Thursday, December 29, 2011

Project Management Certification

While thinking about beginning a more aggressive job search a couple of months ago, I kept running into a "preferred qualification" for a number of the positions that looked interesting:  project management coursework or PMP certification.  Interestingly, even though I've been managing projects and/or programs for years, I had never considered taking any formal training in actual project management (graduate school was definitely training in project management, but in a very different way).  Cayne has worked with project managers and encouraged me to find a course in project management to learn more about it -- he thought it could only help me learn new ways to do what I like doing anyway and that it might even help me find a job.

I found a course through the PMI (Project Management Institute) website that was a 4-day long course of study here in Nashville by a company called  I was a little nervous about the course, knowing nothing about the provider other than that they are a certified provider with PMI.  Well, the class was a small group but the people who were there were taking it as professional development for their employers:  Vanderbilt and other businesses in the area...most of whom had colleagues at their workplace who had taken the same course previously and gave good feedback.  That bit of information made me much more confident about the course.

The class was really good.  It was a grueling schedule going from 8am-almost 6pm Monday through Thursday but somehow the instructor managed to keep things interesting and entertaining.  We also had 1-2 hours of homework each night!  I learned a lot and felt very confident about passing the project management certification exam after completing the course (the course I took came with a money back guarantee that you would pass the certification).  I really liked that while we were taught exam-taking tips, we also received lots of real-world scenarios and advice.

I took my exam a week after the class finished at the Prometric testing center in Nashville.  The PMP (project management professional) certification exam is a 4.5 hour exam of 200 questions.  I felt like I did pretty well but there were definitely questions I was unsure about how well I answered.  In the end, I found out that I had passed and that I am "proficient" (the highest rating) in Initiating and Closing projects, "moderately proficient" in Planning and Executing projects, and unfortunately, I'm "below proficient" in Monitoring projects.  Well, at least I know where I need more work!

My next step is to complete an online Six Sigma Greenbelt course that was included with my classroom prep course that will help me earn some of the continuing education requirements for maintaining my PMP certification.  I'm excited to learn a little more about Six Sigma concepts.

In short, I would definitely recommend's 4-day Project Mangement classroom prep course for someone interested in an intense study of project management concepts.  It's a high level overview with practical advice, and definitely helpful toward passing the PMP certification exam.  In fact, it is probably the most insightful and practical management course I've taken...most likely because it's the one that relates closely to what I've been doing in my career while integrating important management concepts.  I'm really happy I took it and really glad I passed my PMP certification exam.

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