Top 15 Best Project Management Certifications
Project management is the backbone of every successful IT endeavor. The project managers masterfully steer hardware and software upgrades, manage continuous security updates, spearhead application development, and oversee software deployment. These skilled professionals ensure teams remain focused and efficient.
Adding a project management certification to your IT portfolio isn’t just beneficial—it’s a strategic move. This certification is not merely another line on your resume; it’s concrete proof of your capability to orchestrate the planning, scheduling, budgeting, execution, delivery, and reporting of complex IT projects. CIO.com emphasizes the immense value of the most sought-after project management certifications, underscoring their ability to refine your skills and elevate your professional standing this year. Their importance can’t be overstated: these certifications are not just learning milestones but career game-changers for any IT professional.
Suggested article: 10 PMI Certifications to Boost Your Career in Project Management
1. Agile Certified Practitioner (ACP)
The Agile Certified Practitioner (ACP) certification, offered by PMI, is a rigorous validation of your expertise in agile principles and methodologies. This certification delves into essential agile techniques across frameworks like Scrum, Kanban, Lean, extreme programming (XP), and test-driven development (TDD). Tailored for professionals in agile teams or organizations, the ACP hones skills across seven critical knowledge domains, including agile mindset, value-driven delivery, and stakeholder engagement. This certification isn’t just an exam; it’s an investment in your agile mastery.
Costing $435 for members and $495 for non-members, the ACP demands specific prerequisites: a secondary degree, 21 hours of training in agile practices, and substantial project experience—12 months in general project management or eight months in agile-specific roles within the past three to five years. Holding a PMP or PgMP can fulfill the experience requirement but isn’t mandatory for the exam. This certification is not just a credential; it’s a milestone in your professional development in the agile domain.
2. Associate in Project Management (APM)
The Associate in Project Management (APM) certification, presented by The Global Association for Quality Management (GAQM), is an essential entry point into project management. This certification is more than just a basic introduction; it’s a foundational step for those embarking on their project management journey. Designed specifically for individuals with minimal or no prior experience, the APM equips you with a solid grasp of the Project Management Framework.
Priced at a reasonable $175, the APM includes an obligatory online course, ensuring you’re well-prepared for the certification exam. The course comprehensively covers project management fundamentals, training, and all the basics crucial for thriving in a project management role. Whether you’re a manager, a project team member, a graduate or undergraduate student, an entry-level practitioner, or someone keen on pursuing a career in project management, the APM certification is a strategic starting point. It doesn’t set prerequisites in formal education or experience but does require the completion of GAQM’s body of knowledge study and e-course. This certification isn’t just a learning experience; it’s a launchpad for your future success in project management.
3. BVOP Certified Project Manager
Business Value-Oriented Principles (BVOP), an agile framework gaining traction in the UK, revolutionizes project management by prioritizing business value in all facets. The BVOP Certified Project Manager certification is not just a credential; it’s a badge of honor for seasoned professionals adept in project and people management. This certification distinguishes itself by championing a people-oriented approach, starkly contrasting traditional project management programs.
Targeting senior project managers, agile experts, product managers, Scrum masters, and business analysts, the BVOP certification does more than enhance project and product management skills. It transforms candidates into leaders with a heightened focus on people, fostering collaboration and a holistic understanding of project and product dynamics. The certification exam probes your project, program, and product management knowledge, ensuring a comprehensive skill set.
For $130, this certification offers an affordable path to expertise with no prerequisite of professional project management experience. Moreover, it provides free study guides and preparation materials online, making it an accessible and invaluable investment in your professional growth as a more effective, people-focused leader.
4. Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)
The Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM), overseen by the Project Management Institute (PMI), acts as a foundational precursor to the prestigious Project Management Professional (PMP) certification. This certification is tailored for those who may not hold a college degree or possess only basic project management experience and those aspiring to earn their PMP in a more phased approach. The CAPM serves as a critical stepping stone, paving the way for the more challenging PMP.
Explore the “CAPM certification guide: Certified Associate in Project Management exam explained.”
With a fee of $225 for PMI members and $300 for non-members, the CAPM is accessible to many professionals. The prerequisites are straightforward: a high-school diploma, associate degree, or equivalent, paired with either 1,500 hours of project management experience or 23 hours of project management education. This certification is not just a learning opportunity; it’s a strategic pathway to advance in the project management domain, setting the stage for future success and recognition in the field.
5. Certified Project Director (CPD)
The Certified Project Director (CPD) certification from the Global Association for Quality Management (GAQM) represents the apex of project management credentials. Tailored for project management veterans, the CPD is more than just a certification; it’s a recognition of one’s ability to adeptly navigate the complexities of managing multiple, intricate projects and programs. This elite designation is reserved for those with extensive experience in directing large-scale projects, encompassing budget management, scope determination for multiple endeavors, orchestrating diverse project teams, and effectively mitigating interdependent risks to ensure successful project delivery.
Priced at $280, the CPD is not merely a course but a career milestone, underscoring a high level of expertise in project management. To qualify, candidates must possess a bachelor’s or post-graduate degree or a global equivalent. Additionally, they should hold one of the following certifications: a PPM from GAQM, a PMP from PMI, a PRINCE2 Practitioner from APMG, or a CPM from GIAC. This stringent requirement set ensures that only the most skilled and experienced professionals attain the CPD, solidifying it as a prestigious hallmark of project management excellence.
6. Certified Project Management (CPM)
Formed in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the EC-Council emerged as a pivotal entity addressing cyberterrorism and national information security concerns. Its Certified Project Management certification course is a strategic choice for project managers aiming to refine their skills through practical experience and a comprehensive understanding of various management techniques and tools. This course is not just a learning program; it’s an intensive training designed to equip professionals with the insight to handle complex projects efficiently.
The course structure includes on-demand instructor-led training videos, interactive CyberQ Labs, a subscription to continuing education videos, and live instructor-led in-person or online training. The course offers three distinct packages: the basic package, featuring a single video course, labs, e-courseware, and the certification exam; the mid-tier package, adding the CodeRed continuing education video subscription and live instructor training; and the top-tier package, which includes an additional certification course, exam insurance, and online exam prep.
The pricing is tiered to suit various needs: $999 for the single video course package, $2,999 for unlimited video courses, and $3,499 for the comprehensive live-course bundle. Remarkably, there are no prerequisites, making this certification accessible to many professionals. This course is more than just a credential; it’s a robust foundation for mastering project management in the demanding realm of information security.
7. Certified Project Manager (CPM-IAPM)
The International Association of Project Managers (IAPM) presents the Certified Project Manager certification, a vital entry-level credential for those starting their journey in project management. This certification isn’t just about foundational knowledge; it’s a gateway to the theoretical and practical aspects of planning, organizing, and executing projects effectively, as the IAPM emphasizes. Tailored for aspiring project managers, this certification does not necessitate prior experience in the field.
The certification exam encompasses a broad spectrum of topics, including project checkpoints, project environment, steering committees, core teams, Phase Model creation, Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) development, budgeting, risk analysis, and project review, integrating both hard and soft skills essential for the project manager role. The IAPM offers a Certified Junior Project Manager certification for beginners, and a Certified Senior Project Manager certification is available for seasoned professionals.
The pricing of this certification is uniquely tailored based on the candidate’s nationality, reflecting the GDP of the country of origin. In the United States, the exam fee is set at $514. While there are no formal prerequisites, the IAPM provides various preparation options: workshops through global training partners, recommended literature for self-study, and a self-test to assess one’s knowledge base. This certification is more than an academic achievement; it’s a stepping stone to a successful career in project management, offering a comprehensive foundation for novices and a pathway for experienced professionals to validate and enhance their skills.
8. Certified ScrumMaster (CSM)
The ascent of agile methodologies in the IT landscape has surged the demand for professionals adept in managing agile projects. Amidst various Scrum master certifications, the Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) from Scrum Alliance emerges as an exemplary starting point for project managers venturing into the realm of Scrum practitioners. The Scrum Alliance, a nonprofit organization championing the adoption of Scrum and agile practices, not only offers this credential but also fosters a community through user groups, learning events, and a wealth of professional development resources. Boasting over 450,000 certified practitioners globally, the organization is a bastion of Scrum knowledge and expertise.
For an in-depth understanding of the CSM, explore “CSM certification guide: Certified ScrumMaster exam explained.”
The CSM certification costs vary with the training provider, typically from $995 to $1,395. The prerequisites are straightforward yet essential: a general familiarity with Scrum and completing a two-day CSM training course. This certification is not merely an addition to your resume; it’s a significant leap towards mastery in agile project management, equipping you with the skills and knowledge to thrive in this fast-evolving field.
9. CompTIA Project+
The CompTIA Project+ certification is a critical entry-level credential tailor-made for IT professionals overseeing smaller, simpler projects within their job roles. This certification is not just a formality; it’s a robust endorsement of one’s ability to adeptly manage project life cycles, maintain crucial project documentation, and efficiently handle resources and stakeholder relations while ensuring effective communication. The exam comprehensively covers the essentials of project management, including project fundamentals, constraints, communication, change management, and project tools and documentation.
This certification validates and enhances your project management skills and is ideal for IT project coordinators or managers, IT project team members, business analysts, and managerial or leadership roles. Priced at $348, it is accessible yet demands specific qualifications: a minimum of 12 months of cumulative project management experience or an equivalent level of education. The CompTIA Project+ certification is more than just a learning milestone; it’s a testament to your proficiency and readiness to handle the unique challenges of IT project management.
10. Master Project Manager (MPM)
The Master Project Manager (MPM) certification, bestowed by the American Academy of Project Management (AAPM), is meticulously crafted following the “professional licensure” model akin to those in esteemed professions like aviation, engineering, medicine, and law. The AAPM, with its focus on professional project managers, extends its reach to include experts with significant business and technical management roles. The MPM is designed for high-caliber project managers and directors with an undergraduate or master’s degree, elevating their professional standing to new heights.
This certification, priced at $300, encompasses the costs for application, review, processing, initiation, and the awarding of the certification. The prerequisites are stringent yet inclusive: at least three years of project management experience and training. However, AAPM offers waivers for seasoned professionals with a master’s degree or those with equivalent training and experience, including military personnel and project management educators. The MPM certification is not just a credential; it’s a distinguished mark of excellence and leadership in project management, aligning seasoned professionals with the highest standards of expertise and ethical practice.
11. PRINCE2 Foundation/PRINCE2 Practitioner
Projects in Controlled Environments (PRINCE2), particularly renowned outside the US and notably in the UK and its governmental sectors, stand as a prominent project management methodology. The PRINCE2 certifications, administered by Axelos, comprehensively cover all project phases, from pre-project planning through initiation and delivery to the final handover. The PRINCE2 Foundation certification is an essential entry-level credential that evaluates one’s grasp of fundamental project management terminology and methodologies. In contrast, the Practitioner level is designed for advanced project managers who have already secured the PRINCE2 Foundation certification, delving deeper into the nuances of project management.
These certifications cater to diverse professionals, including aspiring project managers, project board members, team managers, project assurance and support professionals, and operational line managers and staff. The pricing of these certifications varies depending on the location, making them globally accessible yet regionally specific. For eligibility, the PRINCE2 Foundation requires completion of its respective course. At the same time, the Practitioner level demands prior certification in PRINCE2 Foundation or an equivalent credential, such as Project Management Professional (PMP), CAPM, or an IPMA certification. PRINCE2 is not just a certification; it’s a comprehensive framework that equips professionals with the skills and knowledge to excel in diverse project environments, ensuring efficient management and successful delivery.
12. PRINCE2 Agile Foundation/Agile Practitioner
The PRINCE2 Agile Foundation and Practitioner certifications, offered by Axelos, are pivotal for professionals immersed in agile working environments. They serve as validation of their expertise in PRINCE2 governance and agile concepts and methodologies. The Foundation certification is not just an introductory course; it delves into the core principles of the PRINCE2 approach, encompassing governance requisites and agile methodologies like Scrum, Kanban, Lean Start-up, and Cynefin.
Upon completing the Foundation level, you become eligible for the PRINCE2 Agile Practitioner certification. This advanced certification extends beyond the foundational knowledge, testing your ability to apply these principles in practical, real-world project management scenarios.
The cost of these certifications varies based on geographical location, making it accessible to many professionals. The pathway to certification is clearly defined: while there are no prerequisites for the Foundation exam, passing it is a requisite for advancing to the Agile Practitioner exam. These certifications are more than just tests of knowledge; they endorse your ability to effectively integrate PRINCE2 governance with agile practices, elevating your proficiency in managing projects in today’s dynamic business landscapes.
13. Professional in Project Management (PPM)
The Professional in Project Management (PPM) certification, a distinguished mid-tier credential from the Global Association for Quality Management (GAQM), is tailored for those seeking to deepen their expertise. This certification goes beyond theoretical knowledge; it emphasizes practical skills crucial for effective resource allocation, clear project direction, adaptability to change, efficient communication, and delivering quality results with minimized risks. The PPM curriculum covers an array of essential aspects such as project planning and execution, schedule management, team leadership, risk and crisis management, time management, and knowledge management, all integral to the multifaceted role of a project manager.
The GAQM’s approach ensures that the PPM certification is not just about acquiring knowledge; it’s about applying it effectively in real-world scenarios. Priced at $340, this certification is accessible yet demands a comprehensive understanding of project management principles, as evident in its coverage of diverse topics from fundamentals to advanced strategies.
While no formal education or experience prerequisites exist, candidates must have some project management experience to navigate the exam successfully. The PPM is not just a step in career advancement; it’s a significant leap for intermediate to experienced project managers, particularly those engaged in risk and crisis management and the day-to-day orchestration of projects. This certification is a testament to one’s capability to lead, manage, and deliver in the demanding and dynamic field of project management.
14. Project Management Professional (PMP)
Recognized as the pinnacle of project management credentials, the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification from the Project Management Institute (PMI) is a comprehensive examination that rigorously tests your mastery in managing the essential project constraints: time, cost, and scope. This certification is not just an assessment; it’s a profound validation of your project leadership skills and expertise, demonstrating your ability to enhance organizational efficiency and performance. The PMP exam encompasses many critical topics, including conflict management, team leadership, team building, training, empowering team members and stakeholders, executing projects for business value, risk management, stakeholder engagement, and budget and resource management.
For insights on taking the PMP exam, delve into “PMP certification: How to ace the Project Management Professional exam.”
The certification fees vary based on the format and membership status: $405 for PMI members, $555 for non-members for computer-based exams, $250 for PMI members, and $400 for non-members for paper-based exams. The eligibility requirements are rigorous: either a four-year secondary degree with three years of project management experience, 4,500 hours of leading and directing projects, and 35 hours of 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. The PMP certification is more than a testament to your skills; it’s a symbol of your dedication and capability in the high-stakes world of project management, positioning you at the forefront of the field.
15. Program Management Professional (PgMP)
The Program Management Professional (PgMP) certification, offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI), is specifically crafted for senior-level program managers tasked with driving their organization’s strategic objectives. This certification goes beyond ordinary project management; it’s designed for those who expertly manage multiple, interconnected projects, navigating complex and diverse environments across various departments, job functions, regions, or cultures, all while ensuring alignment with the organization’s overarching goals. The PgMP exam rigorously covers strategic program management, program life cycles, benefits management, stakeholder management, and governance.
Priced at $800 for PMI members and $1,000 for non-members, this certification demands substantial experience: candidates need either a secondary degree or a global equivalent, coupled with 48 months of project management experience or a PMP certification, plus 84 months of program management experience within the last 15 years. The requirements for those with a four-year degree are slightly different: 48 months of project management experience or a PMP certification and 48 months of program management experience within the past 15 years.
The PgMP is not just a certification; it’s a recognition of elite expertise in the strategic coordination of multiple projects, affirming your ability to function at the highest level of program management and contributing significantly to the success and advancement of your organization.
In conclusion, these 15 PM Certifications embody the pinnacle of professional achievement in project management. Whether at the outset of your career, seeking to solidify your foundational knowledge, or a seasoned veteran aiming to assert your expertise in complex project or program management, these certifications offer a path to distinguish yourself in a competitive field. Each certification, from the entry-level CAPM to the esteemed PMP or the specialized realms of Agile and PRINCE2, is a testament to your skills and a beacon of your commitment to excellence.
These certifications are more than mere credentials; they are catalysts for career growth, opportunities for expanding your professional network, and avenues for keeping pace with the ever-evolving methodologies in project management. By obtaining any of these certifications, you position yourself as a practitioner and a leader in the field, capable of navigating the complexities and challenges of modern projects and programs. Armed with these certifications, you are not just equipped to meet the demands of today’s project management landscape; you are prepared to redefine them, steering your projects and organizations toward unprecedented success and innovation.