Having written about the pros and cons of PMP certification, I get asked a lot of questions about whether or not the PMP is right for specific individuals. Often, a person will ask me some variation of the following question:
“I’m a specialist in such-and-such a domain, living in such-and-such a country; is it worth it for me to get PMP certified in my field or profession?”
I have significant work experience – even project management work experience – in numerous different fields, but unfortunately I don’t have experience in all fields! And while I’ve worked extensively in the international arena, I’m certainly not the most seasoned business traveler there is. If you’re working in the domain of residential construction, or commercial marketing, or hospitality, or banking and finance, there is only so much advice I will be able to give to you regarding PMP certification. If you’re working in India, or Japan, or the Middle East, there are only so many things I can tell you about the value of various project management certifications in your region, and most of that information comes to me second hand. I do know for a fact that in the United States and Canada, PMP certification seems to be particularly of value in the fields of Software Development (SD) and Information Technology (IT), fields I have worked in for the majority of my career. Outside of those areas, things start to get a little hazy.
The good news is, I do have some good suggestions for people that you can reach out to to get the information you need!
Your Human Resources department
Want to get some advice from people who see a lot of resumes on a daily basis, and whose job it is to keep track of trends in education and certification? Talk to the specialists in your Human Resources (HR) department.
Often, employees will talk to the people in their Human Resources department only once… when they get hired on at the company. This is a mistake. Your Human Resources department was in charge of getting you hired, sure, but they’re also at least to some degree responsible for helping you with your continuing career at the company. Normally, Human Resources specialists in any given company are approachable with questions regarding how you might choose to grow professionally both at the company and as an individual.
If you want to know if PMP certification is valuable at your company or in your field or domain, your Human Resources department would likely know. They might also be able to tell you about any perks or benefits at the company that can help you get PMP certified – some organizations will pay for certain employees to go through a PMP prep course and will also pay the fees to get them certified. Why not try – it can’t hurt to ask!
Your manager is in charge of you as an employee. If you’re interested in getting PMP certified, you might ask your manager whether he or she thinks it would be a good idea and whether or not it would add value to your team and company for you to get certified as a professional project manager. Good managers will encourage you to grow in your professional careers, knowing that the more skilled and satisfied their employees, the more and better quality work they will produce. Ask your manager what he or she thinks of the idea.
You might also see if your manager can find ways to have your company pay for your formal project management education and your eventual PMP certification. Again, it certainly can’t hurt to ask.
Your co-workers probably aren’t too concerned about your career or your growth as a professional. But they’re probably very concerned about their own careers! If project management certification is becoming a useful asset in your field, some of your co-workers have likely already considered it and weighed some of the pros and cons. Talk to your co-workers to find out what they think. I’ve had plenty of co-workers approach me to ask me about PMP and ScrumMaster (Agile) certification. I’m always happy to share my experiences and give advice to those who seek it.
Your local PMI chapter
If you’re working in a good-sized city, you likely have a local Project Management Institute (PMI) chapter, and that local PMI chapter likely hosts a variety of PMI meetings, monthly or otherwise. In most places, you don’t have to be a member to show up at a meeting, learn what PMI is all about, and perhaps join as a member. Find contact information about your local PMI chapter and speak to your local PMI contact about coming to a meeting. You’ll meet plenty of project managers working in a variety of different fields, many of whom will have valuable advice for you regarding whether or not you should get PMP certified. And since they’re working in your city or town, you’ll be able to gauge whether or not PMP or other certifications have value with the companies operating in your area.
At the end of the day, you’re the one who is going to be spending the time (and probably the money) to get PMP certified. Ask yourself – is this something you really want to do? Do you want to learn about project management and get certified for your own personal or professional reasons, independent of what the people around you seem to think about it? If so, go ahead and do it. There are plenty of good reasons to get PMP certified. If you’re a project manager, and have attained the 4,500 hours (with a Bachelors degree) to apply to take the PMP exam, then you’re already in good shape in your project management career. Even if you don’t think the PMP credential can help you right now, perhaps it can help you down the road? Getting certifications opens doors in your career, some of which you haven’t yet stumbled across. So this is a good reason to at least consider it!
I hope that this has been a helpful post. If you have questions about PMP certification in your particular domain or geographic area, go out and ask! It can’t hurt, and you may learn some valuable advice and meet some valuable new contacts in your company or town in the process.