Project Management Classes: Which Ones Should You Take? (And Thoughts on PM Degrees)


– If you’re just getting started in your project management career, you might be asking yourself, “What classes do I need to take?” and “Do I need a degree?” I’ve been coaching and
mentoring project managers now for a little over 15 years, many of whom have gone on to have very, very successful careers. Today in this video,
I’m gonna share with you the advice that I’ve shared with them. (calm electronic music) All right, so in this
video I’m gonna talk to you about the three different paths that I think you can take when it comes to getting your education, your certification and
landing that first job. Also, I’m gonna do something
a little bit risky today. I’m gonna share with you my biggest regret about how I got my start and what I might have done differently if I could do it over again. Also, if you stay tuned, I have a very special offer for you which we’ll talk about
at the end of this video. It’s an offer I think
you’ll be interested in, especially if you’re just
getting started in your career. However, having said that, I think you’re gonna enjoy,
or it would be something that would be very
useful for you regardless of where you are in your career path. In this spirit of our
theme for this month, for the remainder of this
month and for next month, this video is really
speaking mostly towards people who are just getting
started in their career. It is also somewhat
North American focused. However, having said that, a lot of what I’m going
to say to you today will apply regardless of
where you are in the world. So in order to land a PM job these days, if you look at the job boards
and you look at the postings, almost every single project manager job requires a PMP certification. Rightly or wrongly, that’s
just the way that it is, at least here in North America. There’s a lot of debate around the value of a PMP certification, and that’s a subject
for a whole other video. But fact remains you need one in order to get a job in most cases. So when you think about what classes you might need to take to get started, knowing that you’re gonna
need a certification, I would recommend finding classes that help you to take the PMP exam. Now, there are two certifications
I want you to be aware of. There is the PMP, which
is for project managers. Your prerequisite to get
a PMP is that you actually have to have project
management experience, and in our next video, we talk about that
chicken and egg scenario. In order to get the designation, I need to have project
management experience. But in order to get a project manager job where I’d get the
experience, I need the PMP. Lot of people ask me, “How do I deal with that
chicken and egg scenario?” and we will cover that in the next video. But just know that the PMP is for project managers with experience. There is another little-known,
lesser-known certification that PMI offers, and
that’s called the CAPM, the Certified Associate
of Project Management. It’s the same test,
but you do not have to, or you’re not required, to document that you have previous
project management experience. So with no experience whatsoever, you can take the test,
you can get your CAPM. Now what does that give you? A CAPM actually makes you eligible for a lot of entry-level PMO jobs, such as the project
administrator or project analyst, project control officer. There’s a lot of different names for those entry-level roles. But essentially these are the roles that, these are the people that work with and alongside experienced project managers to help those project managers manage larger projects and programs. It’s an awesome job for
someone just getting started because you get to work
alongside experienced PMs in large projects and
you get to understand how all of those things work, and your ass is not on the
line because it’s not you, you’re not managing the project, you are assisting the project manager. So a PA job is actually an excellent job for people to get started. Okay, so let’s get to the
other juicy topic here which is do you need a
degree to be a successful PM? And the short answer to that
question is no you do not. A successful PM is a
person who has the ability to bring a bunch of
different people together to pool their skills and their resources to achieve great things. A degree, whether you have a
degree or do not have a degree doesn’t determine whether
or not you can do that. Usually it’s your
experience that allows you to do those types of things. In the project management
world, experience is king. However, having said that, if you want to manage
specific kinds of projects, for example if you want
to build rockets for NASA or if you want to build oil platforms in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, or if you want to build
bridges and skyscrapers and things like that, then you probably will need a degree in some other discipline before you can be considered to be a PM on some of those projects. So for example, if you
want to build bridges for your local municipality, you’re probably gonna need
a civil engineering degree before you can even be
considered to be a PM who might be in control of a project team who’s building the next
Golden Gate Bridge. So in those cases, if
there’s very specific kinds of projects you would like to manage, then path number one
out of the three paths that I said we would cover today is get a degree in a different discipline, whether that be a scientific
one or an engineering one, get your designation and then begin your project management career. Begin amassing your experience. So that’s path A, we’ll call it. Now, other people will come to me and say, “Hey Jason, but at my local
college or university, “I actually see curriculum or degrees “for project management. “Are those good ones to
get for project managers?” And I would say absolutely. I’m really overjoyed, because
when I first started my career there was no such thing as a
degree in project management. It would have been cool if there was but there wasn’t a whole
lot of classes available to us 25 years ago. So those, I’m sorry, I take it back. There were classes but there wasn’t actual curriculum and
degree programs for it. I’ve looked at some of the curriculum for the local universities
and things here in Canada like in and around Toronto,
and I’m really happy to see the types of
classes that are included. They do cover a lot of the soft skills that a person might need
in order to be successful, and they get into business theory and how to make solid business decisions and they get into finances
and all of the things that might make a PM successful. So I think the curriculum in some of these undergraduate degrees is really awesome. I’m also hearing great things from the students that
come out of those programs and that start working for me in PMOs. I listen to them about
what they were taught, the experiences they have, they do a lot of work experience as well so you have several
projects that you manage as you go through your degree program, such that when you get to the end, you have the requisite experience to apply for the PMP right away. So in that respect it’s really good. So yeah, it’s a good option, and so path B would be project management degree, take those classes and those courses, get your PMP designation
and then begin your career and start getting your experience. But then people will say, “But, you know Jason, you said “you don’t have to have a degree. “What should I do? “Should I get the degree or should I not?” And my answer to that question is if you can afford it, then go for it. Because there’s nothing better. I love learning, and there’s
absolutely nothing better than having the opportunity to sit down and devote most of your brain cycles to just absorbing new information
and learning new things. I think it’s fantastic, and if somebody can afford to do that, if they have the time,
they have the money, then I would say go for it, do it. I think it’s a great thing. But if you can’t afford it then I’m here to tell you don’t sweat it. There is a path for you,
and that’s the third path. The third path is no degree, find a class, get your certified associate of project management, get that entry-level job, be a PA or PCO for three years, four years. Then get your PMP because you’ll have the requisite experience at that point, and then go and lobby for your PM job. It’s not a less than path in my view because three to four years of real-world experience on projects is just as valuable, and
depending on that experience, maybe even more valuable than three or four years in the classroom. So it’s not a less than path. If you can’t afford it,
do not go into debt. That would be my recommendation, it’s been my recommendation for years. Don’t go into debt getting a degree in project management. It’s not worth it, just get out there, start working in PMOs, start in those entry-level
roles and work your way up. Chances are you’re gonna land your first junior project
management role at the same time regardless of which of the
three paths you follow. So if you go for your degree, in fact I think path number one, where I talked about getting
an engineering degree, then getting your PMP, then getting your experience, that’s probably the longest
path out of all of them. But it’s worth it if
that’s what you want to do. If you want to build rockets for NASA, then you need some sort of degree in some sort of science or engineering. And if that’s what you want to do, then you’re gonna want to, you’re not gonna be upset about
putting in the extra time. In that path though, you probably won’t get
project management experience in your undergraduate
studies for engineering. You’ll probably have to
finish that, get your CAPM and then work another three or four years, then get to your PMP, then get into a project management job. So that’s probably your longest path. But between path B and C, so B being you go and you
get your project management bachelor’s degree, you get
your PMP at the end of that cause they put in the work experience. There’s a pretty good chance that you might land a
junior PM job after that, but there’s also the possibility that you’ll have to take a PA role for a year or two anyways. So again, you take path B, it may be three to four
years of university. Then another year or so of experience before you land that
first project manager job. Path C, where you started
getting your experience day one, if you’re good at what you do, I’d be very surprised if you don’t have a junior
PM job within four years. So you actually might, you just might become a PM faster without the degree. But the choice is yours, there’s no right or wrong
path for any one individual. It’s a very individual thing. So, in a nutshell, is it
worth it, getting a degree? Yes if you can afford it,
no if you can’t, right? Do you need it? Absolutely not, so if you can’t
afford it, don’t sweat it. That pretty much summarizes the advice that I give to people
in regards to degrees. Actually I promised you
that I was gonna share a personal story about some
of the regrets that I have about how I got started. So I’ll let you in on a little secret. I do not have a degree, and for those of you
who’ve known me for years we may or may not have talked about this and so you might be surprised
to hear me say that. I feel like I’ve had a very successful project
management career. My situation is I wanted to go to school. I love, love learning, and to this day I will devote whatever cycles I can to the art or the act of learning. I did study to be an engineer, an electrical engineer actually, and I started university and my family is awesome. My mother and father gave
me the best childhood ever. But one of the things that was sort of beyond their ability to give me was a fully paid for tuition. So I had to get loans and then we were able to get some
government loans and things that were deferrable, i.e. I didn’t have to start paying for
them until school was over, but then I had to cover
the balance with loans that were regular everyday loans that I’d have to start paying right away. So I had bills to pay, and the course, engineering studies, that I had chosen, the class, it was almost like high school, it was four to five classes
a day, Monday through Friday. So I went to class during the day and then I worked on swing shift as a security guard at night and the school and my
job were about 90 minutes away from where I lived. So my days consisted of commuting an hour and a half to
school in the morning, taking my classes, jumping in the car, going down the street,
doing the swing shift from four o’clock until midnight, and then driving an hour or so home, getting home around
midnight, one in the morning. If I had homework,
mostly could get it done while I was doing my security job. That was the reason why it
was such an awesome job. But I did that, marginally successfully,
for about two years. And it was really starting to get to me, and even at a very young age, it was hard for me to be getting by on only three or four hours of sleep. And that was a good night, some nights I would have extra work to do and I might not get more than
a couple of hours of sleep. So it got to the point
where I was so tired, I was falling asleep on the
road, which was very dangerous. And there were many days on year two where I’d pull into the
parking lot of the university and I would just fall asleep. And I’d miss a few periods, first and second period of classes. And after a while I’d
missed so much class, one day they sent a letter home
saying just don’t come back. You’re obviously not taking
this seriously enough. And that was devastating to me. And I really wish I had
found a way to make it work. Looking back now I probably
could have been more creative, probably could have found
different ways to finance it. But at the end of the day,
what ended up happening was the moment they said, “Don’t come back,” the class was ended, the deferred loans were no longer deferred and those came in and I had a whole bunch of
additional bills to pay, and then I just started working my ass off to pay all of the money that I owed. So I walked away without a degree, I walked away with a whole lot of debt, and I ended up working for
the next several years, sometimes two and three
jobs in order to get by. But I was motivated and I learned a lot, and I went into sales and
from sales I went into IT, cause at the time anyone
could get into IT. If you were technical, you
were magical back then. So I was able to get an IT job and then from there I
got into IT management and then from there I got
into project management and then the rest is history. But my biggest regret
was that I wasn’t able to find a way to get a degree. And then years later, I might have been able
to go back and finish. I just regret not having it. And sometimes I look around,
I’m in the company of people who have master’s degrees and PhDs because I’m working with executives with a lot of credentials. And sometimes I let that get to me, I think, “Oh my goodness, they’re so much “more qualified than me.” But then I remind myself of
all that I’ve accomplished and I would say that I don’t think I have a less than career
than anybody out there with a degree and in fact
I hire a lot of people fresh out of university now. So take that for what it’s worth. I offer this story to you because for those of you who are out there and you’re thinking you can’t
afford to go to university, I’m here to tell you you
can be very successful without it even in this day and age. In fact, and this is
why I keep coming back to go if you can afford it. Cause there is absolutely nothing better in my view than learning,
learning is awesome, and that’s what makes us human beings, the fact that we can learn new things. So if you can do it
then do it, absolutely, more power to you, but if
you can’t, don’t stress. You can still make a
difference in this world, you can still have an
awesome career, just go do. Just go do, get off
your ass, get out there, get the experience, work
your ass off and do your best to make everybody else
around you successful. And then everything will
take care of itself. And so I share that story with you cause I hope for some of you that it’s an inspiration that
you don’t think to yourself, “Well gee, I could never have “a high-powered project management career “without that degree.” It’s absolutely not true. So with that, I’m gonna end this video, at least the topic of
training and education. I hope you found this valuable and now I’d like to
talk to you a little bit about a project that I’m working on. I’ve been training project managers now for a little over 15 years, and most of that training has
been in a classroom setting. And some of my more recent
roles as a freelancer, I’ve gone into organizations and I’ve seen project managers managing very large programs and projects, who are struggling with the basics. Basics such as how to pull
a project plan together, how to pull together an estimate, how to establish themselves as a leader. And I’ve taught classes
for years in person on how to do those things. I’m working on a project right now where I’m taking everything
that I used to give in the classroom setting and I’m putting it into an online format. I’ve already started filming the video portions of the course. There’s also gonna be very
practical pieces to it and a lot of templates and everything else and I’m really excited,
I’m putting it together now and I’m gonna pilot the course on June the first of this
year, that’s my goal. So as a project manager, I
really hope I hit that date because now it’s public, everyone knows. That’s when I’m planning
to pilot, June first. Now the pilot, obviously
as with any pilot, I’m testing out functionality, whether or not the messaging is right and whether it resonates,
whether people are getting real value out of the course and I’m just testing the format out and the technical aspect of it, whether or not logins and getting access to the course and everything
works and that sort of thing. So for those of you who
are watching this video, if you made it all the way to the end then you’re one of the few people who is finding this information valuable. These videos are getting
thousands of views, over 250,000 views so far on these videos. But a very small percentage of you, cause I get just statistics, make it all the way to
the end of the video. So if you’re one of those
people watching me right now, I have to believe that this information is interesting to you,
that it’s useful to you. So if you’re one of those people, I’d like to give you a special offer. Cause this course, when it’s done, I will probably have it on offer for somewhere in the
neighborhood of $250, like $249. But for the pilot, for those
of you who are interested, I’m putting up, it’s actually up in the upper right-hand corner for you, I’m gonna put a card on this video that if you click on it you
can go to a landing page where you can express your interest in joining the pilot group, and if you get on that
list, I’m gonna have this landing page available until May the 18th, at which point I’m gonna close it down, so between now and May the 18th, if you go express your
interest in the pilot, you can join the pilot for only $5. It’s a token amount, I’m
just trying to weed out the people who aren’t
gonna take it seriously. But five bucks, join the
pilot, get on the list. When the pilot opens
I will send you a note with your own special link and you can join the pilot for $5. If you enjoy these videos and
you like the format of them, actually the training’ll be even better because it’s gonna have some exercises and some scenarios so
it’s gonna be really cool. I’m really looking forward to it but if the chats that we’re having are resonating with you
then sign up for the pilot. I think you’re gonna find that the curriculum that I’m putting
together is useful for you. For those of you who are
just getting started out and even for those people who have been doing this for years. So click on the card in
the upper right-hand corner and sign up and get
yourself on that pilot list. I’d like to ask you though,
however, to interact. If you think this was useful information, interact with this video. That’s the only way this
video’s gonna show up in the search in the rankings. You know, if you like the
video, give me the thumbs up. If you didn’t like the video,
give me the thumbs down. Either way, let me know what you think. Also tell me, did you
learn anything new today? What path, if you’re just
starting out in your career, what path are you planning on taking? Are you gonna do path A and go
for that engineering degree, or are you gonna go path B and actually get a
project management degree? Or is path C the right one for you? Let me know, I’d love to hear from you. And for those of you who
are already in your careers, help out some of the other viewers. Talk about your story,
how did you get started? What kind of degrees did you get? What classes did you take? When did you get your certification? Talk about it with the
group here in the chat. I think it’d be very, very helpful, and the more we interact
with these videos, the easier it will be
for other PMs to find and so you’ll be doing
your part in helping our PM community get involved. So with that I’m gonna end this video, been a little longer than I thought but thank you very much for watching and we’ll see you next Friday.

56 Comments

  1. Hey Jason, it was really great hearing your story and your opinion on the different PM education paths. A little about mine; I've worked various IT roles ever since high school. It provided a stable income which allowed me to pursue a side-business in photography. I had a good run, but a couple years ago I realized I was losing interest and it was time to re-think my career. So I've attended college and now University part-time ever since. It's a slow process, but one that I plan to complete. Since moving, I've been working on developing a career plan to become a Project Manager. Signed up for PMI, entered in their mentoring program, purchased the PMBOK, etc. I'll likely take the CAPM sometime this year. Here's to hoping I don't fall asleep in my car before class. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    What are your thoughts on other certifications such as CSM, PMI-ACP, ITIL, etc?

    PS: Thanks for the awesome rate on the pilot program, I can't wait!

  2. I work in IT and have for 17 yrs. I'm switching over to PM but I've struggled in choosing the proper educational route. Thought about getting a degree but I've decided to take a few non-credit courses that are cheaper and set up to help me take the PMP exam. A degree will take too long. Besides I have enough degrees.

  3. Thank you for sharing your story, such an inspiration. Your videos are the clearest I've watched, I am finishing my second degree and thinking of getting into Project Management, but I have no experience, so I'm taking the pmi.org basic online course so I can qualify for the CAPM exam, thank you so much I was unsure at first, but now I am certain!

  4. I have been researching Path C and I appreciate your candor about pursuing degrees. I love school but these days days its about playing smarter not paying harder. Thanks again.

  5. Thank you for making these videos. I recently graduated with my associates in communication studies and found out that I love working on projects. I have been reading everything I can get my hands on to find out how to properly go down this path. Your videos really help me figure out my path.

  6. I have never heard of the CAPM and i just looked it up and I am super excited that i watched this video because no one else told me about this.

  7. Path C sounds like the way for me! I hope that new classes will be available soon. I'm devouring every video on this channel in one day!

  8. I have a BBA in finance and Marketing. I have been in Real Estate sales for 18 years and have been a Health and Human services manager for 7 years I took a 35 hour PMP prep course, now I need to take the CAPM exam. I found a job within healthcare as a QA coordinator hopefully that will give me project management experience so I can test for the PMP in 2 years.

  9. What would be your advice for someone in university getting a bachelor of commerce degree, with a concentrating in management? Which path to becoming a PM would you most recommend in this case?

  10. Thank you! I have my first PM interview this week ๐Ÿ‘ˆ

    Hope it goes well. Hopefully 4 years of recruiting will help me do well. ๐Ÿคž

  11. Hello Again Jason, I would like to say thank you for your videos. They are certainly helpful. I would give you a thumbs up. I've been a carpenter, journeyman since 2002, the past 20 years. Now I am transitioning into project management. The path that looks good for me in plan C. I am studying for the CAPM certification online and with the PMBOK Guide. Anyone interested you can check Tech Deals and Project Management courses. This is with ICollege. I am also going by your other video about breaking into the field and seeking to connect with a large company and be part of the PMO. Maybe you could give me some idea of the companies or where do I find those PM Offices? Or if someone else has any ideas. I love PM and see it as a great means to achieve great results. If you can lead a team, you are doing a job like a great machine can do. For example the larges loader in the world which is on youtube and in Texas. I'm in Canada also. In Alberta.

  12. Very valuable clip. I had to take my pen and notebook to write down useful and inspiring phrases! Im working as PM in Asia, extremely happy to find you here.

  13. Hi Jason, Ive worked as a Project Engineer for over 10 years. I have recently finished my Diploma of PM. Can you please tell me if my experience as a Project Engineer managing projects is relevant enough to go for my PMP? Curious to know the answer.

  14. Hey Jason, I have a degree in Computer Science and 10 years of experience as a web developer. But I'm bored of coding and want to get into management. What should I do? Take the CAPM? Where do I go from there?

  15. Thanks for your videos and advice. However my advice would be to share a complete date when you speak about dates as in June 1st 2018. Thanks to the comments of other viewers itโ€™s possible to understand the year but why not just mentioning it directly in your video?

  16. Love your videos. As of right now I have a degree in business, but I will take your advice and will look into the certifications. I'm interested and I know I'm a people person. I would love to start this new path. It's more realistic in the path I'm going.

  17. Thank You, Jason, for the content, your videos are not only valuable and informative, but also very inspirational! I am so sad I didn't see this video before May 18th 2018 ๐Ÿ™ as for the career path, I find myself in doing Path B, what do you think about Graduate Certificate in Project Management?

  18. Hi , I am postgraduate in English literature from India living in uk for 10 years but no job experience in uk. I am interested in job thatโ€™s why I am looking for career based courses after completing that I can directly get a job specially good salary job. I found PM suits my qualification n requirements. Kindly guide me what courses are best in P M and which institutes n colleges are best to enroll. Itโ€™s been 4 years to search for now I have that course and I have spent so much time already .please reply me , looking forward to see your response. Thanks Regards

  19. Hey Jason, thank you for sharing your experience. I have a Bachelor's degree in Environmental Science and would consider environmental work to be a passion of mine. Right now I am a young (26) small business owner who subcontracts myself as a skilled trade worker on construction projects. I do not want to be in the field forever. My skillset is more geared towards leadership and management roles. Recently I became very interested in project management and feel like it is a good match for me. I live in a small town where project management positions are rare but construction is everywhere. Eventually, I want to focus on green building or another aspect of environmental causes.

    To give myself an edge for this competitive job position I enrolled in a graduate certificate program for project management. So far so good after my first class but I am wondering if it is worth moving forward and completing the certificate, possibly even moving on to attain my masters. My question to you is, would you consider a masters in project management to be worth my time and allow me to move forward with my goals?

    Thanks!

  20. I'm very much interested in viewing the pilot, but there is a closed waitlist well before the deadline. Will it become available again before you launch, and how may I be added so that I don't miss it?

  21. Thank you for your videos – very useful information! I personally went through my insurance certification (CIP) and currently part-time going through University (a personal struggle) but I was wanting to take a break from university for 2-3 months and go after my CAPM. This video further confirmed my plans. However, I am in the Risk Management & Insurance industry, so I'm not sure if this is even relevant?

  22. I've been on the fence about getting into construction project management the past little while. Was planning path B by doing online schooling, but had more questions than answers.
    After viewing your videos, they've definitely answered a few questions I had. Just wanted to say thank you and keep up the great work of sharing your knowledge.

  23. I know that I'm late, but I'm going to take the CAPM path, thank you for sharing. The information that you share is valuable and much appreciated!

  24. Thanks for the inspiring videos. I suppose you didn't mention one path. And that's one year college courses on project management. I'm not sure if those will fit as the B path as I don't know if by the end of the one year program, I can take the PMP exam.

    Also I wish you made more videos.

  25. Thanks for making videos is very important for me, because I am Mexican and it is very difficult for Latinos to reach this position I have worked hard to be successful with only 15 years in the USA. I am reaching my dreams once again thanks for your help and your words

  26. Man I worked as Dev/QA and after a bit, I got in PO and Scrum Master.. Don't hold any degree and that backfires on me when I apply at places.. I think I might get a bachelors in PM

    Question: Would it mater if It was a BA in PM vs BS in PM?

  27. Thanks for the info mate.
    I hve been working in construction industry
    Over 10 yers .do you think its a good start for me as pm?thanks

  28. Inspiring story Jason๐Ÿ‘ well, I am considered an accidental PM. I was doing great with my career as a registered nurse but when there was influx of projects in my organization/ hospital (internal and external), I was one of those taken to act as a coordinator at first. And when there was shortage of PM's, I was forced to take over the 2 major projects. It is so challenging and I know how huge are the responsibilities I would be facing. This video had motivated me and made me stop contemplating as to accept or not the position offered to me. I know, I can do it. Thanks again๐Ÿ™๐Ÿ’•

  29. Jason your teachings and life story is such an inspiration. Thank you for being transparent in your sharing. Your videos are such an encouragement to me as an individual and as a person who is currently pursuing a Diploma in PM.

  30. Hi, Jason. Thank You so much for sharing your experience and giving helpful advises to people. You truly help a lot! I'm a high school student getting prepared to go into college as a running start student (which is 2 years of college instead of your junior and senior year in high school) and I'm considering becoming an IT project manager in my future, however I'm not sure which Associate Degree should I apply for. I would be very thankful if you would recommend me which Associate Degree would be right for me to choose in order to become an IT project manager.

  31. Again great information and advice…much better than what I remember getting from college counselors I feel very fortunate to have found your videos and advice!

  32. Hey Jason,

    I just came across your PM videos and subscribed to your channel. Great content! I clocked the link to sign up for the pilot and saw the message that the pilot is closed. Are you considering opening a second pilot?

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