So you’d like to add a project management certification to your resume, but you don’t have much experience — and the ‘gold standard’ certifications from the Project Management Institute (PMI)® come with some hefty prerequisites.
Even their entry-level Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)® certification requires at least 1,500 hours of project management experience or 23 hours of project management education. It’s also rated as one of the 10 Most Difficult IT Certifications to obtain.
What if you want a way to bootstrap your way in?
We took a look at some project management and software development process certifications that do not explicitly require experience. Although these exams don’t give you the highest project management accreditation, you can use one or more of these certifications as a starting point for your project management career.
The certifications we’ll review are:
- CompTIA’s Project+,
- ITIL™ Foundation, and
- Agile, Scrum, and Lean.
While Project+ is related to general project management and can be applied to projects in any industry, ITIL, Agile, Scrum, and Lean relate specifically to IT industry services and software development.
The target audience for CompTIA Project+ is IT and business professionals who manage small- to medium-sized projects as part of their overall responsibilities.
If you’re going to be involved in the system and network deployment, rather than software development and/or service deployment, then Project+ is probably your best bet. Although CompTIA recommends that you have a year of project management experience, they don’t require it in order to take the certification exam. All you have to do is sign up to take the 95-question, 90-minute exam. Don’t take the exam lightly, as a passing grade of at least 79 percent is required.
ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) Foundation®
ITIL® is a set of IT service management practices designed to ensure that IT services are aligned with an organization’s business needs. In fact, ITIL® processes can align with the highly valued Project Management Professional (PMP)®.
There are five levels of ITIL certification, ranging from Foundation to Master. There are no experience prerequisites for the entry-level ITIL® Foundation certification, so after you’ve taken our ITIL® Foundation course, you’ll be ready to sit the exam.
If you’re going to be heavily involved in the roll-out of IT services, you can go to the Intermediate Level where you can certify specifically in Service Transition. Again, practical experience is not required — you’ll just need to have completed an authorized training course.
Agile, Scrum, and Lean
We’ll look at Agile, Scrum, and Lean together because they are all closely related. Agile is a methodology that is often used by software development teams to get higher-quality software more quickly and better aligned with dynamic business needs.
Within the Agile community, development teams use different frameworks. Scrum and Lean are two of the most popular, alongside Kanban and Extreme Programming. A number of these frameworks have certification programs — some are well-established, some come with hefty experience prerequisites.
As an example of the latter, the Project Management Institute’s Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)® requires a total of 3,500 hours of project and Agile methodology work. Luckily, the certification road is easier if your organization uses Scrum or Lean.
In the world of Scrum, the project manager role is called the Scrum Master. You do not need experience to be certified as a Scrum Master, you can get certified by the following organizations:
- Scrum Alliance: Certified Scrum Master (CSM), or
- Scrum.org: Professional Scrum Master (PSM)
Both organizations adhere to the foundational Scrum Guide. The main difference in their approaches is that the Scrum Alliance requires that you must take a classroom course taught by a certified trainer before you attempt their CSM certification exam. Scrum.org allows you to take an online certification exam without any required training.
Scrum.org has three tiers of scrum master certification: PSM I, PSM II, and PSM III. They allow you to take a free Open assessment of your Scrum knowledge before you lay down money for a PSM-tier exam. You also can go straight to testing for the PSM III certification if you think you’re ready!
If your organization uses Lean, then the Lean Bronze Certification will be the choice for you. You don’t need experience to take the certification exam, but should you pass, you’ll be given three years to assemble your Bronze Portfolio of real-life Lean project experience to actually receive your certification.
We identified a number of certifications that test knowledge, but not experience. More than anything, one of these certifications will validate that you know fundamental project management terms, processes, and practices.
Choose a cert that’s in line with your organization’s strategy. Then, if you’re planning a career in project management, leverage your knowledge and self-motivation to get involved in one of your organization’s projects. Begin to build your track record of project experience and prepare yourself for an industry-standard PMI® certification. Your PM career options will grow even more vast with one of these in your pocket.