For professionals in business, technology, and just about any other field, project management education can be the stepping stone that moves you out of the cubicle and into the corner office with a view. Project management education proves to employers that you have the business sense and the people skills to manage effectively and bring projects to completion. If you enjoy delegating and working with people, consider pursuing formal project management education to take your career to the next level.

Understanding Project Management Certification

The Project Management Institute is a global organization that accredits project management professionals worldwide, requiring specific workplace and educational experiences to grant certifications. Canadian employers hiring a project manager want candidates with formal Project Management Institute (PMI) certification, and a PMP (Project Management Professional) designation is the best choice if you want to lead and manage project teams. According to the Project Management Institute, PMPs need 5 years of project management experience, with at least 7,500 hours spent leading project tasks, plus 35 hours of formal project management education. You can also qualify for a PMP designation if you have a 4-year bachelor's degree, 3 years project management experience with 4,500 hours spent leading project tasks, plus 35 hours of project management education. Once you have the required qualifications, you need to take a four hour, 200-question multiple choice exam to earn your PMP designation.

Some project management courses in Canada are formally approved by the PMI for meeting the 35-hour educational requirement. In most cases, your end goal should be PMP certification if you want to be desirable to employers. When evaluating your educational options, research whether your program of choice is PMI certified. Some programs can also help you to get PMP work experience hours, as well as the required education.

Option 1: Go the MBA Route

If you have the time, money and ambition, adding an MBA to your resume can make you even more employable than a PMP designation alone. MBA programs in Canada offer the courses you need to work toward your 35 hours of project management education, and are offered on a full-time or part-time basis at a number of universities. McGill, McMaster, Queen's, the University of Alberta, the University of British Columbia, the University of Calgary, the University of Toronto, the University of Western Ontario and Wilfrid Laurier University all offer top-rated MBA programs. You'll need at least 2 years of work experience before pursuing an MBA. Ask yourself whether you're at the right place in your career to go for an MBA; if not, consider other project management education options.

Option 2: Take Post-Graduate Courses at a University

Canadian universities offer a number of post-graduate project management certificates to suit different needs and circumstances. The University of Victoria has Canada's longest-running certificate program, and caters toward business professionals with practical experience--you don't need a university degree to complete this certificate. Mount Royal University offers a project management certificate that you can take on-campus or online for ultimate flexibility. Humber College's school of business is well-recognized, and they offer a short, yet comprehensive two semester certificate program. If you're an IT professional looking for project management education specific to your field, specialized programs are available. For example, the University of Ottawa's Telfer School of Management offers a certificate in Information Technology Project Management.

Many Canadian universities offer some kind of project management education through their continuing studies departments. Continuing education divisions at both the University of Toronto and the University of British Columbia offer well-respected project management certificate programs.

Option 3: Take Courses at an Executive Training Facility

Executive education institutions compete with universities to offer project management education, and also offer high-quality, PMI-certified courses. The Canadian Management Centre (CMC), for example, not only offers project management courses and seminars, but can also help with PMP test preparation. Because learning is a lifetime process, PMPs need to take courses to maintain their certification. The CMC makes it easy to take just a few seminars so that you can get the PMI-required Professional Development Units (PDUs) you need to keep your hard-earned PMP designation.

Advice for High School and Current University Students

If you're a current high school or university undergraduate interested in project management, choose a major in a field that interests you, and seek out project management electives. Check if your school/prospective school offers special programs to help you get project management education and experience. For example, York University offers an International Project Management program, where students earn both a Bachelor of Environmental Studies and an International Project Management certificate in just 4 years.

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