Published on May 5, 2020
Updated on July 2, 2020
Read time 19 minutes
17 Best Project Management Certifications and Courses of 2020
Project Management certifications or a certified professional are not essential to an organization’s core structure, but their involvement makes a difference in ten folds.
From the 1960s to the early 2000s, Agile Framework adoption was still in its infancy. Teams and organizations who were looking to expand unknowingly adapted to a specific set of daily rituals that were later termed as Agile Project Management, PMP, and other such condiments.
Today, technology and businesses have gone through a metamorphosis that has led to such organizations in dire need for certified project managers. These individuals are qualified to handle the requirements of ongoing projects; whether they are related to software development or physical boundaries.
The nature of the certification, in turn, determines how the skills of a certified IT Project Manager can be applied and benefited from.
Why Are Project Management Certifications Important?
The average certified project manager has undergone various vigorous project development units, with each one being a training module of its own nature.
As a result of these certifications, the project manager is eventually capable of handling a wide variety of challenges and preset tasks to help increase the flow of the business industry.
Likewise, based on IT Project Management Certifications, such as; Agile, Scrum, or PMP+ modules, the certified manager can overlook an entire workforce responsible for achieving a milestone.
Obviously, we don’t expect you to know the aforementioned terminologies. However, at the helm of each project, it comes down to obtaining the concerned Project Management Certifications.
Otherwise, you won’t be treated as an “accredited/ recognized” individual who is equipped to handle the laborious tasks within the life cycle of a project.
See how much do project managers earn:
The 17 Best Project Management Certifications of 2020
A lot of organizations, especially in the IT sector, bit the bullet after the second quarter of 2020, and most of them are now offering the project management certifications online. These organizations were in a minority because most of the major businesses had adopted the trend of hiring either a Certified Associate in Project Management or a highly skilled Project Management professional.
Needless to say, statistics revealed a noticeable slump in their budget overturn, project completion rates, and client satisfaction percentage. As a result of those findings, most of the leftover companies and institutes have shifted towards the current trend.
Table of Contents
The 17 Best Project Management Certifications of 2020:
- Project Management Professional (PMP)
- Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)
- Certified ScrumMaster (CSM)
- CompTIA Project+
- Agile Certified Practitioner (ACP)
- Project Management Professional
- Certified Project Director (CPD)
- Certified Project Manager–IAPM
- Professional in Project Management (PPM)
- Master Project Manager (MPM)
- Associate in Project Management (APM)
- Certified Project Management Practitioner (CPMP)
- Certified Six Sigma Black Belt (CSSBB)
- Certified Six Sigma Green Belt Certification (CSSGB)
- Project Management Certificate (PMC)
- BVOP Certified Project Manager
Some of the best Project Management Certifications and IT Project Managed Courses are highlighted below. Bear in mind that we encourage you to carry out your own research to weigh out the pros and cons of these certifications.
1. Project Management Professional (PMP) Certification
- Expected Salary: $100,000 – $110,000
- Course Duration: 3 Years
- Cost: $400 – $555
- Accreditation: Project Management Institute (PMI)
Project Management Professional Certification cycles around three constraints: Time, Cost and Scope. It is a challenging course that constitutes various modules to assist the academia in identifying the weak spots within a project.
As a result, the project manager can brief his/ her team to come up with alternatives for completing the test sprint phase, and eventually achieve all the milestones towards a deliverable product.
The Project Management Professional certification is accredited with the Project Management Institute (PMI). They work constantly to introduce new changes within the course contents to keep it up to date and aligned with the rapidly changing requirements of the industry.
Project Management Professional (PMP) Requirements
For a PMP Certification, you need to have a prior secondary degree spanning over four years. The PMI has also mandated a 4,500-hour work experience directly, or indirectly related to heading projects, being part of a Certified Project Manager’s Team, and at least a 35-hour basic level project management education.
If you are a registered PMI online member, your exams will be conducted on a computer at a prescribed time and venue.
These exams are worth $405. However, written tests for non-tech savvy individuals are priced at $555. They have also devised conventional means of taking exams introduced at a cost of $250 per module.
Each year, the PMI consults with industry experts to reevaluate the fee structure for candidates who wish to get by with quality education at an affordable rate.
Recommended Reading to prepare for PMP certification:
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2. Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)
- Expected Salary: $90,000 – $101,000
- Accreditation & Significance: Project Management Institute
- Cost: $200 – $300
As mentioned earlier in this post, the CAPM is part of the basic level IT Project Management Certifications. The high tier certifications not only carry prerequisites but are also demanding as well.
The Certified Associate in Project Management is also administered by the PMI. It is a basic level certification that’s lined up with plenty of learning and growth opportunities for beginners.
Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) Requirements
Since this is an entry-level certification, it does not have a lot of prerequisites. On the least, interested candidates with a high school diploma or an equivalent 1,500 hours of project management experience (without any previous certification) can apply.
If you do not qualify on the basis of the two aforementioned “requirements”, you can still opt-in if you have completed a minimum of 23 hours of cumulative project management education.
Certified Associate in Project Management Examination can be taken at an entry cost of $225 for registered PMI website members. If you are a non-member, the test fee will be $300. In both cases, the fee is non-refundable.
Recommended Readings to prepare for CAPM certification:
- PMBOK Guide
- CAPM Handbook
3. Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) – Agile Project Management Certification
- Expected Salary: $85,000 – $80,000
- Course Duration: 1 Year
- Accreditation: The Scrum Alliance
- Cost: $990 – $1,400
The CSM: Certified ScrumMaster certification enables the “certified professional” to overlook a team of individuals who are responsible for working on the behest of the assigned product owner.
The majority of Scrum series certifications are associated with The Scrum Alliance, a globally recognized institute that was initially founded to promote an Agile mindset in the software industry.
The CSM also works as a jump-off/ tipping point for basic level Scrum Practitioners who wish to advance to the next level.
As of the most recent statistics, there are over 450,000 Certified ScrumMasters around the world. Most of these individuals started on Agile Project Management Certifications back in 2,000.
This certification is accredited with Scrum Alliance. They are a nonprofit organization who have been volunteering mostly in the IT industry for a number of years now.
Ironically for a nonprofit organization, The Scrum Alliance charges a whopping $1,000 to $1,400 as examination and training fee. The training course spans over two days, followed by a test, which is held on the next available immediate date, or whichever schedule suits the candidate.
Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) Requirements
Basic level familiarity with Scrum and Agile mindset. You also need to complete The Scrum Alliance introductory module to better orientate yourself towards the requirements of the Certified ScrumMaster program.
Additional Reading to prepare for CSM certification:
4. CompTIA Project+ Certification
- Expected Salary: $80,000 – $85,000
- Course Duration: Not Applicable
- Accreditation: CompTIA Project Co.
- Cost: $285
CompTIA Project+ is yet another certification within the realm of Project Management Certifications. However, its requirements are slightly less stringent, and it mildly correlates to the computing industry.
It is safe to say that the CompTIA Project+ certification is scaled within the same league as that of Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM). CompTIA Project+ mostly has to deal with aggregating feedback from respondents, government representatives, and research institutes.
Later on, the qualified professional points the organization in the right direction to seek experts who’d be able to complete the project at hand.
CompTIA Project+ and other associated IT Project Management Certifications are accredited with CompTIA Co. They are an institute like PMI and The Scrum Alliance. The only difference is that CompTIA Co. is targeting a specific mindset of the IT business industry.
CompTIA Project+ certification fee is $285. Some accredited training centers also organize CompTIA recognized training classes and mock test programs. You can check that by consulting with your nearest CompTIA Co. branch.
Study guide to prepare for CompTIA Project+ certification:
5. Agile Certified Practitioner (ACP) Certification
- Expected Salary: $110,000 – $123,000
- Course Duration: 24 Hour Approval & Eligibility Period
- Accreditation: Project Management Institute (PMI)
- Cost: $490 – $640
The Agile Certified Practitioner (ACP) Project Management certification is administered by the PMI. This certification strictly follows Agile mindset businesses; mostly companies that believe in identifying core problems and then doing more in less capacity. “Agile” itself is a vast description.
The PMI instructors give a brief walkthrough of the Agile philosophy through a ground-up approach. The certification further delves into a practical hand-on strategy where different training modules are conducted to further equip the individuals with Agile frameworks.
Speaking of Agile frameworks, Scrum is part of the Agile mantra. Scrum is also a specific systematic approach of getting things done, but it is related to Agile – you can also call it a subcategory of Agile.
A major perk of seeking certification as an ACP is that this is a globally recognized achievement. Students are enrolled to explore different tools and then apply their skills in real-life issues concerned with Agile hurdles.
Agile Project Management – ACP Certification is administered by PMI. They are also heading various other PM certifications, degree programs and courses to help aspiring individuals from all walks of life.
Agile Certified Practitioner (ACP) Requirements
ACP is scaled as an advance tier certification within the Agile Project Management Certifications lineup. To be able to take the ACP exam, you need to fulfill the following requirements:
- High School Diploma, Associate Degree or Equivalent Experience
- Over 2,000 Work Hours of Experience or Cumulative 2,000 Hour Work Experience.
- Prior Experience in Agile Work Teams/ Companies
If you have references from Agile Business Industry, you should use them to brighten up your chances of enrollment in the PMI ACP program.
As part of the PMI’s recognized certification, ACP enrollment fee is $495. You can shave off an extra 60 bucks if you are already registered at the PMI website.
Signing up as a Project Management Institute member incurs payment of $135. In exchange, they offer a flat $60 discount on all certifications and vice versa.
PMI also makes up for the spike in registration fees by offering online freebies to make students feel right at home. Occasionally, they introduce “dumps” that have previous year examination questions, lab exercises, and much more.
Preparation material for ACP certification:
6. PRINCE2 – Projects in Controlled Environments
- Expected Salary: $90,000
- Course Duration: 3-5 Yeas
- Accreditation: AXELOS Ltd.
- Price: $900
PRINCE2 is an advanced tier degree in the project management certifications chain. You need to clear a couple of pre-requisites; otherwise, the governing administration will not allow you to sit the exam. However, that’s not bad news; it just means that you will be able to complete this certification after clearing a few basic milestones first.
PRINCE2 Certified engineers are highly reputed in their concerned field. Organizations expect a lot from these individuals since they are well equipped with the knowledge of validating employees, core project management skills, concepts about IT project management lifecycle – and yes, business development tools as well.
PRINCE2 Certification Requirements
Since we already mentioned that PRINCE 2 is one of the top-level project management certifications, sitting the exam does have a few requirements. Take them as perquisites, because there’s no other way of taking the paper if you don’t have one of the following certifications in hand:
- Any of the IPMA Level A to B Certifications
- Certified Project Management Associate Certification
- PRINCE 2 Foundation Course
- PMP Project Management Professional Certification
Please bear in mind that if you have not previously cleared the above-mentioned project management certification course, you could go for the easy ones. The basic requirement for PRINCE 2 exam is that you need to have at least one certification that qualifies you as “eligible” for the examination.
Recommended book to prepare for Prince2 certification:
Also, check this Prince2 certification guide:
7. PMP – Project Management Professional Certification
- Expected Salary: $100,000 – $113,000
- Course Duration: 3 Years
- Accreditation: GAC/PMI
- Price: $555
Project Management Professional (PMP) certification is a top of the line, highly rewarding course where the certified individual is deemed a skillful person. However, this certification does not come easy; there are a couple of prerequisites, the exam is tough as well, and you really need to work hard for it.
Usually, there is a small percentage of certified PMP professionals who are able to clear the exam in the first attempt – and that too with flying colors. As of the last few years, many IT and other business-related industries regularly hire PMP professionals as a standard requirement of the company.
The main reason being is the sense of empowerment that enables PMP experts to use a wide array of methodologies over a broad spectrum of different projects. In summation, Project Management Certification is a strong indicator of your skills, such as;
- Proficiency in PMBOK Guide and Book of Knowledge.
- Expertise in “generally acceptable” organization-wide norms that involve various practices etc.
Project Management Professional Requirements
- 3 years minimum experience in the project management field
- 5 years or an equivalent 7,500 hours of experience as someone who directed projects in PM-related areas
- Additional 35+ hours of project management education and a qualified person certification
Readings to prepare for PMP certification:
- PMP Handbook
8. Certified Project Director – CPD
- Expected Salary: $138,000 – $173,000
- Course Duration: Not Applicable
- Accreditation: GAQM
- Price: $400 – $555
CPD is a directorial level project management certification where it is not only hard to take the exam, but the accredited institute also has certain requirements to keep the CPD course validated. As a Certified Project Director, you are obligated to “maintain” your certification by completing a preset number of hours in field duty.
Likewise, training sessions conducted for subordinates also count as an added plus point. CPD has two modules; formal CPD and informal CPD.
They are not to confused with one another since a Formal Certified Project Director is deemed a professional who has earned structured online education, a proper certificate and supporting documentation.
Regardless, CPD is one of the most prestigious certified project management courses. As much as CPD itself is a daunting venture, it rewards qualified personnel with equal employment and salary-related opportunities.
Certified Project Director Requirements
Since CPD is accredited with the GAQM, they have mandated having strong knowledge about the principles & methodologies of project management. In addition, you need to demonstrate hands-on knowledge in the field of project management as a director to qualify for the exam.
9. Certified Project Manager – CPM-IAPM
- Expected Salary: $65,000 – $96,000
- Course Duration: Not Applicable
- Accreditation: CCPC Global
- Price: $630 – $800
Certified Project Manager – CPM has introduced over a decade ago when September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks rocked the foundations of the US government. The presiding body at that time introduced the Certified Project Manager course because of the unforeseen nature of the disaster at hand.
Besides buildings and other physical devastations, the attack also sent jolts through IT infrastructure. Businesses were not equipped to handle such pressure and needed certified project managers to benchmark their skills through hands-on experiences. Since then, this certification is globally recognized by project management training institutes.
Certified Project Manager Requirements
CPM and CPM-IAPM are relatively easier to complete. There are no prerequisites to sit the exam, other than proof of taking 3 days’ duration training course.
E-Books to prepare for CPM certification:
10. Professional in Project Management – PPM
- Expected Salary: $104,000
- Accreditation: PMTI/PMI
- Price: $135 – $555
Although it is not as challenging to get a certification as a PPM, companies prefer hiring experienced professionals as compared to those who have just completed their courses. Regardless, Professional in Project Management (PPM) is treated as a mid-level project management certification course where individuals are taught various skills.
As a certified PPM professional, if you are looking to step into the job market, a lot of businesses will expect you to have knowledge/ skill concerning resource allocation, quality deliverance n’ maintenance at minimal risk, effective communication and tenacity to bring change in the company.
Just like CPM, the Professional in Project Management Certification is lined up with risk and crisis management training.
Professional in Project Management Requirements
- Unlike its counterparts, PPM certification examination does not require for you to have a formal college degree
- Candidates need to have at least some experience in the field of project management. If that’s not a possibility, you need to demonstrate your knowledge and familiarity with project management in one form or another
11. Master Project Manager (MPM)
- Expected Salary: $85,210
- Accreditation: American Academy of Project Management (AAPM)
- Price: $300
Project Management is growing at a fast pace and it is used in all industries be it health, telecom, chemical, energy as well as in the social sector. Master Project Manager – MPM Is modeled for professionals who aim for greater productivity at the workplace.
The MPM is primarily focused on professional project managers, but in addition, it also supports those professionals in the technical and business management roles.
MPM is one certification that helps you earn additional points for IT professionals who are within the project management domain of their companies. It provides a simple but effective training environment for professionals with a technical background by defining and associating the teachings of management with engineering.
Professional in Master Project Manager Requirements
- Three years of training and project management experience make applicants eligible for waivers who hold a Masters Degree, with relevant job experience
- Graduates with less than 3 years of project management experience are also eligible to appear for this certification.
Recommended reading to prepare for MPM certification:
12. Associate in Project Management (APM)
- Expected Salary: $85,21
- Price: $128
The Associate in Project Management (APM)™ certificate is an entry-level certification in the field of Project Management.
It is an important globally recognized credential in the field of project management that demonstrates that the candidate has the required knowledge in the field confining to the entry-level of project management.
The exam comprises 50 Multiple Choice Questions out of which the candidate needs to score 70% (35 out of 50 correct) to pass the exam and the total duration of the exam is 1 hour (60 Minutes).
Professional in Project Management Requirements
- No formal education or experience required
13. Certified Project Management Practitioner
- Expected Salary: $50,000 – $88,000
- Course Prep Duration: 3 Days Max
- Accreditation: EC Council
- Cost: $199.00 Per Exam/ Per Attempt
Right after the EC-Council was founded in 2001, the government wanted to address some of the core issues that resulted from the infamous terrorist attack. For that matter, the CPMP certification was created as a benchmark for those who had a knack for managing post-disaster recovery operations.
People having a Certified Project Management Practitioner certification are expected to take on a number of projects related to infrastructure development, managerial obstacles, and leadership hurdles. Although CPMP certification is not a high tier degree, it does serve to work as a very strong foundation for anyone looking to get into a field that requires hands-on experience.
As a result, value over time to managerial experience, leadership traits and technical skills is added.
Certified Project Management Practitioner (CPMP) Requirements.
The requirements for the CPMP course are fairly simple. There are no pre-requisites to this certification. You are, however, required to submit a non-refundable fee of $200 for the exam. CPMP is taught at various training companies over a span of 2 – 3 days. They do charge a hefty fee for those classes, so, set aside a huge chunk of your budget in advance.
14. Certified Six Sigma Black Belt (CSSBB)
- Expected Salary: $97,200
- Course Duration: Several years or until you have demonstrated 2 projects at least.
- Accreditation: ASQ
- Cost: $540 Per Exam/ Per Attempt
The next one on the list is CSSBB – also known as Certified Six Sigma Black Belt certification. Yes, it does have a fancy name, and that name is accompanied by a nice fat paycheck and a whole lot of challenges.
Another interesting thing about CSSBB is that it is not the only certification in this tier. If you are not up to the challenge or don’t meet the pre-requisites, you can sign up for Certified Six Sigma Green Belt certification. This one’s a lower level certification and works as a stepping stone for those who are looking to get the “Black Belt.”
CSSBB is recognized globally, and it’s accredited with the ASQ institute. Other than the CSSBB certification, the ASQ Body of Knowledge is embellished with 18 other certifications. Three of those certifications make up for project managers, while others escalate the PM level expertise to a more professional level.
CSSBB certification is tough. The path is rigorous because of complex prerequisites and a varying fee structure. The good news is that once you are done with it, you will enjoy the benefits of a decent pay scale and many other perks that professionals are offered by big companies.
Certified Six Sigma Black Belt (CSSBB) Requirements:
In order to take the exam, or be eligible at least, you need to show that you have completed two different projects before. The ASQ will ask you to produce past project affidavits in addition to 3+ years of experience in the field.
The deal-breaker in this entire certification is that it remains valid for three years only. That’s not the bad part. In order to retake the exam, you need to retake all 18 certification exams that are part of the CSSBB structure! Sounds, cool, right?
Recommended Books for Certified Six Sigma Black Belt (CSSBB) certification preparation:
- The Certified Six Sigma Black Belt Handbook, Third Edition
- The ASQ CSSBB Study Guide
- Statistics for Six Sigma Black Belts
- The ASQ Pocket Guide To Statistics for Six Sigma Black Belts
15. Certified Six Sigma Green Belt Certification:
- Expected Salary: $77,000 – $80,000
- Course Duration: 1 Year or until the prerequisite requirement has been met
- Accreditation: ASQ
- Cost: $440 Per Exam/ Per Attempt
This certification is part of the other certification in the Certified Six Sigma Black Belt certifications group. There are a total of three certifications, and CSSGB is one of them. The three certifications are essential for anyone who’s looking to hone his/her skills as a project manager.
As usual, the CSSGB certification is accredited with the ASQ institute. Prior to the exam, candidates are expected to have at least three years of experience in the Six Sigma projects field. In addition, the work experience has to be full time and paid for. Therefore, internees or part-time workers are not able to take the certified six sigma green belt exam.
The good news is that within the confines of green belt body certification, you will be able to do one of the following with great ease and comfort.
- Handle phase-related projects. Phases in Six Sigma could be customer voice, PM basics, project identification, planning and resource management, team dynamics and vice versa. Each “phase” is a legacy on its own.
- You will also be able to do process analysis, measure the performance and capabilities of team members in a project and collect data crucial to the existing Six Sigma setup.
Certified Six Sigma Green Belt Certification (CSSGB) Requirements:
The requirements for CSSGB certification are a little complex. As mentioned earlier, you need to show affidavits or contracts for at least 3 years of experience as a full time working individual on Six Sigma projects.
Recommended Books for Certified Six Sigma Green Belt (CSSBB) certification preparation:
- Process Improvement Using Six Sigma: A DMAIC Guide
- Six Sigma Green Belt, Round 2
- Transactional Six Sigma for Green Belts: Maximizing Service and Manufacturing Processes
16. Project Management Certificate (PMC)
- Course Duration: 1.5 years.
- Cost: $11,360
- Accreditation: Harvard Extension School
The Project management certificate (PMC) is a part of a professional graduate certificate offered by Harvard. This certification can help you in the entire project management process from planning, initiation, project execution, evaluation, monitoring, and closing project. You can gain both the management and the technical skills in the project field. This certification is aligned with the PMI’s experts and gives you the required leadership skills to make others accountable.
With the PMC course you will learn the following:
- Learn the project life cycle to manage the project from start to finish
- Gain technical and leadership skills to effective project completion
- Project strategy and success
- Change management in project innovation
Requirements for PMC certification
To gain the PMC certificate, you are required to complete at least 16 credits for certificates at the graduate level, get minimum B grade, and complete it within 3 years’ time.
17. BVOP Certified Project Manager
- Course Duration: Not Applicable
- Cost: $130
- Accreditation: BVOP.org
This project management certification is quite new but gained much traction in the recent times, especially in United Kingdom. The Business Value-Oriented Principles (BVOP) Certified Project Manager Certification is based on the agile framework. This certification gives value to the business by emphasizing the best project management practices and activities needed for business success.
The BVOP Certified Project Manager is useful for program directors, cross-teams, business persons, and other stakeholders. This certification will help you build processes that are efficient, transparent, and agile for project management. You will not only develop project management skills but also get familiar with people and product management for business.
In the BVOP Project Management certification, you will learn:
- Business-oriented project management
- Program management
- Product management
- Help improve project processes
- Learn to make quick project-related decisions
Requirements for BVOP Certified Project Management:
There is no strict prerequisite for the BVOP project management certification, but you will need to have a basic understanding of project management principles, terminologies, and best practices.
Recommended reading to prepare for BVOP project management certification:
How to Prepare for Project Management Certifications?
There are different approaches to preparing for Project Management Certification Courses. Some people like to partake in study programs conducted at globally recognized institutes, while others rely on self-taught skills.
The key approach to reaping the most benefits from any range of Project Management Certifications is to make an informed decision on getting the “right” certification. It can only happen if you have taken the right course after evaluating its scope in the market, return on investment and many other job-related possibilities.
PMI tests are usually based on 200 questions. According to experts, 25 out of those 200 questions are spontaneous. These questions define the difficulty curve of the computer-generated PMI Certification exam(s).
Moreover, a majority of these certifications are based on closed book policies. Some institutes allow their students to bring reference material to consult with, but PMI strictly prohibits such an approach.
Where to Start with Project Management Certifications
Consult with an expert from the industry to see which certification holds the most value for you in years to come. According to some experts, the only reason they took up ScrumMaster, Agile or Lean Business certifications was due to the sheer excitement factor. They were able to innovate business and impact the “means to an end” philosophy in a positive manner.
Regardless, project managers are highly rewarded for their skills. Their pay scale easily levels against that of CEOs and high profile business designations.
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