The Golden Formula to Choosing or Combining the Right Certifications

Project Management Career Path

Do you have a bachelor’s degree in project management?

I have noticed that most persons who are either pursuing or have a bachelor’s degree in project management are confu or plan their project management careers. They follow the “popular” recommendations of getting a certification in project management without critically thinking how the certification would boost their careers.

In this article, I will show you – project management degree students and graduates – the golden formulas to defining your project management career.

Do you know that most persons, including recruiters and hiring managers, do not understand or are still wondering why you would want to pursue a bachelor’s degree in project management? This is because they believe you do not need a bachelor’s degree to practice project management. The problem is not in what they believe or do not believe but in how you, the degree holder, tend to pursue your project management career.

There are different career routes and there’s no wrong career path to pursing a career in project management. Some would prefer on-the-job training, some would prefer getting a certification first, some would prefer getting a degree first while some would prefer a blended method. Irrespective of the career path you choose to follow, just make sure you have a career plan that suits that path or you look for an experienced person who has successfully threaded that same path and learn from the person.

Let us now look at some golden career formulas.

The general formulas for most persons currently in the project management profession are of two types:

First Formula: They are first involved in another profession, discover the project management profession and then decide to change career into or combine their current profession with the project management profession. It is the most common career path in the world of project management. To have some formal knowledge of the project management profession, they either pursue a master’s degree in project management or a project management certification. In this article, we will focus on the project management certification (PMC).

Formula: “Profession” + PMC = “Profession” Project Manager

Examples:

Software designer/developer + PMC = Software Project Manager

Building Engineer/Civil Engineer/Architect/Quantity Surveyor + PMC = Construction Project Manager

Accountant/Financial Manager + PMC = Financial Project Manager

Digital Media/Social Media Marketers + PMC = Digital/Social Media Project Manager

Legal Practitioner + PMC = Legal Project Manager

Health Practitioner + PMC = Health Project Manager

Those who follow this career path are often called the “accidental” project managers. I do not think they are “accidental” per say. I think they chose to advance their career by blending it with project management.

Second Formula: These persons decide to pursue a project management certification immediately after obtaining their bachelor’s degree in a non-project management-related course. They have little or no working experience in both their profession and in the project management profession but, because they want to blend their professional career with the project management profession, they decide to get a PMC before entering the labour market.

Formula: “Bachelor’s Degree Course” + PMC = Aspiring “Course” Project Manager

Examples:

“A degree course that’s practised in the IT department or sector” + PMC = aspiring IT Project Manager

Computer Science + PMC = Aspiring IT Project Manager

“A degree course that’s practised more in the construction sector” + PMC = aspiring Construction Project Manager

Building Engineering + PMC = aspiring Construction Project Manager

“A degree course that’s practised more in the health sector” + PMC = aspiring Health Project Manager

“A degree course that’s practised more in the oil and gas industry” + PMC = aspiring Oil and Gas Project Manager

Petroleum Engineering + PMC = aspiring Oil and Gas Project Manager

What About the Career Formula for Those Who Have a Bachelor’s Degree in Project Management?

If you look at the formulas above, you would notice that they were first involved in another profession or course and had no formal training in project management. That is, they have a defined career path in a particular industry or sector and then got to learn about project management so as to blend it with their career.

However, for those of you who are currently pursing or have a bachelor’s degree in project management, your formula is in the opposite format. That is, you first decided to get a formal training in project management before deciding which industry or sector that you would best fit your professional career or which other certification that would boost your career.

There are two formulas you can use to define and plan your project management career:

First Formula: Before or after obtaining your project management degree (PMD), you would need to decide on the industry or sector that would best suit your professional career. That is, the industry or sector where you would like to practice your project management skills. During the early stages of your career and depending on you work or job, you might not get to fully practice your project management skills. The early stage of your career is when you should get to know how project management is been practised in your company, industry or sector.

Formula: PMD + “Profession” = aspiring “Profession” Project Manager
OR
PMD + “Industry/Sector” = aspiring “Industry/Sector” Project Manager

Examples:

PMD + Work in the Construction Sector = aspiring Construction Project Manager

PMD + Work in the IT/Telecommunications Sector = aspiring IT Project Manager

PMD + Work in the Health Sector = aspiring Health Project Manager

PMD + Work in the Financial Department = aspiring Financial Project Manager

PMD + Work in a Hotel = aspiring Hotel Manager

You should get to know the certifications that are mostly accepted or recognised in your industry or sector as it would help you in your career advancement plans. It could be any certification, not just a project management certification:

Advancement Formulae: PMD + “Profession” + Certification = “Profession” Project Manager (I have removed the “aspiring” word)

Examples:

PMD + Experience in the Construction Sector + PMP®/PRINCE2® = Construction Project Manager

PMD + Experience in the Telecommunications Sector + IT/Agile/Scrum Certifications = IT Project Manager

PMD + Experience in the Financial Department/Sector + ICAN = Financial Project Manager

Second Formula: The first formula was for those who want to enter into the world of working or the labour market after obtaining their bachelor’s degree in project management (PMD). This second formula is for those who want to boost their CV with a certification before looking for a job or starting their career.

Formula: PMD + “Generalised Certification” = Aspiring “Certification” Project Manager

This formula will show why I do advice persons with a bachelor’s degree in project management and with little or no working experience NOT to pursue some certain “generalised” project management certifications. The problem is not in the certifications as some are globally recognised but in how much focus it adds to your career path.

Examples:

PMD + PMP® = Confusion for Recruiters and Hiring Managers

PMD + PRINCE2® = Confusion for Recruiters and Hiring Managers

PMD + APMP = Confusion for Recruiters and Hiring Managers

Why Would There Be Confusion?

Looking at the combinations above, they are very good certifications but most hiring managers and recruiters would be wondering which industries or sectors that would best fit your project management career or skill. You have a combination of two “generalised” certificates (degree + certification) in project management and they both tell the same thing: That you have a formal knowledge of project management. They do not tell any specific knowledge or skills that is peculiar to a particular industry or sector and therefore do not show where you could fit in.

Yes, you could fit in a project management office (PMO), but a PMO in which industry or sector? Is it the PMO in a software company, the oil and gas industry, the health sector or where? Remember, project management is practiced differently across various industries and sectors.

Now, let us look at combining your project management degree with a more “specialised” or non-project management certification:

Formula: PMD + “Specialised Certification” = Aspiring “Certification” Project Manager

Examples:

PMD + ITIL® = Aspiring IT Project Manager: It tells recruiters and hiring managers that you can fit in the IT department or work in the IT/Telecommunications sector.

PMD + PMI-RMP® = Aspiring Risk Manager: It tells recruiters and hiring managers that you can identify and assess project risks, mitigate threats and perform other risk management functions.

If recruiters and hiring managers knew which department, industry or sector that you could  perform better, it would help your job search.

My Forthcoming Book on Career Development in Project Management

If you are a young or aspiring project manager, watch out for my fortchcoming book titled, “The Golden Formular to Defining Your Project Management Career.” The book will help you plan, define and advance your project management career.

Conclusion

The labour market is becoming more competitive for project managememt-related jobs. If you have a bachelor’s degree in project management, you need to be strategic with your career plans and the kind of certifications that you pursue. Do not just follow the crowd in pursuing the most popular certifications. They are popular because most persons who want to change career into or learn about project management are advised to pursue those certifications. You are already into project management and you already have a formal knowledge of the profession, so be strategic.

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If you’d like to find out why you should discover your dream career path, build a powerful personal brand and digital resume, and develop your dream career in the world of project management, download my FREE e-book titled, “6 Steps to Your Career Development in Project Management.”

7 Comments

  1. Morgan said:

    Wow, this is an awesome resource! Project Management can be a tedious area of study, but the information you give here is so helpful and could easily be used to any PM student’s advantage. These formulas are great! Nicely done!

    May 23, 2016
    Reply
    • I’m glad you found the formulas great. I love helping the young and aspiring project managers discover their career paths. Thanks for your comment.

      May 23, 2016
      Reply
  2. Eze said:

    This was very helpful. Infact I almost ignored it but I learnt something after reading.

    April 25, 2016
    Reply
  3. Oke Yusuf Olawale said:

    This is an awesome publication. Thanks Jerry. I hope every PM students get to read this. Weldone Jerry.

    April 25, 2016
    Reply

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