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Navigating the world of professional certification and training options, alongside other dispatches from the new global workplace.

A First Post on Project Management

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Project management certification is as much about creating a new niche in the systems of professions as it is about certifying individual competence or recognizing the completion of training programs.  And project management is a relatively new profession - if it can be called one; fifty years ago, few organizations had "project managers."   The leading source of credentials in the project management occupational space seems to the the Project Management Institute, whose PMP (Project Management Professional) designation seems to have become something of a "gold standard" for the field.  However, there are a few other professional certificates issued by other organizations that potentially compete with PMI's dominance, namely CompTIA's "Project+" certification, the International Project Management Association's credential, and, perhaps most importantly, a massive range of certificates offered by university business and extension schools.

Like the situation for Geographic Information Systems professionals, it's not at all clear whether would-be project managers would be better off going for a certificate issued by a university or a industry-based certification.  Some university-based courses do seem to blur the lines a bit, offering both a certificate printed on university diploma cardstock while "teaching to the test" for the PMI certification programs, enabling one to easily obtain both within a reasonable timeframe.  But, whether one or the other would be preferable largely depends on one's organizational culture.  One thing that strikes me about project management as I read blog posts written by PMP's and others with ties to PMI is how fiercely loyal they are to the PMI "system", which could be interpreted as a sign that PMI's approach to managing projects is the most credible one out there.  PMI's approach depends heavily on the Project Management Book of Knowledge, which is about as close to a "bible" as you will find in a niche of business education.  I personally worry that project management, as a field, revolves too much around PMI and that some certified professionals may put on "blinders" when evidence of other valid approaches to their work emerge.

One other initial observation to be made about the PMP is that it is truly an internationally portable credential, something not often seen in general management fields.  Though PMI definitely has its roots in the United States, its adherents have fanned out across the world, and the credential could unlock substantial international mobility for the right person.

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