Devin Blewitt, chief information officer at ITonlinelearning, explores the value of project management qualifications for construction and planning professionals
Project management is a key skill in construction and planning for the main reason that the construction industry is centred around bringing a project to completion from start to finish. When constructing safe, durable, and fit for purpose buildings, having a proper project plan in place is fundamental to ensure the work is done to a high standard and within the timeframe and budget required.
However, although workers in the industry are aware of how important project management skills are, they can undervalue many of the benefits of gaining a project management qualification.
With 9 out of 10 large construction projects falling behind schedule and a huge 69% of all construction projects going over budget, there is clearly a great need for project management qualifications to support the smooth-running of construction projects.
But what other benefits come from gaining a project management qualification?
Learn how to manage a project from start to finish
This might seem like an obvious benefit to studying a project management course, that you can learn how to manage projects, however, this ability combines several key skills.
PRINCE2 project management qualifications for example explore the underpinning theory behind the PRINCE2 project management method, and then teaches you how to apply it in order to take a project from beginning to end.
Unlike other qualifications which may focus on one skill or area of knowledge, these courses cover a variety of skills you need in every area of work including:
- Project briefing
- Decision making
- Planning and adaptability
- Product design and development
- Quality control
- Risk management and budgeting
- Team working and team management
Gain a globally recognised qualification
Project management courses help you develop skills needed for any construction and planning role, and many PM qualifications such as PRINCE2 qualifications are recognised around the world.
If you enjoy travelling or are planning a big move then you do not need to worry about your qualification not being transferable to other countries and having to undertake an entirely new course for any new job you get abroad.
There are also introductory courses which focus on UK standard practices, particularly when it comes to construction and health and safety law, so if you do not want to pursue work abroad then you can always study these courses now and potentially advance to a globally recognised qualification in the future.
Some of the most popular globally recognised project management qualifications include:
- PRINCE2: Available at 2 different levels (foundation and practitioner), this qualification is the most popular global certification in project management. It is proven to be one of the best project management methodologies and is available to study online or in person. The foundation level requires no prerequisites and therefore is open to everyone.
- PMP (Project Management Professional certification): Launched by the biggest professional membership group for project managers (project managers institute, PMI), they offer several certifications for experienced project managers. They provide qualifications to show expertise in project management and 3 years of experience and ongoing education is necessary to complete the PMP qualification.
- CAPM (Certified Associate in Project Management): This qualification is designed for intermediate project managers with some but not a lot of experience. To take this course you will need 23 hours of project management education and either a secondary degree or 1500+ hours of project experience.
Develop expert knowledge and understanding of health and safety
Health and safety is a primary concern for any construction worker and having up to date knowledge of current practices is essential. Project management courses do not just focus on the financial and structural practicalities of a project but also on how to plan a project safely and ensure the wellbeing of all employees.
Project managers with a poor understanding of safety are a huge risk to their team and studying a project management course ensures both a practical and theoretical knowledge of the correct protocols.
Having that qualification also means that employees have more trust in their project manager, knowing that they have learned proper H&S procedures and been able to apply them during assessments for their qualification.
Health and Safety is an often overlooked area in all areas of the working world as it is not a glamorous aspect, however, it is the most important as it is vital to the physical and mental health of everyone.
This also means that having a good understanding of health and safety via a project management qualification can help you get other employment if you choose to pivot your career or progress into higher positions.
No entry requirements
Whether you have previous knowledge of project management methodologies or are entirely new to the likes of PRINCE2, you can get started on your PM journey.
Although higher level courses require you to complete basic courses first, PRINCE2 foundation qualifications are open to everyone and a foundation course can be followed up by a practioner course.
These certifications teach you the fundamentals of managing a project and develop your skills throughout the course, leading to an established qualification.
One of the most popular of these courses is the PRINCE2 Practitioner course which includes an in depth exploration of the PRINCE2 methodology, and includes course assessments and exams to test your knowledge throughout resulting in a project management qualification.
These inclusive courses enable those without a background in leadership, those who are changing careers and those in construction but not management to develop their career and do something they enjoy.
Another benefit to studying the PRINCE2 qualification is that you can study flexibly online. This allows you to build up new skills no matter what your schedule is, as you have the freedom to study as and when you can. You will have a certain time period such as 12 months to complete your qualification and the exams are often included in the qualification cost too. You can even complete the PRINCE2 foundation courses in 30 hours so your studying doesn’t have to be a massively long-term commitment.
Qualified project managers earn more
Gaining a qualification might seem like a waste of time if you are already in a management position, if you have experience or if you are able to train on the job. However, you could be missing out on a lot of money if you skip the qualification and jump straight into a role.
In fact, if you have a project management certification, you will make an average of 22% more than non certified project managers. Whether applying for a new job or working your way up in your current position, having a completed certification under your belt provides proof that you have taken the time and effort to study the practical and theoretical elements to proper project management.
Although experience is highly valuable, studying for a certification demonstrates to employers that you have learned the ins and outs of project management methodologies and that you have been able to understand them thoroughly enough to pass assessments and exams.
It also makes you a more valuable employee as you bring the information and skills you’ve learned from industry professionals to your role.
Increased demand for project management professionals
Leadership skills are one of the most sought after skills in the workplace, with 65% of employers noting leadership as one of the main skills they look for. Project management requires excellent leadership, and gaining a PM qualification enables employers to see that you have the knowledge and ability to be a good leader.
Whilst there are many employers keen to find people with project management skills, there is also a great lack of people with those skills, as over the past decade project management has been greatly undervalued in the workplace. This has resulted in a skills gap when it comes to project management, and as employers are beginning to realise the importance of project management, there has been a huge increase in project oriented roles.
When it comes to construction and planning, the construction industry has grown significantly over the past year, and now more than ever qualified project managers are greatly needed. In fact, it is estimated that from 2017 to 2027 there will be a huge 9.7 million job openings for project management roles in the construction sector.
As project managers are now being the focus for many employers, those with PM qualifications can be sure to find stable, well paid employment for the foreseeable future.
Gaining a project management qualification will prove invaluable to your construction and planning career, whether you are already in a leadership position or have no experience in this area.
The skills obtained by these nationally and globally recognised certifications can put you far above other candidates when it comes to applying for new jobs or seeking out a promotion.
The construction industry can benefit hugely by employing more project management professionals, and it appears that over the next 5-10 years there will be even more positions for project managers across the construction sector.
With more financial benefits, employment opportunities and key skills developed when studying project management, it is no secret that this is a greatly valuable certification to have.