 5 years of project management experience
- 35 hours of project management training/ project management education or be a Certified Associate in Project Management Certification (CAPM certification)
Note: CAPM certification is an entry-level project management program offered by the Project Management Institute. It’s more suited for practitioners who’d like to manage larger, complex projects.
- Have a four-year degree
- 3 years of project management experience
- 35 hours of project management education/ project management training or are a Certified Associate in Project Management Certification (CAPM certification)
- For members of the Project Management Institute: $405
- For non-members: $555
Note: To maintain this project management certificate, credential holders must earn 60 professional development units (PDUs) every three years.
What’s a PDU?
A PDU is a unit to measure an individual’s professional development. You can earn it by completing courses or undergoing training to improve your project management knowledge. Authoring articles, presenting webinars, or just doing your job are also some ways to earn PDUs.
2. Agile Certified Practitioner Certification (ACP)
With the ACP project management program, you learn the basics that are required to complete any Agile project successfully.
As part of the project management course and exam prep, examinees also get hands-on training modules over multiple Agile frameworks.
The certification exam consists of 120 multiple choice questions and is 3 hours long.
Project Management Institute
What domains does the ACP exam cover?
This project management certificate exam covers domains like:
- Agile project management principles
- Value-driven delivery
- Stakeholder engagement
- Project team performance
- Problem detection and resolution
- Continuous improvement (of products, processes and people)
What are its prerequisites?
There are two sets of requirements for this certificate (you need to satisfy either of them):
- Have a secondary degree and 21 contact hours of Agile project management training
- 16 months of general project experience within the last 5 years
- 12 months of Agile project work experience within the last 3 years
- Have a four-year degree (bachelor’s degree or the global equivalent)
- 12 months of general project experience within the last 5 years
- 8 months of Agile project work experience within the previous 3 years
- For members of the Project Management Institute: $435
- For non-members: $495
Note: To maintain this management certificate, credential holders must earn 30 PDUs in Agile topics every three years.
3. Certified ScrumMaster (CSM)
Okay, Certified ScrumMaster is probably the coolest sounding project management certification out there.
And we’re pretty sure Louis would’ve loved to have it on his resume to try and appear cooler than Harvey (like that’s ever happening!)
But the CSM certification isn’t just something you obtain to look good.
It’s a globally recognized project management certificate ideal for professionals who want to manage a Scrum team.
This helps you grow into the perfect individual to manage a Scrum team, like Harvey!
The CSM credential process consists of a 2-day classroom training session ending with an open book exam. The exam contains 50 multiple choice questions with a time limit of 60 minutes.
The Scrum Alliance
What domains does the CSM exam cover?
This management certificate program covers topics such as:
- Scrum and Agile frameworks
- Scrum values
- Scrum team roles
- Scrum events and artifacts
What are its prerequisites?
There are no prerequisites for this credential.
4. Projects in Controlled Environments Certification (PRINCE2)
The PRINCE2 certification covers the project management essentials for managing projects of any size or complexity.
It offers two levels of certifications:
- PRINCE2 Foundation: An entry-level certification that deals with basic project management principles
- PRINCE2 Practitioner: An advanced certification meant for an experienced project manager who already has the PRINCE2 Foundation graduate certificate
The certification exam format for the Foundation course is a 60 question closed book exam for 60 minutes. For the PRINCE2 Practitioner course, it’s a 68 question open book exam for 150 minutes.
What domains does the PRINCE2 exam cover?
This project management certificate program covers all the aspects (project risk, planning, quality analysis etc.) required to run an effective project.
What are its prerequisites?
There are no requirements for the PRINCE2 Foundation certification.
But for the PRINCE2 Practitioner management certificate, you must have cleared one of these exams:
- PRINCE2 Foundation (5th or 6th edition version)
- Project Management Professional (PMPcertification)
- Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM certification)
- International Project Management Association Level A, B, C or D
- For Foundation & Practitioner Certification online training and exams bundle: $300
- For classroom training and certification bundle: $1000
5. CompTIA Project + Certification
CompTIA Project + certification provides basic project management skills. It’s ideal for professionals who manage small to medium-sized, less complex projects.
The certification exam consists of a maximum of 95 multiple-choice questions. The duration of the exam is 90 minutes.
CompTIA Project Co.
What domains does the CompTIA Project + exam cover?
This management certificate program is composed of domains like:
- Project basics and constraints
- Communication and change management
- Project tools and documentation
What are its prerequisites?
There are no set prerequisites for the certification exam. However, a minimum of 12 months of cumulative project management experience or equivalent education is recommended.
How to Put Your Project Management Certification to Use
Sure, getting a project management certificate can help you become an effective project manager. But that’s not the only thing that counts!
With great power comes great responsibility and being a certified project manager can be exhausting if you don’t have the right way to put your training to use.
Even the great Harvey Specter needs Donna to manage his schedule, case files, and client meetings.
All you need is a powerful project management tool like ClickUp to help you implement your project management skills at work!
ClickUp is the highest-rated project management tool in the world.
Widely used by 100,000+ teams in companies ranging from startups to giants like Google, Uber, Nike and Netflix –– it’s the only tool any in-house or remote project team needs.
Whether it’s assigning tasks, tracking progress, or analyzing team performance — ClickUp’s got everything covered!
We’re pretty sure we could even give Donna a run for her money, but we’ll leave that debate for later…
Here’s how ClickUp makes managing project a piece of cake:
1. Create Tasks, Subtasks, Checklists to manage projects efficiently
For a project to run smoothly, you need to track a lot of things, right?
You need to assign tasks, specify deadlines, monitor progress and so on!
How do you do that?
Donna could’ve used ClickUp to be even more efficient than she already was!
Here’s how ClickUp helps you:
- Tasks and Subtasks: Create and assign tasks to project team members and split them into subtasks to help your team know exactly what to do. This helps them tackle each task or subtask, one at a time.
- Checklists: Break down complicated tasks as simple to-do lists which can be checked off as you complete them
It has never been this easy to manage projects!
Remember how difficult it was to keep track of Harvey’s whereabouts?
So how do you keep track of what your team is working on?
ClickUp’s Profiles provide a detailed overview of each team member’s assignments.
You can easily track:
- Their current tasks
- Their upcoming tasks
- What tasks they completed recently
But that’s not all you can do with this effective project management tool.
ClickUp’s Box view provides a visual overview of your team’s assigned projects and tasks. A project manager only needs a glance to identify the work distribution across their entire team!
This way, you can quickly identify overworked members and distribute their workload to prevent burn out.
3. Collaborate over Comments
Don’t we all love the conversations that Mike and Harvey have?
And while your team might not have time for fun jabs at each other, they do need to communicate. Because if they don’t, there’s no way they can collaborate and get things done!
That’s why each ClickUp task comes with a dedicated comment section to facilitate instant communication within the team.
You can use the task comment section to:
- Exchange project related information
- Share relevant files and links easily
- Assign comments to specific team members to ensure that your comments aren’t overlooked
4. Custom task statuses to track progress
Most task management apps come with generic task statuses that are irrelevant to your project.
We’re not joking Harvey!
For example, most tools come with statuses like “Testing” which aren’t useful if you’re hiring law associates, right?
But with ClickUp, you can create customized task statuses that reflect your project needs accurately! For example, you can create a “group interview” stage for your prospects.
All you need is a look at a task’s status to know what stage it’s in!
5. Powerful Dashboards for visual overviews
With so many project constraints, how do you make managing project workload easy?
By using ClickUp’s Dashboards!
Dashboards are your personal mission control center for a high-level view of your project workspace.
Sort of like Stu Buzzini’s office space here:
- Burndown chart: shows the work left to be completed in a project
- Burnup chart: displays the tasks your team has completed so far
- Cumulative workflow chart: track your project’s progress and backlogs (project scope)
- Velocity chart: helps gauge your team’s average completion rate
However, these aren’t all of ClickUp’s features!
At ClickUp, we relate to Harvey, here:
We know that you can never have enough functionality.
That’s why you get additional features like:
- Project Management Automation: automate hundreds of project actions to save time
- Team Reporting: track your team’s remote work performance in real-time
- Collaboration Detection: know when someone works on the same task as you
- Notepad: a personal notepad to quickly note down anything
- Pulse: know your team’s activity across a specific day
- Priorities: assign task priorities so that your team knows what tasks to tackle first
- Dependencies: ensure that the tasks are attempted in the right sequence
- Native Time Tracking: track the time your tasks and projects take in ClickUp
- Mobile Apps: manage projects from your iOS and Android devices
Obtaining a certificate in project management not only adds value to your resume but also enhances your management skills. Just go through the five courses we listed here to find the certification that “suits” you best.
But remember, without the right project management tool, even an experienced project manager can’t take full advantage of that management certificate!
And as ClickUp has all the features to assist you in putting that certification to use, why not sign up for it today?
You’ll become an amazing project management professional in no time — and might even rival Harvey in terms of efficiency!
Erica is ClickUp’s Senior Content Manager and professional beach bum. She spends her days creating emails, blogs, landing pages, and more to help people increase their productivity so they can save one day every week to do more of what they love.