Project Management – The Certification or Qualification Debate

Though certification delivers benefits for engineering professionals and businesses within the engineering, construction and architecture space, qualifications are still viewed as the most reliable route for project managers wishing to prove their worth and take the next step in their careers.

Why Are Qualifications The Best Avenue For Project Managers?

General Manager of Engineering Education Australia, David Williams believes obtaining qualifications remains the favoured, most reliable route for project managers to advance their careers as it demonstrates they possess practical experience, not only theoretical knowledge and understanding.

“Experience is the best way [to become a project manager] and the certification pathway is not about experience. You can go on the certification pathway without any experience whatsoever because certification isn’t assessing your experience, it’s assessing your knowledge. The qualification pathway is the opposite. You cannot become qualified unless you are deemed as competent in the workplace, so it’s skill and demonstration based,” explained Mr Williams.

Qualifications Have Long Been Preferred By The Engineering Industry

According to Mr Williams, the sector has a history of favouring qualifications as more reliable bench-marks compared to certifications when it comes to assessing a person’s competence and skill.

“We’ve decided in engineering that demonstrated competence in project management is far more important than knowledge, or recall, or a particular knowledge base such as PMI, or Prince 2. It’s vital for the assurance of clients and employers that the individual can actually demonstrate project management skill in their context, not in an exam situation,” said Mr Williams.

Qualifications Are More Practical & Involve Real World Skill Development

Mr Williams final thought on certifications is that they were primarily devised for knowledge based, information technology skillsets, but as engineering is a very practical discipline, qualifications are more applicable to the profession due to their focus on developing more practical, real-world skills.

“Because engineering is such a practical discipline however, qualifications have been traditionally the more preferred option and are making a comeback after some employers have flirted with the idea of certification… I would absolutely encourage [aspiring project managers] to become qualified… They will actually learn more about how to actually do things, as opposed to just how it should be done. They’ll have theory and practice, rather than just theory,” advised Mr Williams.

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