Monday, January 16, 2012

PMP or CAPM? - Our course prepares you for either.

[The following is from an email to a student inquiry on PMP and CAPM I thought pertinent enough to share.]

There are two PM certifications that our course prepares students for. The primary one is the PMP or Project Management Professional certificate from the PMI® (Project Management Institute - In addition to 35 contact hours of project management training (our course), there is a qualification requirement for the PMP of 36 months hands-on PM work totaling at least 4500 hours if you have a BA. If no BA, it's 60 months and 7500 hours. The application is fairly thorough (long), and they do random audits, etc. The PMP certificate is roughly equivalent to a CPA (Certified Public Accountant - IMHO) certification. The exam costs $555 ($405 if you're a PMI member), is 200 questions and 4 hours long after you qualify, and it covers a broad spectrum of project management and general business knowledge.

The second is the entry level certification. It is called the Certified Associate Project Manager (CAPM) and only requires a high school diploma and at least 23 hours training experience. Qualification is much more relaxed, basically if you go through the training you would be qualified if you have a HS Diploma. The exam is 150 questions, $300, and focuses on the project management principles and practices of the PMBOK Guide (PMBOK = project management body of knowledge, usually pronounced pim-bahk).
Our course covers the training for both certificates. It's more than is needed for just the CAPM, though there are a couple benefits versus taking just a straight CAPM preparatory course. First, eventually you would probably go for the PMP, and the 35 hour training class qualification does not expire. So as soon as the experiential component of the PMP qualification is met, you've already got the training component satisfied and you could apply. The next benefit is that you will receive a broader exposure to all the practices of project management with the result you'll be a more learned (and I think better) project manager. Not a bad thing.
It is pretty much a personal choice. Project Management is one of those professions that you can actually do for 30-40 years and not get bored. The diversity of types of work is almost infinite. I cannot think of a company in any discipline that does not have multiple projects running somewhere in the company just about anywhere in the world. Another nice benefit of the PMI's certificates is that they are acknowledged, recognized, and desired globally - you can take it anywhere and it will be respected. The basic principles of the PM standard are universal.
Frankly, I have literally dozens of certifications in technology and business, and more than several college degrees. Please don't misunderstand, they all have their value, but if I were applying for an $80/hr PM job and up against a PMP with 10 years experience versus having an MBA and 10 years experience, the PMP is more likely to get the job, and more likely to get the premium salary.
Here are some links to the PMI's handbooks on the CAPM and PMP certification processes. They are required reading if you decide to pursue the certification as there are questions on the exam from their content.
The CAPM Handbook -
The PMP Handbook -

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Why pick ICGPM Cert Prep School?


Consider the following:

- Many Project Managers are contract workers. This makes sense for employers. Remember that a Project is "a temporary endeavor". It also means you're probably hourly, and if you don't work, you don't get paid.

- Few companies pay for their employee's training any more, especially when it's not a specific technical need, and no one ever paid for professional services training of contractors.

- We get students from other schools that have failed the exam and don't want to repeat the same failing training course.  What's different?  Well, as we say on day one, hour one, our goal is to get you prepared to pass the exam. To that end, yes, we can give you the complex mathematical formulas, but, unlike "regular" math tests, you don't have to provide the proofs here!  We teach you how to get the right answer, not necessarily how to do algebra.  OMG! ALGEBRA!  Yep, there's some of that on the exam.  No worries, we have our "tips & tricks", and they work as is evidenced by ALL of our students that took the exam last year are now PMP's.

- You know, sometimes life just gets in the way. You're ready for the exam, or getting ready, and a family emergency happens. You were sitting there one day in your cube and the boss comes by and sends you across (or out of) the country for a week, month, or more. Or, and this happens a lot, your company does an acquisition and now there's 200 times as much work - yeah like you're going to study.  We have free, anytime, no strings attached, retakes of the course.

So - as it is highly likely you will have to pay for your own education, on your own time, our position is that it should be reasonably priced (affordable) and be offered (using weekend/holiday days as much as possible) when it doesn't cost you even more! You might be ok with loosing one or two days in a week for training, but Four!? That's hundreds more on top of the course cost.

When life happens, no worries. ALL of our students can retake all or any part of the class whenever they would like for up to a year at NO additional charge. Just let us know your coming so we will be sure to save you a seat. Some students just plain take the class twice! Like I said, no worries, come on down. WE want you to be ready when you take the exam.

To keep costs low there are lots of "extras" we don't pile on. No we don't provide lunch - it would cost us (you) about $35ea/day (you thought that lunch was free? LOL!). We spent 8 months writing our Study Guide, based on over 35 years experience and almost 20 years using the PMBOK Guide principals, and we update it constantly (which is why it's not printed in advance and distributed digitally instead). We receive consistent, repetitive comments from students that our book is more succinct and easier to read/understand than what you can get at the book store. That doesn't mean those others aren't good, they are, and you may want to get one (Rita Mulcahy is real popular). But... shouldn't that be your choice?

We do include two practice exam sites. No scrimping there! Believe it, practice exams are KEY to your success. You must practice the types of questions that appear on the exam - it's not like any other certification exam you've ever taken. I know, I've taken literally dozens.

Everyone will need a copy of the PMBOK Guide, and it's free if you join the PMI. You also save another $20 on the exam if you join, so all in all, join the PMI. You don't need to renew, but what the heck, save the $20 on the exam and the $50 for the book. Cost of the exam without membership = $555; cost of the exam including membership $534. Just join. You get all the other PMI cert books free too - Risk Management, Program Management, etc.  Lot's of good ideas and practices in them.

You see, we (all the training companies) are teaching the SAME thing - the PMI's book which also happens to be an ANSI Standard - yep, we're all teaching the same standard. There are some additional topics that are not in the book, and we all teach those too (at least I hope we do).

The primary differentiators are the style and the "methods" we have individually developed. Several of our methods are not taught by anyone else - at least, we didn't experience it (yeah, we've been through PMP boot camps too) and no one has told us different. For example - in the past two years, no student has been able to draw the complete PM Framework - 9 knowledge areas, 5 process groups, and 42 processes - from memory at the start of day one. At the end of day 4, every student can accomplish the task - usually to their amazement - and it doesn't take more than 5% of the total instruction time to learn. We have other exercises and techniques we teach that makes learning EVM (earned value management) and other requisites... not "easy", but certainly not complex or hard. Ever do a multi-scenario, probability weighted, net path value calculated business risk based decision analysis? You will for the Exam, and you'll learn how in class. It's not "hard", but our exercise will give you the skill you need to do it right.

So, you might ask, "what is your success rate?" Well, there's several ways to look at it, so to help you understand the "spin", here are the common methods you might run into.
  • Raw score - % of students that took the test and passed on first try, we are at 97+%. 
  • Students that knew they were not ready, told us so, but for whatever reason felt they "had" to take the exam on a particular day, take them out of the equation and we get a 99% pass rate. 
  • Students that knew they were ready and passed our mock exam - 100% pass rate over the last 2+ years. 
(FYI - in 2005 the pass score for the PMP exam was proposed by/to the PMI at 81%!)

No, it is not a light weight, insignificant, certification. The PMBOK Guide is an ANSI standard recognized internationally. The PMP Certification is a real professional certification, it's not one of those read a book, pass the exam certificates. It rates right up there with CPA (Certified Public Accountant). It's no wonder that the PMP Certificate is being required more and more by companies, especially government, finance, and health organizations, to be considered for a position. They are looking for Professionals, not just workers.

Successful students of our course are just that, Professional Project Managers. They typically have 8-10+ years recent hands-on experience in more than one company. They are looking to advance their skill-set and status in their chosen profession. They are motivated to learn and advance themselves - we just provide some help.