Hanna asked, “I am looking to get certification in project management. What do you know about this? Any insight?”
I get this kind of question a lot. My daughter Marissa asked whether she should get the project management or Six Sigma Greenbelt certification while she got her MBA. Another friend asked if he should get the certification in HR.
These certifications require a lot of time but when you get the certification you can add lots of letters after your name so it must be worth it, right?
I got caught up in this excitement earlier in my career.
I received my Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) certification in the late 1990s. It was expensive and intimidating. I did not tell anyone I sat for the exam. I did not study for it either. I figured that if I failed then I could study and take the test again. I passed! After a dispute with HRCI over receipt of my recertification materials many years later, my certification expired. Then I was left in the same position of wondering whether the certification is worth it.
This is where the decision to get certified in something becomes very personal.
Should you be a Project Management Professional or just be a project manager? Should you be a Professional Engineer or just an engineer? Should you be a Professional in Human Resources or just a professional HR person?
I found a really great article, Is it worth getting PMP certified?” by Brian Crawford who specializes in project management related issues. His article gives great insight into the PMP certification specifically and other certifications generally. He outlines the pros and cons which include:
- It looks great on a resume
- PMP certification proves you have project management experience
- Certification brings more money (not true in HR but seems to be true in project management)
- Certification can lead to networking opportunities and potential job / consulting opportunities (appears to be true with most certifications)
- Certification indicates a commitment to the profession
- Certification is expensive (true for other certifications as well)
- It is time consuming (very true)
- Time consuming to renew and maintain certification in the future
- Certification means you passed a test; it is not a guarantee that the certified person is actually any good at the job or is some kind of expert
I think Brian did a great job outlining the pros and cons. Now it is up to you to decide if certification is necessary in your career.
Should Hanna get the PMP? Or Marissa?
Hanna is at the middle of her career with a distinguished track record of accomplishments. Project management is an important part of her job. She is currently looking for a new position. I suspect in Hanna’s case she can easily pass the PMP test and find the projects necessary to achieve certification. I bet in her case the PROS outweigh the CONS.
Marissa is at the beginning of her career. Project management will be an important part of her future career but she might need to wait.
I decided not to pursue re-certification. I say “I have been certified SPHR” which is the truth. It is not worth it to me to go through the hassle and expense of re-testing. I am proud that I achieved the SPHR level certification. Every year I do enough continuing education to satisfy the recertification requirements so I stay up to date in my profession. But I don’t feel it is necessary sit for a test or submit paperwork to argue with the certifying organization at this point in my career.