Let’s say you’re well-qualified in your technical skills, for instance in programming, planning, network administration and so forth. These valuable skills have undoubtedly helped you reach where you are today. But what if you’re switching from a purely technical role to one that requires more teamwork, for instance, project management?
Or on the flip side, what if you want to formalize your experience with a relevant certification in project management?
This is where the option of obtaining a project management qualification comes in. While qualifications do require time and effort, at the same time, you’re also building confidence— not just your own, but also other people’s confidence in your competence and ability to give results.
The Certification Option
There are many options when it comes to project management credentials. The main one that most people seek is Project Management Professional, which is the de facto standard for many US businesses.
In Australia, there are also some courses run by training companies (RTO) that offer a similar qualification, such as a Diploma of Project Management. We, as Living Planit, provide the qualification which is endorsed by AIPM. However, it is important to note that all these routes involve some degree of commitment and financial costs from you and your company.
The main question to ask yourself is: Will it be worth it? Well, here are some things to consider.
Do employers require this certificate?
This question doesn’t necessarily apply to your current employer, however, this may be considered by hiring managers further down in your career progression. If having the title CPPP, CPPM etc. after your name is going to open doors to new employment opportunities and potentially secure you a new lucrative role, then a certification makes would be ideal.
However, careers typically aren’t that straightforward. Just having a project management certificate doesn’t necessarily make you instantly more hirable than any other candidate. Instead, what plays a larger role in securing your next job is a combination of being a good fit for the role, level of technical expertise, qualifications and so forth.
How relevant is this to my job?
Here, there are two questions to consider. Firstly, are you managing the kind of large projects that demand that you put professional processes and documentation into action? And secondly, is it essential that you develop more effective working relationships with your team and improve your organizational skills?
Some technical jobs involve managing large projects—whether you’re a project management professional or an IT professional who manages projects. Certainly, knowing how to plan and monitor progress is important and can make the difference between meeting your goals for the year and not.
While project management skills will certainly improve your ability to hit deadlines, you can gain these skills without obtaining a certificate. Again, this depends on whether you feel like you have the necessary skills to complete tasks efficiently and keep progressing towards your career goals.
If your company is paying for your exam and giving you study leave, then I would strongly advise going for it. However, if you have to pay for it yourself and take annual leave to attend the exam, then you must accept that and have complete confidence that the certificate will help your career.
In terms of costs, remember to factor in not only the cost of the training, but also the time spent on assessments. If you have taken a credential offered by a professional body, you may want to pay for membership within that body, or you may be required to undergo ongoing continuous professional development. For instance, PMI requires this for the members through their Continuing Certification Requirements Program and you can easily find yourself paying for additional courses and materials to keep up.
The good thing is if you live in NSW, you may be eligible for Smart & Skilled funding, which will reduce your costs dramatically. For more details please visit their website to find out
However, there are ways to continue your professional development at low or zero cost, but you must spend time and energy seeking them out. In the end, remember to make the investment that feels right for you and your career goals.
What are the benefits of this?
This depends on what you’re looking for. For me, the benefits of obtaining a certificate in project management are that my skills are now being taken more seriously by my peers. The certificate formalized and ratified my experience, and because I don’t have any other business qualifications, yet work with people who have business degrees, it gave me a much-needed confidence boost.
Going through the process to become a certificated AIPM. was a great learning opportunity as well. Not only was the application process rigorous, I had to prepare a detailed portfolio of the projects I had worked on and the contributions I had made to my company. To look back and see what I had done really instilled a sense of accomplishment within me.
In particular, I remember when I was learning about blueprinting in a program management certification prep course, everything just suddenly made perfect sense. I knew that the approach to planning ahead was a practical tool that I could put into use as soon as I got back to the office.
Evaluation: it was worth it
Obtaining this qualification will allow you to reflect upon your professional career and acquire new skills and techniques to management. In addition, you’ll be able to understand more of the jargon related to project management which will let you be the bridge between the technical teams and others in the company who don’t share the same IT background.
Personally, I found having my credentials extremely worthwhile. But before taking them on, I weighed up all the questions above, and also, with the benefit of hindsight, I feel my project management qualifications have definitely helped my career in multiple ways.
And everyone will be different
Although I personally found the certificate to be worthwhile, the effects may vary depending on the individual. However, in a competitive marketplace, with the pressure for IT teams to be innovative but with fewer resources and more time pressures, you will certainly reap some benefits.