A paper presented to the Project Management Symposium on PM: Project Manager Role Evolution, Rome, Italy, 2004.

Updated 7/3/04

"PMI" and "PMBOK" are the registered trademarks of the Project Management Institute.
Published here September 2004.

PART 2 | Introduction | Individual Capabilities in Project Management
U.S. Government Project Management Certification Initiatives
Project Teams | The "Profession" of Project Management | PART 4

Individual Capabilities in Project Management

Education and Training in Project Management

Today, formalized education and training for individuals in all aspects of project management is widely available in most of the developed countries of the world at doctoral, master's, bachelor, and even high school levels. "More than 900 organizations (universities, government and non-government agencies, training and consulting companies, and independent consultants - on-line and on-site) in 46 countries participate in the R. E. P. [PMI Registered Education Providers] Program [initiated in 1999], currently offering 4,000 learning activities and training for more than 60,000 students per year " (PMI Today August 2003, Supplement).

Many additional education and training providers are recognized by the 30 national member organizations of the International Project Management Association/IPMA. Eighteen graduate and undergraduate level project management certification and degree programs that exist today across the U.S. have been identified by one (Curtis 2003, pp 37-39) of the many printed and electronic periodicals devoted to project management.

PMI® Certification Program

Individual certification in project management is provided by PMI and IPMA and its member associations, as well as by various educational and training institutions. PMI's certification is presently at two levels: Project Management Professional/PMP, and Certified Associate in Project Management/CAPM By December 31, 2003 PMI had certified 76,550 PMPs around the world, including 25,092 during the the year (PMI Today March 2003, p 12.)

The PMP certification examination is heavily based on the content of PMI's PMBOK® Guide, which has recently been translated from English into eight languages (Brazilian Portuguese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin Chinese, and Spanish) and focuses almost entirely on managing a single project, with little reference to multi-project, program, or project portfolio management. (The PMBOK® Guide has also been unofficially translated into Russian and probably other languages.)

Although fairly extensive experience is required in order to qualify to take the PMP exam, some critics believe that PMI's PMP certification is too heavily based on knowledge rather than capability or competence, is not sufficiently application specific, and does not specifically certify project managers per se. For an interesting, recent argument by Paul Giammalvo in favor of competency based project management certification go to http://www.pmforum.org/pmwt03/viewpoints03-09more.htm.

IPMA Certification Program
(http://ipma.kingsquare.nl/?page=153 (accessed 8/21/04))

IPMA's approach provides for the four levels of certification shown in Figure 2. These levels are being adapted and administered by the national member associations of IPMA for their countries and in their languages The 90 page IPMA Competency Baseline (ICB) document (English, German and French) can be downloaded from the above address. The main requirements for each level are:

  • Level A: Certificated programme director (CPD) shall have the ability to direct all projects of a programme or all projects of a company/branch or to manage a complex project with major partners from different international cultures.
  • Level B: Certificated project manager (CPM) shall be able to manage complex projects him/herself
  • Level C: Registered project management professional (RPMP) can manage non-complex projects him/herself and assist the manager of a complex project in all fields of project management
  • Level D: Project management Fachman/Fachfrau/practitioner (PMF) shall have project management knowledge and may be applying it on some fields as a specialist



Certification Process


Stage 1

Stage 2

Stage 3

(IPMA Level A)







Project report


3-5 years

(IPMA Level B)

= knowledge
+ experience
+ personal


curriculum vitae, self assessment
project list

(IPMA Level C)





time limited

Management Practitioner
(IPMA Level D)



curriculum vitae, self assessment


not time limited

option: time limited

Figure 2: IPMA's project management certification scheme

APM (UK) Certification Program

The Association of Project Management/APM, the British member of IPMA, lists 32 accredited training organizations and 15 higher educational institutions in the UK. Its program currently offers three award levels: Certified Project Manager (IPMA Level B,) Practitioner Qualification (IPMA Level C,) and APMP (IPMA Level D.) The APM Group (http://www.apmgroup.co.uk) acting on behalf of the UK OGC, presently accredits trainers (currently 150 worldwide) and training organizations (currently 50 worldwide) in the OGC "Best Practice" Guides (OGC PRINCE2, MSP and MoR) for IPMA Level C certification.

AIPM Certification Program

The Australian Institute of Project Management has a certification system based upon the Australian National Competency Standards for Project Management. It is currently available in Australia and will shortly be available everywhere else. AIPM certifies individuals at three levels: project team member, project manager and program manager, and requires individuals to prepare portfolios of evidence showing performance (that is, "output competence "). A guide to this certification program, "The Registered Project Manager Award Program (RegPM)", can be downloaded at http://www.pmforum.org/docs/Regpm.doc.

asapm Certification Program

A recently formed project management association, the American Society for the Advancement of Project Management (asapm) (http://www.asapm.org), has announced a certification program that will be rolled out in phases with the first offering targeted at managers of complex projects and programs. This new certification program is intended to correct the perceived weaknesses in current PMI certification available in the U.S., (not being application-specific, not assessing competence, or not certifying project managers.)

According to asapm what makes their program unique is that it is built upon performance based competency standards rather than knowledge-based ones. The program will ultimately include at least four different certification levels; but the initial offering will be for the "asapm Certified Project Manager (aCPM)." See http://www.pmforum.org/pmwt03/organizations03-09.htm#ASAPM for more detail (accessed 8/21/04).

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