As a co-founder of Kickass PM, people often assume that I have my PMP, meaning I’m a certified Project Management Professional. However, I don’t have my PMP, nor do I have any other project-management related certification, such as Agile Certified Practitioner (ACP), Certified Scrum Master (CSM), or Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO). Aside from being a Kickass Project Manager, I have no acronyms after my name.

For a long time, I didn’t think there was any reason to become certifi\ed. I had worked at the same company for several years with great job security, and I felt like I was learning a lot on the job from my boss and my project management peers. I was under the impression that getting my PMP was only a measure I needed to take if I was looking for a job.

Ask the Experts

The panelists for our April meetup represent a broad swath of certified Project Managers:

Alicia Ross – PMP

Sharon Henry – PMP

Dan Corbin – CSP, CSPO

Christopher C Robbins – PMP, CSM

We opened the questions for our PMP and CSM panel up to our audience via Twitter, and here are a few major takeaways.

Career Advancement

Although each of our panelists ultimately sought their certifications for different reasons, they all agreed that getting their certification had advanced their career in some way. Regardless of whether the certification ended up having an impact on their day-to-day practice of project management, they all saw benefits to having that certification. Whether it was for better job offers, the opportunity to travel for their company, or ensuring they would be assigned to a high-profile project based on their credentials, all of the panelists indicated that certifications improved the opportunities available to them.

Everyday PM’ing

The panelists acknowledged that getting a PMP didn’t immediately alter their day-to-day role and interactions with their clients and teams, Every company has it’s own processes in place, and has it’s own way of doing things. While the knowledge gained from the PMP has proven helpful for problem solving and large scale project planning, it’s not as immediately actionable as the ACP, CSM, or CSPO certifications.

Specifically, the ACP, CSM, and CSPO cover a much more specific element of project management (either Agile or Scrum) whereas the PMP is much broader in the type of project management styles that are addressed.

The Head of the Class

Two of the biggest drawbacks to taking the test are the cost of the class and the time commitment. Although it’s not required that testers take a prep course, it is highly recommended. There were a few project managers in the audience who did not take a class, but studied the PMI books individually and took the test successfully; so it can be done! However, our panelists all agreed that the class was invaluable to passing the test and managing their workload.

Most classes also come with some sort of guarantee success rate, and also offer study groups and practice exams.

The Price Tag

In addition to the PMI books (which are typically about $100 a piece), the price of taking a prep course can range from $800 to $1,200. The test itself can cost $400 – $500 depending on whether you pay to be a member of PMI.

One of our Kickass PM audience members also recommends the Head First PMP book.

Folks interested in the Agile and Scrum certifications and application fees cost about $300 total, and classes can range from a few hundred to $1,000.

The Bottom Line

Although getting certified can take considerable time, effort, and money, none of our panelists regret their decision to become certified as a PMP or with Agile or Scrum. As one Kickass PM put it, “I didn’t get my PMP for the job I have now, or the next one I have. I got my PMP so that I can have the type of career I want to have when I’m 45 or 50.” As your dedication to the field of project management evolves, and if you find this becoming your career path instead of just a role you’re fulfilling at your current company, then it may be just the right move for you.