Copyright to Gareth Byatt, Gary Hamilton and Jeff Hodgkinson © 2012
Published here

August 2012

Editor's Note | Introduction | Comparable Background 
In Project Work | Points For and Against Licensing Project Managers
What Might Licensing Look Like? | Conclusion | About the Authors

Comparable Background

Many, perhaps most, professions require "licensing" issued by government or some representative authority (e.g. a chartered body). Having obtained that license, together with the requisite practical experience, that person is (de facto) assumed to have the relevant training and experience to practice that profession. They are also expected to maintain their professional status by gaining further experience and growing their careers by continued training as well as demonstrate proficiency to meet the licensing or chartered renewal requirements. They are also ethically accountable and responsible, legally defensible and often insured, since they can be sued if they are found to be less than proficient or professionally negligent.

Indeed, licensing has become all-pervasive. Doctors, lawyers, architects, (professional) engineers, accountants (CPA) and most medical professionals need a license to practice their work. Nowadays truck drivers, pest control technicians, and even cosmetologists cutting hair and filing nails also need licenses. As a comparative statistic, there are some 260 million licensed vehicle drivers in the USA alone and, although we could not find the data, we may assume that worldwide there are several hundred million licensed drivers.

We suggest that the need for licensing or chartered qualifications exists for a reason. For example:

  • A doctor needs to demonstrate knowledge and training.
  • A truck driver needs to demonstrate prowess at road handling and perhaps hazardous materials handling if they are hauling chemicals or the like.
  • An engineer needs to have the necessary qualifications to design buildings so that they are structurally stable.
  • A cosmetologist can give you a bad haircut (something Jeff doesn't have to worry about), but if they don't manicure your nails correctly, you can develop an infection.

In these examples, the professionals described are legally accountable and defensible.

These standards reflect the scope and difficulty of work that can be performed by these practitioners. As an example of project management in the wider community, some project managers are registered engineers (e.g. chartered civil engineers) and perform project management tasks as part of their work. Others are officially recognized within their organizations as senior project managers by virtue of their internal training, qualifications and experience.

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