tell me about project management training and certs
June 23, 2022 11:34 AM   Subscribe

I'm interested in project management just to acquire the personal skill set, but I'm also looking for a job.

I want to learn the best toolkits for managing projects. I've seen sophisticated project planners at work and I was impressed. I want to learn the software, the templates, the criteria of how to evaluate what approach to use for which project, ways to influence team members, all those things.

I understand there are professional certifications you can earn. PMP is one, Google offers one. I've been doing the online Google course and finding it interesting, although nowhere near as granular as I'd like to get. What I'd like is a something hands-on where (for instance) one might have to plan the same project using several different modalities, to compare and contrast how they'd be applied in practice.

Are there resources I can pursue on my own to learn at a hands-on level? And also, but secondarily: are either of the certifications (or maybe some other course or certification) worth having when looking for a job?
posted by fingersandtoes to Work & Money (3 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I used to work for a company that did project management certification training, so I can speak a bit on certs, though not overall career path.

The PMP is respected and useful, but it's also laden with experience requirements.

You must fulfill one of these sets of requirements:
  • A four-year degree
  • 36 months of documentable experience leading projects
  • 35 hours of project management education/training or CAPM Certification
  • A high school diploma or an associate’s degree (or global equivalent)
  • 60 months of documentable experience leading projects
  • 35 hours of project management education/training or CAPM® Certification
While there is a bit of wiggle room on the experience requirement (supervising your own home renovation can count; your job title need not have been project management-specific, as long as you were supervising people and resources to achieve a planned goal), that is more intended in giving PM candidates who are close a bit of slack to get them over the line, not as a way for neophytes to bluff their way in. What's more, there are various gotchas (like, for instance, you can only claim a 40 hour week of experience in any given week; even if you were working 10 hour days six days a week and doing an extra 20 hours of volunteer project management for a non-profit, you can't count that as two weeks, as one week is one week).

The CAPM covers largely the same material, but more in a "This certifies I have learned the basic concepts
of project management" way than a "I am an experienced PM who knows the techniques and concepts through experience" way as the PMP does. So that can be a place to start.

That said, if you're starting from scratch, I would not go for a "boot camp" style certification course. Those are like 4 or 5 day cram sessions to get people who have been studying some exam practice and cramming/review to get them over the line as well as to tick the box for that 35 hours of training.

Check out your local community college and see if they have a semester length project management course that teaches the material for the CAPM over a longer period of time. Depending on your state, there may even be funding available to help you pay for this.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:50 AM on June 23 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Hello from your friendly neighborhood project manager!

If you want to compare certifications (and get one) I recommend going through PMI. Any of the first three in orange you see on the Compare link will be foundational and help you on this path. I do not believe it's possible to attain your PMP on zero project experience, but any of these other certifications will provide a basis for the PMP.

(on preview) Depending on your ability to pursue training at a slower pace, I would very much agree with the above-poster on taking a community college course. If you cannot, bootcamp will get you going and give you some vocabulary to work with, as well as a toe in for those Junior PM positions.

I guess lots of people still use MS Project, but SmartSheet is the tool that I've used the most honestly and they offer training which will help you get started with Gantt charts and project planning.

Finally, Atlassian tools are widely used in almost every project org I've worked in, so Atlassian University is another good stop. Jira is the work tracking tool I've used the most, but you should also learn about Confluence and Trello, while you're at it.

Finally, I'm happy to offer you any advice or other information, just meMail me.
posted by Medieval Maven at 11:54 AM on June 23 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I third the advice to look at community colleges, and I'll follow that with a suggestion to also consider online certificate courses through a continuing education provider. You can usually take a course or two before you have to decide whether you want to go all-in. I can't specifically recommend any because I didn't go that route (when I didn't have enough practical experience, I sat for the CAPM and took a few adhoc courses instead) but I have a colleague who felt that UC Berkeley's certificate program was useful for someone who lacked experience or grounding in project management and was more engaging than just reading books.

I've found that having the CAPM has always elicited a positive response, but doubt it has ever given me a real edge. (Project management is a thing that I do, but not a title I currently have, so it might be different for someone pursuing that path more directly. I've been on the fence about going for the PMP since I've been qualified for it.)
posted by sm1tten at 2:59 PM on June 23

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