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John Reiling, PMP: Are you a “100 certification” person?

Well, I doubt it. Nor should you be!
I recently read about a guy who had just reached the 100 certification plateau! He must be quite a guy. It is an impressive thing. And he surely is uniquely sharp, very smart, and knowledgeable.

But here’s the problem: he still only has 24 hours in a day, just like the rest of us! If only he could spread out that knowledge and capability – and those certifications – across a bunch of people, each with another 24 hours in a day!

How many certifications do you need? Think about the 80:20 rule, or Pareto Principle.

This is the inherent limit to the effectiveness of earning multiple certifications. Applying the 80:20 rule, if you have 10 certifications, chances are that 2 of them will be responsible for 80% of the value that these certifications bring to you.

But there is another side to it! At any given time, you may not know which 2 of the 10 certifications are responsible for 80% of the value! Plus, the answer may change!

Another way to view it is that, with the vast reservoir of knowledge and background that you gain from any given certification, you may only apply 20% of it on a regular basis. The key is that when the opportunity arises to apply any of that other 80%, you have it at your fingertips and can confidently apply the knowledge, skills, and expertise that, at that moment, provides 80% of the value!

Here is a list of ten (10) “80:20isms” to expand your thinking related to certification:

  1. If you can get yourself into the top 20% of your profession, you’ll likely be part of the crowd that gets 80% of the results!
  2. Having the breadth of knowledge that getting certified entails enables you to pinpoint the 20% that’s worth 80% of the effort!
  3. There are MANY certifications. Probably only about 20% of certifications have much of a following…but that 20% does not necessarily stay static.
  4. 20% of those certified in a particular discipline will make far more than the rest – perhaps 80% of the total earnings?!
  5. You have probably heard of 20% of the certifications out, and not the other 80%.
  6. 80% of your earnings will likely result from just 20% of your skills and credentials.
  7. 20% of the factors regarding a certification will be responsible for your decision to go for it, and 80% won’t matter much.
  8. 80% of the technical problems result from 20% of the causes.
  9. Personal branding, defining your brand, knowing and working your strengths and weaknesses is part of the 20% that is responsible for 80% of your success.
  10. 20% of your effort in getting certified will be responsible for 80% of your results.

Here is the list of eight (8) related business certifications that you could leverage for 80:20 success right now:


John Reiling, PMP John currently holds or has held various certifications, degrees and credentials – PMP, ITIL, SSGB, MBA, PE,… – that have served him well for a period, only to be supplanted by another skill set either in higher demand or in a different role.


1 comment to John Reiling, PMP: Are you a “100 certification” person?

  • Sorry John but the ONLY thing passing multiple choice exams validates is the ability to pass multiple choice exams.

    The other part your advice missed is that not all certifications are equal. Some of them actually require that you demonstrate that you are competent at what we do and not just be able to successfully learn the lingo then pass multiple choice exams.

    To try to bring some sense to the I marketing hype, I have benchmarked some 40 of the worlds best known project management credentials against the US Professional Engineer (PE) license as well as Malcolm Gladwell’s “10,000 hour” rule and the ONLY PMI credential which ranks as a legitimate professional level credential is their PgMP and several of the credentials you recommend above Axelos PRINCE2 and ITIL) rank so low as to SCAMS. The popular PRINCE2 and ITIL rank even lower than PMI’s CAPM.

    Bottom line- for those who consider yourselves to be truly PROFESSIONAL project managers as opposed to professional EXAM TAKERS, challenge yourself to some of the competency based credentials and then see how you measure up.

    Dr. PDG, Jakarta, Indonesia