Project Management Certification: Definition and Types

An Overview of Project Management Certification

Project management
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What Is Project Management Certification?

Project management certification is a type of professional certification awarded to individuals who can demonstrate expertise and experience in the field of project management. Project management involves the initiating, planning, executing, monitoring, controlling, and closing of a project designed to accomplish a particular goal. Project management certification establishes credibility and demonstrates your knowledge of project management, which could lead to better jobs, more clients, and higher pay.

Read about the benefits of obtaining project management certification. 

Who Certifies Project Managers?

There are several different organizations that are considered certifying bodies in the field of project management. The most well-known is the Project Management Institute (PMI), a not-for-profit professional membership association founded in 1969 for the project, program and portfolio management professionals. Other certifying bodies include APMG International, an examination institute, International Project Management Association (IPMA), a Swiss-based federation of approximately 50 national project management certification organizations founded in 1965, and Green Project Management (GPM) Global, a sustainability-centered organization.

How to Earn Certification

Each certifying body has its own rules when it comes to certifications. However, to be eligible for most certifications, you must have a certain amount of work experience and education.

Expertise is usually demonstrated though the completion of an examination that tests your knowledge of project management. After passing the exam and obtaining certification, you may need to complete professional development units (continuing education units) every few years to keep your certification.


Project Management Certification Options

There are many different certifications that can be earned through the certifying bodies mentioned above as well as other international and national organizations. Some of the most sought-after certifications include the following.

  • Project Management Professional (PMP) - The Project Management Professional designation from PMI is often considered the gold standard of project management certification. This certification is for experienced project managers who take the lead on projects. Prerequisites include a high school diploma, 7,500 hours leading and directing projects and 35 hours of project management education or a four-year degree, 4,500 hours leading and directing projects and 35 hours of project management education.
  • Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) - The Certified Associate in Project Management designation from PMI is a basic certification for project managers who do not have any work experience. This certification demonstrates expertise, or more specifically, fundamental knowledge of project management terminology and processes, rather than experience. Prerequisites include a high school diploma and 1,500 hours of project experience or 23 hours project management education without professional work experience.

  • Green Project Manager (GPM) - The Green Project Manager credential from Green Project Management (GPM) Global is the first expert-level international certification for individuals that can demonstrate competency sustainable project management. Prerequisites include a bachelor’s degree and a minimum of 6,000 hours experience managing projects or a high school diploma and at least five years or 8,000 hours of project management experience.

  • PRINCE2 (PRojects IN Controlled Environments) - Administered by APMG International, PRINCE2 Certification is an internationally-recognized credential for project managers that can demonstrate knowledge of the process-based approach for project management. It is most widely used in the United Kingdom, Western Europe and Australia. There are three levels of certification: the foundation level, practitioner level, and professional level. Each level has increasingly higher prerequisites. 

    Read about other project management certifications.