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Top 11 Project Lead Certifications

This article outlines the best project lead certifications available to help professionals improve their skills and increase their career opportunities.

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Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 18 min read

Certifications are important for a project lead in the job market because they provide evidence that an individual has the knowledge and skills necessary to successfully complete specific tasks. Certifications demonstrate to potential employers that an individual is knowledgeable about the industry and has experience in the field. Additionally, certifications can be used to validate an individual’s experience and qualifications, which can give them an edge over other candidates for a position. Finally, having certifications can show employers that a project lead is dedicated to their profession and willing to invest time and money into increasing their knowledge and expertise.

This article reviews some of the top certifications for Project Leads, providing an overview of how they can help to advance a project lead's career.

What are Project Lead Certifications?

Project Lead Certification is a certification program designed to help individuals advance their project management skills. This certification provides individuals with the knowledge, tools, and techniques needed to lead successful projects. It focuses on key areas such as planning, organizing, controlling, monitoring, and evaluating projects. Additionally, it covers topics related to risk management, budgeting and scheduling, communication strategies, and team dynamics.

Project Lead Certification can provide tangible benefits to those who have achieved it. For example, it can give professionals an edge when it comes to job applications or promotions. It shows employers that the individual has the necessary skills and abilities to successfully manage projects. It also provides a network of peers in the project management field who can support each other’s professional growth through shared experiences and advice. Finally, having this certification may give professionals access to more job opportunities since many organizations prefer candidates with project management certifications.

Pro Tip: Investing in project lead certification can provide you with the necessary skills and knowledge to effectively manage projects, improve your communication and interpersonal skills, and increase your confidence as a leader. Additionally, having a certification in project leadership can open up career opportunities and help demonstrate your expertise to potential employers.

Related: What does a Project Lead do?

Top 11 Project Lead Certifications

Here’s our list of the best certifications available to Project Leads today.

1. Project Management Professional (PMP) Certification

Project Management Professional (PMP) Certification is a globally recognized certification for project managers. It is a professional credential that demonstrates an individual’s expertise in managing projects, from planning to execution. The PMP credential recognizes the knowledge and skills of individuals who are able to manage complex projects, coordinate resources, and deliver results on time and within budget.

To obtain the PMP certification, an individual must have at least three years of project management experience and 35 hours of project management education or training. They must also pass a four-hour exam that tests their knowledge of the five process groups: initiating, planning, executing, monitoring/controlling, and closing.

The process of obtaining the PMP certification typically takes between six months to one year depending on how quickly you can complete the requirements. To get started on your journey towards getting certified, you need to create an account with Project Management Institute (PMI). Once you have created your account, you can apply for the PMP certification by submitting all required documents such as your resume and educational transcripts. After your application has been approved by PMI, you will be given access to study materials which will help you prepare for the exam.

The cost of obtaining the PMP certification varies depending on whether or not you are a member of PMI. For non-members, it costs $555 USD while members only pay $405 USD for the application fee plus $405 USD for the exam fee.

2. Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) Certification

Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) is a certification offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI). It is designed to validate an individual's understanding of the fundamental knowledge, processes, and terminology used in project management. The CAPM certification demonstrates an individual’s commitment to professional development and provides proof of their competency in project management.

To qualify for the CAPM certification, individuals must have at least 1,500 hours of project experience or 23 hours of project management education. There is no time limit for completion of the certification process; however, it typically takes between 6-12 months to complete all requirements.

To get the CAPM certification, individuals must first apply online through PMI’s website. Once approved, they will be required to take and pass a 3-hour long exam that covers topics such as initiating projects, planning projects, executing projects, monitoring and controlling projects, closing projects, and professional responsibility.

The cost of the CAPM certification varies depending on whether you are a PMI member or not. For non-members, the cost is $300 USD while members pay $225 USD. Additionally, there may be other costs associated with studying for the exam such as books or courses.

3. PRINCE2 Practitioner Certification

PRINCE2 Practitioner Certification is a professional accreditation that demonstrates an individual's ability to apply and tailor the PRINCE2 project management methodology in a project environment. It is the second level of certification within the PRINCE2 qualification structure, and it is designed for those who are already familiar with the PRINCE2 method and have experience in managing projects.

The certification process typically takes around six weeks to complete. It involves attending a two-day classroom course, followed by an online exam which must be passed in order to gain the practitioner certificate. The course covers topics such as project governance, risk management, quality assurance and change control.

In order to be eligible for the practitioner certification, individuals must first hold either a Foundation Certificate or demonstrate equivalent knowledge of the PRINCE2 methodology. They must also have at least three years' experience in managing projects before they can take the exam.

The cost of taking the PRINCE2 Practitioner Certification varies depending on where you take it and who provides it. Generally speaking, courses range from £500 - £1,000 ($650 - $1,300). This includes both the classroom training and online exam fee.

4. Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP) Certification

Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP) Certification is a credential offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI). It is designed to recognize an individual’s expertise in using agile practices in their projects and organizations. The PMI-ACP certification requires applicants to demonstrate their knowledge of agile principles, tools, and techniques, as well as their ability to apply them in real-world project scenarios.

To obtain the PMI-ACP certification, an applicant must first meet the eligibility requirements. These include having at least 2,000 hours of general project experience within the last five years and 1,500 hours of agile project experience within the last three years. Applicants must also complete 21 contact hours of formal training in agile practices.

Once all eligibility requirements are met, applicants can take the PMI-ACP exam. The exam consists of 120 multiple choice questions that cover topics such as agile principles, values and mindset; planning and estimating; team performance; and product delivery. To pass the exam, applicants must score at least 70%.

The cost for taking the PMI-ACP exam is $435 for members of PMI or $495 for non-members. The exam takes approximately three hours to complete. Once an applicant has passed the exam, they will receive their PMI-ACP certification which is valid for three years from the date of issue.

5. Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) Certification

Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) Certification is an industry-recognized certification program that provides individuals with the knowledge and skills needed to effectively lead a Scrum team. The CSM certification is offered by the Scrum Alliance, which is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting and advancing the use of Scrum.

The CSM certification requires successful completion of a two-day course taught by an accredited instructor. The course covers topics such as the fundamentals of Scrum, how to facilitate effective meetings, how to manage conflicts, and how to work with stakeholders. Upon completion of the course, participants must pass an exam in order to receive their certification.

The cost for the CSM certification varies depending on where you take the course and who your instructor is. Generally speaking, however, it costs around $1,000 – $1,500 for the two-day course and exam fees.

In order to maintain their CSM certification status, individuals must complete at least one continuing education unit (CEU) every two years. CEUs can be earned through attending workshops or conferences related to Scrum or Agile methodology.

Overall, becoming a Certified ScrumMaster can be beneficial for those looking to gain knowledge and experience in leading teams using agile principles and practices. It also helps demonstrate commitment to professional development in this field and can open up new job opportunities within organizations that require certified professionals on their teams.

6. Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Certification

Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Certification is an industry-recognized certification that demonstrates a mastery of the Lean Six Sigma methodology. The Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Certification is designed to help professionals develop problem-solving skills, improve process performance, and increase customer satisfaction.

The Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Certification program typically takes 8-10 weeks to complete. It includes training in the DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) process and covers topics such as project management, data collection and analysis, and problem solving. The program also includes an exam at the end of the course to test your knowledge and skills.

To get certified as a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt you must first complete a formal training program or course. There are many online and in-person programs available that offer this type of certification. Once you have completed the training program or course you will be eligible to take the exam which is administered by a third party organization such as ASQ or IASSC.

The cost of obtaining a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt certification varies depending on the type of training program or course you choose to take. Generally speaking, most programs range from $500-$3000 USD depending on the length and complexity of the course.

7. ITIL Foundation Certification

ITIL Foundation Certification is a globally recognized certification that validates an individual’s knowledge of the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL). It is the entry-level qualification for those interested in pursuing a career in IT Service Management. The certification provides an understanding of the key elements, concepts and terminologies used in the ITIL service lifecycle, including how operations move between each stage of the lifecycle, roles and responsibilities, activities and methods involved.

The exam typically takes around 90 minutes to complete and consists of 40 multiple choice questions. To pass the exam, you must achieve a score of at least 65%.

To get certified, you can take either an online or classroom course. Online courses are more convenient as they allow you to study from home or work at your own pace. Classroom courses offer more hands-on instruction and interaction with other students and instructors.

The cost of getting certified varies depending on which course provider you choose and whether you opt for online or classroom instruction. Generally speaking, online courses range from $400-$800 USD while classroom courses range from $1,000-$2,000 USD.

8. PMI Risk Management Professional (PMI-RMP) Certification

PMI Risk Management Professional (PMI-RMP) Certification is a globally recognized certification offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI). It is designed to recognize professionals who have demonstrated the knowledge, skills, and experience necessary to effectively identify, assess, and manage project risk. PMI-RMP certified professionals are able to develop strategies for managing project risks, understand how to evaluate and respond to risk events, and apply risk management processes throughout the life cycle of a project.

It typically takes between 6-12 months of preparation time to become PMI-RMP certified. The first step in obtaining this certification is to meet the eligibility requirements which include having at least three years of professional experience in project risk management within the last five years. Additionally, you must also have a minimum of 4500 hours of leading and directing projects with 35 contact hours of formal education in project risk management topics.

Once you have met these requirements, you will need to submit an application form along with the required fees to PMI. After your application has been reviewed and accepted, you will be given access to an online exam that covers topics such as risk management principles and processes; tools and techniques for identifying risks; methods for assessing risks; strategies for responding to risks; and approaches for monitoring risks. Once you pass this exam, you will receive your PMI-RMP certification.

The cost of becoming PMI-RMP certified varies depending on whether or not you are already a member of PMI. If you are not a member yet, then it costs $550 USD for nonmembers or $405 USD for members. If you are already a member then it costs $405 USD or $360 USD respectively.

9. Project Management Institute – Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)

The PMI-ACP (Project Management Institute - Agile Certified Practitioner) is a certification offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI). The certification is designed to demonstrate an individual's knowledge and experience in agile project management principles, practices, tools, and techniques. It is one of the most sought-after certifications in the field of project management today.

To become a PMI-ACP certified professional, individuals must have at least 2,000 hours of general project experience within the last five years and 1,500 hours of agile project experience within the last three years. In addition to that, they must complete 21 contact hours of training in agile methodology.

The PMI-ACP exam consists of 120 multiple choice questions that must be completed within three hours. The exam covers topics such as agile principles and values, team dynamics and collaboration techniques, planning and estimating techniques, risk management practices, quality management processes and tools, continuous improvement methods and more.

The cost for taking the PMI-ACP exam varies depending on where you take it. Generally speaking, it costs around $435 for members of PMI or $495 for nonmembers.

In order to maintain your certification status with PMI-ACP you will need to earn 60 Professional Development Units (PDUs) every three years. You can do this by attending conferences or workshops related to agile methodology or by taking online courses related to agile methodology.

10. CompTIA Project+ Certification

CompTIA Project+ is a certification that validates the knowledge and skills of project managers. The certification covers the entire project lifecycle from initiation and planning through execution, acceptance, support and closure. It also covers communication, risk management and resource management.

It typically takes around 30 hours to prepare for the CompTIA Project+ exam. This includes studying course materials, taking practice tests, and attending training courses or seminars if available.

To get CompTIA Project+, you must pass an online exam at a Pearson VUE testing center. The exam consists of 90 multiple-choice questions and has a time limit of two hours.

The cost of the CompTIA Project+ exam is $329 USD. Additional fees may apply depending on your location and testing center availability.

11. Microsoft Project 2016/2019 Expert

Microsoft Project 2016/2019 Expert is a powerful project management software designed to help you easily plan, manage and track projects. It allows you to create detailed plans with tasks, resources, timelines, and budgets. You can also use it to track progress and collaborate with team members.

It takes about 10 minutes to download and install Microsoft Project 2016/2019 Expert. To get it, go to the official Microsoft website and purchase the product. Once purchased, you will receive an email with a link to download the software.

The cost of Microsoft Project 2016/2019 Expert depends on what version you are purchasing. The Standard version costs $649 for a single license or $1,499 for five licenses. The Professional version costs $1,119 for one license or $2,599 for five licenses.

Do You Really Need a Project Lead Certificate?

Whether or not you need a Project Lead Certificate depends on your career goals and the requirements of the job you are seeking. If you are looking for a position in project management, then having a Project Lead Certificate may be beneficial. It is important to note that a Project Lead Certificate is not required for all project management positions; however, it can demonstrate to employers that you have the necessary skills and knowledge to successfully manage projects.

A Project Lead Certificate can provide an edge when applying for project management positions because it provides evidence of your commitment to learning and professional development in this field. Additionally, many employers value candidates who have completed such a program as they feel it gives them an indication of how well-prepared the candidate is to take on the responsibility of leading projects. Having this certification can also help employers identify potential employees who are qualified for their specific project needs.

Finally, having a Project Lead Certificate can give you peace of mind knowing that you have achieved a certain level of expertise in project management and have taken steps towards becoming an even better leader. This knowledge can help you become more confident in your abilities as well as more informed about current industry trends and best practices.

In summary, whether or not you need a Project Lead Certificate depends on what kind of job you are seeking and how much experience and training you already have in project management. However, having this certification can give employers assurance that you possess the necessary skills needed for the position, which could make all the difference when it comes to getting hired.

Related: Project Lead Resume Examples

FAQs About Project Lead Certifications

Q1. What is a Project Lead Certification?

A1. A Project Lead Certification is a professional certification that demonstrates an individual’s ability to lead and manage successful projects. It provides an industry-recognized credential that validates a project manager’s knowledge, skills and abilities in leading projects from start to finish.

Q2. How do I become certified as a Project Lead?

A2. To become certified as a Project Lead, you must pass an exam administered by the certifying body, such as PMI or IPMA. You will also need to demonstrate your experience and knowledge of project management principles and best practices through coursework or other training experiences.

Q3. What are the benefits of becoming certified as a Project Lead?

A3. Benefits of becoming certified include increased job opportunities, greater credibility among peers and employers, increased earning potential, access to exclusive resources, and recognition for your expertise in project management techniques.

Q4. How long does it take to get certified as a Project Lead?

A4. The amount of time it takes to get certified varies depending on the certifying body you choose and your own experience level with project management principles and best practices. Generally speaking, it can take anywhere from six months to two years or more to complete all the requirements for certification.

Q5. What is the cost associated with getting certified as a Project Lead?

A5: The cost of getting certified varies depending on which certifying body you choose, but generally ranges from $300-$1000 USD for the exam fee alone (not including any additional costs such as coursework or study materials).