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Project Management Certification

Project management certification has become an increasingly important credential in the world of project management. It has become a way for professionals working in this industry to prove that they have a certain level of experience, skills, and knowledge. For this reason, certified project managers usually find high-paying employment more easily than non-certified project managers.

What Exactly Is Project Management Certification?

Certification is a professional credential that a working project manager can obtain. It is not the same as a project management certificate, diploma, or degree that you will get after completing a university or college course in project management. This is because you often need to be working already to qualify for this type of certification.

Project management certification is usually issued by institutes to project managers after they pass a certification exam. To write the exam, however, you need to fulfil all the different certification requirements. Consequently, this type of certification is usually something only professional project managers with a fair amount of experience and expertise can attain.

Different Areas Of Certification

In the same way that you get different certification organisations, you also get different types and levels of certification. Here are some of the different certifications that you can get in project management:

  • PMP®: Project Management Professional, issued by the Project Management Institute
  • MPM: Master Project Manager Certification, issued by the American Academy of Project Management
  • CPM: Certified Project Manager Certification, issued by the International Association of Project and Program Management
  • CompTIA Project+ Certification, issued by CompTIA

The PMI itself also offers a diverse range of certifications in different areas of project management:

  • PfMP: Portfolio Management Professional
  • CAPM: Certified Associate in Project Management
  • PgMP: Program Management Professional
  • PMI-ACP: PMI Agile Certification Practitioner
  • PMI-PBA: PMI Professional in Business Analysis

You can also get certified in specific project management methodologies such as the PRINCE2. Or you can get certified in project management as related to a specific industry. The International Council for Electronic Commerce Consultants, for example, offers project management certification in IT Security.

Different Types of Certification

Project management certification is usually awarded by industry-recognised organisations with established and trusted reputations. Some organisations, like the Project Management Institute (PMI), specialise exclusively in project management as a profession.

Other certification bodies might be related to other industries – such as computer engineering – and merely offer project management certification amongst their other industry-related qualifications.

Project management courses

Different Certification Organisations

The Project Management Institute is definitely one of the most established and highly recognised project management certification bodies. Here are some of the other organisations that offer project management certification:

  • Association for Project Management
  • CompTIA
  • International Project Management Association
  • Microsoft
  • Global Association for Quality Management

Why Get Project Management Certification?

Most importantly, project management certification acts as formal recognition of your knowledge, skills, and experience. This means that it helps you find work, earn more, build a career, and get ahead in your profession.

If you look at job ads for project management in South Africa, you will find that many of the positions either “require”, “prefer”, or view project management certification as an “advantage”. It is usually the senior project management positions that require project management certification, with a preference for PMP® certification (depending on the industry).

Certified project managers also generally make more money than those without certification. PMP® is one of the highest-paying certifications within the technology industry, for example.

This does not, however, mean you can’t get work in project management without certification! There are numerous entry-level positions in project management where you simply need some project management training or experience.

Why Does Certification Mean So Much?

Certification results in improved employment opportunities, career advancement, and higher income, because it acts as verified proof of your competence, training, and experience as a project manager.

Especially in the construction and industrial industries, where projects are often multi-million Rand undertakings, employers are willing to pay much higher salaries to project managers if they have some assurance of their competence.


The false assumption by employers and clients that a certified project manager is better than one without certification might cause them to pick the wrong person for a job. There are many skills that get overlooked because of the emphasis placed on certification. Leadership skills, for example, are not adequately measured by some certification exams.

“Being a certified project manager doesn’t necessarily make you better than any other project manager” – Steve DelGrosso, Director of IBM’s Project Management Centre of Excellence

In certain industries, however, certification might mean less. In Information Technology, for example, your IT skills, experience, or qualification will often be more important than any project management certification you might have.

How To Get Certified

Each professional credential has different criteria, costs, and examination procedures. However, most of the different certification programmes follow the following format.

You have to:

  • Fulfil the set requirements to qualify to write the certification exam.
  • Apply for the exam.
  • Go and write the exam.
  • Pass the exam with the required mark.

After completing this process, you receive your certification. Some of the certifications, however, need to be renewed regularly in order to remain valid.

Certification Requirements

Different credentials have different requirements, because they might have different standards or be designed for different purposes. The CompTIA Project+ Certificate, for example, requires only one year of experience.

PMI’s requirements, however, are generally much stricter than those of most other institutes, as this is the most highly-revered certification body in project management. You generally require a certain level of education and plenty of work experience to get a PMI certificate. The CAPM: Certified Associate in Project Management certificate, for example, requires:

  • A secondary degree (a high school or higher education certificate)
  • At least 1500 hours of project experience
  • 23 hours of project management education

Though these are the basic requirements, the PMI might also have additional rules for exam eligibility.
The PMP® is the PMI’s most well-known credential, and the exam entry requirements are very high. Amongst other things, you will need between 3 and 5 years’ project management experience to qualify for the exam. You can find out more about PMP certification by clicking here.

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Writing A Project Management Certification Exam

Certification exams are independent exams set up by the organisations issuing the certification. That means that even at colleges that offer ‘PMI training’ programmes, you will have to pay for, apply, and write the external exam to get your certification.

Most exams give you the option to write them online, which means that you can get an internationally recognised certification from anywhere in the world. Some exams, however, are paper-based tests that you will need to write in physical exam rooms.

The exams can also take on different formats. Here are a few examples of certification exams to give you an idea of how they differ in this respect:

  • CompTIA Project+: 100 questions, 90 minutes
  • Master Project Manager: 20 questions, 55 minutes
  • PMP® Certification: 200 questions, 4 hours

How Much Does It Cost To Get Project Management Certification?

The costs of certification will differ from institute to institute and may be subject to change. The Master in Project Management exam, for example, is free to write – but you have to pay $300 to get certified upon passing the exam.

Exam costs will also depend on a number of additional factors, such as:

  • Whether you write an online exam or a paper-based exam.
  • Whether you have membership with the institute offering the certification.

The best way to find out about the costs of a particular exam would be to contact the organisation issuing the certification directly.

Your Certification Journey Starts Here

Find out: Where can I study project management courses in South Africa?

Your Oxbridge Academy project management course does not count as project management certification. But you will have to start somewhere. To get the sought-after PMP® certification, for example, you will already need to have some project management training and experience behind you.

Oxbridge Academy’s courses are useful stepping stones towards eventually becoming certified. For example: You might start off with your Oxbridge Academy course; go on to obtain a Skills Certificate in Project Management while working; and then, when you have enough work experience, you might go and write your PMP® certification exam.



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