3 ways to qualify as a project manager

Six Sigma certifications are popular among companies as big as Amazon, 3M, Boeing, Ford, and General Electric.

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 indicating an increasing demand for project manager roles in organisations.

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 in the United States alone, more than 60% of the 214,000 new project manager jobs in this field will come from the management and professional services sector.

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

The need for project managers is increasing across industries and as technology and economy evolve at 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.


Additionally, 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.

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.


Master’s degree options that will help you qualify for a role as a project manager

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 in an organisation.

A master’s degree in this field aims to provide a project manager 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.


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.


Six Sigma certifications for project managers

Six Sigma certifications are popular among companies as big as Amazon, 3M, Boeing, Ford, and General Electric, but they offer benefits to organisations of all levels.

According to BusinessNewsDaily, “Six Sigma is a quality management approach that seeks to minimise or eliminate defects or errors in products and business services.

Originally developed to improve manufacturing processes, the tools and techniques used in Six Sigma are now considered industry-agnostic, which means they have been successfully used in such sectors as aeronautics, electronics, pharmaceuticals, retail and more.”

Six Sigma techniques involve gathering and analysing data through a statistical approach. The result for an organisation includes improving various aspects of an organisation such as improved customer service and shorter cycle times.

A project manager that has a Six Sigma certification under their belt include will support an organisation in many ways. This includes reducing operational costs, as the methodology provides a road map that reduces a company’s risk exposure, plus making it more efficient and effective at delivering a particular product or service.

Taking it a step further is LEAN Six Sigma – a combination of management methods building on the principles of Six Sigma with a focus on efficiency. According to Purdue.Edu, “Both approaches aim to achieve the same thing: more effective processes that yield a bigger bottom line. The difference comes in the way they go about reaching that goal.”

Six Sigma certifications are available from different certification bodies such as American Society for Quality (ASQ) and Chartered Quality Institute (CQI)

There are different levels of Six Sigma certification levels, starting from Yellow Belt, Green Belt, Black Belt, and Master Black Belt.

These levels are for project managers at different stages in their careers, and each belt is not necessarily meant to be a pre-requisite for the next belt.

The Yellow Belt is an entry-level certification for project managers to learn problem-solving frameworks such as DMAIC: Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve, and Control, while the Green Belt requires at least three years’ experience in project management so they can apply these skills and execute projects.

The Black Belt and Master Black Belt are more advanced courses for professionals to gain more hands-on experience by strategising, conducting, and implementing projects for their employers.

With the growth of online learning platforms, there are a number of ways for employees to upskill with an online Six Sigma certification course, such as the Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Certification Training by Simpilearn, and other similar online courses on Coursera and EdX.

It takes approximately three to five weeks to complete each Six Sigma Certification Belt, as students can work according to their own pace.


Online courses that can support your goal to become a project manager

Getting a project management certification does not need to cost a lot as there are free courses available online. These courses are mostly offered for free online with an option to pay for a certificate.

The University of Adelaide offers a free-to-enrol Introduction to Project Management online course. This course will be a good starting point if you need to manage projects without formal training in project management.

This is a great course for you to enrol in before if you are contemplating pursuing project management career pathways.

If you have prior experience and qualifications in project management and would like to obtain a more advanced certification from an international perspective, you can enrol yourself in a Diploma in Project Management course online for free.

This course addresses the knowledge, skills, and behaviours required to successfully manage projects that span organisations, national boundaries, and cultural differences. This course covers the crucial phases of the system development lifecycle, including analysis, planning, design, and evaluation, and then describes project management methodology in detail.

The Rochester Institute of Technology offers an International Project Management free-to-enrol online course.

The Project Management in Practice – Monitoring, Controlling, and Change Management is offered for free on Alison.

This course covers key principles and practices in project management where you will learn how to improve project performance by using project reviews.

The course will also help you develop critical project management negotiation skills, and promote personal and organisational project management growth.

At the end of this free course, you will become more effective in monitoring and controlling the performance of the projects you manage and develop the strategic competency to effectively audit a project.

Coursera also offers specialised project management courses that are free-to-enrol and come with an option to pay for a certification.