Are Project Management certifications worth it?

Good career development planning is about skill development. Often, when people think of skill development, they think of educational resources such as certifications.


Educational resources are important and can provide us with key information to push our careers forward, but knowledge and skill development are not the same thing. In my own career, I was given a general rule of thumb when it came to diversifying your skill development.


The 70-20-10 rule.

70%: Experience

20%: Exposure

10%: Education


Only 10% of your skill and career development should come from education. Most people assume the only way to progress your skills is to teach yourself or take a class. But there are many ways to move forward.


Self-improvement options

There are some certifications that show career and skill progression and others that are so common they have, unfortunately, lost their meaning to hiring managers and recruiters. For example, there are so many certifications and classes that claim to make you a Scrum Master in a month or two. But having a certification doesn’t automatically make you qualified for a job. It does, however, show you have completed the educational portion of your career development.


Quantifying your knowledge 

Unlike education, exposure and experience are hard to measure. With traditional development, there are coding tests and technical interviews to demonstrate your skill set. But how do you test someone’s project management skills, which are mostly seen as soft skills?


Don’t worry, the Project Management Institute (PMI) has developed certifications that do just that. These certifications are tied to years of experience and require lots of studying to pass. They also expire to ensure that individuals stay up to date with their credentials.


Here are some different certification options. These certifications are a great place to start if you have already been in a Project Management position and are looking to quantify your experience as well as enrich your resume.


Project Management Certification examples

The PMI isn’t the only organization that offers certifications, but they are the preferred ones due to their credibility within the industry. Google also offers entry-level certifications that can give you the basics of all facets of a project. This would be a great place to start if you haven’t run a project in a business setting. A bonus: it’s free and 100% online.



There are many more certifications through different organizations. Finding the right one for you (at the right price), is the key. This guide outlines some alternative options: Alternatives to the PMP Credential: A Comprehensive Guide.


But do you need certifications?

As a recruiter, I have hiring managers request a Project Management Professional (PMP) certification as a requirement for each candidate I present to them. This is a general rule of thumb and makes a lot of Project Managers believe they need the certification to compete in the market. I’m here to tell you that isn’t the case.


I regularly speak with and represent Project Managers with no certifications, but the complexity of their projects speaks to their skills as a Project Manager. No general rule or certification will ensure you get the job. Going back to my earlier point, skill development is only 10% education and personally, that’s about how much weight certifications hold in my evaluation of a resume.


In conclusion, a certification is a personal decision that, if chosen right, can elevate your experience by highlighting and quantifying your experience. But it isn’t always a substitute for good old-fashioned hands-on experience.


About the author

Lindsey Carbo serves as a Technical Recruiter for Synergis. She started as an Associate Recruiter and was promoted within the first six months. In this role, she sources candidates for clients, specializing in project management and data analytics roles. Lindsey is a fervent advocate for her candidates, guiding them through the hiring process every step of the way. She earned her bachelor’s degree in communication studies from Appalachian State University. In her spare time, she enjoys reading and watching movies.


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