There are a lot of options if you are looking to gain training in project management. Although you'll want to consider cost, schedule flexibility and the program quality, you'll also want to decide whether to take individual classes, or a full program that will ultimately provide you with a certificate, degree or Project Management Professional (PMP) certification.
Individual Project Management Training ClassesThere are a few reasons why taking individual project management classes may be the right choice for you. Taking even one class will help freshen up your basic project management skills or help propel you to the next level in your skill set. It will also show your employer that you're serious about furthering your learning and ideally bringing your new insight back to the workplace. Taking individual classes will also help you test the waters if you aren't completely ready to make a commitment to a full program and will allow you to sample a few programs prior to making a longer term investment. Finally, cost is easier to manage if taking individual classes. Instead of making a large financial commitment up front, you can plan and save for individual programs as you go, or stop whenever you like.
Certificate ProgramsMost institutions that offer individual classes will also let you apply those classes to a certificate program. If you find a program you like, you may want to extend your involvement by investing in the organization's or school's certificate program. Many organizations will allow you to mix and match individual classes to form a continuing education certificate so you can take a few classes before making the final decision to pursue the certificate. The benefits of a certificate are two-fold. It shows commitment to continuing education while not bearing the higher cost of a full-on bachelors or masters degree program. It also allows for flexibility in that you can spread your classes out over a longer period of time. Although cost is more reasonable than a full degree program, it can also be a barrier depending on your financial situation. Certificate programs will generally run you anywhere from $2500 -$8000 depending on the organization.
Degree ProgramsBecause of the popularity and emphasis that many employers are now placing on project management skills, many universities offer either bachelor and masters degrees in project management or degrees with a strong project management component. This is a great option if you are looking for a degree that will take your career to the next level. Or if you are just starting out in school, strongly consider adding a project management component to your degree. The downside to this option is the long term time and cost commitments. At the same time, having a degree with the project management emphasis will definitely have a positive impact on your overall career.
Project Management Professional Certification (PMP)Whether you choose to invest in any of the above project management educational options, you should also consider gaining the official PMP (Project Management Professional) certification from the Project Management Institute (PMI). The Project Management Institute lists criteria for gaining the PMP certification on their website as: "A four-year degree (bachelor's or the global equivalent) and at least three years of project management experience, with 4,500 hours leading and directing projects and 35 hours of project management education." Keep track of the hours you work as a project manager and those you take for classes. Once you've completed the criteria you can apply to take the certification exam. The PMI claims that professionals who hold their certifications earn an average of 10% or more than their counterparts, so take that into consideration when deciding on whether to make the financial commitment.
Find friends or colleagues who have taken project management courses or try an online forum where different programs are discussed. Besides doing a general Internet search, try searching the PMI's list of PMI certified training programs.
Regardless of the path you take or the amount of classes you enroll in, taking project management courses can only benefit your career and overall professional skill set.