I received an email from someone the other day who is very interested in becoming a project manager. She doesn’t have any experience in the field yet, and wanted some advice on how to proceed. She assumed that the PMP exam is what she should be looking into getting.
She mentioned that she is saving up for a training camp that claims they can train her to pass the PMP exam without project experience. I want to thank her for writing to me and taking action towards her career goals!
Unfortunately, that training camp is engaging in unethical practices. If they are condoning that people take the PMP exam without any work experience as a project manager, that really burns me!
Becoming a Project Manager
For those who would like to get started in project management the RIGHT way, here are a few suggestions:
- I’ve said this before, but when it comes to project management, general management, and many other careers you just need to go get some experience. Get on a project team somehow and find someone who is doing what you want to get into. Ask them to mentor you. Do odd jobs for them, things they find tedious but that you will learn from. Go above and beyond and tap into the veterans. You will be surprised how quickly a great attitude and passion can open doors for progressively greater levels of responsibility.
- If you have no experience yet, the PMP certification is NOT for you. Neither are the IPMA certifications. The lowest-level IMPA certification requires “2 FTE years working on projects or 6 months and BA/BS” experience. The PMP requires 3 of experience with a BA/BS, or 5 without. I interpret “leads and directs project teams” as experience as an actual project manager.
- A great way to get some formal education and an introductory certification is to go for the CAPM exam. The minimum requirements for this exam are 23 contact hours of project management education OR 1,500 hours where you “contribute to a project team”.
If you do seek education in project management, I would like to add that it’s value is greatly diminished unless you are actively working in a project environment where you can implement the concepts you are learning, or at least use a real project environment as a means for comparing “book learning” to real life.
All that said, there’s one product I endorse for both the CAPM and PMP exams…if you don’t have the experience to qualify for the PMP exam, this training is still very useful and inexpensive. It’s what I bought and used to study for the PMP exam, and I liked it because it focused on the concepts and leveraging stories of real-world examples instead of trying to get you to memorize the answers to questions. I also like the fact that I could pop the MP3′s into my player and drive to and from work while studying. It was excellent.
I hope that helps if you are wanting to break into project management. Any more advice from veterans out there who are reading this? (Besides “run away! What are you thinking?!? It’s hell in here!!!!)