January 20, 2010, 4:08 PM — Out of 13 advertisements for project manager jobs posted on CIO.com and Dice.com, eight ads either require or prefer project management certification. All eight ads are for mid- to senior-level IT project management positions that require anywhere from a minimum of five to 11 or more years of experience.
Five of the eight ads say project management certification is "highly desirable," "an advantage," "preferred," or "a plus." The three ads that require certification all specify the Project Management Institute's (PMI) Project Management Professional (PMP) credential.
More and more CIOs believe in the importance of project management certifications, according to research from The Standish Group. The publisher of the CHAOS reports which track IT project success and failure rates says that two-thirds of CIOs it surveyed regard a PMI certification as valuable. The number of CIOs who require their project managers to be certified grew from 21 percent in 2005 to 31 percent by 2009.
The job advertisement and Standish Group data speak to the increasing weight employers place on tangible project management credentials. But why? Why do they think certification is so important? Does it create a better project manager, and does that ensure higher project success rates?
CIO.com spoke with certified and non-certified IT project managers as well as with a representative from the Project Management Institute to uncover the true value of project management certifications. What we found: Project management certifications matter a great deal to some employers, but not always for realistic reasons. We also found that project managers can certainly benefit from certification: It can provide them with hold greater access to jobs and higher salaries, but it doesn't necessarily make them a better project manager.
Why Employers Seek Certified Project Managers
To understand why some employers have become so keen on certifications, it's instructive to look inside technology juggernaut IBM.