Project Management Credentials Compared: 2014 Update


Dr. Paul Giammalvo, CDT, CCE, MScPM, MRICS, GPM-M

Jakarta, Indonesia


Since December of 2010, out of frustration trying to make sense of all the credentials proliferating in the field of project and program management, I have been conducting on-going research trying to benchmark the various project and program management credentials against the US Professional Engineer (PE) license as well as Malcolm Gladwell’s “10,000 hour” rule.

To set the stage for this update, a “Benchmark” is defined to be “A “best in class” achievement which becomes the reference point or recognized standard of excellence against which similar processes are measured[1]” with the objective being “to improve the current practices[2].”  This research is being published not to embarrass any professional organization or their credentials, but to encourage all professional organizations to use this benchmarking research as the basis to “raise the bar” to help professionalize the practice of project management.

Thus, the US Professional Engineer (PE) license was chosen as one of the benchmarks because:[3]

  • Civil Engineering has been recognized as a “learned profession” for over 160 years (since 1852)
  • Civil Engineering has earned the respect of the consuming public by CONSISTENTLY designing roads, bridges, buildings and other structures which have lasted well beyond their design life while saving lives in the process;
  • Civil Engineering exemplifies the processes associated with project management as those processes are embedded within the profession of Civil Engineering.
  • The PE license requires a well-balanced mix of BOTH education and supervised, peer reviewed experience. 

There are two ways to qualify to earn a PE license –

  • Graduate from an ABET accredited university and log 10,000 hours of SUPERVISED experience.
  • Graduate from a non-ABET accredited university and log 14,000 hours of SUPERVISED experience. 

Malcolm Gladwell’s “10,000 Hour” rule came from his 2008 book “Outliers – The Story of Success” where he posited that to become “successful” at anything, required a minimum of 10,000 hours of progressively challenging experience.  And while his research has been challenged, the primary reason for choosing this as a benchmark is by providing a true zero point and having the same unit of measure, it enabled the creation of a ratio scale analysis. So while the “10,000 hour” rule has been used as a benchmark, this research makes a reasonable argument that the number should be closer to 15,000 hours not 10,000, at least for project management.

To recap the history, the initial 2010 study consisted of those credentials from PMI, IPMA, AIPM, AACE, INCOSE and AXELOS. (Reference PM World Journal Volume 2, Issue 1 January 2013, Second Edition http://goo.gl/trQHCJ).

In the February 2013 issue of PM World Journal, http://goo.gl/EIkyA, I published an UPDATE which expanded the research to include the Green Project Management (GPM) organizations credentials; the ASEM (American Society for Engineering Management) certifications and the FAI (US Federal Acquisition Institute) credentials. That update also added PMI’s agile credential and AACE’s Decision and Risk Management credential. In the 2013 update, I also refined the scoring model to address several anomalies in the rankings. (See the previous editions for details on these refinements)

Based on requests from various followers of this topic in the PM World Journal, this 2014 update has been further EXPANDED to include the following credentials:

International Institute of Business Analysts (IIBA) http://www.iiba.org/About-IIBA.aspx

Certification of Competency in Business Analysis (CCBA)

Certified Business Analysis Profession (CBAP)

AXCELOS/IT Service Management (ITSM/ITIL) http://www.itil-officialsite.com/

ITIL Foundation

ITIL Expert

ITIL Master

Green Project Management Organization http://www.greenprojectmanagement.org/

Green Project Manager Master Level w/BA/BS

Green Project Manager Master Level w/MS/MBA

Green Project Manager Master Level w/PhD

Worth noting is the Green Project Management organization is the first to OFFICIALLY recognize advanced degrees (Masters and PhD) as an INTEGRAL part of their certification process. This is consistent with the decision that starting in 2020, the US Professional Engineer (PE) license is also going to start requiring a Master’s degree or better. For those professional organizations who follow this research, and have been using it as the basis to create or expand on their credentials, the fact that advanced degrees are starting to be given formal recognition as a part of the credentialing process is an encouraging sign that the bar is being raised in terms of “professionalizing” the practice of project and program management. 

All told, there are now a total of 40 different certifications being benchmarked against both the PE license and against Gladwell’s “10,000 hour” rule: 


To read entire paper (click here)

Editor’s note: footnotes and references are included in full paper. 

About the Author         


Dr. Paul D. Giammalvo, CDT, CCE, MScPM, MRICS, GPM-M 

Jakarta, Indonesia

Dr. Paul D. Giammalvo, CDT, CCE (#1240), MScPM, MRICS, GPM-M is Senior Technical Advisor (Project Management) to PT Mitratata Citragraha. (PTMC), Jakarta, Indonesia. www.build-project-management-competency.com.

For 20+ years, he has been providing Project Management training and consulting throughout South and Eastern Asia, the Middle East and Europe.  He is also active in the Global Project Management Community, serving as an Advocate for and on behalf of the global practitioner. He does so by playing an active professional role in the Association for the Advancement of Cost Engineering International, (AACE); Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) and the Construction Management Association of America, (CMAA). He currently sits on the Board of Directors of the American Society for the Advancement of Project Management (asapm) http://www.asapm.org/ and is on the Certification Board of the Green Project Management Institute. http://www.greenprojectmanagement.org/ He is active as a regional leader in the International Guild of Project Controls. http://www.planningplanet.com/guild

He has spent 18 of the last 35 years working on large, highly technical international projects, including such prestigious projects as the Alyeska Pipeline and the Distant Early Warning Site (DEW Line) upgrades in Alaska.  Most recently, he worked as a Senior Project Cost and Scheduling Consultant for Caltex Minas Field in Sumatra and Project Manager for the Taman Rasuna Apartment Complex for Bakrie Brothers in Jakarta.  His current client list includes AT&T, Ericsson, Nokia, Lucent, General Motors, Siemens, Chevron, Conoco-Philips, BP, Dames and Moore, SNC Lavalin, Freeport McMoran, Petronas, Pertamina, UN Projects Office, World Bank Institute and many other multi-national companies and NGO organizations.

Dr. Giammalvo holds an undergraduate degree in Construction Management, his Master of Science in Project Management through the George Washington University and was awarded his PhD in Project and Program Management through the Institute Superieur De Gestion Industrielle (ISGI) and Ecole Superieure De Commerce De Lille (ESC-Lille- now SKEMA School of Management) under the supervision of Dr. Christophe Bredillet, CCE, IPMA A Level.  Paul can be contacted at [email protected].