Types of Project Management Certifications
Regardless of your industry, a project management certificate shows that you possess valuable management skills. This article lists some of the top project management certifications you can get, including ones from the International Association of Project Managers (IAPM) and Project Management Institute (PMI). We also explain how to earn your project management certification and the types of careers that seek certified project managers.
Types of project management certifications
Multiple institutes offer project management certifications. Most people hold only one certification, though you can get as many as you want.
Here is a selection of institutes and some of the certifications they offer:
Six Sigma certifications
Six Sigma is an approach to business that helps improve work and product quality. There are four Six Sigma certifications:
Yellow belt: For project team members
Green belt: For project team members who support analysis and may assist in leading a team
Black belt: For project managers
Master black belt: For managers who develop strategies and train black and green belts
There is not a step-by-step process to obtain these certifications, which means you can earn a black belt without getting a green belt first. Multiple institutes offer Six Sigma certifications.
Global Association of Quality Management (GAQM) certifications
The GAQM issues certificates in management for science and information technology fields. It is also a Six Sigma accredited association.
Professional in Project Management (PPM): Shows you are capable of leading a project team in the information technology industry. You need to pass an exam to get a PPM.
Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) certifications
CompTIA is an organization dedicated to the information technology field.
CompTIA Project+: Demonstrates you can lead small- to medium-sized projects in the information technology field. To obtain a CompTIA Project+, you must pass an exam.
International Association of Project Managers (IAPM) certifications
The IAPM is an internationally recognized project management organization.
Certified Project Manager (IAPM): Focuses on the basics of project management. There is a Junior Certified Project Manager certification if you have less experience in project management. There is also a Certified Senior Project Manager certification if you have extensive experience. You need to pass an exam for all of these certifications.
Certified Agile Project Manager (IAPM): Targets Agile project management. Similar to the Certified Project Manager certifications, there are junior and senior certifications available based on your Agile project management experience.
Scrum Alliance certifications
The Scrum Alliance is one of many Scrum institutes. Scrum is a framework that many technology companies use to increase teamwork. Scrum masters and project managers share many similarities, but there are key differences. One difference is that project managers need to focus on a client’s needs when completing a project, and Scrum masters focus on how their teams perform when completing a project. Product owners are a part of the Scrum framework and help define and increase the value of the product their Scrum team produces.
Certified ScrumMaster (CSM): Shows you can lead a team in a scrum environment. You must attend an in-person training course and pass a multiple-choice exam to get a CSM. After obtaining your CSM, you can obtain an Advanced Certified ScrumMaster certificate then a Certified Scrum Professional-ScrumMaster certificate.
Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO): Focuses on your ability to be a capable product owner. Before the CSPO exam, you need to attend an in-person training course. After obtaining your CSPO, you can pursue an Advanced Certified Scrum Product Owner certificate and then a Certified Scrum Professional-Product Owner certificate.
Project Management Institute (PMI) certifications
The PMI offers eight certifications. You will need to log a minimum level of education and number of experience hours to take the exam. You can log your hours online, and the institute may audit them to ensure you correctly entered your time.
Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM): Focuses on the fundamentals of project management. You must have a secondary degree and 1,500 hours of project experience or 23 hours of project management experience to get a CAPM.
Project Management Professional (PMP): Demonstrates your capability of leading and supporting teams. To obtain a PMP, you must have a secondary degree, 7,500 hours leading projects and 35 hours of project management education. Alternatively, you can have a 4-year degree, 4,500 hours leading projects and 35 hours of project management education.
PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP): Demonstrates that you can apply Agile principles to project management. Agile is a style of project management that releases a project in cycles instead of all at once. A PMI-ACP requires that you have 2,000 hours of experience working on teams, 1,500 hours working on Agile projects and 21 contact hours of Agile training.
Program Management Professional (PgMP): Shows that you can lead a program in an organization or manage multiple projects at once. Before you take the PgMP exam, you need a secondary degree, 6,000 hours leading projects and 10,500 hours of program management experience. You can also have a 4-year degree, 6,000 hours leading projects and 6,000 hours of program management experience.
How to get a project management certification
The path toward project management certifications is often similar. If you are interested in obtaining one, you can expect the following steps:
1. Determine the certification you need
Do plenty of research to determine which one suits your position or career path. You can get a certification based on your field of interest; for example, you can obtain a PPM or a CompTIA Project+ if you plan to pursue a career in information technology. If you are currently a project manager, see if your business prefers a certain certification and if there are reimbursement options.
2. Gather the requirements needed for the certification
Some certifications, such as those offered by the PMI and Scrum Alliance, require you to have experience or take a certified course before the exam. Research the organization or institute to make sure you meet the requirements.
3. Prepare for the certification exam
The Scrum Alliance requires you to attend an in-person course, but most tests allow you to prepare on your own time. Consider finding books and additional resources online to study. Some institutes offer an optional training course, as well.
4. Renew your certification
Some certifications require you to renew your certificate. For example, you must renew a PMP certificate every three years and log 60 hours of educational experience. You must renew a CSM every two years and earn additional educational experience. You do not need to renew any certifications from the IAPM.
Jobs that require a project management certification
Project management certifications provide opportunities for a variety of jobs, not just as a project manager. Here are the top jobs you can explore:
National average salary: $21.25 per hour
Primary duties: Project coordinators assist project managers in monitoring their team’s progress on a project. They help create timelines, work with teams to develop schedules and monitor the project’s progress. They often use spreadsheets to track multiple sources of information. Project coordinators need critical thinking skills and strong attention to detail.
National average salary: $70,785 per year
Primary duties: Program managers organize and monitor a company’s programs. They create and manage budgets and program teams. Some program managers must write requests for funding, such as grants. They work with a variety of departments to ensure the programs function correctly. They also analyze and minimize program risks. Program managers need time management and leadership skills.
National average salary: $80,182 per year
Primary duties: Project managers plan, coordinate and execute project plans. They work with everyone involved in the project and communicate any changes to ensure the project flows smoothly. They must keep the project within the budget and deadline. They manage client expectations and provide feedback to their teams. Project managers need excellent communication and teamwork skills.
National average salary: $86,643 per year
Primary duties: Project directors oversee all projects in a company. They develop and execute strategies on multiple projects at once. They may make financial and staffing decisions. Additionally, they may monitor a team of project managers. Project directors need leadership and analytical skills.
National average salary: $107,803 per year
Primary duties: Product owners work with the development team to create a goal for a final product. They realize the full potential of the product and motivate their team to work toward that goal. They serve as a contact between their team and client. Product owners need strategic planning and strong communication skills.
6. Scrum master
National average salary: $107,803 per year
Primary duties: Scrum masters monitor team progress and provide team training. They create daily meetings, sprint plans and retrospective meetings after the end of a project cycle. They plan the budget and timeline for a project and ensure their team can complete it. They function as an advocate for their teams. Scrum masters need excellent teamwork and active listening skills.
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