Project management training helps you enhance your skills, be more successful at work, and build your reputation as a great project manager. Training can also boost your income significantly.
Train and Earn More
The most recent PMI Salary Survey research shows that project managers with the PMP® credential can earn around 24% more on average than those without. Employers realize training and qualifications have an impact on your professionalism and success rates and are prepared to pay for that.
There are hundreds of courses covering each project management knowledge area and soft skills as well. So whatever it is you want to improve, you can find a course. There's classroom study, online learning (with and without an instructor), self-study, and blended learning. The best place to begin is to think about how you learn and how much time you have to study.
Classroom courses can be full-time or part-time and last for almost any duration. It’s common to see PRINCE2 courses and PMP® boot camp-style courses lasting a week. The APMP, a popular UK project management qualification, is also marketed as a week-long classroom course.
On the other hand, if you sign up for a Master’s degree in Project Management, you could easily be in a university classroom environment for a year on a full-time basis, even more if you choose to study part-time.
Classroom courses are available all over the world, in every major city, and cover a multitude of topics. As well as the certificate-based preparatory courses, classroom learning lends itself well to soft skills, such as leadership or project communication. You will also find courses dedicated to niche or expert subjects such as scope management or managing change on projects.
What to Expect: For a short course, in the classroom you can expect to be with a small group of around 15 delegates. If you are part of a degree course, you may be with dozens of fellow students, depending on your university, and how the modules of your degree are structured.
What happens in a classroom course is highly dependent on the trainer. You may find yourself sitting through 8 hours of slide presentations for a week. Or you may find that your trainer has a program of interactive exercises, case studies, and activities to break up the theory. This also depends on the content: it’s far easier to build exercises around things that could derail your project than it is on something like how to hold a lessons learned meeting.
Also expect some of the material to be things you already know unless you are a true beginner. As the trainer has to address the learning needs of everyone in the room, and you’ll all be at different levels, they will cover subjects you are more confident in.
Classroom training is best for people who:
- Can afford to pay the high cost of classroom training
- Enjoy studying with others in a sociable environment
- Would lack the motivation otherwise to complete their training
- Would benefit from structured content and someone leading them through it
Online Training With Instructor
Courses with a defined curriculum lend themselves to online training. Many project management training courses endorsed by professional bodies fall into this category because they have been around a long time and can be licensed to professional training firms that deliver the content to an industry standard. Qualifications like the PMI Risk Management Professional (PMI-RMP)® fall into this category.
What to Expect: Online training with an instructor is where you work through course material online via a web interface. It may include:
- Reading materials
- Quizzes or other assessments
You have scheduled time with your instructor—through live webinars, audio conferences, or facilitated chats in the virtual learning environment. This is your time to ask questions, get clarification on the materials and concepts, and network with other course delegates.
Online training with an instructor is best for people who:
- Need flexibility for when and where they study
- Have the motivation to get their work completed
- Benefit from having someone giving accountability checks
- Appreciate access to an online community for support
Online Training Without Instructor
Online training is a huge growth area for project management (and other business sectors) and you’ll find plenty of self-paced courses you can use at your leisure. Online training is practical for those who are short on time or need the flexibility of being able to study anywhere.
What to Expect: Online training without an instructor relies on you working within the virtual learning environment to access and review the course materials alone. The downside of not having time with a ‘live’ instructor is that you may lose the motivation to continue. Online study can be quite lonely if you don’t have a group of people going through it with you, helping you on the way.
It can also be quite tricky to work out concepts you don’t understand because you are limited to the materials you have purchased. If you don’t understand them, there is nowhere to go, except to materials outside of your course, to get more information or the same information explained in ways that make it "click".
Your virtual classroom will include a mix of video, screenshots, audio content, articles to download, or workbooks, and most likely quizzes to test your knowledge. You may also gain access to sample exam papers if the course is designed to help you prepare for and pass a certification.
Online training without an instructor is best for people with:
- Limited budgets
- Strong self-motivation
- Limited time who need flexibility, say, to study on their commute
Self-study is exactly what it says: you build a training program that suits your particular needs, outside of purchasing any formal course. It relies on you knowing what your training needs are, and then being able to source resources to help you develop professionally.
You can self-study your way to qualifications and simply pay the exam fee, but you have to be sure you can commit to the study to make it worth your while. The big risk with self-study for exam preparation is that you haven’t covered all the material or understood the concepts correctly and that can hurt your confidence. In certain situations, it could even cause you to fail the exam.
Still, self-study is cost-effective. If you are highly motivated, have plenty of time, and are prepared to research what it is you need to know, it is a good way of making sure your development activity is completely focused on what you need to learn.
What to Expect: A lot of hard work! Sourcing books or organizing mentoring sessions can be time-consuming. You may still need to buy online courses or learning materials such as access to sample exam papers. You’ll need to build a study timetable if you have a hard deadline like an exam date.
You probably won’t get as much employer support. While your manager will possibly pay for training courses and give you time away from work to attend them, you might not get that if you explain you are self-studying.
It really depends on what you want to achieve. For shorter, targeted pieces of continuous education, self-study may be perfect.
Self-study is best for people who:
- Are highly motivated
- Have extreme clarity on their end goals and learning requirements
- Can hold themselves accountable
- Can make time for their professional development
Increasingly we’re seeing blended learning take off in the project management arena. Blended learning is a combination of online and classroom, with elements of self-study thrown in. It’s all the learning options mixed together.
What to Expect: You’ll get access to an online training environment with course material, and access to your tutor through forums or scheduled office hours. You will also get time in the classroom with your cohort and your tutors. The idea is that you can kick-start your learning in person and then continue your development on your own time, checking in with the class every so often.
This works best for long courses like degree courses or other certification programs that run over a period of months.
Blended learning is best for people who:
- Want the best of all training options
- Aren’t clear what sort of learner they are
- Want the flexibility to fit around their existing commitments
- Still want the personal touch from a trainer and a cohort of fellow delegates