Don’t Stop at Certification

It’s a wonderful experience when you pass the Project Management Professional (PMP)® exam and you can now append the designation to your name or tell people you are certified; maybe you even have other professional qualifications.

Your credential really gives you that edge as a project manager, but I have come to realize that certification is but one step of what being a project manager is about. There are a lot of people today who have obtained this certification, but some are now more confused or have never even handled a real project in their life. I have also realized that project management has gone beyond just skills to manage projects to become an essential life and business kit for success.

Don’t just get certified, but be involved. I am going to share what I did before and after my certification…

  1. Make a decision. I made the decision I wanted the credential to my name. I wanted to be known as a project manager, so I did research and read up on what project management was all about and the benefits. I got involved in projects, volunteered for projects and showed interest and applied some of the stuff I learned.
  2. Take action. I enrolled for a project management course; two years later, I enrolled for PRINCE2 certification, which was successful. At this point, my (then) boss was excited and made an announcement to everyone that I was certified as a PRINCE2 Practitioner. With this recognition, everyone then knew me as a project manager; I was given more projects to handle, and my expectations to deliver became higher. A year later, I enrolled for PMP examination, took a PMP class and booked for my exams immediately—which was also a successful endeavor. You must take action after you have decided, otherwise nothing will move. Talk to people on how you can add value to their projects, and ask them if they can take you on as a volunteer. I am now associated with handling projects. Every project I handle gives me an opportunity to assert my expertise and skills—and also learn a lot.
  1. Be involved in the project community and make contributions. Many people think that once they obtain the PMP or other PMI credentials, they automatically get noticed. People only notice those who are adding value to their cause or business; otherwise, they are a distraction. Don’t just sit where you are and isolate yourself with your certifications; that might just create frustrations. After earning my credentials, I decided to join ProjectManagement.com and learn. I wanted to see what other PMPs and experienced professionals were saying. I knew this was an opportunity to write of my experiences and share with the community. Today, I aim to speak at global project management conferences.
  1. Share knowledge in your immediate environment. No one will know that you are a PMP until you talk about it, teach or mentor someone as a project manager. You must be deliberate in your actions to add value to people; otherwise you will be the lone ranger PM while your certificate rusts. Teaching, coordinating or facilitating classes is one of the easiest ways to keep yourself active, stay updated and become a role model (and even earn additional income) as a PM. I have started mentoring some of my friends and colleagues on project management.
  2. Look beyond your job. Understand and tell yourself that your certification is not for the job you have now, but for your personal growth and development. Many people today get certified and it’s like they obtained the credential on behalf of their organization. When they finally leave their current job (or even just their current role), it’s like their certification is gone or they find it difficult to maintain their credential.

Your credentials are part of your curriculum vitae; remember that if you want to go solo. If you want to be a consultant, leveraging on your experience and continuous learning, you can earn that additional income as a professional and provide training and expert knowledge to organizations and individuals.

A few years back, I approached a large training organization and told it I was a project management expert. I wanted to contribute my knowledge by training some of their clients; it asked me a few questions and requested my work experience, which I gave them. Many months later, I was in front of their clients, training them on project monitoring and evaluation. That earned me additional income.

All of the steps I outlined above will help you maintain your certifications—and your sanity. Don’t just give up or relax with a certification; instead, be focused, committed and an achiever that can make an impact.

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