What PRINCE2® certification should you get?

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Are you looking at what PRINCE2® (PRojects IN a Controlled Environment) certificate you should get? There are a few options to consider, and it’s worth making the right choice, so you don’t waste time and money studying for something that isn’t going to help your career.

I’ve taken the PRINCE2 Foundation and Practitioner exams in the past so let me share my experiences and research.

There are 6 PRINCE2 certificates at the moment:

  • PRINCE2 Foundation (6th Edition) — exams available until August 2024
  • PRINCE2 Practitioner (6th Edition) — exams available until August 2024
  • PRINCE2 7 Foundation
  • PRINCE2 7 Practitioner
  • PRINCE2 Agile Foundation
  • PRINCE2 Agile Practitioner.

If you are just starting out on your PRINCE2 journey, plan to take PRINCE2 7th edition training and the associated exam. That is the most recent edition (launched September 2023).

Some trainers may still offer PRINCE2 6th edition training, but the grace period for taking the exam is up in August 2024 and really that’s only there for people who have already done their course and have up to a year to take the exam. My recommendation is that you don’t take a 6th edition training course — even if that means waiting a few months until your preferred training provider has their PRINCE2 7 materials ready.

PRINCE2 has its roots in the UK public sector and government but is now used and loved around the world. It’s big in the UK and Europe, as well as other English-speaking nations. But it’s not as well-known in the United States, where the Project Management Professional (PMP)® certificate from PMI, the Project Management Institute, has the largest market share.

So which of the certificates is going to best help you hit your career goals?

Which PRINCE2 course is best?

I have reviewed a lot of PRINCE2 courses, and the training from Management Plaza is the best.

But if you wanted to know which PRINCE2 certification is best, then that’s the wrong question to be asking.

Each of the PRINCE2 qualifications is designed for a different audience, so each one is best for someone!

Choosing the right certification is important. If you are working as a project manager, then you’ll need at least Practitioner (in my opinion).

A project support professional may not need the full Practitioner qualification as they may not be in a role where applying the knowledge is required. Someone in an Agile environment will benefit most from the Agile version as it is the best fit for their working practices.

The table below shows the main differences between the different PRINCE2 certifications.

FoundationPractitionerAgile FoundationAgile Practitioner
Pre-requisitesNoneFoundationNoneAgile Foundation or PRINCE2 Foundation
ContentProject management fundamentals, terminology, processes, themes, principlesAbility to apply project management techniques in contextAgile fundamentals, concepts, techniques and governanceAbility to apply agile principles to real-world projects in context
Exam coversKnowledge-based questionsContext-based questions using project scenariosKnowledge-based questionsContext-based questions using project scenarios
My recommended training courseThis oneThis oneThis oneThis one
Best forProject support professionals, project team membersProject managersAgile project team membersProject managers working in an agile or hybrid environment
AlternativesCertified Associate in Project Management (CAPM®) Project Fundamentals Qualification (PMQ)Project Management Professional (PMP®) Project Management Qualification (PMQ)Certified ScrumMaster®PMI Agile Certified Professional (PMI-ACP®) Advanced Certified ScrumMaster®

All the courses and certificates are suitable for any industry sector. They all help you learn how to manage a project lifecycle through controllable stages and implement appropriate governance, including a project board.

prince2 training on laptop

Is the PRINCE2 certification worth it?

All the qualifications in the PRINCE2 ecosystem are worth it for people working in projects. There is always room to learn more and different techniques.

Holding a PRINCE2 certificate may help you get a job. Employers do look favourably on project managers who have sat professional exams because they validate your experience, capabilities, and skills.

The training and certificate are also worth doing because you get better at your job. We’re all judged on whether we deliver successful projects. If going through a course helps improve your project management practices, then it’s worth doing.

In summary, yes, it is worth it, but make sure you take a 7th edition course as the 6th edition is no longer the latest version (and honestly, I think the 7th edition content is better).

Who is PRINCE2 best for?

PRINCE2 is one of the most popular project management certifications globally. In my view, it’s best for:

  • Project managers joining companies that use PRINCE2 as their main methodology
  • People working in Project Management Offices that are building their own processes because PRINCE2 is easy to tailor
  • People responsible for projects in companies where project management maturity is low because it gives you everything you need to get things done even if there is no corporate structure.

There are certification exams for all levels, so you need to be prepared to study and prepare for the exam with mock tests and an exam simulator. There is a lot to learn, so this professional development route is best for people who are prepared to give up some free time and do the work.

What about agile project managers?

Honestly, I don’t think many employers (or even trainers) rate PRINCE2 Agile. If you are trying to get a project management job in an organization using agile methods, you could get a Scrum Master certification or take another agile course.

If your boss specifically asks you to do the Agile PRINCE2, then do it, but I wouldn’t recommend it as a door-opening certificate that would help you walk into your next job.

Does PRINCE2 increase salary?

There’s not a lot of salary survey data on PRINCE2 Practitioners, so it’s hard to say conclusively. My research on Payscale shows that the median annual salary for a PRINCE2 certified professional in London with 3 years of experience is £46,000.

You could expect to earn between £33,000 and £65,000 as a PRINCE2 Practitioner.

Totaljobs reports (as of the day I’m writing this)* that the average salary for PRINCE2 jobs is £62,500 in London, so you can expect that to be a little lower elsewhere in the country.

PRINCE2 certifications show that you are committed to a job in project management and prepared to invest in professional development. Employers definitely take certifications into consideration when recruiting – I know I did when I was responsible for reviewing CVs and screening candidates.

Disadvantages of PRINCE2 training

PRINCE2 is a process-based methodology.  In my experience, that means the training courses don’t cover project management skills. PRINCE2 7 does attempt to address this and there is a whole chapter on people.

However, there is a lot of soft skills and leadership techniques that is not covered, and probably shouldn’t be — you can pick that up from other management training. However, when I took my PMQ certification with APM, I was surprised at how much time was spent on skills.

If you have a solid understanding of project management processes, and already work within a framework, then I would put the time towards a skills-based course instead. Unless you need the certification as a way to boost your CV or resume.

What about other project management certifications?

I’ve taken lots of project management courses, some that ended up with a certificate, some that didn’t. I think it’s worth investigating what other training and exam options are out there.

Other options that provide a project management framework include certifications from:

  • APM in the UK and beyond
  • IPMA for your country’s professional body for project managers
  • PMI.

Plus there are loads of agile courses from organizations like APMG and the Scrum Alliance.

Your next steps

Have you chosen the PRINCE2 certificate that is right for you? Whether you’ve decided to stick at Foundation, go all the way to Practitioner or take the Agile route, all the exams will give you an edge over other candidates.

Ready to learn more? Here are some popular resources that will help you take the next steps:

More PRINCE2® Resources

*23 September 2023.

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