Which Project Management Course Should I Take?

Woman with laptop
••• Sam Edwards/Caiaimage/Getty Images

In a competitive market where it seems like every professional training firm is offering a project management course, how do you know which one is right for you? Let’s look at some of the options available so you can make the best choice for your career stage and experience.

Courses for New Entrants

Just joining the job market? You’re in luck! There are a huge number of project management courses aimed at college leavers and those who want to make a career in project management. In fact, you can specialize in project management even before you join the workforce by taking a project management degree.

These degrees, which are often affiliated with the schools of business or civil engineering/construction, provide a rounded education that will prepare you for joining the workforce in a project management role.

If a degree course isn’t right for you at the moment, there are a number of short courses you can take to give you an introduction to the language and processes of project management. Choose a reputable training provider in a location that’s convenient to you.

If you can’t get to a training center, check out our pick of the best online project management courses for training you can do from the comfort of your home.

These courses can help you take the first steps towards securing a job in project management, such as by becoming a project coordinator.

Good choices: Short courses, degree courses

Courses for Early-Career Professionals

If you have a project management job and you are early in your career, a solid professional certification or attending training can help you springboard into managing larger and more complex projects more quickly.

You probably don’t have much experience in managing projects yet and that means some of the courses available to more experienced professionals are not open to you right now. You don’t need any prior experience to attend a project management course and take the PRINCE2 Foundation and Practitioner exams. You don’t need any experience to apply for the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) credential exam either (although you will need to prove that you have done some training in that case).

Both these options will give you a solid foundation from which to grow your professional project management skills.

You’ll probably be forming a pretty good idea of the industries you enjoy working in. Some industries are more advanced in their use of Agile project management techniques like Kanban. If you are going to work in digital project management, for example, it would be a good idea to get comfortable with Agile tools and processes.

Formal training in these areas can help, whether or not they lead to a certification. It will also show employers that you have the ability to work in an Agile environment, which could help your career progression in that area.

In addition to formal project management training, it’s also a good idea to check out soft skills and leadership training in areas like:

  • Conflict management
  • Negotiating and influencing
  • Leadership
  • Communications.

These are some of the top skills that good project managers have. Building your soft skills will make it easier to work with your team members, project sponsor, and key stakeholders, which overall should make it easier for you to complete your projects successfully.

Good choices: CAPM, PRINCE2, Agile courses

Courses for Mid-Career Professionals

At this point in your career, you have got a number of years of experience under your belt. By now you may have already attended professional training and taken some certificated courses.

However, one thing is certain about project management and the business world and that is that things never stay still for long.

Now is a great time to be continuing to invest in your professional development. If you are keen to take on a senior leadership position then having credentials will certainly help. In some cases, it may even be required.

By now you have the experience that would allow you to take courses that require a certain amount of years doing the job of a project manager. The Project Management Professional (PMP) application process, for example, requires you to demonstrate that you have gained 7,500 hours leading and directing projects (or 4,500 hours if you have a 4-year degree).

There are also other formal credentials that allow you to specialize in particular technical project management skills like risk management or scheduling. These can be helpful if you want to prove your expertise in a particular area or if you are ready to specialize in your career and want to develop deep domain knowledge.

If you have a specific next step job in mind, be sure to check out the requirements for that and align your training.

Good choices: PMP, some degree courses, specialist courses in particular areas, such as PMI-RMP.

Courses for Senior Project Professionals

As senior leaders, perhaps in a Project Management Office leadership role, or working on significant transformative business change projects, you might feel as if there is nothing more that you can learn!

That isn’t the case, of course, and there are always benefits to putting yourself out there and challenging yourself to learn something new. Perhaps look at taking a coaching qualification so you can better support your team members.

At this point in your career, you may want to expand your knowledge into operational areas and to learn more about different business units. It’s a good time to be looking at executive education. There are plenty of MBA courses that provide all-round business education to senior leaders with experience, some of which would allow you to specialize in project management if you chose to. Universities also offer shorter certificate or diploma courses aimed at executives who don’t have the time to study for a full degree, so take a look at those too.

Good choices: MBA and executive degree/university courses, business management courses

There are lots of project management courses available to you, regardless of your experience running projects. It’s always a good idea to invest in your career, so do your research and pick a course that is relevant to your current role, your career aspirations and go for it!