Guide to Online Project Management Certificate Programs and Courses

Buying supplies. Planning a company event. Training a new employee. While important, these projects are relatively simple to accomplish and can result in the satisfaction of checking them off as “done.”

When a project is more complex and unpredictable, however, it’s often necessary to call in an able and experienced project manager. This person helps a company accomplish a task within specified (often limited) parameters like budget, talent, and time. If you are organized — with an eye for detail and an aptitude for coordinating people and tasks, you might consider a project management role.

Project managers rally resources, outsmart obstacles, and move complex projects toward definitive completion. Artfully blending leadership, strategies, and techniques, they may look back on their work and feel satisfied, knowing they drove and accomplished something unwieldy and important for both their team and their company.

Can You Gain Project Management Skills Online?

Project management is a growing field. Increasingly, larger corporations are leaning on internal project management offices (PMOs) to drive projects. According to a 2018 survey from PMI, 73% of top-performing organizations meet their goals and intent with formal project management.

Though many professional project managers may be natural leaders and organizational pros, becoming a project manager requires training and familiarity with specific tools and techniques. It’s common for project managers to have a background in business, management, or a similar field of study, along with a specialized project management certification.

Today, obtaining valuable project management skills online is an increasingly popular choice for aspiring project managers. There are plenty of high-quality, user-friendly online project management and graduate project management courses you can take to gain a thorough education — without stepping foot into a classroom. If you’re committed to your coursework, you can become a competent and skilled project manager entirely from home.

Why Study Project Management Online?

Online learning is a great option that enables you to gain an education without relocating. Today, online distance learning programs are more popular than ever — in 2017, a third of all students enrolled in master’s programs or higher completed their education entirely online. Thanks to a flexible course schedule, many people are able to continue working full- or part-time while enrolled, making it possible to support yourself throughout your career change.

Learning project management online enables you to gain the skills you need for this role without the full-time commitment of an in-person program. Instead, you can learn the necessary software and understand the processes behind project management — all from your comfort of your home.

Topics in Online Project Management Courses

Starting out, you’ll want to decide if you’re interested in structured or agile project management. Many courses also teach hybrid project management, which can help you become a well-rounded project manager by using both structured and flexible approaches. Other topics and skills you may learn include:

  • Leadership in project management
  • Risk management which involves techniques to assess and address risks
  • Effective communication methods for project management
  • Strategies to manage project scope, time, cost, risk, quality, and completion
  • Reporting procedures that illustrate project successes and shortcomings
  • Results-oriented project management tools
  • Tactics to optimize project delivery

Project managers need a robust skill set to ensure they can interact with key stakeholders, manage the talent working on a project, and ensure everything goes smoothly from start to finish.

Benefits of Earning Project Management Certificate Online

Online project management courses are as rigorous and comprehensive as in-person programs. But they offer a multitude of advantages. As mentioned, you don’t have to relocate, and you can learn on your own schedule, from the comfort of your home. You can also learn at your own pace — for example, rewatching lectures if you need additional time to understand something. You can develop the vast number of skills needed to succeed in project management from professionals and instructors in the field. And if you already have a foundation in project management, online courses provide a flexible and convenient way to level up without having to start from scratch.

1. Develop Your Leadership Skills with Project Management

Leadership is considered vital among effective project managers. In particular, transformational leadership centers around inspiring motivation, encouragement, and teamwork — all necessary for driving project success.

Far beyond being taskmasters, a 2016 study shows that project managers with transformational leadership skills are successful at leading with purpose — helping project teams build confidence and clarify their goals so they can collaborate effectively toward the desired result. 

2. Learn More About Project Manager Salary Potential

A project management salary often depends on your education, level of experience and seniority, and the type of project management job you secure. Project management is now a necessity in many industries, from construction to software development to finance to digital transformation.

As of 2018, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that a management role could earn anywhere from $47,000 to $142,000 annually.

Project management is constantly evolving and pursuing continued education may help you gain a competitive edge. Once you’ve mastered the basic foundation, consider enriching your capabilities to land a more specialized role like Scrum master — a job especially skilled in the agile framework. Project management offers valuable opportunities for advancement as your experience grows.

3. Taking Project Management Courses Online Can Save Time

If you’re interested in a career in project management, you probably crave efficiency. Taking courses online can put valuable hours back in your day, from eliminating the commute to campus to letting you move through lectures at your own pace. Many online courses use recorded lectures, so you don’t have to rearrange your schedule around class times. In an online setting, instructors are often more accessible than in traditional classroom settings, meaning you can get answers when you need them and feel supported as you work on assignments.

Finding the Best Project Management Online Courses for You

For you, the best online project management course will come down to a few factors. Decide what you’re looking to gain from this course by asking yourself a few essential questions:

  • Are you looking to take a couple of courses, or earn a full certificate? If you want or need to earn a certificate, then we suggest evaluating the program as a whole rather than its individual courses.
  • How much time do you have to commit to learning, studying, and doing homework? Often, courses take between two to eight weeks to complete—broadly speaking, the shorter the course, the more intensive it will be.
  • Do you want to use structured or flexible approaches? Many certificate programs focus on all project management methodologies. But you can take additional courses in any area or framework that interests you.
  • What is your experience in relevant coursework, or as an actual project manager? Some online project management courses are offered at an introductory level, while others are more advanced. If you’re brand new to project management, you will want to start with a beginner-friendly course that teaches the fundamentals.

Project management can help you be sought-out in your career and become an accomplished leader. The corresponding education comes in many varieties and levels. Choose the ones that help you reach your own specific and defined goals.

Last Updated July 2020