Growing on the PM Career Path
"Certification, degrees, and other qualifications are just hunting licenses. They do not guarantee anyone work, but give a person the right to hunt for that work."
Dr. David I. Cleland, Professor Emeritus, University
of Pittsburgh, c 1986
At some point in the career path, the achievement of certification is generally required. This certification, or at least the PMP® certification from the Project Management Institute (PMI®), requires a number of years of experience, in addition to formal project management training. As a result, this certification is usually obtained somewhere around the mid-point of the project management career ladder. This initial certification is centered on the management of a single project and, therefore, usually applies to a mid-level project manager.
Even though certification won't guarantee project success, the value of this designation has gained in strength over the last few years, especially in the IT field. Obviously, the value of the project management certification, or PMP, depends on the perception of its worth from different perspectives: those who are buying the skills of a competent (or certified) person, and those who have "paid" to obtain the certification.
PMI research found that "project management proficiency is a matter of strategic importance" to an organization. Project performance, from selection to execution, is greatly improved when trained professionals are given responsibility for project efforts. In order to keep these individuals, organizations must develop career programs that link competencies to skill levels and clearly defined roles.
As project managers become more skilled, they advance from management of single projects to the management of multiple projects or programs. Recognizing this complex project management skill, PMI has newly introduced a Program Management Certification. This certification recognizes the ability to not only manage a more complex project, but also to manage other project managers.
PMI has also developed a sample set of job descriptions that outline the skill progression from novice project manager to program manager to portfolio manager. As the role or the PMO in an organization develops and matures, additional roles become available to project managers within that group.