How to Become a Project Manager Without a Degree: A Step-by-Step Guide
Project management is a very rewarding career. This role presents you with an opportunity to make a real different to your organization’s bottom-line. With growing demand for qualified project managers, the Project Management Institute projects that 2.2 million new project-focused opportunities are going to be created annually through to 2027. If you are considering a career in this exciting field, then you need to learn how to become a project manager and begin your journey right now.
So, what does it mean to be a project manager?
If you are the team leader who loves getting everyone and everything organized and with a goal in mind, then you could pretty much be on your way to a career in project management. This is one of the most exciting, yet complex fields out there. As a project manager, you will be responsible for leading an entire project through the initiation, planning, execution, monitoring, and completion phases.
Since you will be working with a team, it is important that you master how to adapt to different personalities, cultures, situations, and environments. Flexibility is crucial for team communication since you will be responsible for building and controlling the entire team.
The best project manager must be a team leader, co-worker, and supervisor, all-in-one. This is one of the most exciting careers as no two days will be the same and you will exercise your project management skills to solve a wide range of problems as they arise. Also, you will be the go-to person whenever your team members run into a problem. They will expect you to provide answers to their queries, and this is what makes project management career quite exciting.
As a project manager, you will handle both formal and informal interactions. So, if you are the kind that learns about people from the second you meet them, this might be the perfect career path for you. Ideally, project managers are psychologists. They understand exactly what challenges, desires, and expectations their teams and clients have. A great project manager is a people’s person.
Some of your roles as a project manager as a project manager will include: participating in the creation process, project execution, preparation of communication methods, coming up with solutions to recurrent issues, monitoring the project’s progress from the onset to finish, and ensuring your team is actually getting the job done among other duties. Briefly put, you will be connecting the projects to your organization’s goals and its clients.
It is important to note that you will be entirely responsible for the project’s success. This also means that you will be expected to own up to any mistakes your team will make or for any client complaints. Thus, as a project manager, you will be expected to focus on both the accuracy of your team and work.
Project Manager Certifications
As you start your project manager career, you will need to certify your PM knowledge. Although most employers are no longer putting emphasis on certificates, the experience you will gain during your training and examination is indispensable.
Getting a PM certification is an added advantage, but extensive experience and knowledge in this field matter more for a successful project management career. It is important to keep in mind that a certificate is not everything. You could have all the certificates in the world, but without real knowledge and working experience as a project manager, no one will be keen to work with you. In the next section, we attempt to answer the question, “are project manager certifications really worth it after all?”
Is A Project Manager Certification Worth your Time and Money?
Whether you are a newbie trying to start your career or a seasoned project manager, there is a project manager certification for you. Here are some of the reasons why you should consider getting a project manager certification today.
There are world-renown institutes and online portals like the Project Management Institute (PMI) that offer globally recognized certifications to aspiring PM professionals. With a certification from a reputable institution, you will have the audacity to showcase your skills and expertise to potential employers from all over the world. This gives you the global acknowledgement and acceptance to work wherever you want.
Project management certification can open doors for better pay. According to a recent study, getting a PMP certification can result in a 20% rise in your income compared to an individual who does not have a certification.
Better job opportunities
With your project manager certification, you can earn the trust of your employer to handle challenging projects. With more skill sets, your employer will not hesitate entrusting you with more complex projects. Also, this certification equips you with the knowledge and experience to land better job opportunities from bigger organizations.
Better project performance
A certified project manager tends to perform better than one with no certification at all. A certified project manager is fully conversant with processes such as project initiation, planning, execution, monitoring, and closing. They are also aware of the best project management practices. This valuable information help you adopt the right methodologies that result in better performance while boosting your overall productivity.
A smart investment in the skill of the future
Given that project management certifications are not that expensive compared to other professional exams and courses, you cannot afford to overlook the impact a PM certification can have in your career.
Top Project Management Certifications Worth Pursuing
Project Management Professional (PMP)®
- Expected Salary:$100,000 – $110,000
- Course Duration:3 Years
- Certification Cost:$400 – $555
- Accreditation:Project Management Institute (PMI)
Project Management Professional Certification focuses on three constraints: Time, Scope, and Cost. This challenging online course constitutes of modules that assist the learner identify a project’s weak spots in order to brief his team and come up with viable alternatives for completing the project within budget and schedule.
This certification is accredited by the Project Management Institute (PMI) which works constantly to keep the course up to date with the rapidly changing world.
In order to sit for this certification, you need to have earned a secondary degree that spans over 4 years. You are also required to have at 4,500-hour work experience working directly or indirectly as project head, being part of a Certified Project Manager’s Team, or at least 35-hour basic project management training.
Once you register for PMI exams online, you will take your exams at a prescribed time and location.
- The exam costs $405. However, written tests are priced at $555. You can also take PMI exams on a per module basis at $250 per module.
Recommended Reading to prepare for PMP certification:
Recommended online courses for PMP certification preparation:
Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)®
- Expected Salary:$90,000-$101,000
- Certification Cost:$200 – $300
- Accreditation:Project Management Institute (PMI)
Administered by the PMI, the Certified Associate in Project Management certification is part of the basic level IT Project Management Certifications. It is designed for beginners and comes with a lot of growth and learning opportunities.
CAPM Certification prerequisites
Since this is an entry level certification, you do not need to have any prerequisites. Your high school diploma or an equivalent of 1,500-hour project management experience (no need for previous certification) is sufficient. You can also earn this certification after completing at least 23 hours of cumulative project management education.
Registered PMI members can take this certification at a cost of $225 while non-registered members can take the certification at a cost of $300. This fee is non-refundable in both cases.
Recommended Readings to prepare for CAPM certification:
- PMBOK Guide
- CAPM Handbook
Recommended online courses for CAMP certification preparation:
Certified ScrumMaster® (CSM) certification
- Expected Salary:$85,000-$95,000
- Certification duration: 1 year
- Accreditation:The Scrum Alliance
- Cost:$990 – $1,400
The Certified ScrumMaster certification allows a professional to overlook a team that is responsible for working on complex projects. The Scrum series of certifications are associated with The Scrum Alliance, a globally recognized institute that was founded to promote an Agile mindset in the software industry. This certification also serves as a starter for basic level Scrum Practitioners who are keen to advance to the next level.
Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) Certification prerequisites
It is important that you have basic level of familiarity with Agile and Scrum when taking this certification. You also need to complete The Scrum Alliance introductory module in order to have a better orientation of the requirements for this certification.
Additional Reading to prepare for CSM certification:
Recommended online courses for CSM certification preparation:
CompTIA Project+ Certification
- Expected Salary:$80,000 – $85,000
- Course Duration:Not Applicable
- Accreditation:CompTIA Project Co.
CompTIA Project+ is yet another popular Project Management Certification that is mostly targets the IT industry. This certification is ranked within the same league as that of the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM). CompTIA Project+ mostly deals with aggregating feedback from government representatives, respondents, and research organizations.
CompTIA Project+ certification fee is $285.
Study guide to prepare for CompTIA Project+ certification:
Recommended online courses for CompTIA Project+ certification preparation:
PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)®
- Expected Salary:$110,000 – $123,000
- Course Duration:24 Hour Approval & Eligibility Period
- Accreditation: Project Management Institute (PMI)
- Cost:$490 – $640
This is yet another Project Management certification administered by the PMI. The Agile Certified Practitioner (ACP) is strictly designed for the Agile-focused businesses; mostly organizations that believe in pinpointing core problems and then solving them with less capacity. The certification also provides hands-on strategy where various training modules are conducted to further equip learners with Agile frameworks.
Agile Certified Practitioner (ACP) certification prerequisites
The ACP is presented as an advance tier certification within the Agile Project Management Certifications lineup. Here are the prerequisites you need to fulfill before taking this certification:
- A high school diploma, an associate degree, or equivalent work experience
- Over 2,000 work house of experience or 2,000 hours of cumulative work experience
- Previous experience in Agile work teams or companies
The enrollment fee for this certification is $495.
Preparation material for ACP certification:
Recommended online courses for ACP certification preparation:
PRINCE2 – Projects in Controlled Environments Certification
- Expected Salary: $90,000
- Course Duration:3-5 Yeas
- Accreditation:AXELOS Ltd.
PRINCE2 is another advanced tier degree in the project management certification lineup. This certification is geared towards engineers. Organizations have extremely high expectation from these professionals since they are vastly equipped with the knowledge of validating employees, project management skills, business development tools, and project management lifecycle.
PRINCE2 Certification prerequisites
Since this is one of the top tier project management certifications, taking the exam requires a few prerequisites. Here are they:
- Any of the IPMA Level A to B certifications
- PRINCE 2 Foundation course
- Certified Project Management Association Certification
- PMP Project Management Professional certification
Recommended book to prepare for Prince2 certification:
Recommended online courses for PRINCE 2 Agile certification preparation:
PMP – Project Management Professional Certification
- Expected Salary: $100,000 – $113,000
- Course Duration: 3 Years
- Accreditation: GAC/PMI
- Price: $555
This is a top-tier, highly rewarding certification. However, it is important to understand that a PMP certification does not come easy. There are a handful of prerequisites you need to meet; and the exam does not come easy either.
The other main reason is the sense of empowerment that enables Project Management Professionals to use a wide range of technologies over a broad spectrum of projects. A PMP certification is indicative that you are proficient in the following skills:
- PMBOK guide and Book of Knowledge
- Generally acceptable organization-wide norms that involve project management best practices
PMP Certification prerequisites
- At least 3 years of active experience managing different kinds of projects
- 5 years or an equivalent of 7,500 hours of experience directing projects in PM-related subjects
- 35 hours of project management education as well as a qualification certification
Readings to prepare for PMP certification:
- PMP Handbook
Recommended online courses for PMP certification preparation:
Certified Project Director (CPD)
- Expected Salary: $138,000 – $173,000
- Course Duration: Not Applicable
- Accreditation: GAQM
- Price: $400 – $555
This is a directional level project management certification that requires candidates get accreditation for their certification. As a Certified Project Director, you will be required to complete a pre-determined number of hours in the field to authenticate your certification.
Certified Project Manager Training comes in two modules: formal and informal CPD training.
Certified Project Director Requirements
Since CPD is accredited by the GAQM, it is recommended that you have strong knowledge about project management principles and methodologies. Additionally, you will need to demonstrate hands-on knowledge in project management at a director level to qualify for this certification exam.
Recommended online courses for GAQM certification preparation:
Certification Certified Project Manager (IAPM)
- Expected Salary: $65,000 – $96,000
- Course Duration: Not Applicable
- Accreditation: CCPC Global
- Price: $630 – $800
Certified Project Manager (CPM) has been around since September 11, when terrorists rocked the foundation of the US government. The existing body at this time introduced the Certified Project Manager certification to take care of the unforeseen nature of the tragedy at hand.
Besides the destruction of property, the September 11 attack also shattered businesses resulting in the need for certified project managers who could help companies get back on their feet.
Certified Project Manager Requirements
The CPM and CPM-IAPM certifications are quite easy to earn. The only prerequisite you need to take these exams is a 3-day training course.
E-Books to prepare for CPM certification:
Recommended online courses for CPM-IAPM certification preparation:
Professional in Project Management (PPM)™
- Expected Salary:$104,000
- Price:$135 – $555
While the PPM certification is not as challenging to earn, organizations prefer employing experienced professionals compared to those who have just completed their courses. This certification is considered a mid-level project management certification where candidates are taught a wide range of skills. This certification is lined up with risk as well as crisis management training.
Professional in Project Management Requirements
- This certification does not require to have any formal college degree
- Some level of experience in project management is recommended. However, if this is not possible, you need demonstrate knowledge and familiarity with project management
Recommended online courses for PPM certification preparation:
MPM Master Project Manager ™
- Expected Salary:$85,210
- Accreditation:American Academy of Project Management (AAPM)
Project management is one of the fastest growing professions as it is applicable in all industries be it telecom, health, energy, as well as the service industry. A Master Project Manager (MPM) certification is designed for professionals who are in the business management as well as technical roles. While this certification is primarily focused on project managers, it can greatly help you score additional points in an IT role, especially if you are within the project management domain of your organization.
MPM certification prerequisites
- At least three years of training and project management experience, or a Master Degree with relevant work experience
- Graduate with less than 3 years of project management experience can also take this certification.
Recommended reading to prepare for MPM certification:
Recommended online courses for MPM certification preparation:
Associate in Project Management (APM)™
- Expected Salary:$85,21
The Associate in Project Management (APM) certification is an entry-level project management certification that is designed to demonstrate the candidate’s knowledge in the field. The 1 hour certification exam comes with 50 multiple choice questions out of which a candidate needs to score 35/50 (70 percent) to pass.
APM certification prerequisite
- This is one of the few project management certifications you can earn without a degree or prior work experience.
Recommended online courses for APM certification preparation:
- Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)® Exam Preparation
- Project Management Complete Course
Certified Project Management Practitioner
- Expected Salary: $50,000 – $88,000
- Course Prep Duration: 3 Days Max
- Accreditation: EC Council
- Cost: $199.00 Per Exam/ Per Attempt
Just before the founding of the EC-Council in 2001, the government needed to address some of the key issues that resulted from 9/11 terrorist attack. This resulted in the creation of the CPMP certification as a benchmark for professionals who had what it takes to manage post disaster recovery operations.
Certified Project Management Practitioner candidates are required to handle a number of projects related to leadership and managerial challenges as well as infrastructure development. While the CPMP is an entry-level certification, is serves as a strong foundation for professionals looking to handle projects that require hands-on experience.
CPMP certification prerequisites
- Besides the managerial experience, leadership traits, and technical skills, there are no specific prerequisites for this certification. You will also be required to complete a 2-3 day CPMP training prior to sitting for this certification.
Recommended online courses for CPMP certification preparation:
Six Sigma Black Belt Certification CSSBB
- Expected Salary: $97,200
- Course Duration: Several years or until you have demonstrated 2 projects at least.
- Accreditation: ASQ
- Cost: $540 Per Exam/ Per Attempt
Also known as the Certified Six Sigma Black Belt certification, the CSSBB is a globally recognized certification that is accredited by the ASQ institute. This is a higher level certification that comes with a decent paycheck and loads of challenges.
CSSBB is a tough certification to earn with complex prerequisites and a huge fee. However, once you have earned your certification, you will enjoy the benefits of a fat pay as well as several other perks offered by big organizations.
Certified Six Sigma Black Belt certification prerequisites
In order to be eligible for this certification, you need to have successfully completed at least two different projects. You will be asked by the ASQ to produce affidavits of past projects. You are also required to have 3+ years of experience in the project management field.
This certification is valid for 3 years, and in order to get recertification, you will need to take all the 18 certification exams that form the CSSBB structure.
Recommended Books for Certified Six Sigma Black Belt (CSSBB) certification preparation:
- The Certified Six Sigma Black Belt Handbook, Third Edition
- The ASQ CSSBB Study Guide
- Statistics for Six Sigma Black Belts
- The ASQ Pocket Guide To Statistics for Six Sigma Black Belts
Recommended online courses for CSSBB certification preparation:
Six Sigma Green Belt Certification CSSGB
- Expected Salary: $77,000 – $80,000
- Course Duration: 1 Year or until the prerequisite requirement has been met
- Accreditation: ASQ
- Cost: $440 Per Exam/ Per Attempt
This project management certification is part of the Six Sigma Black Belt certification series. There are a total of three certifications, with CSSBB being one of them. These certifications are important for anyone looking to hone their project management skills. This certification is accredited by the ASQ institute.
Prior to taking this certification exam, a candidate is required to have at least three years of experience in the Six Sigma project field. Therefore, individuals in internship and part-time roles may not be eligible for this role.
However, the good news is that you can complete the following with ease within the green belt body certification.
- Take on phase related projects like project identification, planning, and resource management, customer voice, project management basics, and team dynamics.
- Handle process analysis, measure performance, and team capabilities, and collect data on existing Six Sigma setup.
SSSGB certification prerequisites
CSSGB certification requirements are a little bit complex. You need to provide contracts or affidavits of previous projects and have at least 3 years of work experience on Six Sigma projects.
Recommended Books for Certified Six Sigma Green Belt (CSSGB) certification preparation:
- Process Improvement Using Six Sigma: A DMAIC Guide
- Six Sigma Green Belt, Round 2
- Transactional Six Sigma for Green Belts: Maximizing Service and Manufacturing Processes
Recommended online courses for CSSGB certification preparation:
Project Management Certificate (PMC)
The Project Management Certificate (PMC) is a professional graduate certificate offered by Harvard University. It equips candidates with the skills they need to handle the entire project management process from project planning, initiation, execution, evaluation, monitoring, and closing. Candidates gain leadership, management and technical skills in the project field from this certification.
This is what you will learn with the PMC certification course:
- The project lifecycle from start to finish
- Technical and leadership skills necessary from effect project completion
- Project strategy and success
- Change management in project innovation
PMC certification prerequisites
Candidates are required to complete at least 16 credits for certificates at the graduate level as well as a minimum grade of B. The certification should be completed within 3 years.
Recommended online courses for PMC certification preparation:
BVOP® Certified Project Manager
The Business Value-Oriented Principles (BVOP) certified project manager certification is a relatively new agile-framework based project management certification. However, it has gained a lot of interest among project managers, especially in the UK. The certification focuses on project management best practices and activities necessary for business success.
This certification is recommended for cross teams, program directors, entrepreneurs, and business stakeholders. The certification is designed candidates familiarize with product management while building efficient and transparent projects by learning the following:
- Program management
- Business-oriented project management
- Product management
- Project processes
BVOP certification prerequisites
There is no specific prerequisite for this certification. However, you need to have a basic understanding of project management terminologies, principles, and best practices.
Recommended reading to prepare for BVOP project management certification:
Recommended online courses for BVOP certification preparation:
Preparing for your Project Management Certification
You can prepare for your project management certification in different ways. You can opt for a study program offered by accredited institutes like the Project Management Institute or go for self-taught skills. The key is to start by identifying the right certification for your career needs. Remember, your project manager qualifications differ depending on the employer and industry.
Are you interested in starting a career as a project manager? Are you a project manager looking to take your career to the next level? Prep yourself for one of the project manager certifications by enrolling in the online PM courses mentioned and get ready to take your career to the next level.
We wish you a happy learning!