PMP or Prince2: Choosing the right one for you

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The author spent the first part of her career working in IT and IT Project Management in the oil industry and investment banking on complex global projects involving the management of outsourced project teams. She now runs a digital marketing company with particular expertise in technical SEO and Content Marketing.

Getting certified in project management is a great way to invest in your future employability and opportunities. Certified project managers typically get paid around 15 – 30 per cent more than unqualified project managers, and more and more employers are looking for a decent certification before they will even consider you for a job. But which certification is right for you?

Choosing your certification will depend on a number of factors, and finding out what is involved with each of the courses is a critical part of any decision making process. The two main project management qualifications which are globally recognised and desirable for project managers to possess are with Project Management Professional (PMP) certification, and the Projects in Controlled Environments (PRINCE2) certification. Here’s a bit more about each to help you make your choice.

The experience you need

The prerequisites of each qualification will have a major bearing on your decision regarding which one to take.

  • PRINCE2: There are no formal prerequisites to taking this certification, although they do recommend you have some experience in project management and that you take the PRINCE2 training course before taking the exam. If you are looking to enter the project management sector with no experience, then this is the choice for you.
  • PMP: The requirements for this certification are much more stringent, so it is better suited to people who have been working in a project management environment for some time. They ask that you:
    • Have a bachelor’s degree or equivalent plus three years of project management experience OR
    • Have a high school diploma and at least five years’ experience of project management

What the qualifications are about

Both certifications are well proven and highly regarded methodologies around the world, and although separate qualifications there do share a great deal of overlap in terms of discipline. However, the real difference comes when you consider the main focus of each type of project.

  • PRINCE2: The focus is all around a framework which allows you to manage any type of project and achieve a successful result
  • PMP: The focus is on you as a project manager, and developing your skills and knowledge you allow for successful management of a range of projects

Where they are most applicable

Although both great certifications in their own right, each was developed on separate continents, so you might want to consider this before choosing the one that suits you best.

  • PRINCE2 was developed in the UK, but has since been adopted in Australia, Germany, the Netherlands and a number of other European countries.
  •  PMP was developed by the Project Management Institute (PMI) in the US, and is most widely held by project managers operating in North America

Why not take both?

Some project management professionals argue that because each methodology offers value in different areas, that there is some benefit to be had by taking both qualifications. Of course, if money is no object and you have time on your hands, taking both qualifications can do no harm at all, but for the majority of project managers this will not usually be possible.

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Project management has developed into a fully-fledged chartered profession since the granting of the Royal Charter in the UK to The Association for Project Management (APM) in 2017. Training courses for project managers were already available and highly popular to help people gain professional project management accreditation, but with this wider recognition of the profession it is now seen as a desirable career path for many. Whilst the APM has the coveted Royal Charter and continues to develop its APM PMQ (formerly the APMP) programmes, there are also other internationally recognised qualifications that continue to be highly regarded such as PMP and PRINCE2.

Organisations have become increasingly project-focused in this era of rapidly emerging new technologies and they value the expertise that comes with experienced and fully qualified project teams and managers. By investing in their project management capability businesses can be confident of delivering their new projects in time and on budget more often and more successfully. Many major corporation are now training their people to have the right project management qualifications as well as relevant experience, through internal Learning & Development (L&D) programmes; or by using external project management training providers.

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