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The discussions go back and forth… should I certify or not? You know what I’m talking about… project management professional (PMP) certification. The PMP is, of course, the showcase certification offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI) and is considered the defacto certification for project managers who are serious about their trade. There are other project management certifications out there being offered and some overlap the PMP certification body of knowledge or build on it, but it all comes back to the PMP when you’re talking about certification, hiring requirements and project management aspirations. It all starts with the PMP.  Is PMP certification a career goal of yours? Is it a requirement from your employer to get certified by “x” date or else? Do you think it is necessary for your PM career advancement? Are you being offered a bonus or promotion for getting certified? Or perhaps you are searching for a new PM gig and you think it will help you land a lucrative PM role or contract. Whatever the potential reasoning…will it help? Yes. Will it make you a better project manager? Yes. Is it absolutely necessary and would I only hire certified project managers. No. I know too many extremely successful project managers who aren’t certified. That said, this article is about my four arguments supporting my thoughts that you should probably run out and get certified very soon if you aren’t already certified. And to do that, you need to document or obtain training, have the right amount experience, and have cash ready to make this happen.Certification shows professional dedication. Gaining or obtaining shows that you are dedicated to your profession and in it for the long haul. PMP certification isn’t easy and it isn’t inexpensive. There is the training process, the experience that must be obtained first, and the actual test itself. There is a requirement to have a specific amount of training and experience accrued before sitting for the exam, but there are also many organizations out there that offer the necessary hours of training in the form of “bootcamps” to get you ready for the exam just prior to taking it – thus fulfilling the training hours requirement just before the exam as well as preparing you for the exam itself. Some even come with a guarantee – meaning that if you don’t pass then you can keep retaking it at no extra charge until you do pass. That’s no small matter as the training can range anywhere from $80 to $3,000. Be sure to do the research and know what is going to work for you because you can also do it online or in a classroom. Don’t waste time and effort going the wrong route for your needs and particular training niche an preferences,Certification will strengthen the PMO or PM infrastructure. I usually vote experience over certification and I still do. But most things being equal – meaning you haven’t filled your PM infrastructure with poorly performing project managers or ones with experiences… but mostly bad experiences – then I do believe that PMP certification will strengthen the PMO overall. Creating a like-minded methodology and communication track among your project managers will be easier – especially if the Project Management Institute (PMI) project leadership practices are what your organization subscribes to. Adoption of the methodology for new hires and on-boarding resources in mid-project will be easier and cause less customer frustration and project disruption when most or all of the project managers are like-certified.Certification creates a common bond among the project managers. A close-knit team of project managers will work better together, share knowledge and lessons learned easier, and be able to step in and assist quicker and more seamlessly with like minded direction and principles rather than their “own way of doing things.” Don’t get me wrong, the successful project manager who brings real world experience to the table and can direct and give advice and make spot on decisions is going to be great for the PMO and for your important projects, but certification is going to create the cohesiveness and collaboration and common language that just experience can’t replicate.Certification will help career advancement and aspirations. Finally, there is little doubt that project management professional certification is good for the project manager looking to move up or move on (or move in) to a new project management position. Where most PM postings said “required” on the certification notation just 2-3 short years ago, they now mostly just say “preferred.” I appreciate that because I considered that a fairly lazy HR hiring strategy and the potential to often not get the absolute best individual for the position. But whether it’s required or preferred, having the PMP certification next to your name is going to give you an instant advantage with many hiring managers and organizations and may keep your resume in the “to be considered” stack rather than being sent immediately into the circular file on the floor next to the HR reps desk.Summary / call for inputThe bottom line is this – there is not necessity to run out and get your PMP certification. Unless, of course, it becomes a requirement for continued employment wherever you are working or you need it in order to secure the job you want. However, getting certified is likely going to be good for your career, good for the organization, good for your project management office or project management infrastructure and good for the communication and collaboration between the project managers you are hiring and working with. Is requiring it a lazy HR practice? It may be, but it’s going to be required or preferred in 99% of all project management positions going forward so jump on board sooner rather than later because it does require some money, time and hard work on your part. Certification doesn’t happen overnight – though it can happen in as little as a week if you pick the right place to help you get there and it may also be guaranteed… which is pretty comforting.Readers – what are your thoughts on certification? Do you feel it is necessary? Why? Please share your thoughts and discuss.
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