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What is Professional Certification and should we pursue this?

Published: 2016-07-26

The job market is becoming increasingly competitive - not only in South Africa, but across the globe and professionals are increasingly under pressure to distinguish themselves from the competition. In the project management and business analysis fields, as in many other disciplines, there is an option to gain an internationally recognised and accredited certification to set you apart and confirm your status as a leading and respected authority in these industries.

Benefits of professional accreditation

If an individual has gone through the process of obtaining professional certification, having the credentials at hand will give them an advantage over other job seekers without the certification when looking for employment. The level of education and experience required for the certification ensures that the salary potential for the individual is also higher. Accredited professionals will have learned a standardised set of generally-accepted industry practices that can be used in their own company projects, and they’ll be better equipped to teach the skills to other team members, while contributing to overall business efficiency.

Professional project management accreditation

For senior-level project managers with a minimum of three to five years of experience in project management, depending on other qualifications held, , it is possible to undertake accreditation as a PMP® (Project Management Professional). For more junior project managers who meet the relevant criteria at entry-level with about a years’ worth of experience, or introductory project management training, it is an excellent career move to consider certification as a CAPM® (Certified Associate in Project Management).

The Faculty Training Institute offers intensive PMP® and CAPM® workshops that empower project managers to write the necessary certification examinations by providing a structured preparation forum and a network of support. This exam preparation course is based on the PMI® (Project Management Institute) standards and is structured so that the specific areas of the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) are comprehensively covered. “The PMI oversees certification of project managers as part of its role in setting industry standards for the profession”, says Carol Mould, Principle Project Management Lecturer at FTI, “and the aim of this certification is to ensure that a person delivering project management services meets standards of practice that have been independently verified.”

“For someone considering professional accreditation as a project manager, it is advisable to participate in an exam preparation workshop to work with likeminded professionals to enhance their chances of passing the accreditation exam first time,” Mould explains. As for why accreditation is something that project management professionals should pursue, Mould says that “certification is an indication that an individual is ready to meet the demands of projects and employers across the globe. These certifications are designed to meet the real-world project management needs of organisations and with a certification to their name, individuals can work anywhere in the world. More than just a certificate, this accreditation is confirmation that the individual is conversant in the global language of project management and that they take their career seriously. It is of benefit both to the employer and the individual, as the employer can be confident that the individual has the requisite knowledge, while the individual benefits from a rock-solid foundation of core project management competencies,” Mould continues.

Professional business analyst accreditation

The Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP®) certification involves formal recognition of achievement after an individual proves competency through a demonstration of a designated set of skills and knowledge. This shows the individual has the necessary experience, knowledge and competencies of a qualified practitioner of business analysis according to requirements designated by the IIBA® (International Institute of Business Analysis™). “There are currently four levels of certification,” explains Lucy Davies who heads up the IIBA-SA Professional Development Portfolio in South Africa, “The first can be done with zero hours of professional experience, but requires certain theoretical knowledge criteria to be met. The second level of accreditation can be done after 3500 hours of BA experience, and the third level after 7500 hours, while the final level requirements is 15 000 hours of experience. This is useful because it gives the industry an experience benchmark and determines seniority and validates the experience of BA professionals, showing employers exactly where an individual is in their career as a business analyst.”

For individuals considering pursuing accreditation, Davies recommends participation in study groups and suggests completing a CBAP® exam preparation workshop offered through FTI, in order to make the most of the certification examination. Accreditation is a worthwhile pursuit for individuals with the knowledge and experience that comes from working in the fields of business analysis, systems analysis, requirements analysis or management, process improvement and consulting. “Such certification proves that the individual can walk the talk, in terms of what it is that business analysts should be doing. It shows that the individual is well-versed on generally-accepted practices, and employers can be assured that such an individual is using the same terminology and referencing the same body of knowledge as is expected in the industry.”

“Furthermore, certification improves the individual’s overall performance, boosts their confidence and also increases their job market opportunities. We’ve also seen that the process of achieving and maintaining certification helps ensure professionals grow and refine their skills, encouraging individuals who have invested in their BA careers to keep doing so. Ultimately individuals who are committed to accreditation feel a great sense of personal achievement when reaching such career milestones, in addition to the sense of belonging that comes from participation in an internationally-recognised professional group,” Davies concludes.

For details on Faculty Training Institute’s certification courses, please see

For PMP®/CAPM: http://www.fti.co.za/pmip
For CBAP®: http://www.fti.co.za/cbap

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