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Licence to project manage: should credentials be necessary?

Adeline Teoh ed.
April 13, 2015

Project management credentials can look like an alphabet soup of post-nominals, but are they actually worthwhile?

My first editor-in-chief, when she hired anyone for the editorial team, looked for two things: a university degree and the ability to write. It was easy enough to provide evidence for the first requirement: I simply provided copies of my Bachelor certificate and my academic transcript. As for the second, I can only surmise from my subsequent employment that my writing portfolio suitably impressed her.

When I later became involved in hiring decisions, it occurred to me that the first requirement was actually redundant for the job. If you could write, there was no reason you had to have a university degree. My editor-in-chief, who had begun her career in the era of cadetships and working your way up from copy boy/girl to journalist, had simply decided that a degree was the minimum she’d accept. Later she mentioned that she believed those who’d gone to university would have more discipline in terms of meeting deadlines, which I guess was fair enough.

The issue of credentials cropped up the other day as I read an article about the danger of food bloggers and chefs hijacking the media on the topic of nutrition. Two books on food have been withdrawn from publication after nutritionists complained that the contents were not supported by science and could actually be harmful. Another, Food Babe*, has come under the spotlight for her lack of credentials.

It’s plain to me that there are certain industries where having a credential is a pretty big deal and should be a pre-requisite to any representation. Science is certainly one of them, and it’s great to see science use its voice in areas such as food, which is a visible part of everyday life. But is project management? There’s no doubt that project management has an impact in every sector, but until there’s a visible battleground like with food for science, it’s hard to find an area where we can advocate for better project management to the general public.

When Yvonne Butler, CEO of the Australian Institute of Project Management, spoke at ProjectChat a few weeks ago, she put forward a compelling case to make project management a profession like engineering, medicine and law. I wonder whether you, as a practising project manager, support that move. How would you like project management credentials to be regarded? Desirable? Necessary? As prestigious?

*Language warning

Adeline Teoh ed.
Adeline Teoh is the editor 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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