There have been great comments and discussions on the article I wrote entitled “Project Management: Is PMP Certification Worth It? In fact, there have been nearly 100 comments posted on this article – by far the most of any on the site. I appreciate everyone’s comments and I think it’s been an incredible discussion – and it’s probably convinced many non-certified PMs to just go ahead and get a certification.

The Premise

Remember, the premise of the article is that HR departments and hiring managers are becoming lazy in this job market by requiring PMs to have certification to even be considered for a position – it is happening on many jobs that are up for grabs out there. However, the overall perception is, it’s a game…if you want to play you probably should get certified. I agree.

Direction of Recent Comments

The comments are still coming through, but now they’re only trickling in. And what’s coming through now is equating PMP certification to an MD, or a CPA, or a certified CPR. I’d like to get my two cents in on these comparisons. I think they’re crazy.  (The comparisons, I mean...not the people making them.)

While all of those are important, they don’t equate to what a PM does. First, it’s not illegal for a PM to practice project management without certification. No one’s life is at stake. It is, however, very illegal to practice medicine without the degree. And sure, a person can administer CPR without being certified and a person can do taxes or manage your finances without being a CPA, but you’re probably more comfortable with a CPA doing your taxes. And as one comment suggested, if two people are standing over you when you’re choking and one is certified in CPR and the other isn’t but just knows it, you’d probably choose the certified CPR person if you’re given the choice. I would too.

Applicable to PMP?

How does this compare or apply to PMP certification? It doesn’t at all. PMP certification indicates you have a minimum amount of experience and passed a test so you know the fundamentals of PM and the PMI methodologies. What it doesn’t indicate are the soft skills that a PM must have to be very successful. A CPA or a person who is CPR-certified really doesn’t have to have the same interpersonal skills. They wife of a choking victim doesn’t care if the CPR responder can negotiate with someone or interact with the crowd of bystanders. They have one job to do and that’s it. The person having their taxes done by a CPA doesn’t care if that individual knows how to massage a customer and smooth over bad news. Or lead a team of project resources every day to accomplish all of the behind the scenes tasks. Not at all. They only care if their taxes are done correctly. And the CPA is pretty much a one-man show and he does the taxes correctly and that’s it. No song and dance.

PMP testing for certification.

For the PM, things are different. The work is not more critical or more important, just different. The PM must be able to inspire a team, bring confidence to a customer, manage a multi-million dollar project, answer to executive management, keep the CEO happy and do this on several projects at once. Again, not more important, just very different. And lots of soft skills that no test can ever validate. You either have it or you don’t. Some of these things you can’t get no matter how much experience you have, but experience usually can help you get there on most of them. Pass a test and getting certified won’t get you there.

I’ve been called in to fix projects where the customer was dissatisfied with the way the project was going so many times that I’ve lost count. A test doesn’t validate leadership, confidence, and that kind of experience.

Final Thought

So, yes, we all probably should be certified because that’s just the nature of how things are going. But, in my opinion, it’s very short-sighted to equate the PMP to an MD, a CPA, or CPR certification. It’s apples and oranges.