The 7 Best Project Management Certifications to Consider in 2024

Calling all project managers!

Whether you’re a PMP, a Certified ScrumMaster, a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt or all — or none — of the above, you are no doubt aware that there is a vast landscape of project management certification and credentialing programs designed to help you develop your skills and expand your areas of expertise.

As is the case in many professions, the wide range of certifications (and the acronyms used to describe them) can get a little confusing. It’s not always easy to know whether you’re all set with your current certifications or whether you should consider becoming a Certified Agile Project Management Six Sigma Black Belt ScrumMaster Professional (just a little PM humor there).

Project management certifications range from entry-level to advanced and from general to highly specialized. So how do you determine the best project management certifications for you?

As you review this post highlighting some of the top PM certifications to consider, you should keep in mind the following questions:

What Is a Project Management Certificate?

Who Is Eligible for a Project Management Certification?

6 Considerations When Choosing a Program

Tips for Succeeding in an Online Project Management Course

Benefits of a Project Management Certificate

Top Project Management Certifications to Consider

FAQs

What Is a Project Management Certificate?

Earning a PM certificate is intended to build confidence in leadership abilities, time management, communication and more. There are many options for sharpening these crucial PM skills, including online certificates. Doing so is a great way to show potential employers that you have invested in the skills and knowledge required in the field.

Who Is Eligible for a Project Management Certification?

The wide variety of certifications relevant to the project management industry means there are many different requirements. For example, the Project Management Institute’s PMP Certification is regarded as the industry standard and has two options for eligibility.

OPTION 1OPTION 2
A four-year degree Three years of relevant experience within the past eight years 35 hours of project management education/trainingA high school diploma, Associates Degree or equivalent Five years of relevant experience within the past eight years 35 hours of project management education/training

USD’s online project management certificate program caters in part to individuals preparing for the PMP Certification. The offering is also ideal for those seeking a hands-on approach gaining project management skills, and PMP credential holders in need of professional development education hours.

6 Considerations When Choosing a Program

It can be overwhelming to choose from the many PM programs available today. The following are some questions to ask yourself before enrolling:

Benefits of a Project Management Certificate

Anyone can benefit from a PM certificate. Newcomers to the field will be educated on the basics and prepare to take the industry-standard Project Management Professional (PMP) certification exam. Project managers who already have real-world experience and want to advance their knowledge will learn the latest techniques and hone their skills.

USD’s online Project Management Certificate Program, consisting of four online courses, will prepare you with a full spectrum of the project management experience.

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Top Project Management Certifications to Consider

The following list of project management certifications is by no means exhaustive, nor is it ranked. It is intended to provide helpful information and insight into the project management certification landscape, and also to serve as a foundation for further research.  

Project Management Professional (PMP)

Often referred to as the gold standard of project management certifications, the PMP certification boasts nearly 1 million credential holders around the globe. It is offered by the Project Management Institute, which works closely with businesses and the academic world to keep the program up to date and relevant, and claims that its PMP holders earn 25% higher salaries than those without PMP certification.

Sponsoring organization: Project Management Institute

Program page: Project Management Professional (PMP)

Cost: $405 for members; $555 for non-members

Requirements:

Certified Project Manager (CPM)

Offered by the International Association of Project Managers (IAPM), the Certified Project Manager (CPM) credential is described by the IAPM as being geared toward “candidates with a basic knowledge of project management.” The examination covers both the “hard and soft” aspects of project management. A text called the PM Guide 2.0 forms the basis for the exam questions.

Sponsoring organization: International Association of Project Managers (IAPM)

Program page: Certified Project Manager (CPM)

Cost: $650 for U.S. residents; less for residents of other countries; discounts available for students and others (check the fee schedule page for details)  

Requirements: No requirements for professional experience or education level; significant knowledge of project management is considered essential for this exam.

Certified Six Sigma Black Belt (CSSBB)

Six Sigma is a widely used set of techniques, tools and quality management methods. The American Society for Quality (ASQ), a leading certification organization, calls it a “method that provides organizations tools to improve the capability of their business processes.”

An executive at Motorola, Bill Smith, is widely credited with inventing the Six Sigma program in the mid 1980s; however, it was former General Electric CEO Jack Welch who brought it to widespread popularity and use.

ASQ describes a Six Sigma Black Belt as “a professional who can explain Six Sigma philosophies and principles, including supporting systems and tools,” while also demonstrating team leadership qualities and a thorough understanding of lean enterprise concepts and the DMAIC (define, measure, analyze, improve and control) model. There are multiple levels of Six Sigma certification, including Master Black Belt, Six Sigma Green Belt and Six Sigma Yellow Belt.

Certification organizations: In addition to several dozen academic institutions, certification bodies include ASQ and the International Association for Six Sigma Certification (IASSC).

Cost: Varies depending on certification organization

Requirements: Varies depending on certification organization; some have project requirements, others (such as IASSC) require candidates to sit for a Certified Lean Six Sigma Black Belt Exam and achieve a minimum score of 70%.

Certified ScrumMaster (CSM)

The first question for many is: What is Scrum? The answer: Scrum is a lightweight yet incredibly powerful set of values, principles and practices that relies on cross-functional teams to deliver products and services in short cycles, enabling:

This is according to Scrum Alliance, one of the leading organizations providing education, resources, support and certification to practitioners of Scrum and Agile methodologies. ScrumAlliance.org offers multiple levels of certification options, including Advanced Certified ScrumMaster, Certified Scrum Professional – ScrumMaster and more.

Sponsoring organization: Scrum Alliance

Program page: Certified ScrumMaster (CSM)

Cost: Approximately $995 to $1,395 (varies by training provider)

Requirements: No prerequisites

Projects in Controlled Environments (PRINCE2)

Originally developed by the UK government in the 1990s and now administered by AXELOS, PRINCE2 stands for Projects in Controlled Environments. Based on sets of 7 Themes, Principles and Processes, this methodology can be applied to projects of all kinds, whether it’s “building a new skyscraper, delivering a digital transformation project or executing a marketing campaign,” according to a PRINCE2 video.

It claims to be “the world’s most practiced method for project management” with over 1 million certified professionals based in over 150 countries. There are two primary training levels, PRINCE2 Foundation and PRINCE2 Practitioner.

Sponsoring organization: AXELOS

Program page: PRINCE2 certification

Cost: Information not readily available on website

Requirements:

CompTIA Project+

This project management certification bills itself as “ideal for professionals who need to manage smaller, less complex projects as part of their other job duties but still have foundational project management skills.” It also claims that it is “more versatile than other certifications because it covers essential project management concepts beyond the scope of just one methodology or framework.”

Successful candidates will have the knowledge and skills required to effectively:

Sponsoring organization: CompTIA

Program page: CompTIA Project+

Cost: $329 (up to $599 with Exam Prep Bundle)

Requirements: At least 12 months of cumulative project management experience or equivalent education is recommended

Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)

If you are newer to the field of project management and want to align yourself with the well-regarded recognized Project Management Institute brand, the CAPM certification may be right for you. PMI says the program is ideal for those who aspire to “manage larger projects and gain more responsibility or add project management skills into your current role.” For many industry professionals, the CAPM is a step toward earning the PMP certification.

Sponsoring organization: Project Management Institute

Program page: Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)

Cost: $225 for members; $300 for non-members

Requirements:

Additional project management certifications offered by the Project Management Institute include:

Program Management Professional (PgMP)

Geared toward senior-level practitioners who “manage multiple, related projects in a coordinated way, achieving benefits that could not occur if the projects were handled separately.” Candidates must have 6,000 hours of project management experience and 6,000–10,500 hours of program management experience to qualify.

Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)

Described as PMI’s fastest-growing certification, this is for PM practitioners who focus on agile principles techniques. The credential “spans many approaches to agile such as Scrum, Kanban, Lean, extreme programming (XP) and test-driven development (TDD).” Prerequisites include work experience and “21 contact hours of training in agile practices.”

Cost: $435 for members; $495 for non-members

PMI Risk Management Professional (PMI-RMP)

Recognizing the needs of “a project environment that is increasingly global, virtual and complex,” this specialized credential certifies a project management professional’s capabilities in identifying and assessing project risks, mitigating threats and capitalizing on opportunities. Prerequisites for taking the exam include at least 3,000 hours of project risk management experience and 30 hours of project risk management education.

Cost: $520 for members; $670 for non-members

*   *   *

Many project management professionals who are seeking to earn industry certification enroll in educational courses and training programs to expand their knowledge and skills. One such program is the online Project Management Certificate program offered by the University of San Diego’s Division of Professional and Continuing Education.

Sponsoring organization: Project Management Institute

Program page: Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)

Cost: $225 for members; $300 for non-members

Requirements:

Tips for Succeeding in an Online Project Management Course

After choosing the best project management program for you, follow these tips for success, especially if it is an online course:

FAQs

What does a project manager do?

Aptly named, a project manager is responsible for organizing, planning and executing projects. That often includes juggling staffing, scheduling, budgeting and other needs simultaneously.

What is the career outlook of project management?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 7% growth in project management employment from 2021 to 2031. That is about as fast as the average for all occupations. About 70,4000 project management job openings are predicted annually over the decade. As of May 2021, the average salary for a project manager was $94,500; however, that figure varies by industry.

Which project management certificate program is best for your career? Refer to this checklist as you evaluate options!

Curriculum covered in this article

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Business Programs – 25% Off May Sale

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**Only one discount can be applied per course.**

Business
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Business Programs – 25% Off May Sale

Valid May 1, 2024 – May 31, 2024

Some restrictions apply.  Offer valid only during sale dates. Not all courses apply.
**Only one discount can be applied per course.**

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