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Top 11 Software Project Manager Certifications

This article provides an overview of the top certifications for software project managers, including details on what each certification covers and how to obtain them.

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Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 18 min read

Certifications for a software project manager are important in the job market because they demonstrate a level of knowledge and experience that can help employers decide if an individual is qualified to lead their software projects. Certifications also provide potential employers with an objective measurement of an applicant’s technical and leadership skills, allowing them to make more informed decisions when selecting candidates. Additionally, certifications can give job seekers a competitive edge in the job market, as having a certification may make them stand out from other applicants who do not have one. Finally, certifications can open up opportunities for further training or development, helping project managers stay ahead of the curve and remain up-to-date on the latest industry trends.

The purpose of this article is to review the top certifications for Software Project Managers and explain how they can help further a software project manager's career.

What are Software Project Manager Certifications?

Software project manager certification is an industry-recognized credential that demonstrates a person’s ability to manage software projects. It validates a person's knowledge of best practices, processes and tools for managing software development projects. With this certification, software project managers can demonstrate their commitment to the profession and their ability to lead successful software projects.

Having this certification can help software project managers in many ways. It serves as evidence of their skills and experience in managing complex software projects. It also gives them credibility among employers, customers and other stakeholders who prefer working with certified professionals. Additionally, it provides them with access to industry-specific resources such as conferences, webinars and networking opportunities that can help advance their career. Finally, it allows them to stay up-to-date on the latest trends and techniques in the field of software project management.

Pro Tip: Research the requirements of different software project manager certifications before committing to a particular one. Ensure that the certification is recognized by employers in your industry, and that its coursework is relevant to the type of projects you are interested in managing.

Related: What does a Software Project Manager do?

Top 11 Software Project Manager Certifications

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

1. Project Management Professional (PMP)

Project Management Professional (PMP) is a certification offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI). It is the most widely recognized and sought-after certification in the project management field. The PMP credential demonstrates that an individual has the knowledge and skills to successfully manage projects of any size and complexity.

It typically takes between 6 to 12 months to prepare for and pass the PMP exam. This includes studying for the exam, attending training courses, and completing all necessary requirements.

To become certified as a PMP, individuals must meet certain eligibility criteria which include having a secondary degree (high school diploma, associate’s degree or global equivalent), at least 7,500 hours of leading and directing projects, 35 hours of project management education, and four years of project management experience.

The cost of becoming a PMP varies depending on how you choose to prepare for the exam. The cost includes fees for registering with PMI ($555 for members; $1,000 for non-members) as well as costs associated with taking training courses or purchasing study materials.

2. Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)

Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) is a certification offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI). It is designed to demonstrate an individual's understanding of the fundamental knowledge, processes, and terminology used in project management. It is intended for those who are looking to enter the field of project management or those who wish to demonstrate their level of expertise in project management.

The CAPM exam consists of 150 multiple-choice questions that must be completed within three hours. To be eligible for the exam, applicants must have either a high school diploma, associate’s degree, or global equivalent; or 23 hours of project management education.

To get the CAPM certification, you must pass the exam with a score of at least 60%. Once you have passed the exam, you will receive your official certificate from PMI.

The cost for taking the CAPM exam varies depending on whether you are a member or non-member of PMI. For members, it costs $225 USD; for non-members it costs $300 USD.

3. Certified ScrumMaster (CSM)

Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) is a certification program offered by the Scrum Alliance that recognizes individuals who have demonstrated an understanding of the core principles and practices of Scrum. The CSM certification is designed to help professionals gain an understanding of how to effectively use the Scrum framework to manage projects, teams, and products.

To become a Certified ScrumMaster, individuals must attend a two-day training course offered by a Certified Scrum Trainer (CST). During this course, participants will learn about the fundamentals of Scrum, including roles and responsibilities, sprints and sprint planning meetings, product backlogs and releases, as well as other important concepts. Upon completion of the course, participants will take an online assessment to demonstrate their mastery of the material.

The cost for attending a CSM training course varies depending on the provider but typically ranges from $800 - $1,200 USD. In addition to the cost of attending the training course there is also an annual membership fee required for those wishing to maintain their CSM certification which is currently set at $100 USD per year.

In order to become certified as a Certified ScrumMaster it typically takes two days or 16 hours of classroom instruction plus additional time studying for and taking the online assessment.

4. Agile Certified Practitioner (ACP)

Agile Certified Practitioner (ACP) is a certification offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI). It is designed to recognize individuals who have demonstrated knowledge and skills in Agile practices. The ACP certification requires applicants to demonstrate their understanding of Agile principles, processes, and tools through a combination of education, experience, and examination.

It typically takes about three months to complete the ACP certification process. To get started, you must first obtain the PMI’s Agile Certified Practitioner Handbook, which outlines the requirements for certification. This includes completing 21 contact hours of formal training in Agile topics such as Scrum, Kanban, Lean, and XP. You must also document at least 1,500 hours of professional experience in an Agile environment over the past three years. Finally, you must pass the ACP exam which consists of 150 multiple-choice questions.

The cost for the ACP certification varies depending on your chosen training provider and other associated fees. Generally speaking, it can range from $1,000 to $2,000 USD for all required materials and exams.

5. PRINCE2 Foundation and Practitioner Certification

PRINCE2 (Projects in Controlled Environments) is a project management methodology developed by the UK government and widely used in the private sector. It provides a structured approach to project management and is based on seven principles, seven themes, and seven processes. The PRINCE2 Foundation and Practitioner Certification is an internationally recognized qualification that demonstrates your understanding of the PRINCE2 methodology.

The Foundation certification covers the fundamentals of PRINCE2 such as its principles, themes, processes, and terminology. It requires passing a one-hour multiple-choice exam with a minimum score of 55%. The Practitioner certification builds upon the Foundation level knowledge by testing your ability to apply PRINCE2 to real-life scenarios. It requires passing a two-and-a-half hour multiple-choice exam with a minimum score of 50%.

It typically takes around six months to complete both levels of certification if you are studying part time or three months if you are studying full time. To get certified you need to attend an accredited training course or self study using official materials from AXELOS (the official body responsible for maintaining PRINCE2).

The cost of getting certified depends on where you take your training course but typically it ranges from £400 - £1000 for both levels combined.

6. Six Sigma Green Belt Certification

Six Sigma Green Belt Certification is an internationally recognized certification program designed to equip professionals with the skills and knowledge necessary to identify, analyze, and solve problems in any business organization. The certification provides a comprehensive understanding of Six Sigma principles, tools, and techniques for process improvement.

The Six Sigma Green Belt Certification program typically takes about four months to complete. It consists of two parts: a self-study component and a hands-on project component. During the self-study component, participants learn the fundamentals of Six Sigma through online courses or in-person classes. This includes topics such as problem solving, data analysis, process mapping, and Lean principles. During the project component, participants apply their knowledge by working on a real-world problem within their organization or industry.

To get certified as a Six Sigma Green Belt professional, you must pass both the self-study and project components of the program. To qualify for certification, you must demonstrate mastery of all core topics including problem solving methods, data analysis techniques, process mapping tools, and Lean principles. You will also need to submit evidence showing that you have applied these concepts successfully in your own organization or industry.

The cost of getting certified as a Six Sigma Green Belt professional varies depending on the provider offering the coursework and/or project work. Generally speaking though, it can range from $1,000-$5,000 USD depending on the length and complexity of the program offered by your chosen provider.

7. ITIL Foundation Certification

ITIL Foundation Certification is a globally recognized qualification that demonstrates an individual’s knowledge and understanding of the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) framework. ITIL is a set of best practices for managing IT services, which includes processes such as incident management, change management, and service level management. The Foundation Certificate is the entry-level certification in the ITIL scheme and provides an overview of the entire framework.

The duration to get this certification depends on the training provider you choose. Generally, it takes around two days to complete the course and take the exam. However, some providers offer accelerated programs that can be completed in one day or less.

To get certified, you must attend an accredited training course that covers all aspects of the ITIL framework and pass a 60-minute multiple-choice exam with a minimum score of 65%. You must also pay for your exam fee, which varies by provider but typically ranges from $150 to $300 USD.

Once you have passed your exam, you will receive your certificate from PeopleCert or AXELOS via email within 4–6 weeks.

8. CompTIA Project+ Certification

CompTIA Project+ certification is an industry-recognized credential that validates a project manager’s knowledge and skills in managing projects. It is designed to demonstrate a project manager’s ability to manage projects effectively, from initiation through closure. The certification covers the entire project life cycle, including planning, executing, monitoring and controlling, and closing.

The CompTIA Project+ exam consists of 90 multiple-choice questions and takes up to 2 hours to complete. To be eligible for the exam, you must have at least 12 months of work experience in the field of project management or hold a CompTIA A+ certification.

To get certified as a CompTIA Project+, you need to pass the CompTIA Project+ exam which costs $319 USD. You can register for the exam online or through Pearson VUE testing centers. Once you have passed the exam, you will receive your certification within 4-6 weeks.

CompTIA also offers training courses that can help prepare you for the exam. These courses are available online or in person and cost between $500-$2,000 depending on the course provider and length of time spent studying.

9. Microsoft Project 2016 Certification

Microsoft Project 2016 Certification is a certification program offered by Microsoft to demonstrate proficiency in the use of Microsoft Project 2016. This certification validates that individuals have the skills necessary to manage projects and resources, create project plans, track progress, and analyze workloads.

To receive the Microsoft Project 2016 Certification, individuals must pass two exams: Exam 70-343: Managing Projects with Microsoft Project 2016 and Exam 70-344: Managing Programs and Projects with Microsoft Project Server 2016. Both exams are administered by Pearson VUE.

The cost for each exam is $165 USD. The time required to complete each exam varies depending on an individual’s familiarity with the material; however, it typically takes between 1-2 hours to complete each exam.

In order to prepare for the exams, individuals can take advantage of online training courses or self-study materials provided by Microsoft or third parties. Additionally, there are practice tests available online that can help individuals gauge their level of preparedness before taking the actual exams.

10. PMI-Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)

PMI-Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP) is a certification offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI). It is designed to recognize practitioners who have the knowledge and skills to successfully lead agile projects. The PMI-ACP certification recognizes an individual’s expertise in using agile principles, practices, tools, and techniques.

The PMI-ACP exam consists of 120 multiple choice questions and must be completed within three hours. To become certified, you must meet certain requirements such as having 2,000 hours of general project experience in the last five years and 1,500 hours of agile project experience in the last three years. You must also complete 21 contact hours of training in agile methods.

In order to take the exam, you must first register with PMI and pay an application fee of $435 for members or $495 for non-members. After submitting your application, you will receive an email from PMI containing instructions on how to schedule your exam. Once you have scheduled your exam date, you can then pay the exam fee which varies depending on your country/region but typically ranges between $415-$495 USD.

Once you have passed the exam, you will receive a certificate from PMI that is valid for three years. In order to maintain your certification status after this period has ended, you must earn 60 professional development units (PDUs) every three years by completing activities related to agile project management such as attending conferences or taking courses related to agile methods.

11. PMI Risk Management Professional (PMI-RMP)

PMI Risk Management Professional (PMI-RMP) is a certification program offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI). It is designed to help project managers identify, analyze, and respond to project risks in an effective manner. The PMI-RMP credential recognizes individuals who have demonstrated their expertise in risk management and their ability to effectively manage projects.

The PMI-RMP certification requires a minimum of three years of project risk management experience as well as 35 hours of specialized training. Applicants must also pass an exam that covers topics such as risk identification, analysis, response planning, monitoring and control, and communication.

In order to apply for the PMI-RMP certification, applicants must first become a member of the Project Management Institute (PMI). After becoming a member, applicants can then submit an application for the PMI-RMP exam. The application fee is $405 USD for members and $555 USD for nonmembers.

Once the application has been approved, applicants must register for the exam at least one month prior to their desired test date. The cost of the exam is $405 USD for members and $555 USD for nonmembers. The exam consists of 170 multiple choice questions and takes four hours to complete.

Applicants who pass the exam will be awarded with the PMI Risk Management Professional (PMI-RMP) credential. This credential is valid for three years from the date it was earned. To maintain this credential, holders must earn 30 professional development units (PDUs) every three years through activities such as attending conferences or taking classes related to project management or risk management topics.

Do You Really Need a Software Project Manager Certificate?

No, you do not need a software project manager certificate in order to be a successful software project manager. A software project manager certificate can be helpful for those who are new to the profession or looking to advance their career. It is important to note that the certificate does not guarantee success; rather, it is evidence of knowledge and skills that are necessary for the job.

The most important factor in becoming a successful software project manager is experience. Experienced software project managers have developed relationships with clients, understand how to manage projects effectively, and know how to use best practices when dealing with complex projects. Having a certificate may demonstrate an understanding of the concepts but cannot replace actual experience in the field.

In addition, employers typically look for more than just certificates when hiring a software project manager. They often seek individuals with strong problem-solving skills, excellent communication abilities, and the ability to work well with teams. These qualities are difficult to learn through coursework alone and must be acquired through practical experience on the job.

Overall, while having a certificate may give someone an edge over other applicants during the hiring process, it is not essential for success as a software project manager. Ultimately, employers will value an applicant’s experience and skillset more than any certification they possess.

Related: Software Project Manager Resume Examples

FAQs About Software Project Manager Certifications

1. What is a Software Project Manager Certification?

Answer: A Software Project Manager Certification is a professional credential that recognizes the knowledge and skills required to manage software projects, including planning, budgeting, scheduling, and risk management.

2. How can I get a Software Project Manager Certification?

Answer: There are several ways to obtain a Software Project Manager Certification depending on the organization or institution offering the certification. Generally, these certifications require passing an exam or completing a course of study related to software project management.

3. What are the benefits of getting a Software Project Manager Certification?

Answer: Having a Software Project Manager Certification can help you stand out from other candidates for job opportunities in this field, demonstrate your expertise in software project management, and potentially increase your salary potential. It also provides access to exclusive resources and networking opportunities within the industry.

4. Are there any prerequisites for obtaining a Software Project Manager Certification?

Answer: Depending on the organization offering the certification, there may be certain prerequisites such as having experience managing software projects or completing specific courses related to software project management prior to taking the exam or gaining certification.

5. How long does it take to complete a Software Project Manager Certification program?

Answer: The time required to complete a Software Project Manager Certification program depends on the type of certification being pursued and whether any prerequisites are required (such as experience or coursework). Generally speaking, it can take anywhere from two weeks up to several months to complete all requirements for gaining certification.