Why Are PM Qualifications Important?

Paul Naybour

In project management just as in many other professional careers solid experience is essential for complex or lengthy projects. But just how qualifications are no substitute for experience so experienced project managers also need to consider which qualifications might improve their effectiveness as a PM and improve their career prospects.

For many project managers, especially those who have been in the profession for many years, this role may not have been a well-planned career choice. Many project managers end up in the role by default – you happened to have some relevant technical knowledge or business knowledge, were looking for a promotion and hey presto! You are a project manager.

That’s not to say you are not very good at what you do – the combination of the right project management skills backed up by intimate knowledge of your business or industry can be a powerful combination. Nevertheless, if as a project manager you didn’t plan your career this way you may never have taken any of the professional exams available; especially if you have been in one company for many years; it may simply not have been necessary.

But what happens when you want to move to a different company and expand your PM horizons? Will the lack of PM qualifications limit your choices? Of course, you could argue that experience is more important than paper qualifications but when applying for a new job you need to get through that important first selection stage in order to be able to truly demonstrate your experience and it is hard to do that just on a CV. Many organisations use the lack of qualifications as a filtering tool especially if they have many applications for one role.

But gaining a well-respected and internationally recognised professional qualification is more than just about not getting your CV tossed on the “no” pile.

Formal study of any subject shows commitment to a role and reinforces methods and processes, many of which can become lax over time. It provides the opportunity to learn from experienced trainers and tutors from different industries and with different perspectives, and also the opportunity to learn from other professionals and exchange ideas.

But which qualification?

Obviously not all qualifications are created equal and a basic PM qualification requiring no previous experience taken by someone with many years’ experience on complex projects is unlikely to add much to their employability. On the other hand, a more in-depth qualification with a rigorous exam at the end will show that you understand the subject, are committed to your career and can put PM methodologies into practise.

So choose your qualification carefully based on your existing experience and if you select one that is appropriate it can only make employing you a more attractive prospect for any potential employer. It can also make all the difference if you are moving into a different industry where your previous experience may be less relevant.

The choice of whether to embark on training for a professional qualification is a personal choice but all in all, there is no down-side to having an additional qualification.

If you are not sure which actual qualification is right for you take a look at our straightforward video guide “Which PM Qualification is right for me

1 thought on “Why Are PM Qualifications Important?”

  1. Michelle, you may find my research benchmarking the various project management credentials against the US Professional Engineer (PE) license as well as Gladwell’s “10,000 hour” rule to be of considerable interest to you.


    Given that the APM credentials are based on IPMA and given IPMA certifications score well in this model, I think this should help in your marketing efforts?

    Dr. PDG, Boston, MA, USA

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