Is a Project Management Certification Essential When Moving into a Project Manager Role?

Sam Turner 09.02.2017

Speaking as someone who is PRINCE 2 qualified and a projects and change recruitment consultant I can confidently say that the knowledge gained in such a certification like this one is a high level overview of what a project entails.

No matter what the project is, it will always pose stumbling blocks in some shape or form along its temperamental life cycle. This automatically voids the planned structure and forces people to roll with the punches to meet deadlines. 

"You could consume a project management book and roll it out word for word, action by action, decision by decision but could quite easily fail when attempting to deliver."

However, the harsh truth of the matter is that when a hiring manager looks at a CV and doesn’t see a project management certification, they will automatically question if the candidate has a change management skill set. There are many other factors which are taken into account, such as, experience, key achievements and previous employers. You may be thinking why a candidate’s previous employer is a factor, but this comes into play when previous employers have internal project methodologies. For example, major consultancies have highly regarded reputations when it comes to teaching and implementing their own structure of a project. A candidate moving into a change management role from a major consultancy will have an upper hand on someone who is making the same transition from an Investment Bank with no direct change management experience.

Now, if you think of a business analyst and the skill set they bring to a role, there are many responsibilities which directly affect the change intended from a project. Bearing this in mind, it is much harder to sell this skill set to a client without a clear track record of achievements that portray the potential to manage a project from initiation to close. This leaves us with a dilemma, should people pursue this certification as an essential part of their career development or should they have the confidence to sell their experience, which is more relevant in my opinion. You could consume a project management book and roll it out word for word, action by action, decision by decision but could quite easily fail when attempting to deliver. The emotional intelligence and adaptability behind the success of a project is far greater in value than a scripted and stringent methodology.

The truth is harsh; we live in a world that revolves around education, qualifications and achievements. If you are a young professional looking to pursue a fruitful change career then my advice would be to achieve a project management certification as soon as possible. If you are an experienced professional who has change/project management experience I would still advise you to pursue said certification, but in this instance it depends on where you have worked previously, what methodologies you’ve utilised and how hands on you were in the process.

Sam Turner's picture
Principal Consultant


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