The reason the title of this post is in quotes is that this is a frequently asked question in both the projectmanagement.com discussion groups and PMI’s LinkedIn Project, Program, and Portfolio Management group. I, along with a number of other contributors, have seen and responded to it sufficient times that I felt it would be worth sharing my thoughts with my readership.
The PMP credential is the project management designation which most recruiters and hiring managers are aware of. Savvy folks will know that it provides no guarantee of competence but does at least demonstrate that a practitioner has some basic understanding of nomenclature, tools and techniques.
While possessing it was a differentiator in the first decade or so after it was introduced, at this point it is less so, but in specific industries and geographic regions, not having it might result in a job application being rejected by the initial filtering process.
But once a practitioner has attained their PMP credential, what next? Professional development should be a life (or at least career) long pursuit, and certifications provide tangible evidence of an individual investing in their development, so it would seem to be a reasonable question.
Before asking this question, the individual should have identified a specific career or development goal. In some cases, this might be simple such as if a particular credential is required as part of the company’s prerequisites for advancement.
But this is rarely the case, and that’s what makes things more difficult.
The companies which develop and administer credentials will all state with confidence that their products will help you advance your career. Any why not? For every person who buys into this justification, the credential company will usually earn a healthy one-time and ongoing revenue stream.
But unless a particular role you aspire to requires that you have a specific credential, in most cases, all it will prove is that you have learned something and have passed a test. You may have done so with no hand-on practice in that domain.
Now if you have already gained experience within a domain and then wish to have visible evidence of your having acquired certain knowledge, then a credential is one way to do so. But if you want to learn a skill, you’d be better of self-study or taking a non-certification course and following that up with actual hands-on work supported by a seasoned practitioner.
So the only correct responses to the titular question is “What are your development goals?” or “Why are you seeking another certification?”
“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there” – Lewis Carroll
(If you liked this article, why not pick up my book Easy in Theory, Difficult in Practice which contains 100 other lessons on project leadership? It’s available on Amazon.com and on Amazon.ca as well as a number of other online book stores)