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Certification the desired standard for project managers

Adeline Teoh
April 4, 2013

Almost two in three project managers are responsible for hiring team members, and 41% of them believe senior project managers need a professional certification to apply for a job, according to the results of the 2013 Professional Project Management survey.

Conducted by Project Manager online, the survey aimed to discover the expected professional and education standards for project managers in the current environment.

Significantly, those respondents in charge of hiring decisions had different standards for junior project managers, with 43% of them looking for vocational qualifications, such as a Diploma of Project Management, and 31% seeking new project managers with bachelor’s degrees.

“The results indicate that the educational standard is rising with each generation of project managers,” remarked Adeline Teoh, editor of Project Manager online. “A couple of decades ago, project managers were hired for their experience, and knowledge from that experience was enough to attain professional certification. Now it seems employers are looking for ready-made project managers straight out of tertiary education, education that’s specifically geared towards providing project management skills.”

Among the respondents, 94% indicated they had undertaken some sort of project management training prior to their current role. Three in four have since undertaken further training, with 81% of those initiating it themselves rather than waiting for their managers—more than the figures from the 2012 Professional Project Management survey.

Unsurprisingly, given the education level of the respondents, 76% believe there should be a minimum education standard to become a project manager. This was fairly evenly spread across professional certification (33%), vocational studies (32%) and bachelor’s degree (28%), with combinations such as ‘degree and certification’ and diploma and experience’ making up the rest.

Of those with professional accreditation, 73% indicated certification was ‘somewhat’ or ‘very’ important to their career; comparatively, 83% said continuing professional development was ‘somewhat’ or ‘very’ important.

“Fifty-five percent of respondents indicated that continuing professional development was ‘very’ important to their career. That means practising project managers are aware that keeping their skills and knowledge current is just as important as having a good education foundation,” said Teoh.

Professional development, the next step

About three in four respondents indicated that they belonged to a project management or related professional association with the main reason, in 78% of cases, being for ‘professional development’. Popular associations were the Australian Institute of Project Management (AIPM) for Australian respondents and the Project Management Institute (PMI) for Australian and international respondents, with others, including the Australian Institute of Management (AIM) and Engineers Australia, acknowledged.

Reading/writing project management (or related) articles, books, and/or whitepapers (83%) was the favourite activity of the respondents, followed by undergoing further training (59%) and mentoring, coaching or educating other project managers (54%).

Of the events listed, project managers enjoy going to conferences (68%) but also take time to attend smaller events such as presentations (61%), and seminars and webinars (56%).

“On the whole it seems that project managers are pretty proactive about their career,” said Teoh. “They take the initiative with their training and they are keen to further their knowledge of project management through a variety of means. This indicates to me that the current state of professionalism in project management is fairly healthy and that practising project managers are moving at the same pace as the expectations of their employers and clients.”

The 2013 Professional Project Management survey ran from December 2012 to March 2013 collecting data online via FluidSurveys. A total of 1,755 respondents completed the survey, which was aimed at Australian project managers across a range of industries but also accepted responses from overseas readers.

Adeline Teoh
Adeline Teoh is the editor and publisher of She has more than a decade of publishing experience in the fields of business and education, and has specialised in writing about project management since 2007.
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