Does a Project Manager Need PM Qualifications?

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Michelle Symonds
Michelle Symonds 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 SEO.

What makes a successful project manager is a combination of their academic abilities, experience and skills, both “soft” and “hard” skills i.e. communication skills and motivational abilities in addition to knowledge and understanding of project management techniques and tools and any technical skills that may be required in certain PM roles such as IT. A successful PM will already have well-recognised academic qualifications, not necessarily a project management degree as they are still fairly rare in the UK at least, but almost certainly some relevant degree.

So you could be a perfectly successful project manager without any specific PM training or qualifications – or could you?

What professional PM training provides is re-enforcement of the methods that work – that have been tried and tested over huge numbers of projects in all sorts of businesses and industries. The recognised project management methodologies are a catalogue of best practices but also of the behaviours and attitudes that a PM requires. So whether you opt for a foundation course such as the APM Project Fundamentals course or one of the more advanced APM courses of study a PM training course will ensure you are managing you projects to the best of your ability. It will also ensure you are continuing to develop as a professional and not stagnating by doing things the way you have always done.

Yes, of course, real-world experience is essential and much can be learnt from real-world successes and mistakes. The experience gained on a range of projects and especially on complex projects can never be taught, but relevant training and gaining professional PM qualification is also essential for developing and progressing in a career as a project manager.

That’s not to say a project manager with accreditation such as the APMP qualification is more successful at leading and directing projects (because that measure depends on so many other factors such as personal traits, the industry and type and complexity of projects), but the qualification is an indication that you take your professional development seriously and provides formal recognition of that fact. So a professional project management qualification can increase your worth in the jobs market and improve your career prospects.

So, quite simply, it is worth studying for PM Qualifications – even if you have to fund the training yourself. Fortunately there are plenty of less expensive options than traditional classroom courses such as e-learning or distance learning.

Take a look at this sample lecture from the new distance learning course by Parallel Project Training for the APM Project Fundamentals Qualification – it will give you a taste of distance learning…



Some larger companies encourage their employees to study for professional qualifications and allow time off for study as well as funding the course and exam fees. Other companies require PM qualifications before you would even be invited for an interview so failure to achieve a recognised PM qualification will hold you back in your career. There is even evidence to indicate that those with the right professional PM certification earn higher salaries. It looks set to become ever more essential gain accreditation as project management moves more towards being recognised as a profession in the way that accountancy and law are with their emphasis on qualifications and continuous professional development.

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