Over the last few years, project management has transformed into a hugely lucrative and reliable career path. Demand for experienced professionals is at an all-time high, and prospects are only set to continue rising in the coming decades.
To take full advantage of this, both current and prospective project managers are looking for ways to give themselves a competitive edge. Aside from having solid experience, one of the best ways to stand out from the crowd is to earn a highly-respected project management certification. Studying a renowned framework will give you the opportunity to learn valuable practices and tools for project management, and a certification will fully validate your knowledge for employers. This, in turn, can help you to unlock new responsibilities in your current role, as well as new career opportunities.
Combined with the right amount of experience, a certification can also help you reach new higher-paying positions. This is especially true when dealing with large companies, where hiring the right candidate can have a huge impact on projects that cannot afford to fail. For these organizations, having a high-level certification is often one of the basic requirements for new managers.
As most project management frameworks are agnostic, they can be applied to organizations of varying industries, sectors, sizes and locations. It is not uncommon for managers to use their certifications and experience to open doors in completely new business environments. Some will even pick and choose where they work based on the local value of their certifications (with such decisions often being worth tens of thousands of dollars!)
Two of the biggest project management frameworks in the world are ‘Projects IN Controlled Environments 2 (PRINCE2)’ and ‘Project Management Professional (PMP)’. Both are highly sought after by companies all across the globe, and provide students with excellent practical knowledge and a range of valuable tools to guarantee the success of crucial projects.
Of course, this naturally begs the question of which methodology is superior. Which of the two is worth investing your time and money in, and which will provide the biggest boost to your career? The answer is a tad more complicated than you might expect, for a variety of reasons.
What is PRINCE2?
PRINCE2 is a process-based methodology currently owned by AXELOS. Originally released in the UK back in 1996, one of the most enduring appeals of PRINCE is that it has always been based on the knowledge and experience of real-world organizations. The first iteration of the framework was built from the input of a consortium of 150 European companies. Because of this, the framework can offer valuable practical advice which many students find to be immediately actionable in their day jobs. The PRINCE2 body of knowledge is also updated regularly, providing users with the latest insight into project management best-practices.
Broadly speaking, PRINCE2 is a high-level and general framework with principles that can be implemented on most projects, regardless of size, purpose, industry and so on. Its standardized approach can be adapted to suit individual projects, and its clearly defined roles, responsibilities and plans provide tangible boosts to both clarity and collaboration.
Another big advantage of PRINCE2 is that it is built in a way that allows it to be integrated with other frameworks, such as ITIL 4. This makes it an excellent choice for companies in tech-driven environments, or which are already following a set methodology. The PRINCE2 practitioner community was even able to have it combined with Agile out of popular demand, with ‘PRINCE2 Agile’ now offering the best of two disparate frameworks.
According to the 2016 AXELOS Report, 90% of PRINCE2 practitioners value the certification for their career progression. Better still, the practitioner community is thriving. Not only are there hundreds of free online articles, webinars and podcasts discussing the framework and how to apply it, but speaking with other PRINCE2-certified managers can be a great way to network and find new opportunities.
What is PMP?
PMP is a knowledge and experience-based certification administered by the Project Management Institute (PMI). It is based on the PMBOK Guide, the ‘Project Management Body of Knowledge’. This set of insight, tools and techniques is packed with the most up-to-date wisdom on project management that you’re likely to find. It’s also updated so often that PMP-certified managers have to update their knowledge every few years to remain certified.
The training that students must go through for the PMP certification is comprehensive, with a great deal of coursework (and reams of paperwork). Candidates study five distinct process groups: planning, initiating, implementing, monitoring and controlling, and closing. This all-inclusive approach equips students to make extremely valuable contributions to projects of virtually any size, industry, purpose and so on.
Becoming certified in PMP is a major accomplishment; so much so that the certification is often used as a standard requirement for many high-tier project management roles. PMP users will often also join the PMI itself, giving them access to a worldwide network’s worth of knowledge, experience and new employment opportunities.
Managers who are certified typically earn much more than their non-certified peers. This is simply because having a certification, along with experience applying it in practice, is a huge validation of a candidate’s knowledge and abilities. It demonstrates that they fully-comprehend a framework, and can be relied on to apply and adapt it successfully. With the popularity of both PRINCE2 and PMP, there is no doubt that either can help a candidate unlock their true earning potential.
- The USA – The average salary for a PMP-certified project manager is over $105,000, while PRINCE2-certified candidates earn over $85,000
- The UK – PMP-certified project managers can earn up to £90,000, compared to £70,000 for PRINCE2 practitioners
The PMI collects salary information on PMP for publication in the ‘PMI Project Management Salary Survey’. The 10th edition is based on insight from 33,000 respondents across 37 countries, though the vast majority of respondents were from the USA. It found that PMP certified respondents have median salaries which are around 23% higher than those of their non-certified colleagues.
Of course, when you consider the salary that a framework could bring you, it is important to also consider the cost of becoming certified. With Good e-Learning, you can take a PRINCE2 Foundation & Practitioner course for £799, which includes the cost of the exams. The PMP course is only £329, but this does not mean that getting certified in PMP is any cheaper or easier. In fact, the time and expense required to even qualify to become certified in PMP often put candidates off. Don’t be too worried – we’ll be discussing this later on.
When looking for a framework to study, one of the first things on your list should be to take a close look at how in-demand your options are in your current location. Regional variations can have a big impact on both job opportunities and potential salaries – so much so that local preferences are often a huge deal breaker for new students.
While both PRINCE2 and PMP are globally-respected, there are still regional variations in terms of popularity:
- PRINCE2 – More popular in Australia, Europe and the UK
- PMP – More popular in Canada, the USA and the Middle East
- Both – The frameworks appear to be equally popular in Asia and Africa
If you are unsure, it can be a good idea to discuss each framework with members of your current organization. Your managers or colleagues should be able to tell you which certifications they prefer when it comes to comparing potential candidates. You can also check the PMI Project Management Salary Survey to find out the average salary for certified candidates in your country.
One of the biggest differences between PMP and PRINCE2, and indeed PMP and most other frameworks, is the sheer scale of its prerequisites. Anyone can start training in PMP. Indeed, studying the PMBOK Guide can be an excellent idea for project managers who are just starting out. However, the exam itself is another matter entirely.
- Candidates with a four-year degree must have three years of project management experience, as well as 4,500 hours spent leading and directing projects
- Candidates with a secondary degree must have five years of project management experience, as well as 7,500 hours spent leading and directing projects
All candidates must also have accrued at least 35 hours of project management education.
Needless to say, it usually takes several years for a candidate to meet these prerequisites. PMP is a certification held by experienced managers, not newcomers looking for a quick stepping stone to the top!
It is also worth pointing out that PMP certifications eventually expire. Each has a three-year certification cycle, during which time a certified user must earn and report 60 ‘Professional Development Units (PDUs)’ to prove that their skills are still up to date. Thankfully, however, they do not need to keep resitting the PMP exam.
The prerequisites for the PRINCE2 exams are much easier to meet. There are no requirements whatsoever for sitting the PRINCE2 Foundation or PRINCE2 Agile Foundation exams. Earning either certification will qualify a candidate to sit both the PRINCE2 Practitioner or PRINCE2 Agile Practitioner exams.
The two Practitioner exams also have several other viable prerequisites:
- PRINCE2/ PRINCE2 Agile Foundation
- Project Management Professional (PMP)®
- Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)®
- IPMA Level A (Certified Projects Director)
- IPMA Level B® (Certified Senior Project Manager)
- IPMA Level C® (Certified Project Manager)
- IPMA Level D® (Certified Project Management Associate)
PRINCE2 certifications themselves do not expire. However, a candidate’s status as a registered practitioner does – after five years. Candidates can take the re-registration exam three years after passing the Practitioner examination. Once the five-year period is up, a candidate can still take the re-registration exam, but in the meantime, they cannot call themselves a ‘Registered Practitioner’ and may lose opportunities as a result.
The two frameworks have a number of similarities when it comes to personal and organizational benefits. Each can provide candidates with valuable insight into essential tools and practices designed to guarantee success in project management. More importantly, each is based on a large and ever-evolving body of knowledge that can help candidates keep their skills up to date.
If one were to compare the two, it would appear that PMP certifications often lead to higher and more frequent pay rises. Joining the PMI is also excellent for networking.
The downside is that getting certified in PMP also takes a lot longer, and requires a great deal of practical experience. PMP is often more a choice for established project managers who simply want to take their careers to the next level. However, though it is certainly easier to become certified in PRINCE2, candidates still require sufficient experience to reach higher-paying roles.
So, which is better out of PRINCE2 and PMP? Honestly, there is no wrong choice here. You simply need to decide what is best for you, based on:
- Your current experience
- Your location
- Your salary expectations
- What you or your company wants to accomplish by investing in training
Want to find out which course is perfect for you? View all our Project Management courses here, or contact Good e-Learning today to speak to a member of our team!