IPMA Education & Training Series: Comparing PM Certifications: Which Is Best For You?


By Stacy Goff

Colorado, USA


In the world of project management there is an integral link between education/training and the attainment of certification.

A wide range of organizations offer certifications in the practice of project and programme management. Some are niche offerings; some are from professions that involve PM, but specialize in other disciplines. Many certifications are enterprise or government adaptations, beginning with professional association offerings, modified to meet specific organizational needs. A few are mainstream offerings by dominant professional associations or organizations.

The selection of a meaningful PM certification should be an easier decision than it is today. That decision depends on many factors, including the strength of the certification, and its popularity. While an individual may understand one’s own personal or organizational needs, finding the comparative information needed to select the certification that best maps to those needs can be a challenge.

Some certifications test knowledge, others assess competence. A few assess performance; so even the assessment scope and methods can be confusing! But for all, a few essential criteria are the key to understanding the fit of a PM certification for your needs. And what might those criteria for evaluating PM certifications be? Here are our suggestions:

  1. Prerequisites
  2. Breadth of Coverage
  3. Rigor of Assessment

For each criterion, we will rely upon, cite and apply the published and accepted research of others.

Introducing the Certification Effectiveness Cube

It should be clear that design choices made in the development of a certification programme, such as the intended effectiveness of the certification, are the key to its relevance to your requirements. The criteria mentioned above reflect three dimensions of any certification programme’s strength, and together, they form the three faces of a Certification Effectiveness Cube, shown…


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Editor’s note: This is the 5th in a series of articles provided by the IPMA Education and Training (E&T) Board on the subject of project management education, training, careers and related topics.  More information about the IPMA E&T can be found at http://ipma.ch/education.

About the Author

flag-usastacy-goffStacy Goff

Colorado, USA

STACY A. GOFF, the PM Performance Coach, is President of ProjectExperts®, a USA-based, global practice that provides Programme and Project Management coaching, consulting, tools and training. A Project Management practitioner since 1970 and consultant since 1982, he has been a strong, contributing member of PMI® since 1983. He is a co-founder and President of asapm, IPMA-USA, the American Society for the Advancement of Project Management, and current Vice President of Marketing & Events for IPMA, the International Project Management Association.

Goff’s interest in project and programme competence, effectiveness and performance began when he set up a PM Competency Center in a nuclear power plant in the early 1980s. It continued with engagements in the 1980s and 90s that helped organizations assess and improve their project and programme performance. Today, he continues his interest in individual, project team, organization, national and global PM performance. For more about Goff, see: http://projectexperts.com/about-us/principals-bio-stacy-goff/.