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John P. Reiling, PMP:: Now You’re a PMP! What Next?

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Congratulations! You have earned your PMP certification, and it feels great to have that behind you. It is certainly a milestone, and an accomplishment worth celebrating. But after a short time, the question often becomes “What’s next?” (updated march 17, 2014 with additional comments from the author)

What’s next?

Yes, high achievers especially experience this “What’s next?” urge. Just this morning, I was listening to a podcast on the way to work, and the author talked about the challenges and experiences that some of the astronauts who had walked on the moon. After years of preparation and intense focus and discipline, they reached their goals – only to return, in some cases, with a loss of purpose and direction. Some had deep troubles, largely because they had suddenly become “goal-less”. They in essence had “lost” a goal by achieving their primary goal, and by not replacing it with another worthy goal.

Leverage your time: PDUs AND another Certification

So, for you, it will be great to leverage your PMP certification, to apply the principles, to show you know your stuff, perhaps to advance or move crosswise to another interesting and lucrative career position. But perhaps there is more that you can do to keep up, and even accelerate, your career momentum. As you assess your goals, perhaps another certification will help you to advance, as well as to keep you fresh and excited.

Five Realistic Possibilities

Here are a five ideas related to career goals and certifications – and you can ‘kill two birds with one stone’ by earning a new certification and PDUs at the same time!

  1. Perhaps you find yourself operating or moving toward a more international venue. In Europe, as well as some other parts of the world, the PRINCE2 certification is very popular and highly respected. You have the distinct advantage of having a great deal of project management background already behind you, and might find that the first step – earning the PRINCE2 Foundation certification – is fairly easy in comparison with the PMP. It also could provide you with an addition credential relevant in your specific work environment, plus added perspective on the job.
  2. A large number of PMPs work in the Information Technology (IT) field. Some may already have technical certifications with such vendors as Oracle, Cisco, IBM, and others. Since you have already made the move to management, the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) certification may interest you. It can provide specific deep expertise and credentialing in the IT space that is valued by many organizations worldwide. You may find that it enables you to get in charge of projects that might otherwise have been out of reach.
  3. You may find that the pure project management profession suits you just fine, and that you would like to simply take a path to bigger and better things. The PMI has laid out a path for that – the Program Management Professional (PgMP) certification. It is a very logical extension to the PMP, using a similar approach to the PMBOK framework, and building directly on the PMP skills base.
  4. In today’s economic environment, one of the favorite types of projects to be funded is that of the cost cutting or efficiency producing variety. In those cases, many organizations want to turn to proven methodologies and processes, one of which includes Six Sigma. Six Sigma Green Belts and Six Sigma Black Belts are in high demand for any of these projects, and project management skills are also at a premium. The combination of the two can be powerful!
  5. One of the most important areas in a project is requirements management. Actually, the scope of requirements management can be broadened to that of ‘business analysis’. Many could find a great appeal to the analytical skills required in Business analysis, and the combination of a Business Analysis certification with the PMP can again be powerful, especially in environment where the analysis portion of typical projects is particularly crucial. This is often the case, for example, in the area of application development projects.

Concluding Thoughts to Ponder

So, when you ask what’s next, consider additional certifications. You might find that it is easier than you think to add another credential on top of the PMP and whatever else you might have, and that it is especially enticing when you can earn PDUs for the work at the same time!

While it’s great to celebrate, don’t linger on your success too long. Remember, it’s not where you are, or where you have been, that’s important; what’s important is where you are going. Keep that fresh and forward moving feeling going and set some new goals today, and consider tackling another career-enahncing certification.

Updated on March 17, 2014 – Here are some more thoughts related to the subject of earning additional certifications:

Some certifications – particularly IT – have a lifecycle.  That is, they are only worth something for a period of say, 2-4 years at most, to be supplanted by some major update to the technology or something else.  But there is another aspect to it also, in that we, as professionals grow, and can grow out of one role into another.  For example, years ago when I was certified in Lotus Notes, and it was very helpful to me at the time.  I had multiple cert’s – Lotus Admin and Lotus Developer – and had also climbed the hierarchy of cert’s to the senior level on both.  It was all helpful and focused, but then the market changed, technology changed…and I changed.  I was managing projects, and had become less focused on the technology, and it was around that time that I earned the PMP.  So, in some way there is a lifecycle to the certification, and there is a sort of lifecycle or stage for the individual, as there was for me.

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John Reiling:

I grew up in Pittsburgh, PA, where I went to Central Catholic High School. I excelled at football and basketball. I went to college at Princeton and earned a BS in Engineering. I then entered a career in industry, working in mining, manufacturing, metal fabricating, environmental services, and other related industries. Along the way I earned my MBA from Carnegie Mellon. After about 12 years I made a switch into the information technology field, and became a Lotus Notes developer. I gradually moved into project management in that field. Today, I am in the project management consulting field, and have several web sites, including Project Management Training Online, Lean Six Sigma Training Online, and PMcrunch authority site.

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