While certain elements of project management remain largely the same, other elements evolve. If you are finding your project management career is lacking progress or energy, then getting back to the basics or re-looking at what went right in the past may be key. Here are a few key things you can do to make a difference on your current or future career moves.
1. If not certified already, get certified
Getting certified as a Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) or Project Management Professional (PMP) is more than a piece of paper. It is all built on an evolving body of best practices encompassed in the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) currently in its 6th edition. This is key as some of the best experts in project management collaborate to build this 750+ page manual on project administration.
You may have taken courses or learned on the job about project management, but what you will gain by taking a course (35 contact hour requirement), studying, and ultimately passing the test is back to the basics of advanced knowledge on how to lead and direct projects.
Additionally, getting certified equates to being more in demand and commanding a higher salary. Fact is, certified project managers earn 20% more in salary than those who are not certified. In the Army, I used to tell my Soldiers “Winners do what losers don’t”. Never quit taking charge of your project management career progression!
2. If Certified as a CAPM, Move Up to PMP. If PMP, Get Certified in PMI-ACP
If you were wise and passed your CAPM when you were earlier in your career, now is the time that you may want to take it to the next level and get the PMP. The difference is in the way the test is administered forcing you to do more scenario type thinking. If you are PMP, maybe now is the time to get your PMI-ACP or something new. The key is never stop improving your skills!
3. Do Not Wait to Get PDU’s Until Last Minute
This is not to say to run out right after your test and front load your Professional Development Units (PDU). Space them out so you are always learning and staying on top of the latest knowledge. Earning your PDUs by taking IIL or another project management course is key. Personally, I waited one year and then began taking ITIL foundation. Then I took the Six Sigma courses and other learning material. Why? What we learn as PMPs can only increase when we expand our horizons to other methodologies. Maybe take a course in Microsoft Project.
This does not mean you necessarily have to sit for each exam, but just for your own personal knowledge and know-how, use these resources to get you more in-tuned and up to date.
4. Join a PMI chapter and network
Whether networking online or at a local chapter, you have to remain in fellowship with fellow project managers. Tacit knowledge is key. You learn without realizing by hanging out and talking day-to-day with your peers. And attending chapter events is a great way to earn PDU’s while you are at it!
As stated above, sometimes you simply need to get back to basics. We get in the shortcut mode and it may work for a certain projects, but sooner or later you are going to realize that project management career is a unique project in and of itself and you have to apply all the principles to good project management to your own career.
Nathan J. Kerr, MS, PMP is the co-owner and founder of PMCertDC – Washington D.C.’s metro area premier project management boot camp provider. With our primary location in Tysons, Virginia, we hold classes throughout the Washington D.C. metro area and anywhere online.
We are a proud Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business with a huge impact on the project management world. Visit us at https://pmcertdc.com
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