Project Management is the right place for you if you love to learn. There are so many different opportunities for growth it is sometimes hard to keep up. You can learn about the soft skills necessary to manage people on your project and keep them motivated. Or, you can dig into the hard skills necessary to decompose a massive deliverable to its base components for the purpose of scoring, schedule, resource assignment, and estimate. Then there’s always the opportunity to get to know more about the specific area in which you manage projects. For example, you can learn more about the pharmaceutical, construction, or telecommunications industries.
Then there’s the special education and learning requirement that comes from having a professional project manager certification. There are many certifications a project manager can take advantage of, but they all have at least one thing in common. All certifications require ongoing education and learning in order to meet the requirements of renewing a certification.
Keeping your certification current takes time. So, what is the best use of your time when it comes to picking a project management course? The following are a couple of factors you should consider and the pros and cons of the different formats a project management course can be offered.
What is Your Motivation for Taking a Project Management Course?
The first question you need to ask yourself is why you need to take this project management course. Is it strictly to meet the requirements to keep your certification current? Or, is there certain knowledge or skills you need to acquire in order to complete one of your projects? The answer to this question can help determine the type of project management course you should take.
As a rule of thumb, it’s always best to choose a course that is going to help you in your current role and longer-term career as a project manager. Then, make sure you can receive credit toward your certification based upon the skills you have acquired.
It’s a bit surprising how many Project Managers will focus just on the number of credits that are needed rather than the topics that are being covered. Credits toward your certification are important, but honing your craft in specific areas of project management is arguably more important. Specialization is what can differentiate you from your peers and open the door to more positions, higher salaries, and future growth.
Your motivation in taking a project management course should be to go for the best of both worlds. Earn the credits necessary for your professional certification, but also ensure it is a course that will help you excel in your project management career. This can be done by asking yourself what you like, or being honest with yourself and asking what areas you need may need to improve. Having a hard time answering the question about where you would need to improve? Ask those around you. Ask your manager, ask your project team, and if you have a real good relationship with your clients you may even ask them what you could do better. This will be a great place to start to shore up any weaknesses you may have and continue to grow both personally and professionally.
3 Ways to Take a Project Management Course
There are a handful of different ways that you can take a project management course once you have answered the question about your motivation. The three most common methods are 1) in the classroom, 2) on the go (such as an MP3 recording or mobile course) or 3) at your desk. The following provides an outline for the pros and cons of each:
In the classroom
This common form of taking a project management course harkens back to school days. We sit in a classroom for a number of hours or days with other students and an instructor in front of the classing teaching a particular topic.
The Pros? – Classroom training is a great way to fully immerse yourself in the learning experience. Having an instructor and other students around you means your cell phone is off, your email goes unchecked (it should, anyway), and you are not interrupted incessantly throughout the day. It’s also a great opportunity to network and collaborate with your peers who are going through the same project trials and tribulations as you.
The Cons? – Classroom training is typically a bit more expensive than the other options of taking a course on the go or at your desk. Additionally, it is a large investment of your time as it goes beyond just the time necessary to take the project management course. You will need to factor in travel time, dealing with traffic, and lunch or dinner plans.
On the go
The next option to take a project management course is “on the go”. Nearly everyone has a phone that is also an MP3 player. You can download these courses on your phone and listen to them while you are driving, in flight, waiting at an airport, or a host of other locations.
The Pros? – This is great for people that are always busy and on the go. Or, they may have a long commute to work. This allows you to turn time that may have been wasted in the past into an educational opportunity. These courses are also typically less expensive than classroom training and cover a very diverse set of project management topics and skills.
The Cons? – If you find it hard to concentrate on more than one thing at a time, this may not be for you. Driving is undeniably important. If you can’t drive and listen at the same time without being distracted…then choose driving. Seriously, you know your most effective learning style. If you find it hard to stay focused, then classroom training may be a better option for you.
At your desk
This one has certainly been around for awhile. Remember when it was revolutionary to be able to see someone flip through a PowerPoint presentation on your screen? Now, we’re disappointed if we don’t have the ability to see the presenter, watch them mark up our screen, ask questions, and watch a homemade video production about the topic they are covering! Being trained at our desk has come a long way and something of which we can all benefit.
The Pros? – It’s at your desk. This time-saving way of learning means you don’t need to go anywhere. You just fire up your browser, call in, and start learning.
The Cons? – It’s at your desk. This means you are still wide open for interruptions and phone calls and a multitude of other distractions that could occur at your desk. Plus, the first “screening” of a presentation at your desk is usually at a set time. So, if you wanted to engage with the presenters and audience live you need to be sure to be online at a particular time.
There a number of ways to take a project management course. Just remember that it’s not just about a certain number of credits. More importantly, a project management course is about keeping you informed, motivated and engaged in this fast paced line of work!