Enhanced Certification From PMI

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Kate is a systems analyst on a high-profile project team at a leading global software house. She wants to make a greater contribution to the team. Matt recently earned a degree in IT, including several classes in project management. He is looking for a way to set himself apart from the rest of the field of fresh-faced college graduates and jump-start his career. Gary has his degree and holds an entry-level project management position. He’s a dedicated professional, seeks affirmation of his skills and knowledge, and has a future aspiration to earn the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification.

Project Management Institute (PMI) has the answer for Kate, Matt, Gary and many more. PMI, the pre-eminent global advocacy organization for project management, is releasing an enhanced certification in the field, the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM).

During 2004, PMI conducted several market research studies on the CAPM certification with employers and representatives from CAPM’s target audiences. The results from this research have been instrumental in creating a valuable certification to both the certificant and the employer.

The CAPM is designed for project team members, entry-level project management practitioners and students at the undergraduate or graduate level who wish to establish and demonstrate fundamental project management knowledge. For project team members and project support, the CAPM improves communication with colleagues by testing project management terminology and processes, and also elevates contributions to projects. For entry-level project management practitioners, the CAPM differentiates you from your peers by demonstrating command of project management terms and processes. It can also be a stepping-stone toward acquiring PMI’s more rigorous PMP credential. For students at the undergraduate and graduate level, the CAPM provides a head start when entering the work force. The CAPM certification is one of the few certifications available at this early stage of professional growth. This designation increases your marketability to employers.

Who May Apply for CAPM?
Applicants need to have completed either 1,500 hours working on a project team or 23 contact hours of formal project management education (one contact hour is equivalent to one actual hour of training or instruction received). Candidates may satisfy the education requirement by completing courses and workshops offered by training providers, such as PMI’s Registered Education Providers. Applicants are not required to be PMI members, nor are they obligated to become members to list CAPM in their curriculum vitae or on their business card.

Preparing for the Test
The CAPM test is a 150-question, multiple-choice exam with a three-hour time limit. Candidates will demonstrate their knowledge of project management terms, context, the five Project Management Process Groups and the nine Knowledge Areas as described in “A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide),” 3rd edition (available in the fourth quarter of 2004). By carefully studying the PMBOK Guide, CAPM candidates will establish the project management terminology and processes needed to prepare for the CAPM examination.

Today, the PMBOK Guide is known as the de facto global standard for the project management profession. In March 2001, it was designated an American National Standard (ANSI/PMI 99-001-2000) by the American National Standards Institute. It is currently available in Arabic, Chinese (simplified and traditional), English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Brazilian Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. The PMBOK Guide details standard principles and best practices generally recognized as good practices on most projects, most of the time. It also provides an extensive glossary of definitions for the most important concepts, terms and phrases used in project management. PMI is publishing its third edition of the standard in the fourth quarter of 2004.

The five Project Management Process Groups used on a project are: Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring and Controlling, and Closing. The nine knowledge areas center on project management expertise: project integration, scope, time, cost, quality, human resources, communications, risk and procurement management.

Benefits of Obtaining a CAPM
Many candidates may have already obtained some level of certification or license in their profession, but adding the CAPM will cross-fertilize their existing knowledge base, making them more effective contributors to their organizations’ teams. The flexibility of combining a CAPM’s knowledge base with specialized experience or study can be potent.

In many fields, such as IT, certification is an important component of professional development. Project management is a relatively young profession, and while there is commonality around what is done, there is very little commonality in terms of how it is being used. Through the CAPM, PMI provides many professions such as IT with a lexicon, which will help practitioners better communicate every aspect of a project with clear definition. The CAPM credential is a globally developed and deployed certification that is transferable across borders and industries.

Those who attain the certification not only will feel a personal sense of accomplishment, but also will be recognized by other staff members as being dedicated to continuing professional growth.

The earning potential of the CAPM has not yet been measured. However, project managers with PMI’s PMP certification earned a median income in the United States of $5,000 more than non-PMPs.

The benefits to the employer of a CAPM are considerable, as well. With a standardized terminology and knowledge of project management processes in place, projects can be tackled with far greater team cohesion, speed and effectiveness. Additionally, professional development fosters more confident, motivated employees. Standardization results in consistent, predictable results that can positively impact the bottom line.

Taking the Test
The CAPM examination will be administered beginning Dec. 31, 2004 at hundreds of Thomson Prometric test centers around the world. The price of the exam is $225 for PMI members, $300 for non-members. In the case of the PMP certification, many employers place such a premium on the certification that they will reimburse employees who take the test.

Denny Smith, Ph.D., is the manager of the certification program at the Project Management Institute, the world’s largest not-for-profit association serving global project management needs. Smith manages examination development as well as the maintenance and administration of PMI credentials.


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