Points For and Against Licensing Project Managers
In many parts of the world, contractors, electricians, plumbers and others that a project manager may be managing are required to be licensed, while the project manager is not so required unless by virtue of some other professional standing.
On the positive side
- Licensing of project managers could bring project management to a higher level of public attention.
- "Project Manager" could be considered a standardized profession and licensing standards could highlight the true capabilities needed by project managers.
- Standards requirements would ensure a minimum level of competency based on education, knowledge, experience, and demonstrated proficiency.
- Professionally licensed project managers may be able to command higher salaries.
- Training requirements could generate business opportunities for training companies, thereby creating jobs.
- Licensing revenues could generate taxes.
- "LPM" or "CPM" (our suggested terms for Licensed or Chartered Project Manager) could be a project manager's professional acronym following their name, much like accountants use CPA and architects in the UK use RIBA.
On the negative side
Potential risks to consider include:
- The challenge of establishing standard requirements for a project manager position.
- The difficulty of resolving variations in authority and responsibilities of project managers across all industries and arriving at a satisfactory standard.
- The impact on current project manager type credentials and certifications as to their inclusion and/or requirements in licensing.
- Overcoming the current reluctance of project managers working without a license, e.g. "if we had needed to do it, we would have done it years ago."
- Comparability across industries given that a project manager is not identified with any one industry. Bear in mind that CPAs, for example, aren't specific to any industry either.
- Who would form the licensing body for project manager? One of the current global entities or would some be merged? Should they be merged? Should the bodies be governmental instead?
- Theoretically, government regulation could make the adoption easier, but arriving at national and international agreement on uniform standards could be very difficult. Alternatively, each jurisdiction could set its own standards (similar to a driver's license). In that case, multiple licenses might be required for some project managers working across borders.
- Could Unions get involved and might project managers find themselves unionized? Would that help or hurt project managers as a whole?
- Project managers would probably have to assume the costs of licenses/chartered status, liability insurance, and renewal training requirements.
- Project managers could be considered "experts" and might therefore be more easily sued for mal-conformance or negligence.