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Want to Make $115,000? 9 Things You Need to Know About Project Management Certification

Project Manager

 If you’re leaving the military and want to make some serious cash, you need to learn more about project management certification. What is project management and why should you care?

Well, we talked to some experts to give you the intel you need to transition into the civilian career of your dreams.

1) What is project management?

According to the Project Management Institute, it’s “the application of knowledge, skills and techniques to execute projects effectively and efficiently.” Basically, it allows businesses to tie project results to business goals. That allows them to be more competitive. Solid project managers are leaders who can complete projects on time and under budget.

2) Project managers are in demand

Wayne Brantley, a retired Air Force master sergeant, is the senior director of professional education at Villanova University Online and has been training project managers since 1997. Brantley says 70 percent of projects nationwide are failing, and that’s costing corporations billions of dollars each year. “This translates into incredibly high demand for certified project managers for corporations and governments,” Brantley says.

The demand is growing. According to the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM), many skilled practitioners are leaving the workforce – affecting 64 percent of organizations worldwide.

3) Project managers make a ton of money

Jordon Sims, director of organization relations and programs at the Project Management Institute, says the global demand for project management exceeded more than $6.6 trillion last year across all industries. That’s right, trillion with a “T,” as in Tango. How does that trickle down? The average total compensation for certified project managers crested at $115,000 at the end of 2013, Sims says.

4) Vets make excellentproject managers

Martin Woomer, a Navy veteran who now works as a supplier technical assistance site engineer for Ford Motor Company, says the skills he learned in the military are a perfect fit for how he manages projects now as a civilian. “It’s really much more about team building than directing,” Woomer says. “Every company has project manager positions, and military leadership experience really stands out.”

5) Certification trumps grad school

When Woomer was six months short, he was aggressively trying to find a good civilian job. As he attended job fairs and applied for jobs online, he recognized how important project management certification was for high-paying jobs. “Everybody I talked to and every job posting was asking for project management certifications, particularly the PMP [Project Management Professional],” Woomer says. “It just kept popping up everywhere. In fact, one CEO of a Fortune 1000 company told me point blank that the PMP certification trumps the MBA [Master of Business Administration degree] hands-down.”

6) There are numerous options available

The PMI offers seven certifications:

• Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)

• Project Management Professional (PMP)

• Program Management Professional (PgMP)

• Portfolio Management Professional (PfMP)

• PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)

• PMI Risk Management Professional (PMI-RMP)

• PMI Scheduling Professional (PMI-SP)

Brantley says the PMP certification is the most beneficial for transitioners trying to land a high-paying corporate or government job. Woomer agreed. “If the goal is to get a job, nothing seems to matter nearly as much as the PMP,” Woomer says.

7) How do I get certified?

Applicants for the PMP must have a high school diploma with at least five years of project management experience, with 7,500 hours leading and directing projects and 35 hours of project management education OR a bachelor’s degree and at least three years of project management experience, with 4,500 hours leading and directing projects and 35 hours of project management education. For folks like Woomer, their military project experience satisfies the 7,500 hours requirement. Qualified applicants have 90 days to take a certification exam.

8) What about junior enlisted with limited experience?

Just because you may not have a bachelor’s degree or tons of leadership experience doesn’t mean that certification isn’t a smart option for you. PMI’s Sims says that’s exactly why they offer the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM). “That 21- or 22-year-old lance corporal with team leadership experience in a rifle squad should really look into the CAPM to take advantage of the soft skills they learned in the military that are hard and expensive to teach and highly sought after in project management,” Sims says.

9) What’s it gonna cost me?

The PMP certification costs $405 for PMI members. Woomer says he also bought a book to help him study, but the total out-of-pocket cost was less than $600. Villanova University offers an online program that allows students to earn a master’s certificate during three, eight-week classes that prepares them to take the PMP exam. Brantley says this program costs about $6,000 and military students can use their GI Bill benefits.

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