A project manager is often called the backbone of a project, meaning he contributes his efforts and knowledge throughout the project lifecycle. Right from the initiation phase to the closure of a project, a project manager handles every bottleneck and optimizes project resources to meet the set business objectives. The work of a project manager goes beyond controlling the project score, time, and budget. But what if a company is dealing with multiple projects that have a common goal? Would assigning a project manager for each project be enough to coordinate all of them? Well, a company requires a program manager in this case.
Simply put, program managers are professionals responsible for coordinated management of multiple, related projects that are directed towards strategic business goals. They build credibility, establish rapport, and maintain communication with stakeholders at multiple levels. Their primary duty is to define and initiate projects and assign project managers to manage the cost, performance, and schedule of component projects. As you can infer from the above explanation, an individual needs to have rich experience before he can think of this senior-level designation. Often, it is a position that project managers aspire to achieve after they have gained relevant experience in handling complex projects.
Apart from experience, there are certain certifications that can help you demonstrate your program management skills. You may find a program management certification directly or seek a project management certification which also imparts the same skills. This article makes you familiar with some of the best certifications you will find in the field of program management.
Let’s get started!
PMP Certification by PMI (Project Management Institute)
Known as the gold standard in the field of project management, the PMP certification or the Project Management Professional certification is suitable for program managers as well. It validates that a program manager is capable of supervising multiple, related projects and can allocate resources to achieve the strategic goals of a business. To achieve the PMP certification, one must have a four-year degree, 36 months of experience leading projects, and 35 hours of formal project management training. If these requirements are fulfilled, an individual needs to appear for the PMP certification exam and qualify for it to achieve the certification.
There are over a million PMP certification holders across various countries. PMI has also found that projects managers with PMP certification have around 25% higher salaries than their non-certified counterparts.
PgMP Certification by PMI
Program Management Professional or PgMP certification is another valuable credential offered by the PMI. It is a demonstration of an individual’s advanced experience and skills and gives them a distinct advantage in employment and promotion. The eligibility requirements for PgMP are a secondary degree, 48 months of project management experience (or PMP certification), and 84 months of program management experience within the last 15 years. Post this, they need to pass the PgMP certification exam consisting of 170 multiple-choice questions with a time limit of four hours.
According to the 2015 Pulse of the Profession report by PMI, an organization’s projects are far more successful with program management maturity than those without it – 76% compared to 54%.
MSP Foundation by AXELOS
Managing Successful Programmes is an established best practice programme management framework that is designed to align programmes and projects to organizational strategy and enable enterprise agility. The MSP Foundation certification is ideal for individuals who want to learn how to manage several projects and programmes successfully. When preparing for this certification, one gains a greater understanding of the MSP guidance to work more efficiently in large-scale projects or programme environments.
The MSP Foundation is a closed book exam consisting of 60 multiple-choice questions to be answered in 60 minutes. One needs to score 36 out of 60 (60%) to pass the exam.
MSP Practitioner by AXELOS
As PgMP certification is in succession to the PMP certification, similarly, the MSP Practitioner certification is in succession to MSP Foundation. This certification is suitable for business change managers, project and programme managers who want to learn how to apply the MSP framework to real-world scenarios. The MSP Practitioner certification enables project and programme managers to deliver organizational value for their employers and boost their careers. It is mandatory to pass the MSP Foundation certification before you can apply for the Practitioner level.
The MSP Practitioner exam is an open book exam consisting of 70 questions (objective testing) and the time allowed is two-and-a-half hours. The passing score of the exam is 60%.
Start Your Program Management Career Today
Now that you are aware of the top program management certifications, you shouldn’t delay starting your journey in this exciting field. Whatever certification you choose, there are online courses to help you prepare for your exams. Some of the top platforms offering program management courses are Simplilearn, Coursera, Udemy, and edX. In fact, the accreditation bodies PMI and AXELOS also offer useful resources that a candidate can refer to for better preparation. Program managers are highly valued in every organization and you too can demonstrate your skills in this domain and earn this designation.