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Best Project Management Certifications

Best Project Management Certifications
By , Mary Kyle

These project management certifications are in demand in 2017. Find the most valuable certification for your career path on Tom's IT Pro.

Credit: ShutterstockCredit: Shutterstock

Project management certifications have claimed a place in every top IT certification list for years. That's because project managers are important to IT operations of all kinds. Whether you're interested in becoming an IT project manager or want to add project management to the list of your soft skills, these five leading certifications will help you complement those skills, and in turn increase your value.

If there's one set of soft skills that has remained high on the IT radar for the past decade or so, to the point where they've become almost as sought-after and every bit as valuable as other top-level credentials, it must be project management.

Thanks in very large part to the immensely popular and widely pursued Project Management Professional (PMP) certification from the Project Management Institute (PMI), this area has become an incredibly valuable "merit badge" credential for IT professionals of all kinds. That's because it enhances and expands on the value of just about any other kind of technical credential.

Project management has everything to do with planning, scheduling, budgeting for, and then executing and reporting on projects of all shapes and sizes. Because anything and everything that IT does can be understood or handled as a project of some kind — either a "one of a kind" activity that happens only once or very seldom (think hardware or OS upgrades, or migrating from older to newer platforms or infrastructures), or a recurring series of activities that repeat regularly (think security patches, software updates or other regular maintenance tasks) — project management is incredibly important to IT operations across the board.

According to PMI's Earning Power: Project Management Salary Survey, Ninth Edition, IT professionals who hold the PMP certification report median earnings worldwide of $81,000 annually; however, the upper 25 percent of survey respondents earn at least $110,000. Depending on factors such as the complexity and size of the project, location and field of expertise (IT, construction or healthcare, for example), or experience, salaries for some PMP credential holders may even be much higher.

The Robert Half Technology 2018 Salary Guide lists project management as one of the hot certifications for 2017. Project management salaries vary slightly depending on the technology area. Robert Half cites a salary range of $92,750 to $156,000 for project managers in application development environments, while project managers engaged in consulting and system integration roles can expect to earn between $96,000 and $162,000 nationwide. This explains quite nicely why the PMP has appeared in nearly every top 10 list of popular, targeted or most desirable certifications since the early 2000s. It should come as no surprise that Robert Half also lists the PMP credential, along with Agile and Scrum certifications, as trending in the IT industry.

To provide you an idea of which project management credentials employers look for in prospective candidates, we conducted a quick survey on several popular job boards. Clearly, the PMP credential is the overall favorite and remains our No. 1 pick for must-have project management certifications. PMI's entry-level project management credential, the CAPM, also made our top five list. The CSM from Scrum Alliance, along with ASQ's Certified Six Sigma Black Belt and Green Belt credentials, round out those top picks.

Job Board Survey Results (in alphabetical order, by certification)*

CertificationSimplyHiredIndeedLinkedIn Jobs
Linkup.com
Total
CAPM (Project Management Institute)5866576122632,118
CSM (Scrum Alliance)3,276
3,809
4,777
2,108
13,970
CSSBB (ASQ)945
1,030
1,375596
3,946
CSSGB (ASQ)1,1201,242
1,330
687
4,379
PMP (Project Management Institute)14,50315,387
15,635
7,949
53,024

*See our complete methodology for selecting top five certifications in the "Best Certifications" series.