No matter what your IT role is, a project management certification can add depth, breadth and value to your skills. Here are the top 10 project management certifications, their requirements and their cost.
Project management certifications
Almost everything IT does can be considered a project — from hardware and software upgrades to ongoing security patches, virus scanning and spam filtering to application development and rollout itself. Adding a project management certification to your list of IT credentials is a great way to benchmark your skills for potential employers and show that you have the know-how to plan, schedule, budget, execute, deliver and report on IT initiatives. Here, CIO.com outlines the 10 most popular project management certifications.
Project management professional PMP
The gold standard in project management certifications, this rigorous test covers absolutely everything you need to prove your knowledge and skill in managing all of the triple constraints: time, cost and scope. The Project Management Institute (PMI) is this credential’s parent organization, and works continuously with businesses and academia to ensure relevance for the certification.
Requirements: Four-year secondary degree plus three years of project management experience, 4,500 hours leading and directing projects, and 35 hours project management education or a high-school diploma, five years of project management experience, 7,500 hours leading and directing projects, and 35 hours of project management education.
Cost: Computer-based exams are $405 for PMI members; $555 for non-members. Paper-based exams are $250 for PMI members; $400 for non-members.
This is the precursor to the PMP certification and also is administered by the PMI. Designed for professionals who want to achieve their PMP certification in steps rather, or for those with only rudimentary project management experience, the CAPM is a stepping-stone to the more rigorous PMP.
Requirements: High-school diploma or equivalent and at least 1,500 hours of project experience or 23 hours of project management education.
Cost: $225 for PMI members; $300 non-members
This entry-level certification is roughly on par with PMI’s CAPM credential, though the requirements are less stringent. CompTIA’s Project+ solicits feedback from the entire computing industry, government representatives, research institutions, academia and independent experts to design the certification.
Requirements: One year of experience managing, directing or participating in small- to medium-sized projects is recommended.
The American Academy of Project Management has modeled this certification after the professional licensure model that many professions such as pilots, engineers, doctors and lawyers follow. The AAPM focuses on professional project managers, but also includes those pros with business and technical management responsibilities.
Requirements: Three years of project management experience and training. Waivers are available for professionals holding a master’s degree, with other qualified training and experience, the military or project management instructors.
Cost: $300 for application, review, processing, review, initiation and certification.
This is an international, globally accepted and recognized project management certification, though it is mostly popular in the Pacific Rim region. It’s focused on skills like communications, finance, integration, information technology, marketing management, human resource management, risk and issue management, and quality management.
Requirements: Bachelor’s degree or above, or global equivalent; or certified project professional certification, plus a minimum four years project or program management experience (5,000 hours leading and directing projects), 36 contact hours of CPM project/program management training and must pass the CPM exam.
Cost: $370 certification fee; $70 annual fee and $70 annual renewal fee
The EC-Council was formed after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks to address issues of cyberterrorism and the information security of nations at large. This certification explores the complexities of managing an IT security project — and IT security skills are hot. The certification helps candidates reinforce their existing project management skills while tailoring them to the unique requirements of implementing and managing IT security within their organizations.
Requirements: At least two years of experience in information security and an educational background that shows a focus on security (Bachelor’s degree or higher preferred). Candidates may also opt to attend an EC-council training program before attempting an exam.
Cost: $250 (PMITS courseware)
The Global Association for Quality Management (GAQM), which administers the APM (as well as a Professional in Project Management and a Certified Project Director certification), is a global, not-for-profit certification body that offers credentials across a variety of IT specialties, including project management. The GAQM’s project management certifications are focused on a broad knowledge base and emphasize effective resource allocation, clear direction, adaptability to change, effective communication and assurance of quality deliverables at minimal risk. The APM program is designed for the entry-level project manager, or for those who want to start a career in the field.
Requirements: GAQM body of knowledge study and e-course; no formal education or experience requirements.
Professional in Project Management PPM
The PPM is a mid-tier project management credential from the GAQM. The GAQM’s project management certifications are focused on a broad knowledge base and emphasize effective resource allocation, clear direction, adaptability to change, effective communication and assurance of quality deliverables at minimal risk. The PPM is targeted towards intermediate to experienced Project Managers, who are involved in risk and crisis management, and who are involved in the day-to-day management of projects.
Requirements: GAQM body of knowledge study and e-course; no formal education or experience requirements, but candidates should have at least some project management experience in order to pass the exam.
The GAQM’s Certified Project Director certification is the credentialing body’s highest-level project management certification. This designation is designed for experienced project managers who are involved in directing multiple, complex projects and programs. The program focuses on managing, budgeting and determining scope for multiple projects, multiple project teams, and assessing and mitigating interdependent risks to deliver projects successfully. The CDP program is only for those who have significant project management experience.
Requirements: GAQM body of knowledge study and e-course; candidates must be familiar with principles and methodologies of project management and pass the PPM or equivalent exam.
Many colleges and universities offer project management certificates through their existing business, management or professional education programs. Schools such as Villanova, University of New Haven, Stanford University and others (check your local college or university’s course offerings) have excellent project management programs and certificates; some for-credit, other not-for-credit.
Requirements: Varies based on educational institution
Cost: Varies by institution