Whether you already work in the field of project management or are looking at this as a new direction for your career, you will undoubtedly have come across the wide range of project management courses you could study. For many people, particularly those who are already undertaking a role successfully in the workplace it can be difficult to understand what the benefits might be of following a particular course of study. However, in our overview we will look in depth at the type of qualifications that you may want to pursue, the benefits of doing so and just how much time you will need to set aside to be successful in your studies and pass a project management course.
- Why should I be thinking about studying for a project management qualification?
- Which is the right course for my needs?
- How much time will I need to commit to my course?
- Stress management tips
- What should I do if I run short of time?
At Parallel Project Training we understand that for many people it may be a few years since they have committed themselves to any study programme. This is why we will also look at how you can prepare yourself to get the most out of your study, share some study and revision tips and also some stress management tips to help you. This can be particularly useful if you are studying alongside working full time.
Why should I be thinking about studying for a project management qualification?
If you already have a university degree that has stood you in good stead when it comes to the job market then you may be wondering how much use a professional project management qualification will be. If you have got this far in your career is it something that you actually need? Whilst it is true that many employers are more interested in looking for people with the right skill set and knowledge for their project management roles, project management is a growing, and highly competitive, field. This means that having a project management qualification on your CV, alongside all of the relevant hands-on experience and good soft skills will certainly put you in a strong position when you apply for a new role.
For some careers, and in particular those in certain areas of industry, a professional qualification in that field, is essential for anyone applying for a project management role. In other instances, it can be possible to develop the skills, and even study for the relevant qualifications, whilst you actually work in the role.
A project management qualification is a form of vocational training course that is specific to a particular career path. Project management skills are very transferable from one industry to another; although as we already mentioned for some industries, for example construction, it may also be necessary to have the appropriate industry qualifications and experience for a role.
Project management qualifications are designed to be taken by those individuals who are looking to pursue a career in project management and those who are already working in a project management capacity but feel that the benefits of passing a project management course will help to enhance their current skill set.
This type of qualification is usually regulated and awarded by the appropriate professional body and is designed to help an individual make the most of up-to-date methodologies and strategies to help things flow smoothly in the workplace. Project management qualifications, unlike some other professional qualifications, are not essential. However, in a field that is becoming increasingly competitive, having an industry approved qualification can certainly help to give you the edge over other candidates.
A project management qualification is more than just the qualification itself. It can help an individual to understand all of the methodologies and processes that are involved in project management and show them the flexibility that is available through the use of a range of different techniques for different project types. This is incredibly useful because a methodology that is suitable for one project may not always be the best one to use for the next project.
Which is the right course for my needs?
With such a wide range of courses available it can be hard to know which one will be the most appropriate one to take. It can be a good idea to get in touch with a company who offer a range of different project management courses and qualifications to have a chat. They will be able to steer you in the direction of the most appropriate course for your level of current qualifications and requirements. However, we will briefly run through some of the available courses you might find and who they are most suited to here:
APM, Association for Project Management, is the only chartered body to exist in the project profession. Their qualifications are recognised all over the world and they are committed to promoting and developing the value of project management to improve project outcomes.
This is a course that requires no prior knowledge of project management and has been designed to give a broad understanding of the profession. It is the ideal choice for anyone who is new to project management and wants to grasp the principles, language and terminology to be confident .
This course is designed for those individuals who already have some project management knowledge and are looking to further that knowledge in order to control and manage projects. It will also assist an individual in learning the importance of leadership.
The APM project professional qualification goes further and is specifically tailored towards those who are already project managers and are looking to progress their careers and improve their prospects within the role. The course will offer a thorough understanding of project control and planning.
The AMP ChPP qualification is the most advanced project management qualification that is available and is a practical accreditation for anyone who is actively involved in the field of project management. It will make an individual stand out in the job market and offers an assurance to clients of high standards and ethical practises. It looks at current project methods and practises and increases understanding in order to help make the project process as efficient as possible. This qualification is considered to be the “Gold Standard” for project management all over the world.
PRINCE, Projects in Controlled Environments, is a method of structured project management and certification. It is used in many countries all over the world as a recognised method of certification.
This study course is most suited to those individuals who are working on a project team or are supporting a project. It is a great steppingstone for anyone looking to become a project manager and the course needs no specific qualifications or experience.
This qualification allows for a greater understanding of how PRINCE2 processes work and is designed to follow the foundation level to give a greater understanding of project management. (It can also take after the equivalent CAPM, IPMA or PMP qualifications).
This certification encompasses both foundation and practitioner level and requires no previous experience or qualifications. It teaches agile techniques and concepts and how to use them.
Project Management Institute is originally a USA based system that offers courses and qualifications. These are also recognised all over the world. These best-known of their qualification is PMP. This is a qualification which requires the student to have undertaken a minimum of 35 hours of project management training, as well as 3 years of experience in project management, or 5 if the individual does not have a qualification at degree level.
How much time will I need to commit to my course?
There is no hard and fast answer to this question. The amount of time that you will need to commit to studying in order to pass a project management course will vary depending on a number of different factors. The first of these will naturally be the type of course that you pick. This is because each course has its own structure and will require a different level of commitment. Whether you chose to do your course in person or via a distance learning method it is likely that the course information will give you a guide to how much time you should set aside for your study; it is a good idea to use this timeframe as a guide to the minimum amount of time you will need to commit.
The more time you put into studying the course material and practising answering sample questions – particularly for the more advanced courses that have written questions as well as multiple choice questions – the greater your chance of not only passing but doing so with great results.
You should try and allow for this additional time where possible because the results will ultimately help you in the long term.
How to prepare for studying?
Preparing to study is very much about getting yourself into the right mindset. This means finding a suitable place to study in; one that has no distractions. If you will be studying at home, then you may want to be able to shut the door to avoid the distraction of children during your study time. Make sure you have a clear desk with plenty of space and any of the bits and pieces that you might need, computer, study material, pens, paper, revision cards.
Different people study in different ways so if you are a revision cards and brightly coloured pens kind of person make sure you have all of this to hand. Some people prefer the post it note method and that fine as well.
The right environment for studying shouldn’t be too hot or too cold either and you should make sure that you have plenty of light. These may all seem like little things, but they can be really important in order to pass a project management course.
The other thing to think about when you are preparing to study is how you will set out your time. Research has shown that it is better to space out your study sessions. So break down the work that you need to do into small, manageable, sections and take a break between each one. This can actually help you to focus better on your studying. Cramming is not a great idea when it comes to best practises for study as it can often be very difficult to remember anything when you try to learn too much in a short space of time. That being said, reading over some of your notes, for things you are perhaps less confident with, before an exam can be helpful.
Tips for revising
Revision may seem pointless to many people. After all, if you have done all the work during your course, you should have learnt everything you need? However, revision can be a valuable way of making sure that you have understood all of the course material and know those all important details that can really make a difference to your final mark.
Our first tip is to start revising early. Do not leave all of your revision until the last minute because this will mean trying to go over too much information in too short a timeframe. Many schools and colleges now suggest that their students take a little time each day to look over what they have studied as a way of making things clearer in their minds and this is a great method to adopt. If you are unclear on something, make a note of it and ask the person running your course for some clarification.
Make a plan
Project management is all about planning, so put those skills you are learning to good use and make yourself a revision plan. Break the work down into topics and allot each one a timeframe. This will allow you to see what you should be doing and when.
Make some flash cards to help you with your revision – these are a great way of having important information to hand in an easy to digest way. They will be small enough to carry with you so that you can test yourself when you have some spare time.
One of the best ways to revise is to try some mock papers. This will not only test your understanding of the subject but is also a great way to see how the questions are structured and also see how the paper itself is set out. Consider how much time you will have for the actual exam and then work out how you should be dividing your time between the questions that you need to complete. For example, the PPQ exam is made up of 4 scenario based questions which need to be answered during the 3 hour exam so you should expect to give 45 minutes to each question. You could easily break a mock paper of this type down into 4 small sessions, just don’t go over the allotted amount of time.
Your Parallel trainer will also be able to set you mock papers to help you with your revision, and of course will mark them for you to offer you feedback on where you might be able to improve your answers. We believe that this is where we have the edge over our competitors as we really do go the extra mile with any of the work that we do set, and the feedback that we give in order to keep our pass rate high.
As an adult it might be hard to get into the mindset of doing homework for your course, but this is a valuable tool that can really help with your revision and passing the project management course. At Parallel Project Training we understand just how important homework can actually be to the revision process which is why we do set plenty of homework for those who enrol on our project management courses. However you should also know that because we understand the value of this homework, we also appreciate that getting feedback can help our students to improve. Parallel trainers spend a lot of time marking homework so that they can offer constructive feedback that will show, what areas, if any, students can improve in.
This homework may take the form of mock paper questions or simply questions set by your trainer, but we believe it is a valuable part of the APM PMQ learning process.
Stress management tips
When it comes to studying, particularly when the importance of your future job prospects are at stake, it can be hard not to stress. However if you follow a well designed course which offers you plenty of support, create a good revision plan, do all of the work that is recommended and make sure that you have a good space in which to study you are already more than halfway towards reducing your study related stress.
It is important to find the time to fit your study into your normal routine in order to avoid stress, do not skimp on your sleep in order to achieve this. Good sleep is essential when it comes to stress management. So make sure that you follow a good sleep hygiene routine.
Hydrate and eat healthily
Making sure that your body stays hydrated during study is also a good way of helping to keep stress at bay. Do not be tempted to snack on junk food whilst you study; make time for healthy proper meals, away from your study material. Remember taking breaks is not only good for helping you to revise it is also a good way of helping to reduce stress. Do not panic about taking this time away from your revision, it will help rather than hinder your progress.
Take deep breathes
If you find your stress levels rising, take a step back from your revision and take a few deep breathes. If fresh air is helpful for calming, you then take a quick walk outside- even if its just to spend a few minutes in your garden. Close your eyes, breathe deeply and calmy and then when you are ready return to your studying.
What should I do if I run short of time?
The courses that we run through Parallel Project Training have been specifically put together to ensure that there should be enough time for any individual to complete all of the study that is required for any particular qualification in order to pass the project management course.
This not only includes the time needed to take part in the study sessions, which currently take place via a virtual classroom link, but also to read through all of the course material as well. Because we understand that everyone has different, we offer a range of different options for the same course. Some of these will be intensive courses that will span the course of just a couple of days whilst others will proceed at a much slower pace over the course of several weeks. Before you decide which course is right for you it is important to be realistic about what other ties you have on your time. If you have a family, are currently working in the field of project management, or both then you may well be time poor and you should think about whether it would be easier to complete your course quickly or allow more time to get everything finished. The second option will allow for any unexpected issues that may come up and is often easier for those peoples whose plate is rather “full”.
Whichever option you do select for your study, if you find yourself running short of time it is a good idea to talk to the person running your course. They will be able to advise you over the best course of action so that you are not disadvantaged in trying to achieve a good result for your qualification. The main thing to do if you do find yourself running short of time is not to panic, there is always a solution.
Hopefully now you have all the information you need to make your project management course a successful one. If you have any questions about training for project managers, we’d be delighted to discuss them with you so you can make sure the course you take is the right one for you.