Best Project Management Certifications For 2016

Project management certifications have claimed a place in all of the top IT certification lists 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 top five certifications will help you complement your technical 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, that has to 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, because it enhances and expands on the value of just about any other kind of technical credential.

If you’re wondering why this should be the case, think about what project management means and involves for a moment. It 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 of all kinds.

According to the PMI 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 USD. 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 PMP credential holders may be much higher. The Robert Half Technology 2016 Salary Guide lists project management as one of the “hot” certifications for 2016, citing a salary range of $95,250 to $146,500 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.

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 (see Table 1). Clearly, the PMP credential is the overall favorite and remains our No. 1 pick for must-have project management certifications. Although the numbers for the CompTIA Project+ are low in comparison to other certifications, several of the job board search engines drop the plus sign from the Project+ credential, so the actual numbers of employers looking for candidates with this credential is likely to be higher.

Table 1: Job Board Survey Results

Cert SimplyHired Indeed Dice LinkedIn TechCareers Total
CAPM 1,085 690 51 266 5,959 8144
CPM 1,071 2 0 1 0 1074
CSM 1,464 710 90 269 113 2902
CompTIA Project+ 15 25 9 7 0 56
PMP 514,061 17,213 1,754 13,871 6,061 555,184

Thanks to Trevor Smith and the forum members of for providing feedback on which project management certs they think are worth the effort.

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