I often get the question “What is the value of certification? Why should I get my PMP (or CBAP)?” Here is a quick list of reasons to get certified in your chosen profession.
1) Professional Advancement. Certification will lead to increased stature in your organization. Not everyone will be able to attain it. Organizations value individuals with industry certifications, so you will enhance your career and increase your ability to earn promotions and a higher salary. Employers like to hire and promote people with a desire to “stay current” and a certification is a solid way to demonstrate that attribute. One colleague put it this way: “Personally, I sought the PMP as a confirmation of my own project management knowledge and skills. I wanted to verify that I did have a well-rounded understanding of all project management principles and standards.”
2) Recognition by Employers. For the PMP, many organizations now require this certification to get hired as a PM. I’m not aware of the percentage of employer who require or strongly prefer a PMP, but I’m sure it is high. (Does anybody know roughly the percentage of employers who require a PMP?) For the CBAP, organizations are increasingly saying “CBAP preferred” and will require it in the future, too. Having a PMP and/or CBAP makes it clear to prospective employers what your chosen career path is and that you are committed to it. Last, people are telling me that having both a PMP and CBAP increases their job prospects because employers often expect the same person to act as both a PM and a BA.
3) Learn more about your profession. This was not one of my initial aims in getting my PMP and CBAP certifications, but it was a valuable outcome in both cases. There were many aspects of project management and business analysis that my experience and training had not encountered. Studying for my PMP and CBAP forced me to learn about some new areas. I feel more confident now as a project manager and business analyst because of it. It’s a great way to focus your learning on the generally accepted knowledge and techniques in the PM and BA professions. The PMBOK® and BABOK® are both excellent sources of knowledge.
4) Networking with Peers. Joining a study group or taking an exam preparation class is a common way to begin your preparation for certification. The chance to meet and interact with peers seeking the same objective is an invaluable networking opportunity. Group activities can help motivate and energize your effort and add insights to your learning process. As one student of mine said: “It [certification] takes a great deal of concentrated effort, so it really helps to combine a social aspect at times (study group) so you can share the pain as well as insights into how you study.”
5) Personal Satisfaction. The application process for certification itself is an accomplishment. You will need to gather your professional experience and project contacts, summarize your hours and accomplishments, and reflect on your career. Then, the preparation for the exam is like a small project. There are bodies of knowledge to absorb, terms, tasks and techniques to familiarize yourself with, and exam questions to study and practice. The exam is the “capstone” or “deliverable” of this whole endeavor. I know the relief I felt when I hit the “Done” button on my PMP exam and it said I passed! A past student of mine wrote: “I got an email today that said: ’We are happy to inform you that you passed the CBAP exam!’ Glad it is over and very glad I passed. I will be happy to attend the next IIBA meeting in Indianapolis and raise my hand when they ask if anyone has passed the CBAP. “
Certification is a lot of work, but it is also a rare experience and one you can savor. Enjoy the journey because it is special. True, there is a cost to getting either your PMP or CBAP, but consider it an investment in your future. And, once you get it, those three or four letters after your name look mighty good! These are the five main goals I could think of for becoming certified. Can you think of additional ones? If you have additional reasons, please weigh in!