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Which project management qualification is right for me?

Written by: Paul Naybour
Published on: 4 Jan 2018

We all know that project managers need many skills to be able to do their job effectively. Not just the technical skills that enable us to monitor and control a complex set of inter-dependent tasks, or skills that help us manage often very large budgets, but also those skills that help us motivate and enthuse team members, communicate effectively with senior executives and handle with diplomacy the business politics surrounding major organisational change.

Project management truly requires multi-talented individuals with a range of capabilities rarely seen in a single role. So it is wonderful that we, as a Chartered profession, are finally getting the sort of professional recognition that we deserve for developing our expertise in a role that has become the 21st century linchpin in so many businesses and industries. 

Yet, even given the fast-growing nature of project management, there are still many project managers who have ended up in the role by chance rather than making a specific career choice. It's an interesting and challenging role so most of us are motivated and fulfilled but it has become increasingly important as the field has expanded to develop a recognised career path backed up by professional credentials.

Whether you are a newbie or have many years practical experience in project management achieving a professional project management qualification will distinguish you from your peers and improve your ability to successfully deliver projects; it will boost your career prospects and, potentially, your salary.

But the question is which project management qualification is best suited to your level of existing experience?

If you are new to project management then the choice is fairly straight-forward: start with a fundamentals qualification and progressively move through to the more advanced courses.

However, if you have many years practical experience running projects then it can be difficult to know where to jump in to the qualification route.

The APM Project Management Qualification (PMQ), formerly APMP, will ensure you have a solid foundation in project management terminology, behaviours, skills, processes and tools. It is ideal for those with two to three years’ experience in project delivery, who want to consolidate their knowledge.

If you have more than three years' experience or experience managing complex projects (and have evidence to demonstrate this), then a better starting place for your route to professional qualifications might be the APM Practitioner Qualification (PQ)

And for those with five or more years' experience on complex projects the APM Registered Project Professional (RPP), although not a qualification, recognises not only the ability to manage projects and competent leadership, but also a commitment to continuing professional development (CPD). 

There is no exam for the RPP but candidates must submit a written portfolio of evidence detailing their on-the-job experience on complex projects and undergo a professional review in the form of an assessment interview.

You can find out more about your options in this guide to project management qualifications but whatever route you choose to professional project management accreditation none of the qualifications are easy to achieve so be prepared for some hard work. To quote Theodore Roosevelt: "Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort…"