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Which Project Management Qualification is the Best?

Paul Naybour Paul Naybour

Published: 23rd December 2014

Hello my name is Paul Naybour from Parallel Project Training. Quite often people ask me which is the best project management qualification for me to take? It really depends on your experience and where you want to go.


So in this video were briefly going to look at the main options and help you decide which might be right for you. So you’ve got three streams really, PRINCE2, PMI and APM. And we are going the choose the main qualifications from those main streams, so PRINCE2 Practitioner, PMP certification, the APM introductory certificate or foundation qualification and the APM project management qualification (APMP). And we are going to rank each using our a simple star rating.

How much do you have to learn.

So first thing, how much do you have to learn? Well the APM foundation qualification is quite easy to pick up and the study guide is 153 pages long so you can read in a weekend really, and in a two day course most people get the hang of that and do really well in the exam, so that is quite an easy one. PRINCE2 practitioner is a bit more heavyweight with 343 pages, that you really need to know quite well. So we have given that two stars. PMP is fairly similar weighing in at 344 pages in the study guide, which you have to know well. And finally the PMP ( the PM Bok) weighs in at 415 pages but not all the content is in the Body of Knowledge, you are probably going to have to refer to a study guide for some extra things outside those process groups. So that’s got our three star rating for the amount you have to learn.

How easy is it to pass the exam

How easy is it to pass the exam? Well the APM foundation is a one hour multiple choice and it’s pretty easy so most people do really, really well. We have given that one star. PRINCE2 practitioner is 2 and a half hours, it is eight scenario-based multiple choice questions and the pass rates are really quite high, but you do have to know the contents of the book quite well. So we have given that two stars. The APM project management qualification is a three hour written paper, ten short essays from a choice of 16. A little bit more challenging, as you have to explain yourself in a short essay. So we have given that three stars. And then the PMP is a four hour, 200 question multiple choice, exam, which mixes the scenario-type questions you see on PRINCE2 with project management principles and theories. Most people find that reasonably challenging so that’s a three star rating also.

Prerequisites – what you need before the course.

Looking at prerequisites? So what do you need before you come on the course? Well the APM foundation qualification is designed for new project managers and new team members so there are no prerequisites. For PRINCE2 Practitioner you need to achieve the Foundation qualification first, but that’s usually included in the course. So you do that as part of a five day course and most people can manage the PRINCE2 practitioner without too much pre-experienced. For the APM project management qualification, it is helpful if you have one or two years’ experience of project management. That is not mandated but recommended. So we have given that two stars. Then the PMP requires that you have 3 to 5 years’ experience depending on existing academic qualifications, and 35 hours of training so that’s a four star rating because it’s more rigorous than the others.

Value in the job market

Okay looking at value in the job market. The APM foundation is one star on our rating system because it’s a good introduction to project management but it’s mostly the new team members and a new project managers, so doesn’t carry that much weight in the market place. PRINCE2 practitioner is the most widely recognised project management qualification in the market place. The problem is it’s a bit overexposed. It’s very good if you work in the public sector, or are working for an organisation already using PRINCE2. APMP is slightly more difficult and has got traction but it does depend on the sector you are working in and whether you’re in construction or defence or some parts of local government. So different sectors, the rail sector for instance, tends to favour APMP. PMP has the highest rating of four stars because it’s recognised around the world, particularly in te large multinational organisations, especially those based in the US and with a global footprint. PMP is probably the one that has the most value in the job market.
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The best indicators of competence

So which is the best indicator of competence? Arras people did a benchmark report of project managers to see which of these qualifications indicate a competent project manager. 36% thought that the APM project manager’s qualification was the best indicator of competence. 24% went for PRINCE2. 21% went for PMP and 19% went with none. Which is quite interesting given what we just said about the difficulty of the PMP exam. I think it’s because it is a UK-based survey and there are fewer PMP qualified project managersin the UK.

Summary scores

So our summary scores. Well the APM foundation qualification comes in at two stars. It’s a good easy way to learn how to get going in project management, with lots of practical hints and tips. PRINCE2 Practitioner is really good if your organisation follows a PRINCE2 methodology or one based on the PRINCE2 methodology, but in terms of the job market, every project manager has the qualification so it doesn’t really differentiate you very much. So we gave that two stars also. APM project management qualifications. A good challenging project management qualification, recognised quite widely in the UK and so we gave that three star, considering it is more difficult than PRINCE2. Then PMP, if you want to have that global recognition and a recognition that you have experience and not just knowledge, we gave that four stars.

So that is our overall summary of which are the best project management qualifications for you but it really depends where you are and what you want. If you would like some personal advice and guidance please do give us a call and we will talk through the options with you.

Need more information download the Project Management Qualifications: The Definitive Guide
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