I guess it’s not surprising that there are so many courses on offer for project management professional development. Not when you consider that it is the fastest growing career globally and, it is also well paid—Australia currently pays its project managers the highest salaries globally1. So, when it comes to thinking about a career in project management well, there are all sorts of courses on offer to help you learn and/or improve your project management skills.
The question is, how do you know what course is right for you?
If you are looking to gain a complete ( or at least well rounded) understanding of the project lifecycle and phases as well as the practical skills you need to be a successful project manager then you should complete a qualification.
In Australia currently, the Diploma of Project Management seems to have become the industry benchmark and many employers are seeking out candidates who hold this qualification because they know they will have a complete and pre-determined set of skills as well as the necessary underpinning knowledge to be a highly competent project manager.
Now, if you’re new to project management then you will have to complete the Certificate IV in Project Management Practice first as this gives you the basic skills you need to be able to work effectively in a project team. Once you have mastered these skills you can then go on to complete the Diploma. Many people seeking to change their career to project management often elect to complete a dual program of study so that they can complete the Certificate IV & Diploma together. This saves time and money as one rolls into the other and the transition from Certificate to Diploma is quite easy to manage.
If you’ve had some experience as a project manager then you can go straight into the Diploma program.
Depending on the industry sector you work in and who you work for, you might also need to learn a specific methodology for managing projects. So you might gain the PRINCE2 or Agile Certification (for example).
The qualifications I’m talking about here are all nationally accredited and endorsed for Australian workplaces so, the project management qualifications are recognised here in Australia. Upon successful completion, employers know you have learned a pre-set curriculum or program of study, designed and developed by industry experts, that guarantees you have gained all the stated knowledge and skills. The course is prescribed, or the same, no matter whether you complete the course at a private provider, a TAFE or a university. The fact that you have obtained a Diploma also has global currency as a Diploma is a recognised qualification the world over.
The Certifications, on the other hand are accredited and endorsed by a professional PM body and are recognised by other professionals who value that specific certification. Some, like the certificates issued by the Australian Institute of Project Management (AIPM) are recognised locally, here in Australia while others, like those issues by the Project Management Institute (PMI) and PRINCE2 are globally recognised by project managers and employers all over the world.
If you are new to project management or, looking to ensure your have the necessary skills and knowledge to take on a substantive role as a project manager, it is wise to complete the Qualification first to gain a more complete and well-rounded understanding of and skill-set in PM.
Once you have the basics well in hand you can then supplement and/or extend your knowledge of specific methodologies by completing a certificate course such as the foundation certification for PRINCE2 or Agile for example, and then, as you gain in-depth experience as a project manager and, in all facets of PM, well, then you can and should get this depth of practical experience recognised by gaining either the PMI or PRINCE2 Practitioner Certifications. These more advanced Certificates tell a potential employer that you have significant hands-on experience as, to gain the Certification you must be able to demonstrate a significant number of hours worked as a project manager.
Once you have your primary qualification and any necessary methodology certifications and, after you have gained some considerable experience in project management you can further your studies and your employability by gaining some more advanced leadership skills and/or more in-depth knowledge and skills on specific aspects of the project (i.e. quality auditing etc.).
You can then move into program management and from there on to portfolio management and finally on to project Director or PMO Director. There are a range of certifications that you can achieve as you climb the PM career ladder.
Post graduate qualifications in project management and related disciplines are also starting to become more popular here is Australia and, as project management gains respect in the boardroom.
Depending on the university and the course of study you want to enrol in for your post graduate qualification, you may achieve some advanced standing for the study you complete in the Diploma qualification.
Generally speaking, post graduate qualifications that specialise in an aspect or related field of project management, can be useful in very large and complex projects, where specialist roles are required, as well as Public Private Partnerships and other projects run by government. They are also useful to progress up the career ladder to an executive management or CEO position.
So, there are quite a number of options available to you as you start or progress you career in project management. The point here is that there is sure to be an option to suit your specific needs so you need to make sure you think carefully about the decision and keep yourself informed.
If you would like some help sorting through all these options then you can talk to a CAL course advisor.
CAL has more than 16 years’ experience in public, private and not-for-profit organisations in the delivery and consultancy support of project management and we training more than 1000 students in project management every year.
Our students come from all industry sectors and a broad range of jobs and our project management courses provide a complete solution for project managers as well as career pathways.
Our courses focus on the application so important to do the job well as well as the underpinning knowledge required to be an exceptional project manager.
Our processes, tools & techniques are sourced from many disciplines including project management, programme management, other aspects of management and consulting and also cover a wide range of methodologies from PMBoK to PRINCE2 to Agile.
We also have a range of Professional Development options for more experienced project managers that will give them the skills and knowledge to step up to program or portfolio management and then on to manage the PMO.
Our certification programs are delivered by the best in the field who are currently achieve 100% success rates in final examination and who will go out of their way to provide additional support and coaching in the lead up to the final exam.
All CAL programs are fully supported with a dedicated learning coach available to you on a one to one basis to help and support you in your studies. These coaches are available to you for your entire course of study and the access is unlimited.
- Source: PMI Project Management Salary Survey, 2014. Eighth Edition [↩]