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Project Management Credentials Benchmarked Against the US Professional Engineer (PE) License 2014 Update


Purpose of this paper:

This is the June 2014 update to an on-going research project benchmarking the various global credentials in project management and project controls against the US professional Engineer (PE) license as well as Malcolm Gladwell’s “10,000 hour” rule.

This paper is being presented to try to bring sense to the burgeoning proliferation of “professional credentials” which many are to be candid, little more than scams.


The two benchmarks which were selected are:

#1- The US Professional Engineer (PE) License

#2- Malcolm Gladwell’s “10,000 Hour Rule”

The US Professional Enginer (PE) license was chosen as this is a globally recognized and highly respected license, and engineering (unlike project management) is recognized as being a true profession.

Despite the fact that Gladwell’s 10,000 hour rule has come under considerable criticism, it was chosen for no other reason than by giving us a true zero point and equivalent units of measure, we have a true ratio scale. This is important as it enables us to compare the relative “level of effort” to obtain the various credentials.

Findings and value:

The findings are showing that the world’s most popular project management credentials are at best, entry level credentials. This is or should be of considerable concern as projects continue to fail with alarming regularity.

Research limitations/implications:

The limitations of this research is that it is based on the assumption that the level of effort required to prepare for and earn the credentials is indicative of or validates the competency of the person holding it. While level of effort is no guarantee that a person is competent, the fact that a person has the perseverance to invest 15,000 or more hours in developing their competency is or should be prima facie evidence of at least some degree of competency

Practical implications:

The practical implications are that several organizations, including the Green Project Management organization and the Guild of Project Controls are using this research as the basis to create their own competency based credentialing programs

Originality/value of paper:

What is new in this paper is the inclusion of new credentials and several updates to the scoring model, to include the value of a PhD.


  1. Project management CANNOT be learned by studying books. Project Management can only be learned via project based learning.
  2. Assessments on competency must be grounded in sound educational philosophies that integrate and link training at the university level to produce graduates with the skills sets which are in demand by employers.
  3. All training and assessments need to be focused not on the ability to pass multiple choice exams but on being able to demonstrate the ability to apply what a person knows under real life conditions.

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