Project management qualifications are key to professional progression in many sectors. Certifications are highly sought after in the private sector, while in global development, the ability to manage people, resources, time, and budget management is extremely valuable, and demand for them is increasing — particularly with growing trends in accountability.
“Project management is mainly about managing people; the two key components are communication and stakeholder engagement.”— explained Dave Bain, senior project manager, New Zealand’s Christchurch City Council
There has been increasing demand for nonprofits to utilize project management tools to plan and outline their formulation process in order to be more accountable for the funding they receive, said Kemoy Liburd-Chow, counselor at the Embassy of St. Kitts and Nevis in the United States and certified project management professional from the Project Management Institute.
With time and experience, most people acquire a high level of skill in their particular field, but without project management skills, a certain level of seniority is difficult to get beyond.
From experienced professional to manager
A project management certification covers every aspect of project management from start to finish: “From staffing the project, to implementation, to monitoring and controlling, to the follow up afterward,” Liburd-Chow said.
“Understanding scheduling; understanding budgeting; understanding how to monitor and control; how to go about the whole planning process; the importance of managing your stakeholders; [and] assigning resources,” are all essential skills gained through project management certifications, Liburd-Chow continued.
“[Professionals] are often really well-qualified and experienced in their specific industries … but they don’t know, necessarily, how to organize a project,” explained Dave Bain, senior project manager at New Zealand’s Christchurch City Council.
With a wealth of project management certifications out there, it can be overwhelming to figure out which one is best for you. We break down the pros and cons of some of the most popular project management trainings for development professionals.
“Project management [training] gives you the basic template for managing a project and operating a project,” he added.
These skills are particularly useful for technical personnel “to manage projects and … to ‘up’ the level of project design and implementation,” Liburd-Chow said. “It really helps to bring more measurement and results in performance,” she said.
Experienced professionals are better equipped to go onto project management training than those who undertake training without experience. This is “because people with no real-life experience are then employed as project managers off the basis of theory, rather than understanding how it works in the real world,” said Darren Talbot, director of D2i Management and who sits on the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors U.K. Education Standards Board.
“Project management is mainly about managing people,” Bain said. “The two key components are communication and stakeholder engagement.” These qualities aren’t easily learned on-the-job like technical skills, but are taught and developed through project management training.
Project management certifications also help staff at management level: “You learn how to manage people, you learn how to manage resources, you learn how to manage time, and you learn how to manage budgets, and all of those things — if you’re in management — are absolutely essential,” Talbot said.
In addition to the practical skills gained, project management certifications offer credibility and can contribute to earning a higher salary.
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Many project management certifications are globally recognized, making them particularly valuable for international development professionals.
Holding the Prince 2 qualification, for example, has “helped the consultancies I’ve worked for win jobs, because they have somebody on there that’s got the qualification that ticks the boxes,” Talbot explained. He added that other project management qualifications can also be useful, including from RICS or the Association for Project Management.
Within surveying work for engineering and infrastructure projects, a project management certification from RICS adds significantly to your credibility. With it, you gain membership to “one of the most prestigious surveying membership organizations in the world,” Talbot explained.
Project management qualifications do require a big commitment, however. They commonly take two years to complete and can be a big expense. For many, you also have to record a number of continuing professional development hours each year following the initial qualification.
It is therefore important to research the different project management certifications available and work out which is best suited to your sector or field.
Devex, with financial support from our partner 2U, is exploring the skills and education development sector professionals will need for the future. Visit the Focus on: DevPros 2030 page for more.