Project Managers are everywhere. They do not necessarily have the title of project manager, project coordinator, or project expeditor. They might not even think of themselves as project managers.
Anyone can manage a project, which begs the question, What is a project? A project is a temporary endeavor to create a unique product, service, or result. That might mean that almost everything we do is, at some level, a project. Well, yes, that is true. Some companies and organizations might put a duration or level of effort threshold on what they label as a project, but that is simply to allow or impose some formality to certain undertakings, while letting others be more informal, even ad hoc. Regardless of that filtering, everyone is a potential project manager.
The practice of project management, carrying out projects, is not new, nor should it be surprising. We start something, we organize it, carry it out, and then finish or close it. There are several organizations, key being the Project Management Institute (PMI) that have attempted to define the common processes, inputs, tools and techniques, and outputs involved in project management.
PMI, founded in 1969, defined two basic levels of project management proficiency and experience, issuing certification to junior and experienced project managers. Junior project managers may aspire to secure Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) and experienced project managers aspire to secure the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification. PMI accounts for over 99% of certified project managers in the US. Certified US project managers account for half of PMI’s total, which, as of October 31, 2017, is 805,800 PMP certificate holders. PMI also reports 18,046 junior project managers holding CAPM certification.*
Professional certification is important to demonstrate professional development. Many companies and organizations ask when applying for work or seeking promotion. This is an important component to the U.S. government’s Program Management Improvement and Accountability Act of 2015 (PMIAA, Public Law 114-264 or 31 USC 501).
* Most alternative certification organizations do not publicly share detailed or current certificate or membership statistics. CompTIA Project+ is an entry-level certification and best estimates are several thousand people have secured certification, the American Academy of Project Management (AAPM) has about 10,000 members, the International Project Management Association (IPMA) reported in 2015 about 75,000 project management certificate holders worldwide (unclear if this is current or cumulative totals as if it includes multiple counts people who have more than one of their certificates).