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

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.


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

  • Hi John and other readers,
    Don’t confuse POPULARITY or EFFECTIVE MARKETING with respect.

    There are many other certifications, that while not as well known as the PMP or PRINCE2, certainly enjoy considerable respect.

    I would like to add in the credentials offered by AACE. These are amongst the toughest of the knowledge based credentials to earn. AACE’s Certified Cost Engineer, despite being badly named, overlaps the PMP by about 90% but goes at least 3 or 4 times deeper.

    Also, for Americans, asapm, which is the US arm of the International Project Management Association (IPMA) has a very credible COMPETENCY based credential. (FWIW, asapm was founded by many leading practitioners who were unhappy with the over-commercialization of PMI)

    Then there is the International Council of Systems Engineers (INCOSE) which has a robust credentialing program. This may very well appeal to many in the IT and/or telecommunications sectors.

    And for those of you who believe IT and Telecommunications are going to start outsourcing project management professional services, you may want to consider the Construction Management Association’s Certified Construction Manager. (CCM) Given construction management is probably the most highly advanced application of project management, this credential offers a glimpse at where IT and Telecommunications is likely headed.

    Bottom line on all this- Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. While PMI is without question the largest organization, does not necessarily make it the best, and if you want to differentiate yourself from the crowd, then I would urge you to consider obtaining either the more technically advanced credentials from AACE or INCOSE or going for the COMPETENCY based credentials offered by IPMA, asapm and AACE.

    Dr. PDG, Jakarta

  • John,
    Where this available? I have some downtime and I would like to get ITIL v3 Foundation done. As to PgMP is there a course, I have been a program manager for Telcordia but have not got the certification.

    Your help and direction is appreciated.
    Satnam S. Bansal PMP
    [email protected]
    Tel: 609-792-1997

    We also have a special on ITIL v3.0 online trianing this month, which includes free PRINCE2 Foundation training (10 hours/PDUs) with purchase of the ITIL foundation training.

    John Reiling, PMP
    Project Management Training Online “

  • Tamer

    Excellent Excellent Excellent ideas 🙂
    Thank you very much i really needed this Ideas I already achieved my ITIL for the above valid point you mention and i was wonder what next after my PMP and ITIL (foundations)
    Internet is wonderful by having people like you

  • Wasseem AlKury

    Hello John,
    I would also like to add another certificate related to project management, which is Project Management Office Certification, PMOC, from The All PMO Network:

  • Hakim

    wow, when I just thought that pmp was enough but no life is full of suprises. God please give me the strength to sustain these certifications. 🙂

  • Hakim:
    welcome to the certification industry 🙂
    You might need the triple resource: strength, willingness and time

  • sunapmp

    So true! Anyone like me who is a fresh PMP and who suddenly feels ‘goal-less’ would definitely find this article like….wowow, this is what i wanna do next after PMP!! 🙂

    I like these….
    ‘kill two birds with one stone’ && it’s not where you are, or where you have been, that’s important; what’s important is where you are going.

    THANKS A TON. I have found the way ahead now!!

  • Sam

    I have more than 6 years of exp in operations and now I am trying to get job in Project management. P,lease help how can I market my resume…

  • Cathy

    I can appreciate sunapmp comment on feeling “goal-less”, good term, LOL! This article is great insight, thank you.

  • Ashok Iyer

    I have obtained the PMP certification last week. Already having the exact feelings as described above. Could not have laid my eyes on something more apt to read at this stage.

    Thank you!

  • Folks, once again I caution you about confusing POPULARITY with CREDIBILITY….

    Since 2010 I have been benchmarking some 40 globally recognized project management credentials against the US Professional Engineer (PE) license as well as Gladwell’s “10;,000 hour” rule and with all due respect to John, not only is the PMP at best only an entry level credential, but the highly popular PRINCE2 and ITIL credentials from Axelos are even WORSE, not even being equal to PMI’s CAPM.

    Here is the 2014 update and I am currently working on the 2015 update which will be published in January of 2015.

    Explained another way, to seek out your ITIL or PRINCE2 credentials after getting your PMP is going BACKWARDS, not forwards.

    FWIW, the ONLY PMI credential which scores as a legitimate professional level credential is their PgMP (and presumably, their PfMP)

    If you are serious about moving ahead, instead of seeking out the exam based credentials, why not challenge yourself to the COMPETENCY based credentials offered by IPMA (asapm in the USA) or the Green Project Management credentials, which are currently the top ranked credentials globally?

    Enjoy the benchmarking research and I hope it helps you in making sound, logical career path decisiions.

    Dr. PDG, Jakarta, Indonesia