We hold many project management careers clinics every month and we always get asked about developing in project management – especially formal project management qualifications.

Here’s the common type of thought we get:

I have also considered investing in the PRINCE2 set of qualifications to make me more PM ready and confident but fear investing in the course with no definite sight of returns. Will it help me land my next role or should I wait on it?

I always like to find the answer that says No to PRINCE2 – not an indefinite No – just a hold off a minute until we explore what experience you already have and what it is you’re trying to achieve.

We find that too many people are still seeing PRINCE2 as the defacto – go to – certification for project management. But it can be a terrible choice for people if they’re looking to break into project management or making a career change in project management. You’ll just become another person with no experience with a PRINCE2 badge – there’s enough of those already.

Learn the Basics of Project Management First – Not PRINCE2

We’ve written about this before*, what you ideally need at this stage in your career is something which covers the fundamentals of project management. It doesn’t matter where you choose to do this – do it online; take a course like this one; buy a book or read a lot online first. You don’t even need a qualification at this stage.

Here’s why not.

You need to understand the formal project management fundamentals first – that’s the lifecycles, processes, tools and techniques.

Chances are you’ve already been exposed to projects in some way before – probably even managed them in an informal way.

The first step is to capitalise on your informal experience by learning more about formal project management.

When you do this, two things start to happen.

One, you’ll start to pick up the terminology and understand that the informal way you had of doing something, actually has a name in formal project management land.

When you start to understand this, the second thing starts to happen.

Your confidence levels go up.

You know that project management isn’t rocket-science but actually, now you also start to understand it’s not a closed shop either.

It might just be possible to make the move into project management after all.

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Project Management is Your Second Career

And you know what, you’re right. Almost every project manager working today is a project manager as a second career choice.

That means they did something before – like an engineer, accountant, HR Manager, whatever.

They got into project management because of their first career subject matter knowledge.

And that’s what you are trying to do too.

So the next step after understanding the fundamentals of project management is to decide, what formal training will now help me along the way?

That might be; change management; agile; business analysis; PMO; project controls; strategy; programmes; more fundamentals of project management and then more advanced study.

There’s a whole load of different project management related training to pursue – far more than just the PRINCE2 methodology training that everyone is fixated on.

And yes, you might consider PRINCE2 at this point too. You’ll be choosing it for the right reasons – that you want knowledge about the best practice guidance on delivering projects via a waterfall method. You’ll not be choosing it because “someone” in recruitment or a hiring organisation has told you that’s what needed on the CV, regardless of the fact that the organisation doesn’t even use PRINCE2 as a framework to deliver projects!

Stop wasting your time, save time and put PRINCE2 off until you know what you need.

Choose project management understanding first before PRINCE2. Understand where you want to be heading before choosing which training course to do.


If you need help with any of the themes raised in this article, head over to the project management careers clinic and let us help you find your own way.

*Check out these articles if you’re interested:

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