Even though I am a fan of project management certification, I don’t believe every project manager has to be certified or that all projects require a professional PM. However, I am forever amazed when I hear people talk about how they are officially project managers, which they become so by managing projects, even very small ones. However, I believe that these professionals are performing project coordination because as they discuss their work in more detail, I realize that they may develop and monitor the schedule, control the budget, and maybe even deal with change orders. Still, they have neither prepared a formal scope nor analyzed risk or provided the services that project management professionals do as second nature.
I am a PMP and chose this certification above others because of the region where I live, its relatedness to the work I do (civil engineering,) and because the knowledge areas fit how I think. However, other project management certifications are also valid. Therefore, I am more interested and encourage professionals to standardize their knowledge, broaden their understanding of what project management offers, and improve their skills, even if they do not seek certification. That said, certification is the only way to accurately standardize the profession and learn the language of project management, making communication easier across projects, industries, countries, and cultures.
It may seem like a project management certification is overkill for some people who are already experienced in managing or coordinating projects. However, in my field, for example, as well as in many others, the designation of a civil engineer is not bestowed upon graduating college but after passing a series of tests over two days; at least, that is the requirement in California. Furthermore, plumbers, electricians, realtors, and others must study, pass an exam, and become certified or licensed. So why not project managers? The certification is already a requirement in many large firms to be considered an actual project manager. And the educational benefits are enormous.
Part of the reason project management certification is not always a requirement is that there are already other prerequisites. For example, in the built environment sector, plans must be signed and sealed by licensed architects, civil engineers, mechanical engineers, etc. And contractors have to be licensed as well to build the actual structures. Therefore, there are already some safeguards in place. However, ensuring that project managers analyze risk, quality control, and other critical factors should also be considered.
At PM Workshops, we also provide consulting services, including supplying our certification in PMI-compliant projects. However, the greater benefit to any organization is to have their staff certified and then apply the skills they have learned. That way, they build upon their organizational assets, and it is also a way to coach and mentor their staff. Project management certification may not make you an infallible professional in your field. However, it is a good start to becoming more effective and efficient and being a driving force to achieve project success.