Where Do We Go from Here? - Project Management

Once you've gained some experience in the project management field, you may want to consider becoming a formal project manager by way of a post-graduate certificate program or a professional certification. Many industries are realizing the importance of project management and project management certification, and many organizations are now requiring certification as part of their hiring criteria.

Many college extension programs now offer project management certificate programs. Just like any academic program, it consists of a series of classes, some of which may require a dictated amount of outside project time, and multiple exams. These programs (or even a few classes) are excellent additions to any professional's resume. Those who are serious about becoming a formal project manager will likely be targeting certification. It could be, though, that the effort of obtaining certification might not be worth your while. In this case, a few classes may suit your needs. Either way, many college extension programs are recognized PMI providers, so your option of certification is readily available.

PMI's Project Management Professional (PMP®) certification is the most recognized certification in the field. I highly recommend obtaining the PMP certification if you're serious about the project management field. Becoming PMP certified assures potential employers and customers that you have a firm understanding of project management practices and disciplines and that you have experience putting it all into practice. Having the PMP designation will open up doors for career advancement, and it gives your customers, and your company, confidence that you've mastered and established the standard project management processes and disciplines.

There are other certifications besides the PMP that you might want to think about as well. CompTIA Project+ is a new IT project management certification that you might want to consider either independently or as an augment to the PMP certificate.

Becoming PMP Certified

The Project Management Institute was founded in 1969 with the goal of developing standards for project management practices across industries. They've been successful at their goal, as PMI has set the standard for project management techniques worldwide. They've outlined processes and techniques in their own publication, A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide). Numerous other books exist that explore PMI techniques in depth that you might want to peruse after sparking your interest with this book. As previously mentioned, this book follows the techniques and process defined by PMI because their methods are the industry standard.

PMI requires you to fill out an application to sit for the PMP exam. You can submit your application online . In addition to the application, you need to meet a few other requirements. You'll need to document 35 hours of formal project management education. This can include a combination of seminars, workshops, college classes, or training sessions. You'll need to list course titles, dates, and the numbers of hours you spent in training on your application.

PMI also requires that you have a certain number of hours of project management experience. At the time of the publication of this book, PMI requires 4,500 hours of project management experience if you hold a bachelor's degree.You'll need to provide proof of your degree as part of your application process. If you do not have a bachelor's degree, you'll need to verify 7,500 hours of project management experience. Visit the PMI website to get the all the forms needed to verify your project management experience.

The exam itself is held in testing centers in major cities across the country. You can find a center near you by contacting PMI or looking it up on their Internet site. At the testing center, you will be required to show identification and to place your personal belongings in a locker. You will not be allowed to take anything with you into the testing area. The testing center will furnish you with a calculator, pencil, and scrap paper. The exam is scored when you've finished, so you'll know whether you passed before leaving the center. You have up to four hours to complete the exam, which consists of 200 randomly generated questions on the five process groups (Initiation, Planning, Executing, Controlling, and Closing) and an area called Professional Responsibility. All unanswered questions are scored as incorrect answers, so it benefits you to answer them all even if you have to guess at an answer.

If you're seriously considering taking the PMP exam, I recommend that you pick up a copy of another Sybex book titled PMP: Project Management Professional Study Guide to help you prepare for the exam. It has hundreds of sample questions, many real-life examples that help you apply what you've learned, and a project case study at the end of every chapter that applies the project management processes talked about in the book.

Note:PMI has several requirements for certification. You should check their website for the most up-to-date information regarding the requirements.

Even if you aren't going to sit for the exam, consider becoming a PMI member and getting involved with a local chapter. (You do not have to be PMP certified to become a member of PMI.) Today, PMI has over 86,000 members from 125 different countries. Local chapters exist in most major cities in America. You can visit the PMI website to find a chapter that meets near you. I encourage you to get involved with your local chapter. You'll have the opportunity to share experiences with other project managers and learn new skills and techniques. PMI works hard to maintain standards and promote ethics, and they offer a host of publications, training, seminars, and more to train new project managers and keep experienced project managers current in the latest processes.

Certifying with CompTIA's IT Project+

CompTIA is an organization dedicated to certifying individuals on the general principles and knowledge of the information technology (IT) industry. They do not test on any particular brand of hardware or software (with the exception of the Linux tests) but instead test on general knowledge regarding these topics. (As an example, you may have heard of CompTIA's A+ certification test regarding general knowledge of PC hardware.)

The IT Project+ exam tests project managers on general knowledge and principles of project management in the information technology field. The IT Project+ test is not too heavily IT-centric and is ideal for people who are new to project management. You might consider taking this examine first to get yourself acquainted with certification testing as it's not as intense as the PMP exam.

Formal Education Programs

There are numerous educational programs on the topic of project management. Many institutions offer everything from certificates in project management to master's degrees. Whatever your interest level, you can find educational programs to meet it. Try your local colleges and universities to see what they offer. If going back to the classroom doesn't sound like something you want to do, then search the Internet for an institution that offers online classes on project management. You'd be amazed at the number of classes available to you in this format.

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