Published here October 2012

PART 1 | Introduction | Contributions that Appear Ambivalent
Contributors who say PM is a Profession | Conclusion
Contributors to the Discussion

Contributors who say PM is a Profession

Matthew Weaver:

Oliver, excellent question. From my perspective, it is a profession. I do know project managers that fit in that and the half-profession mode, where they also work as developer, QA, test, or on proposals. Will be curious to see if and who says it is not a profession.

Steven Kiester:

Oliver - I voted it as a profession. True project managers, the ones with the real responsibility and that are adaptable from project to project, bring real experience and growth with each assignment, they are the real pros.

Agnès Okodombe:

A Project Manager is a profession for a professional who has many skills.

Xavier Leynaud:

Just look at the job offers everywhere. This is the real proof that project management is a profession.

Oliver Lehmann:

Most languages are a product of consensus - they aren't managed. If there is a public consensus to call some work or workers a profession, then for me, they are.

Christopher Pernell:

[To Samir Penkar, in PM is not a profession] I think that you refer more to the dictionary definition of what a profession is rather than to what the real world definition is of a profession. Let's try and get away from the textbooks for a minute and talk about what is actually happening in the industry. There is a much larger and more realistic perspective in relation to the technical term "Professional".

[In PM is not a profession, Samir Penkar stated:]

"First of all a profession is something that needs rigorous study and demonstration of competence. Examples are doctors and commercial airline pilots. They undergo rigorous study on the subject and then have to prove their competence to perform their job. A project manger hardly does rigorous study on the subject and proving competence is hard. Passing a PMP exam is not hard."

In relevance to your statement, you mean to tell me that understanding the different concepts, methodologies, project management software, ISO Standards and the many other elements of the project management profession does not require rigorous study? What a bogus statement! If you don't think so, then obviously you do not take project management as seriously as you should.

As far as demonstration of competence is concerned, you have to show a ton of it or else your projects will fail horribly! Yes, it is true that you may not have to go through periodical exams or prove your practical skills in a lab but that's only because project management is real time! So either you know what you are doing right off the bat or you don't and you adapt to the situation. In my opinion, that is how you demonstrate your competence, by actually applying your knowledge and consistently performing on the job.

As far as the PMP exam is concerned, I think that if you are pursuing a career in the project management industry, you do not stop at the PMP certification. You constantly and consistently challenge yourself. Rather if it means getting other PMI certifications, becoming Lean Six Sigma Certified (all the way up to Black Belt), getting a degree in Project Management (MBA) or obtaining a certification in some type of business software such as Cloud Computing (Oracle ERP, Microsoft Dynamics, etc.). It's really all about how you incorporate or integrate other knowledge areas into your project management arsenal.

[In PM is not a profession, Samir Penkar stated:]

" ... sometimes we confuse the word profession. A professional baseball player earns his living playing professional baseball. He plays professionally, does that mean that baseball is a profession, it's a game."

What a contradiction! (You might want to reword your statement) Major League Baseball is an international, billion-dollar industry! I just don't understand how you do not consider being a baseball player as a profession when there are so many things in relation to the technical term of a profession such as contracts, organizations to integrate your style of play into, the vigorous hours of film analysis (learning the playbook, understanding your position on the field), the thousands of practice hours, the camps and mini-camps, the physical/mental training (weight lifting, cardio, nutrition and dieting), understanding the team core values, non-profit organizational events, etc. I can go on and on about this but I think that obviously, you are speaking on something that you do not have a full understanding of.

In conclusion, I think that it is important to also note how serious the person is about the project management profession. If you play around with it, then of course you will not necessarily consider it a profession because you have a lack of passion for the job but if you take project management seriously, then it could prove to be a life long profession.

Oliver Lehmann:

Christopher, I am absolutely with you. Baseball may be a hobby. It may also be a profession. Selling may be something you do from time to time, e.g. when you sell your used car. Salesman may also be a profession. Project manager is a role that some people fill from time to time. Others have it as their profession. When a professional project manager has to fill in a form, which asks in a field what profession the person holds, I do not see any reason why the person should not fill in "Project manager". Language is not decided upon by some academics, but by common sense and by consensus of the people using it.

Geoff Reiss:

Let's see. I've been involved in a wide range of projects in a wide range of industries; am a member of two professional bodies; got and helped others to gain qualifications and paid the milk bill for 40 years by doing my job. Of course it is a profession. Not the oldest profession but still a profession. As one of the Founders of the PMP Credential and a PM with 46+ years of experience I believe in the PMP conceptually but I have learned that at the end of the day your ability to "Git R Dun" is the ultimate test. Having the PMP Credential indicates you know the basics of the profession but "on the job" performance is the final exam!!

Lee Lambert:

If it isn't a profession then there are more than half a million people who worked to earn a PMP Credential who have somehow misinterpreted what a Project Manager is. Of course it is a profession, and perhaps one of the most vital professions in today's fast paced, "Git R Dun" world.

Mark Laurillard:

My view is that it is a profession - it is (or rather should be) undertaken by professionals. If the opposite of a 'professional' is 'an amateur,' then we may get a sense of a necessary level of skill, expertise and judgment in place as a professional. I would not like to consult an 'amateur' doctor whose 'qualifications' amounted to a brief scan through 'Surgery for Dummies.' I think that if it is not a profession yet, then we should strive to make it so, through engendering learning, knowledge and expertise that is then focused on delivering 'good' for those in need of our profession.

Tim Dalhouse:

Of course it's a profession. Look on any employment website and search on Project Manager, and see what you find. Employers obviously think it's a profession, with progression in skill levels required for different projects.

Pochiraju Vlnrao:

Yes it is certainly a profession but it cannot be taught in colleges or universities.

Oliver Lehmann:

It is taught in Universities.

Valentin Gavrilov:

Best regards from Russia! We have a profession "Project manager" in Russia. It's a very interesting profession. Essentially this one is the best essence from many others. Good luck to all Project managers!

Tracy Leal:

There is a job title, a pay grade, and professional career track, therefore it is a profession. I am completing a degree from an accredited PMI university. You can earn a Master of Project Management (MPM). Personally, I chose MISM with a concentration in Project Management.

Celia Singh:

Project Management is a profession. It is a set of skills and attributes that are different from anything. Usually a PM is good at managing specific types of projects but the skills required are consistent.

Contributions that Appear Ambivalent  Contributions that Appear Ambivalent

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