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Top project management certifications for 2021

Behind every successful IT project, you’ll find a highly skilled project manager. From hardware and software upgrades to ongoing security patches, to application development and the rollout of software itself, project managers keep your teams on task and productive.

According to Alexander Lubka, almost any IT pro can benefit from adding a project management certification to their list of IT credentials, showing you have the know-how to plan, schedule, budget, execute, deliver and then report on IT initiatives. Here, CIO.com outlines the most popular project management certifications that will add value and help you hone your skills this year.

Top project management certifications

  • Associate in Project Management
  • BVOP Certified Project Manager
  • Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)
  • Certified Project Director
  • Certified Project Management Practitioner (CPMP)
  • Certified Project Manager (CPM)
  • Certified ScrumMaster (CSM)
  • CompTIA Project+
  • Master Project Manager (MPM)
  • PRINCE2 Foundation/PRINCE2 Practitioner
  • Professional in Project Management (PPM)
  • Project Management in IT Security (PMITS)
  • Project Management Professional (PMP)

Associate in Project Management

The Global Association for Quality Management (GAQM), which administers the Associate in Project Management (APM) — as well as a Professional in Project Management and a Certified Project Director certification — is a global, not-for-profit certification body that offers credentials across a variety of IT specialties. The GAQM’s project management certifications are focused on a broad knowledge base and emphasize effective resource allocation, clear direction, adaptability to change, effective communication, and assurance of quality deliverables at minimal risk. The APM program is designed for the entry-level project manager, or for those who want to start a career in the field.

BVOP Certified Project Manager

Business value-oriented principles (BVOP) is a newer, agile-based framework growing in popularity in the U.K. BVOP emphasizes business value in all project management activities and practices. The BVOP Certified Project Manager is for senior practitioners with experience in both project management and people management. The focus on a people-oriented culture sets it apart from other project management certification programs.

The BVOP approach helps to develop professionals’ collaboration skills, and candidates for certification gain not only project and product management skills, but also learn to become more people-focused leaders. The exam includes questions from the project management, program management, and product management sections of the course materials.

Certified Project Director

The GAQM’s Certified Project Director certification is the credentialing body’s highest-level project management certification. This designation is designed for experienced project managers who are involved in directing multiple, complex projects and programs. The program focuses on managing, budgeting, and determining scope for multiple projects, multiple project teams, and assessing and mitigating interdependent risks to deliver projects successfully. The CDP program is only for those who have significant project management experience.

Certified Project Management Practitioner (CPMP)

The EC-Council was formed after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to address issues of cyberterrorism and the information security of nations at large. The EC-Council’s Certified Project Management Practitioner course is for project managers who want to benchmark their skills through hands-on experience and across various management techniques and tools necessary to successfully manage complex projects efficiently. The objective of the CPMP course is to add value to management professionals by developing managerial, leadership, and technical skills required to make any project, small or complex, a success.

Certified Project Manager (CPM)

The International Association of Project Managers (IAPM) is a global professional association and certification body focused on the project management profession. There are four levels of certification within the IAPM, split into two disciplines, traditional project management and agile project management: Certified Junior Project Manager and Certified Junior Agile Project Manager; Certified Project Manager and Certified Agile Project Manager; Certified Senior Project Manager and Certified Senior Agile Project Manager; and Certified International Project Manager. IAPM’s Certified Project Manager certification is for candidates with a foundational knowledge of project management, including the basics of planning, organization, and implementation of various projects. The exam covers both the hard and soft aspects of project management.

Additional project management certificates

Many colleges and universities offer project management certificates through their existing business, management, or professional education programs. Schools such as Villanova, University of New Haven, Stanford University, and others (check your local college or university’s course offerings) have excellent project management programs and certificates. There also are IT vendor-specific project management certifications available, such as the Microsoft Project Certification. Requirements and price vary based on institution.

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