A Masters in Project Management Degree will serve you well past ‘retirement’
Project management skills can come through years of experience, certification courses or a project management degree, even a masters in project management. A project management professional will have combined experience with a formal project management degree several project management courses and ultimately have project management certification from the PMI, the Project Management institute.
There are 100 rules that NASA Project Managers abide by, a fact demonstrated by Jerry Madden, the Associate Director of the Flight Projects Directorate at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. His compilation of these rules highlights that project management is a complex work of intermingling responsibilities, with all of them highly important to the success of a project.
Should any one of these responsibilities not be met, then the house of cards will colapse—it’s as simple as that.
Becoming a Project Manager professional is challenging, but it should be, because so much depends on projects being managed successfully. But it is a rewarding career that you can get into through experience or by starting with a Project Management degree.
There are two kinds of people who are attracted to a Project Management degree; one is the undergraduate who is single-minded, determined to become a Project Management Professional; the other experienced managers or professionals who have come to realize the value of Project Management as a career and the value of project management degree in making it a reality. If you belong to the latter group, then this article is for you.
There are two possible roads you can take should you decide to pursue this career. You an either choose experience or education.
If you are currently employed look for opportunities to get first-hand experience of managing projects, even if you have to work under an experienced PM at first. Swallow your pride if you have to! It is one of the best things you can possibly do if you want to become a Project Manager.
The path is quite limited if you are an unknown without specific project management experience or qualifications. Executives hiring from outside want Project Managers with good credentials, solid experience, and favorable recommendations. These three are highly important; and if lack the experience in the first place, then that leaves you with the only two choices on the list: a solid recommendation and a solid credential.
The best way you can get those much needed authentication is by getting Project Management Education.
Project Management Education
There are two ways for you to get advanced training in project management. One is through accredited certification; the other is to go all the way to a Masters in Project management degree programs.
Project Management Certification
A Project Management Certification is often considered a necessity, especially if you plan to become a consultant. With successful projects under your belt this may not be necessary, although they offer five benefits to your career:
- It drives your base rate 10% higher than your regular rate. Many mid-to-large companies often prefer consultants who are certified, and are often willing to match the rate that they require.
- A certification allows you to become a part of the Project Management Institute, with more than a quarter of a million members to this date. This will open you to new doors and possible deals in the future.
- It gives you international recognition. An ISO (17024) accredited certification allows you to be endorsed by more than 85 countries around the world, making it a good platform for extending your reach to the international business community.
- It gives you credibility, because it shows that you pass specific, strict guidelines that measure your competence in the field. Many certifications are not easy, and passing them shows that you are competent and fully-equipped to do your job well.
- Perhaps the most important is that you will have to learn and prove that you know all the elements required to be a successful Project Management Professional. Experience is necessary but the Certification ensures that you have the knowledge to tackle and succeed at varied and complex projects.
A Project Management Certificate typically doesn’t require you to have a four-year bachelor’s degree, and many of them are not strict with their requirements. However, the Project Management Institute requires you to have a bachelor’s degree with three years of experience in project management with 4,500 hours leading and directing projects and 35 hours of project management education. Another option would be to have at least a secondary diploma (high school or the global equivalent) and a five year project management experience with 7,500 hours leading and directing projects and 35 hours of project management education. You are also required to take an entrance examination (worth around $250-$400) before you get admitted to the course.
Master’s Degree in Project Management
A Master’s Degree Program allows you greater flexibility and wider reach when it comes to choosing projects. Unlike a Certification Program, most of the Master’s Degree in Project Management has a longer course duration, which can be advantageous to you, should your career priorities include better diversity and broader-range of subjects. Other benefits include:
A master’s degree opens you up to advanced careers and various jobs within bigger industries.
Higher and Broader Range of Expertise
Often, a master’s program includes courses on financial management, statistical analysis, organizational leadership, business ethics, quality management, contracts, project implementation, planning, and cost/schedule control. This allows you to have a solid foundation and knowledge of your profession, which can even extend in others areas of business.
Often, the requirements needed include:
GMAT or GRE scores – GMAT score of 400 or higher (waived if you already have a masters degree)
- 3.0 GPA average on the last 60 credit hours (GPA calculator)
- A goal statement which includes your professional goals and aspirations, your motivation for applying to the program, and any relevant formal or informal experiences
- Recommendation from a current or past employer
- Applicant must have experience in project management
- Transcript of Records
Often, tuition ranges from $1,000 to $10,000 per semester or credit.
Getting a Project Management degree and moving on to Masters in Project management is one of the best and smartest moves you can make in your professional life. Remember, though, that having an advanced degree will not assure you of success. In the end, the true measure of your success as a Project Manager will be a mixture of determination, organization skills, people skills, careful planning, resilience, knowledge, and intuition in handling people and projects. Add them all, and you’ll be totally unstoppable.