You are ready to invest in your skills as a project manager (PM). But what is the best project management certification available, and what are your other options?
Professional development is a significant investment—of time, money, and trust in an educational platform or system. Picking the right certification for your career, goals, and field should be paramount.
Nexus Human is here to help. In this guide, our experts break down the ten best project management certifications, give you a few tips for preparing for a course, and explain why certification could be the right move for your career.
Below, we have curated a list of the best certifications for project managers—for industry veterans with copious experience, newcomers with lots to learn, and every PM in between.
ITIL offers the world’s most well-known practice framework for IT Service Management, and their Foundation class is the best all-around choice for PMs looking to certify.
Version 4 of the Foundation course introduces the Service Value System, a holistic lens for end-to-end PM model implementation that optimizes the value of those models for your business. Students should expect to learn about:
The course is for anyone seeking a better understanding of IT Service Management—there are no prerequisites, and it is designed for IT staff and management at all experience levels.
One of the most significant benefits of the ITIL 4 Foundation course is its integration of four major project management models:
Students who successfully pass the course will enhance the value they provide to their companies, better support their unique business requirements, and optimize the project management process to improve efficiency and cost-effectiveness.
The Project Management Institute (PMI) offers multiple high-value certifications—one of them is the Project Management Professional (PMP) Certification.
Project managers with the PMP certification demonstrate two critical skills:
A deep understanding of complex project management tactics and concepts
The ability to manage and lead multi-functional teams
PMP is designed for experienced PMs with 35 hours of project management education under their belts and at least 4,500 hours of documented project management experience. Students will explore numerous aspects of project management (e.g., project planning, budgeting, monitoring, and cost control).
Most importantly, a PMP certification directly benefits the PM—according to the PMI Salary Survey, PMP-certified project managers earned 10% higher salaries than their non-credentialed colleagues.
For experienced PMs looking for a high-value certification, PMI’s PMP course is an excellent choice.
Another offering from PMI, the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) course is designed as an entry-level certification for newcomers to project management. If you feel you need more experience or expertise to truly thrive as a PM, this certification route is for you.
The CAPM course offers inexperienced project managers clear foundational training and baseline skills for a successful future in project management. Since it is designed with newcomers in mind, student prerequisites include a high school diploma (or equivalent) and 1,500 hours of on-the-job experience (or 23 hours of project management-specific training).
The CAPM course benefits both new PMs and the companies that hire them—students will leave the course with strong foundational knowledge that brings immediate value to a business.
PMI also offers a certification program for PMs interested in Agile’s project management methodology—the Agile Certified Practitioner Certification (PMI-ACP).
This ten-part course provides thorough preparation for the exam of the same name and includes critical concepts like:
The manifesto behind the Agile framework
Agile planning concepts
The course is open to anyone, but some PM experience or PM-related professional development is recommended prior to signing up.
Students’ primary takeaway from the class will be an end-to-end understanding of the Agile approach to software development. Agile experience is in high demand from employers, and organizations benefit from its streamlined, adaptable approach to project management.
Students and businesses alike can benefit from training in Agile’s powerful agile PM methods.
Scrum is a subset of the Agile methodology, and the framework is one of the most widely adopted in the project management sphere. It builds upon Agile’s the emphasis in agile on adaptability and rapid response by implementing an empirical, scientific method for approaching projects.
Students and organizations can leverage Scrum skills to:
Optimize real-world learning experiences
Self-organize while addressing specific problems
Reflect on successes and failures in the pursuit of continuous improvement
Scrum Developer is one of four Scrum certifications available to project managers, and it is ideal for newcomers to either project management, the Scrum/Agile frameworks, or both. For PMs, it will provide insight into managing your team and what it is like to be in their shoes.
Students will learn about the frameworks and how to initiate them during projects to improve ROI, efficiency, and post-project reflection—concepts that also benefit the businesses that employ them.
While the Scrum Developer certification provides an introduction to the Scrum framework, the Scrum Agile Master Certification (SAMC) familiarizes students with orchestrating Agile’s project management philosophies:
The Agile manifesto
Lean and Kanban Software Development
Extreme Programming (XP)
Test-Driven Development (TDD)
Dynamic Systems Development Methods (DSDM)
Feature Driven Development (FDD)
Like Scrum Developer, anyone in the project management sphere is eligible to take the course. But, experienced PMs may have more insight into the practical applications of Agile frameworks. Arguably the most important takeaway will be the course’s Best Fit Analysis Tool, which helps PMs determine which framework will produce the best outcomes for their project.
Since Agile’s methodologies are dominant in today’s project management, individuals who invest in learning about them will be in high demand for PM positions. Plus, organizations that hire SAMC-certified PMs will have access to their wealth of Agile knowledge.
The DevOps Institute Foundation Certification is an excellent entry into the language of DevOps—a crash course in one of IT’s most influential schools of thought.
This class is designed for IT professionals in a variety of spheres like:
QA and Testing
It also serves as an introduction to the other frameworks mentioned above, including Agile. With an emphasis on organizational success, businesses have the potential to benefit significantly from hiring DOFD-certified IT professionals. The philosophy prioritizes automation, scale, and KPI analysis—all of which can improve project ROI and, as a result, profitability.
The CompTIA Project+ Certification is internationally recognized among project management professional certifications. With an emphasis on leadership and relationship-building, the course covers a variety of topics, including:
Budgeting and scheduling
Strategies for project management
Relationship-building during a project
Project closing strategies
Individual project managers who certify in Project+ enjoy increased demand in the workforce. The program has wide recognition, and its concepts apply to various industries, giving up-and-coming PMs the broad framework they need to succeed anywhere.
Organizations, in turn, can reap the benefits of adaptable, relationship-focused leadership when hiring Project+-certified PMs.
The program’s industry-wide recognition and widely applicable principles make it one of the best project management certifications available today.
A PRINCE2 Foundation certification is an excellent introduction to project management best practices. It is especially applicable for PMs working in fast-paced and highly technical industries.
The PRINCE2 philosophy is centered around major themes project managers must assess and integrate throughout the life of a project, including:
Since this is a foundational course, the only formal prerequisite is a familiarity with project management concepts. This is an excellent course for newcomers to project management and long-time PMs alike.
However, students must complete pre-course work before the first session. And while the course provides value on its own (as an introduction to the highly effective PRINCE2 PM philosophy), it can also serve as a springboard for the PRINCE2 Practitioner Certification—a higher-level accreditation.
Project managers and their employers should consider the PRINCE2 certification in their efforts to upskill—the program’s “essential governance toolkit” provides a useful framework for running efficient, successful projects.
If, after taking the PRINCE2 Foundation course, you’re looking for a more advanced certification, consider the PRINCE2 Practitioner course. While the former focuses on the themes and concepts of the PRINCE2 philosophy, the latter is a master class in applying those themes across various project scenarios.
And, since it is a more advanced course, students must have taken one of the following before signing up:
Like the Foundation course, students must complete pre-work before the class begins.
PRINCE2’s emphasis on responding to changes—expected or not—sets it apart from similar certifications. As a result, the course produces adaptable PMs ready to apply what they have learned.
Any of the certification programs above will undoubtedly improve your project management skills and benefit the organizations where you practice those skills. But first, you must earn them.
So, what can you do to improve your course outcomes, familiarize yourself with the content ahead of time, and increase your chances of passing each examination?
Nexus Human offers three introductory courses that will help students succeed in any of the certification classes above:
The courses above are for individuals who informally manage projects, who are interested in a PM career path, or are looking for a more general overview of the field and its best practices.
Even if you do not pursue a formal certification after completing one of the introductory courses, you will still benefit from a structured overview of project management strategies.
Despite looking for a course that suits your needs, you might not be sure why a project management certification is a worthy pursuit in the first place.
Many project managers succeed without a certification course—and some of the certifications above require field experience before signup. So, why invest time and money for a certification?
Certification can increase your competitiveness in the job market. Organizations are looking for team members who display ability, but they’re also looking for advanced qualifications.
Certification is a networking opportunity. When you get certified, you enter a pool of other professionals—people who are developing innovative technologies, managing projects at large companies, and who can provide insights that could benefit your career.
Certification may be required for hiring in some industries. For example, many federal government agencies only offer positions to certified candidates.
Simply put, certification can only positively improve your chances of career success and advancement.
Whether you opt for an Agile-focused certification, a class from the Project Management Institute, a PRINCE2 accreditation, or any other options on this list, you are setting yourself up for project management success.
At Nexus Human, we understand the importance of professional development in an ever-changing, fast-paced job market. That’s why we offer many of the best project management certifications available today.
When it is time to invest in your professional acumen, you can trust Nexus Human to connect you with valuable, high-quality educational opportunities that will help you thrive in project management and beyond.