Project management: Is a certification enough or do you need a master’s degree?

Many project management roles require candidates to possesses a graduate degree on top of certifications in this specialisation.

By U2B Staff 

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The Project Management Institute (PMI), the world’s leading association for professionals in the project, programme, or portfolio management field reported that the project management workforce is expected to grow 33% by 2027.

This number translates to nearly 22 million new project management-oriented roles in seven project-oriented sectors. The Project Management Job Growth and Talent Gap 2017–2027 report released by PMI also cautions against the risk created by a skills shortage in this field which is estimated to be nearly US$208 billion in GDP over the 10-year period in the 11 countries examined.

A new Anderson Economic Group (AEG) analysis commissioned by PMI also finds the project management profession will outperform the total job growth in the United States over the next decade.

The report also estimates that the United States alone, more than 60% of the 214,000 new jobs in this field will come from the management and professional services sector.

According to the report, the demand for roles in this specialisation will also stem from other industries, including manufacturing, finance and insurance, information services and publishing, construction, utilities, and oil and gas.

Who are project managers?

The need for project managers is increasing across industries and as technology and economy evolve as top speed, organisations are investing more resources into projects rather than day to day operations.

Hiring managers and recruiters realise the importance of this specialisation as a skill in strategy level hires and the need for this skill is indispensable to the success of an organisation.

Project managers are hired at every level in organisations, and may play roles as general employees, managers, contractors, and even independent consultants.

Project managers who have accumulated significant experience and display the skills necessary can go on to become programme managers or portfolio managers in organisations.

Programme managers are responsible for multiple related projects while portfolio managers are typically in charge of the selection, prioritisation, and alignment of projects and programmes to an organisation’s strategy.

Mid-career professionals have various options to choose from to gain the right skills and certifications in this field.

Certifications in this field are a popular option for individuals who aspire to level up in their careers through a promotion or raise.

As this field grows amid a challenging landscape, it is also important to evaluate other options besides obtaining certifications in this field.

Depending on your career goals and desired career pathway, you can also consider enrolling in a master’s degree in project management programme or an MBA in project management.

According to this report, Burning Glass Labor Insight, 34% of project management job postings require candidates to possesses a graduate degree in project management, on top of certifications in project management.

So while you may already possess certifications in this specialisation, it may be a wise decision to upskill yourself even further by obtaining a postgraduate qualification in this field.


Master’s degree in project management

Obtaining a master’s degree in this field will prepare you, a mid-career professional with the right skills to execute organisational strategy through your role as a project manager.

A master’s level qualification in this specialisation is designed to develop the practical skills and theoretical knowledge that are needed to lead and successfully execute complex projects on an organisation.

A master’s degree in this field aims to provide managers with the right skills needed to manage complex projects or increasingly diverse teams.

This includes a deep exploration of each step in the process from project definition and planning to presentation and evaluation while developing cultural awareness, managing interpersonal conflict, and leading remote teams.

A master’s degree in this specialisation will impart real-world skills through internships and cooperative placements. The opportunity for experiential learning will also allow you to build the softer skills required for a role in this field, such as interpersonal communication.


MBA in project management

An MBA in project management is not very different from a master’s in project management but uses a broader approach to developing this skill.

The main difference between the two programmes is while the master’s in project management concentrates on the functions of projects specifically, the MBA in project management focuses on developing a well-rounded view of how an entire business operates.

An MBA in this specialisation is designed to give students the technical, managerial, and leadership skills needed for careers across a variety of business fields.

So while MBA students benefit from core subjects in financial analysis and marketing, these programmes place an emphasis on result-specific courses, such as time and cost management that focus on plan execution and oversight.