Getting a Project Management Certification Online: A Comprehensive Guide

Upon entering the project management industry, you will quickly see that there are many lucrative opportunities. Better yet, many of the career openings in this field are flexible, allowing you to work from home and even travel. In order to be successful as a project manager, you will need to become certified. Certification not only increases your knowledge relating to project management, but it also helps employers verify your experience.

According to the Project Management Institute, “Project managers are change agents: they make project goals their own and use their skills and expertise to inspire a sense of shared purpose within the project team. They enjoy the organized adrenaline of new challenges and the responsibility of driving business results.”

Fortunately, there are various ways to go about getting certified as a project manager, with many of these methods being available online. Getting certified online adds convenience to your life by allowing you to complete the necessary certification steps according to a schedule that best meets your needs. For now, let’s take a close look at a comprehensive guide to earning a project management certificate online.

Understand Your Options

There is no singular path that serves as a one-size-fits-all solution to earning your project management certificate online. The cost and certificate course requirements, will, of course, influence which program is best for you. This is why you should take your time and complete a thorough online search relating to the certificate programs that are best for you.

If you are interested in free certification in project management, you are going to have several options to choose from. It is important to remember, though, that free certifications will likely provide you with much knowledge relating to project management, but they won’t come with the status that a paid certificate program comes with. As far as free certification programs go, though, here are a couple options you can choose from.

Diploma in Project Management by ALISON

This certificate program is aimed at beginners and provides a comprehensive overview of:

  • Project management tools
  • Methodologies
  • Documentation
  • Techniques
  • Terminology
  • Project lifetime phases

You’ll be able to access study material for free and it is important that you use it to your utmost advantage because graduates of this certificate program agree the final exam is extremely difficult. Although completing the program is free of charge, in order to receive your diploma, you will have to pay a fee once you pass the final exam.

Oxford Home Study College Short Course

Provided by the UK’s Oxford Home Study College, this 80-hour course covers a broad range of project management topics, including project lifecycle, project manager responsibilities, and an extensive introduction to project management. Earning this certificate can serve as a very valuable asset to your resume due to its association with the highly respected Oxford Home Study College.

If your finances aren’t tight and you are able to spend money on project management certification, you’ll definitely want to consider online certification from either of the institutions listed below. Paid certifications tend to come with elite status and are highly recognized by employers across the globe.

The Association for Project Management

In addition to a number of courses focusing on best practices for project managers, this certificate program provides in-depth training on soft skill topics relating to:

  • Interpersonal skills
  • Risk management
  • Conflict resolution

Those wanting to acquire certification through this program should have a minimum of seven years experience in project management. The program is also aimed at those who have already achieved:

  • APM Practitioner Qualification and/or
  • APM Project Professional Qualification

Project Management Institute

Probably the most highly respected project management organization, the Project Management Institute (PMI) offers several paid certificate programs, including:

  • Project Management Professional certificate (PMP)
  • Program Management Professional certificate (PgMP)
  • Portfolio Management Professional certificate (PfMP)
  • Certified Associate in Project Management certificate (CAPM)

PMP: The Gold Standard

Although you have the choice to acquire any type of project management certificate you want, the golden standard that is respected the most by employers is the PMP. You can acquire this certificate online and there are many platforms and tool options you can choose from to prepare for the final exam. Below you will find a look at several online resources that prepare you for PMP certification as well as online tools you can use to enhance the certification process. Before we look at these resources and tool options, though, there are three expectations you need to set before enrolling in a PMP certificate program.

1) You must set aside a lot of time

Earning the PMP certificate requires a lot of studying. In fact, you are going to spend hours upon hours of studying over the period of several months. If you are currently in a part of your life in which you don’t have to devote at least five to 10 hours a week toward studying for the certification exam, you will need to wait until a later time to enroll in a PMP certificate program.

2) You must be disciplined

Because you are completing a PMP certificate course online, this means you won’t have a professor hovering over your shoulder to motivate you to study. The completion of coursework and the number of hours you study each week will require a lot of self-discipline.

3) You are going to get discouraged

There are going to be many times throughout the certificate program that you say to yourself, “this is too much. I’ll never learn everything. Why am I even doing this to myself?” By keeping the end goal in sight, though, you will find it is much easier to keep pushing through the coursework and long hours of studying.

Resources to Prepare You for PMP Certification


This online learning site was created by Harvard University and MIT and has become well respected for its many degree and certificate programs. On the EdX platform, you will find a number of courses that are specifically designed to help you earn PMP certification. Such courses include:


Unlike many online platforms, Udemy has courses that have been created by individuals. Completion of the Udemy programs and courses probably won’t suffice in fully preparing you for the PMP certification exam, so you’ll need to use what you learn as a supplement to the knowledge you gain from other sources, such as EdX. Two of the most valuable courses offered through Udemy include the Project Management Professional Exam Prep Seminar and the PMP Practice Test Course; both of these courses can be taken for only $10, making them an extremely valuable investment.


As mentioned before, PMI is widely recognized as one of the leading institutions for acquiring PMP certification. In order to take full advantage of the resources PMI offers, you’ll want to take a look at their YouTube channel. Serving as a valuable supplement to the institute’s academic coursework, this channel covers a wide range of project management topics, including:

  • Forward-thinking
  • Career opportunities
  • The emotional side of project management
  • Methodology
  • Digital transformation’s impact on project management
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Digitization

Tools and Materials for PMP Certification Success

Below is a list of online tools that you can use to enhance the process of PMP certification:

  • Microsoft Office
  • Evernote
  • Skype
  • Google Drive
  • Quizlet
  • StudyBlue

Final Tips and Advice

No matter the project management certificate(s) that you choose to earn, it is pertinent that you choose one that is relevant to the industry you wish to work in. It is also crucial that you take time to set realistic goals in regard to timelines for the certification process. If you don’t have time as of now to devote to earning a certificate, then don’t waste what time you have. Instead, make plans to wait until a later date when you can actually devote yourself to the process and learn all you can. If you are wanting to acquire PMP certification, you should know that it takes most people, on average, of six to 12 months to complete relevant courses and study for the exam. You will find some sites claiming they can help you pass the PMP exam in only five days; these sites are not legit and they will not fully prepare you for everything you need to know.

It is also important that you make sure upon completion of the courses you take to prepare for the PMP exam that you have the exam scheduled in the very near future. The fresher the knowledge is, the more likely you are to succeed on the exam.

"Management is, above all, a practice where art, science, and craft meet." ~ Henry Mintzberg