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On-the-Job Project Management Training: Fact or Fiction?

written by: Ronda Bowen • edited by: Marlene Gundlach • updated: 11/23/2010

History shows that many project managers received their training on-the-job. Does this on-the-job training successfully prepare a PM for Certification?

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    The Myth

    You start a new job, and eventually you find yourself receiving on-the-job training to be a project manager. The previous project manager leaves, and you're left with her job. The only catch? To make it official, you have to take the Certification exam. Your boss tells you not to worry - you'll pass with flying colors, after all, you've received all the training and instruction you need - and you have experience. Is this true?

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    The Not-So-Easy Answer

    What Kind of Training Might You Get? Those who read a lot might not do well on a test given on Shakespeare. Why? Because, they might not have read Shakespeare, or there may be key plays in his complete works that they have missed. The same is true of the Certification process. While it is highly likely that you are qualified for your job, and you know the ins and outs of how project management works for your company, you may not be thoroughly versed on all of the aspects tested during the certification process. Your company may not follow the Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK) to the letter - or they may not be familiar with the formal processes at all. It would seem then, that no matter how great your on-the-job training to be a project manager, you will still want to read the PMBOK and study in preparation for the Certification Exam.

    Even if your company adheres to the PMBOK line by line, you really should be familiar with the certification materials yourself. Why? Information can be misinterpreted, and companies almost always customize information to their needs. Your company might do everything by the book except for the closing proceedures. Or, maybe they slip on some of the steps in planning. Whatever the case is, make sure you have all your bases covered by studying for the exam.

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    The Side-Notes

    Most of the training a project manager receives is on the job. Part of the reason for this is that each company tailors project management to their particular needs. So while your company might not provide you with all of the resources you need to pass the certification exam, it is important to learn all you can on the job. Real-world experience is invaluable.

    By the same token, taking the exam and becoming certified through the Project Management Institute greatly increases your chance of advancement. It is well-worth the time and effort to become well-versed in the PMBOK. If not for your current job, for a future job or the ability to consult part-time.

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    Further Reading

    For more information, you may wish to read the following Bright Hub articles:

    What are your Project Management Certification Options? by Preetam

    How to Become a Project Manager by nicolelamarco

    How to Become Certified as a Six Sigma Green Belt or Black Belt by Heidi Weisenfelder

    Illustration in this article provided by