Certifications look great on paper, but what is a project management professional (PMP) certification really worth in the real world? In terms of salary, having your PMP certification can mean on average $10,000 more annually, according to a PMI study. In fact, PMP certification ranks fifth on a list of the 15 most valuable certifications to have.
But what’s the practical value in the real world? We asked Senior Project Manager Ryan Alligood of Watchdog Real Estate Project Managers how PMP certification has helped him in the real world of project management.
PMP certification helps me stand out, gain client confidence, and apply strategy. — Ryan Alligood, Watchdog PM
1. You stand out.
Less than a million people have PMP certification globally. Having the validation differentiates you from other project managers. It seems silly to say, but this is a big benefit to getting certified. I had many years of experience managing complex construction projects, but I felt I needed the certification to stand out on paper. If you’re looking to hire a project manager and you have two very qualified and experienced candidates, all things being equal, the PMP gives you that extra edge.
2. You trade knee-jerk reactions for strategy.
The project manager’s job is to solve problems. We run into challenges, and it helps to take a step back and put a formal process in place rather than going with a knee-jerk reaction. In PMP certification courses, you learn to apply structures and methodologies. At Watchdog, for instance, we had a budget template that tracked actual spending, but needed an extra step to give clients a live look at their projected cost. After going through the PMP certification process, I applied the Estimate at Completion (EAC) concept, and was able to improve how we present budgets to our clients.
3. You understand financial language.
You memorize a lot of terminology in PMP courses. You don’t necessarily use that terminology in your daily interactions, but you do understand what other people are describing, so you can follow their conversation. Having that terminology background (plus, I’m lucky because I have a financial background too) lets me converse easily with people on the financial side of the business. You can deal with budgets and work with people who expect you to know their language.
4. You increase client confidence.
Your client needs to be confident in what you’re doing, because ultimately they’re relying on the project manager for a successful ending. That means they rely on your judgment during the project. For instance, when working on projects, change orders are a reality (some client driven, some not so much) and need to be vetted. I have to decide which change orders are valid, scrutinize the costs, and present those to the client. I apply a structured process to vet change orders, and the client trusts me. That makes my projects more successful, and my clients more confident. It’s a win-win.