Continuing Professional Development for Project Managers

Staying on top of your professional role in business involves staying current with trends and methodologies. And oftentimes, ongoing education in your space is recommended and rewarded.

Technology and processes quickly change, offering new tools and renewed ways of doing things. Thus, professional project management practices are one of the areas that can benefit from continuing and ongoing professional development because it touches all aspects of business and technology.

Project managers work with and in a wide variety of project types and industries, which makes it both challenging and even enjoyable to keep up with the latest tricks and trends. Project managers across all industries working in varying methodologies can benefit from ongoing professional development.

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There are different skill sets required of project managers that need constant attention, including traditional skills like problem solving, initiative, resilience, and creativity; digital skills such as agile; technological skills; and transformational skills.

These current trending areas for project managers cover a lot of field real estate.

  • Resource planning is becoming more important and involves everyone from all levels of the organization.
  • Knowledge sharing across teams and within PMOs helps boost confidence and encourage collaboration.
  • Hybrid methodologies are more prevalent in project execution and implementation across all industries and project types.
  • Permanent remote and hybrid work environments are here to stay and allow for organizations to recruit the best talent no matter where they call home.
  • Change management involves handling on-the-fly adjustments to resources, processes, and timelines directed by business needs quickly and seamlessly.
  • PMOs are becoming more common, robust, and strategic in handling project documentation in an effort to reduce project failure and increase success.
  • Emerging technologies to plan, execute, and manage projects and teams are becoming easier to use and free up time spent on repetitive, time-wasting tasks. Those using AI and analytics are making work easier and making reporting status and progress more precise.
  • Data analytics and AI involving useful data collected from a variety of sources for analysis is more valuable than ever to optimize project outcomes, such as lowering costs, dialing in on risk management, automating tasks, and streamlining project time and resources.
  • Soft skills, which are needed in addition to organizational and analytical skills, involve an understanding of people and how to manage them in a way that will yield the best results
  • Networking by connecting with and learning from other project managers is a great way to gain support and insight into opportunities. Job security is never guaranteed and PMs are not in competition with one another. Rather they are part of a dedicated team of professionals navigating an ever-evolving and complex world of technology, changing processes, and fluctuating timelines across interesting projects.

Project Management Methodologies

There are many methodologies in project management, and you will be expected to work with one or several of them at any point in your career.

Each has its pros and cons, and it is to your benefit to understand what they are, how they differ, and what works and does not work when applied to different types of projects, so you can choose the right option for your project or organization.

Some of the most popular methods include:

  • Agile involves a process in which team members break projects into small pieces to review before moving on to the next. This is useful for large-scale or complex projects like software development.
  • Waterfall is a linear and sequential approach where each step is completed before beginning the next. Unlike agile, all steps are clear from the beginning with no room for change. This is best suited for manufacturing and construction.
  • Kanban is a visual framework with tasks laid out in columns and very basically labeled as to do, in progress, and complete. It is useful for a variety of project types where it benefits a team to visualize the workflow.
  • Scrum is a facet of agile with no fixed deadline and with a focus on getting things right rather than done. This is most often used for product development.
  • Hybrid is a combination of the best or most desirable traits from multiple methodologies, for example, waterfall and agile. A customized approach works for most projects.
  • Lean focuses on minimizing waste and using fewer resources, which works great in manufacturing.

Why Explore Continuing Professional Development and Education?

It is always advantageous to build on existing knowledge and learn new skills and methodologies. Continuing professional development and education is a great way to continue to improve over years spent nurturing a career.

There are great options for professional project managers that will allow you to gain recognition for your skills and experience at every stage of your career.

Key Certifications for Project Managers

Project management professional development and continuing education courses are available as self-paced, virtual, and in-person training. Credentials and certifications are earned through accredited organizations.

The Project Management Institute (PMI) is the main official source for project management standards, certification, and promotion of the profession. There are also approved providers of project management training, such as local universities that work with the PMI.

There are many courses to choose from, and they all include options for free and paid prep and testing. Some of the more popular certifications offered include:

  • Project Management Professional (PMP)®
  • Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)®
  • PMI Professional in Business Analysis (PMI-PBA)®
  • Program Management Professional (PgMP)®>
  • Portfolio Management Professional (PfMP)®
  • PMI Risk Management Professional (PMI-RMP)®
  • PMI Scheduling Professional (PMI-SP)®
  • PMI Project Management Ready™
  • Various agile certifications

When and How to Participate

Training classes and opportunities to test and earn certifications are offered every year. For the PMP, you must first be eligible to take the PMP exam and complete PMP training before you can apply for the exam online at pmi.org or through an approved training provider.

It is recommended to schedule an exam at least one month in advance. You must first prepare for the exam and pass the PMP application. From there, you will have one year to schedule a PMP exam date and take and pass the PMP exam. If you do not take the PMP exam within one year, you are required to restart your PMP application.

PMP requirements include:

  • 4,500 hours of experience as a project manager with a bachelor’s degree
  • 16 years of school education
  • 7,500 hours of experience without a bachelor’s degree
  • 35 hours of project management education—this is the foundation for the PMP certification exam

Your availability, budget, and how soon you want to take the exam determine when you can participate. Fast-track programs and boot camps are available if you are confident and want to spend the money.

PMP certification is valid for three years. Certified project managers have to continually renew their credentials to benefit from this certification or risk suspension status.

What Hours Mean and How Long They Last or Are Effective

PMI created Professional Development Units (PDU) as its measurement for continuing education to ensure those practicing a profession are using the most current standards and are actively growing their skills. One PDU is equivalent to a one-hour block of time spent learning, teaching, or volunteering.

By accumulating and tracking these over a three-year period you can maintain your certification status with PMI. For example, if you hold a Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification, to maintain it, you’ll need to earn 60 PDUs; while others, like the Agile Certified Professional (PMI-ACP)® require 30.

Following the certification application process and passing the certification exam, a project manager must earn and submit to PMI for approval a certain number of hours to stay credentialed. Each year, there are new certificates and certifications launched, and yet, these certifications are not created equal.

Documenting your continued efforts to remain current in project management skills, tools, and standards is required for maintaining a PMP designation. To retain an active PMP credential, project managers must continuously earn PDU credits within predetermined parameters and periodically submit them for PMI approval.

You can view the breakdown and requirements by certification by visiting the PMI website.

How to Track, Record, and Prove PDUs and Education Hours

It’s easy to keep track of how many PDUs you have earned and how many remain. As a member of PMI, you can visit the Continuing Certification Requirements System website and enter your PMI login information.

Each course you complete will automatically generate a certificate of completion with a claim code on it. Simply use the claim code to report PDUs earned to PMI.

Recording PDU hours involves the following steps for self-paced course takers:

  1. Visit the PMI website and log in with your username and password.
  2. Click on the MyPMI drop-down and click Dashboard.
  3. Click the Report PDUs button.
  4. If you have a claim code, click on the I Have A Claim Code link in the PDU claim code box.
  5. Enter the PDU claim code from your certificate of completion in the I Have A Claim Code field and click the Apply button. This will load all of the course information automatically.
  6. Enter the start date and completion date.
  7. Finally, check the box that states I Agree This Claim Is Accurate, and click the Submit button.

Once you submit a PDU claim, PMI will send you an email when your claim has been accepted, and those PDUs will be applied to the total amount required for your credential.

Proving education hours and experience is not that simple. Approximations and guesswork do not comprise a good plan. The PMP application requests details on each and every project that you list to equal 4,500 or 7,500 hours.

The challenge is identifying and documenting that experience, especially for hidden project experience hours you may not be aware of. For example, some work activities, such as planning events and programs, may not have been labeled as a project, but they are valid.

Spend the time to comb through work that you contributed to and that you have used your project management practices for that would qualify.

Find the Coursework You Need

master of project logo

1. Master of Project Academy

A relative newcomer in the game, Master of Project Academy covers pretty much everything you need to know about the world of project management, while still remaining understandable and approachable. Their All Courses Bundle consists of 27 courses in total, and includes training in PMP certification, CAPM, CCNA, Agile Scrum, and Microsoft Project, among others. Judging by all the glowing user reviews, it’s well worth the money you will have to pay for it. The course we recommend is “PMP¬Æ ‚Äì Project Management Professional Certification Training“. They offer 50% discount on their Lifetime package: $99 instead of $199. Use the discount code ALL50OFF when doing your payment.

2. Project Management Principles and Practices by Coursera

Coursera has tons of great courses on just about anything, and they also have some brilliant ones in project management. This particular series of courses is a bit on the intensive side, but thanks to its hands-on nature, it’s very approachable and engaging. The courses will arm you will all the knowledge and skills needed in order to carry out projects and deliver them on time, without overstepping your budget, while at the same time offering a good product. Specifically, you will be capable of figuring out the scope of every project, its budget, identifying how many resources are needed for it, breaking it down into smaller tasks, taking into account all of the risks, and overseeing all the stages.

3. Diploma in Project Management by Alison

If you are looking to gain a better understanding of project management methodology, and receive a diploma for it in the process, you will find much to like in this course. Not only will you become familiar with all the basics, but you will also analyze case studies, learn how project management has evolved over the years, and even gain access to insider interviews with some of the best project managers out there.

You will also study methods like PERT diagrams, and the Critical Path Method. It’s less hands-on than the courses offered by Coursera, but you will become acquainted with the theoretical aspect of project management.

4. Project Management in Marketing by Oxford Learning Lab

Although project management and marketing don’t seem too related, that couldn’t be further from the truth, and this course deals with that connection. Aside from studying all of the essential principles of project management, you will also learn how to put together effective marketing campaigns, while sticking to time and budget constraints.

Unlike most courses, this one also pays special attention to risk evaluation and management, as well as what to do in cases when you need to mitigate the negative outcome. You will also come across lessons in market research, and create business cases.

5. Introduction to Project Management by Canvas

If you are looking for something that will teach you the basics of project management quickly, so that you are able to apply it in practice as soon as possible, you should definitely check out this course.

It’s divided into two parts. The first part includes going through a fictional project. You will be able to choose between several different examples. Then, you will be given an actual project. In both cases, you will be required to come up with a project overview statement, as well as its structure.

What PM Credentials Can Mean for You

The world is changing quickly, and recent global events are creating and exposing a big gap in educated and available experts as well as those with the necessary skill sets required to successfully perform in many jobs.

Individuals who work in a project management capacity, or plan to do so in the future, should prioritize identifying, anticipating, and adapting to the changing needs of the industry. Project managers who learn on the job and supplement their expertise with continuing professional education will have an edge over younger, less experienced, or older and outdated competition.

PM credentials could lead to a 20% pay raise for existing roles and higher salaries and hourly rates for new jobs and contracts. There are also other incentives to keep you employed or to lure you to a new company or project, like hiring bonuses and other forms of compensation.

Being more knowledgeable will also provide peace of mind, knowing you always have control over your project environment and the tools and know-how to work within or around any situation that may come your way.

There will always be new technologies, tools, and challenges in the workplace, and staying on top of your education will make you the best fit for the job.

 

Recommended Project Management Software

If you’re interested in learning more about top-rated project management software, the editors at Project-Management.com actively recommend the following:


Anne Meick

Anne Meick is an author, copywriter, and digital project management consultant, leading digital teams and projects in highly regulated industries. She is the founder of Writers' Connection and blogs on writing, editing, and book publishing.