An online project management course may be a good choice if you (i) are experienced at working on projects and (ii) want to upgrade skills and qualifications.
- You can study project management online while holding a full-time job.
- In fact, current work projects may be useful for learning and assessment.
As we outline below, your course options depend on whether you have a degree, how much project experience you have, and how much time you have to invest.
- Degrees and accredited diplomas are valuable if you want to pursue a career as a project manager.
- You can study project management less formally for professional development or out of personal interest.
- Short training courses can be used to help pass professional accreditation tests.
You don't need an education to be a project manager but you do need an education to be a successful one.
Project management is a slightly unusual profession because education alone won't get you a start. To get the job of managing a project, you need experience in the sector.
Education complements on-the-job experience. It can be critical for success at different stages of your career.
A diploma, university degree or professional certification can help you:
- gain applied skills, such as using PM software
- better communicate with colleagues
- be trusted to take on more senior roles within projects
- learn to manage projects in a structured way
- land jobs by demonstrating professional development
- branch out into different industries and roles.
With experience, education and improvement, the opportunities for advancement in project management are virtually limitless. In addition, the skills honed through project management degree programs, and on-the-job experience, are transferable to numerous industries and endeavors that require budget, schedule, and scope control.
Degree and Diploma Online Courses
Academic qualifications (degrees and diplomas) carry value in project management. You can distinguish yourself as a top project manager by earning all of the following credentials:
- a diploma or bachelor degree in your industry (e.g. Bachelor of Engineering)
- an academic qualification in project management (e.g. Graduate Certificate of Project Management)
- professional accreditation (e.g. AIPM, PMP or PRINCE2).
Diploma-level courses may be a good choice if you don't have a bachelor degree. Accredited online courses include Certificate IV, Diploma and Advanced Diploma in Project Management.
If you have extensive project management experience, you may also be eligible to start a Graduate Certificate course. ➥ Diplomas
Project management degrees consist of:
- bachelor degrees (such as a 3-year Bachelor of Business with a major in Project Management)
- Graduate Certificate in Project Management (0.5 years)
- Graduate Diploma in Project Management (1 year)
- Master of Project Management (1.5 years typically)
- MBA or other masters with a Project Management major (1.5 years).
Most online PM students are enrolled in postgraduate courses.
A popular option is to do a Graduate Certificate, which gives you credit towards a masters. It can also be used as a pathway program for students who don't meet masters eligibility criteria. ➥ Degrees
MPM versus MBA
I hold both an MBA and a MPM degree. I disagree that these two degrees are essentially the same. My MBA was definitely focused on business management. My MPM was focused on a very deep dive into project management - it was not an industry specific deep dive (e.g., construction or IT) but rather a much broader view of project management. I find the two degrees complementary in the fact my MBA better enables me to speak the "management language" with executive sponsors and couch decisions with a business mindset. My MPM gives me a much deeper understanding of the issues faced in projects and helps me formulate approaches and apply different techniques for addressing these issues.
Project Management Certification Courses
For Australian project managers, the most popular general certification courses are PMP, AIPM and PRINCE2. For each course, you need to meet eligibility criteria, pay fees and pass a test. The result: you earn a well recognised professional credential.
To do well on the tests, it helps if you are an experienced, educated professional. But you can also do intensive training courses as preparation.
Project Management Professional (PMP)
PMP is an internationally recognized certification for project managers offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI). PMP Certification Courses are used globally, across fields and within most industries.
To be eligible, you need
- a bachelor or higher degree, 4,500 hours leading and directing projects, and 35 hours of project management education; OR
- if you have no degree, 7,500 hours leading and directing projects, and 35 hours of project management education.
The exam is closed book and consists of
- 200 multiple choice questions, 25 of which are sample questions and don't count for the score
- questions based on the PMI Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK).
Australian Institute of Project Management (AIPM)
AIPM offers a national project management certification called the RegPM (Registered Project Manager).
Candidates are required to collect and submit evidence that showcases their competence and requires the completion of an Assessment Record Book (ARB).
AIPM Certification Courses comes in several levels, and they all require you to be a member of the AIPM at an Associate, Member or Fellow level.
- CPPP – Certified Practising Project Practitioner – suitable for a team member who works on projects.
- CPPM – Certified Practising Project Manager – for those who lead teams and manage projects.
- CPSPM – Certified Practising Senior Project Manager – the CPPM is required for this certification who is meant for senior managers who manage difficult and high risk projects.
- CPPD – Certified Practising Project Director – for those who direct projects.
- CPPE – Certified Practising Portfolio Executive – for those who monitor projects.
Projects In Controlled Environments, Version 2 (PRINCE2)
PRINCE2 is a certification program offered by AXELOS. Different levels of certification are available.
- PRINCE2 Foundation is a beginner’s certification, used as a prerequisite for all other PRINCE2 certifications. It consists of a 70-question, multiple-choice, closed-book exam, and there are no prerequisites for taking it.
- PRINCE2 Practitioner is a certification that you’ll be able to apply to real projects. To be eligible, you need either the PRINCE2 Foundation or another PMI or IPMA certification (such as the PMP). The exam consists of 8 questions, each with 10 items. It is open book and the official PRINCE2 manual can be used.
- PRINCE2 Professional is a certification for more complex projects. It requires the PRINCE2 Practitioner certification and is based on group activities and a case study of a fictional project with no written examinations.
- PRINCE2 Agile Practitioner for project management combined with agile methodology. It requires the PRINCE2 Practitioner certification and consists of a 50-question open-book exam.
PMP versus PRINCE2
PMP and Prince2 are two different things:
PMP is based upon the PMBOK, which is a Standard, NOT a methodology. It contains a truck load of processes and 'generally accepted' techniques... It is therefore more theoretical, a reference guide.
Prince2 on the other hand is a methodology, with a detailed process model and templates. It gives a step by step guidance on how to organise and run a project. It is more practical than the PMBOK... more a manual than a reference guide.
I would therefore dare to call them complementary... I'm happy to know them both.