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Most project managers know you don’t necessarily need formal digital project management courses or a project management certification to get a job.

In fact, there’s tons of anecdotal evidence to support the contrary. Raise your hand if you’ve been one of many project managers thrown into the position without fully understanding what you were getting yourself into!

61% of respondents in PMI’s Pulse of the Profession 2020 noted that their organizations offer training in project management. While this could mean anything from internal training on processes to budget for formal training, companies are investing in training their project managers (even if they do throw them into the deep end a little bit from time to time!). 

Whether your organization has given you some training budget, or whether you’re looking for ways to boost your skills and be a better project manager, this article will cover what to look for in a digital project management course and how to choose the best one for you.

Ahem, shameless plug:

There are lots of great courses out there that might fit your needs, and ours is one of them! You can find out more about our digital project management course here.

5 Benefits Of Digital Project Management Courses

Courses in digital project management can offer a lot of benefits, depending on the one you choose. Here’s a few of the main ones that you can expect from any solid course offering.

1. Build Your Skills

Digital project management courses will teach you — and give you the opportunity to practice — project management skills. This includes hard skills such as project planning, scheduling, and risk management, as well as soft skills like communication, organization, and prioritization.

Depending on the course, you might also get some training in technical project management skills, which is great for working and communicating with your development team.

2. Network With Your Peers

The best digital project management courses will offer some type of networking or a way to connect with other project managers taking the course. This could be in the form of meetups, Slack communities or messaging apps, online forums or comment threads, or other events for networking.

Whatever the format, the ability to network with fellow project managers is great for learning new perspectives and best practices, getting support or mentorship, and even finding job opportunities if you’re on the hunt.

3. Gain Flexibility

One of the most valuable things you can get from a digital project management course is increased flexibility in the way you manage projects. The course should provide a wealth of knowledge in project management methodologies, processes, and management styles so that you can find the best fit for your project and your team.

If you find that a certain process or methodology isn’t working out the way you thought it would, you can quickly pivot to another approach and keep your project on track.

4. Get Certification

Courses will often offer certification or acknowledgment at the end of the course. This is great for boosting your resume or profile, as it signals to your current or future employer that you have formal training and the hard skills to succeed as a project manager. It might also help you boost your digital project manager salary down the line (including salaries at the enterprise level).

5. Gain Confidence

Another great benefit of digital project management courses is increased confidence. Having skills and knowledge, as well as training in how to use them, will help you feel confident in putting them to use.

It also gives you a source of information and skills to draw on when in doubt.

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What to Expect From A Digital Project Management Course

What you can expect from a digital project management course really depends on the course itself, and there are lots of different types of courses out there. I’ve covered the main ones below.

All-In-One Course

All-in-one-courses tend to cover a little bit of everything from project processes to the most popular methodologies, as well as things like budget and scope.

You can expect training in a lot of different topics, although the material might not be as in-depth in the interest of keeping the course to a reasonable duration. These courses are great for new project managers involved in digital projects, as well as more experienced project managers who haven’t had formal training or courses.

Degree/Satellite Programs

These types of programs are usually offered through universities or colleges, and they’re often multi-year programs that earn you a degree or diploma. Most are highly specialized and will cover the material in-depth.

You can also expect relatively heavy assignment loads and potential exams, so make sure you know what you’re getting into. These types of programs look great on your resume or cover letter and can help you make the jump into a specific role or specialized type of project management.

Some highly recognized and sought-after options include Boston University, University of Denver, London South Bank University, and Northeastern University.

Exam-Prep Courses

If you’re aiming for a project management certification such as the Project Management Professional (PMP) Certification, you might want to consider an exam-prep course. You can often find ones specific to the certification you’re going for, which will cover everything you need to know for the certification exam.

Methodology-Specific Courses

These courses are for project managers who need or want to learn a particular project management methodology, such as Agile or Scrum. These types of courses will provide knowledge of and training in the specific methodology and how to use it throughout a project.

Methodology-specific courses are great for hands-on learning, and some offer certifications for the specific methodology that the course covers. This is a great option for becoming more specialized. Check out these agile certifications to start.

What to Look For When Choosing A Digital Project Management Course

When narrowing down which course to choose, you’ll need some criteria to evaluate your options. Here’s our list of what to look for to make sure a course is right for you.

1. Online and Remote Options

Can the course be followed or taught online? Are there options for remote learning? Project managers are busy, so the convenience of being able to take the course online and access it from anywhere is appealing. Make sure you have this option.

2. Cost

How much does the course cost? Do they offer different price points to fit your budget?

Make sure the cost fits your budget, or that it at least offers different price points depending on your budget and your needs. For example, a course might offer basic lessons, assignments, and personalized coaching or mentorship, but if you just want the lessons and assignments, can you opt for fewer perks and a lower cost?

3. Duration and Time Investment

How many weeks or hours will the course take? Do they offer the option to go at your own pace?

As mentioned, project managers are busy people. If you’re only able to commit 1 or 2 hours per week to a course, make sure it doesn’t require more than that, or check whether you can scale the hours you invest up or down depending on your schedule.

Keep in mind that if you invest less time, you might get less out of the course, so finding the right balance between time investment and output is important.

4. Interactivity

Is the course interactive? Does it offer a variety of different types of content and ways of learning, such as videos, webinars, or assignments?

For most people, listening to a lecture alone is not the best way to learn. Make sure the course you choose includes a variety of content types and ways of learning. This might include videos, panels and group discussions, assignments, exams, and mentorship or coaching.

Another thing to look for is whether the course offers templates and samples of relevant documents and charts. These are great for interactivity and can be used for real-life projects.

5. Networking

Does the course offer opportunities to connect with peers and project management experts? Can you attend networking events or connect virtually?

Not only is networking and connecting with your peers a great way to learn and form a support group, it can present opportunities for jobs, career development, and mentorship. Make sure the course you choose provides ways to connect with your fellow students.

The ability to connect with experts in the field is also important for mentorship, coaching (if offered), and support. Check the credentials and backgrounds of potential course instructors to see if they align with what you are hoping to get out of the course.

Related Reads:

6. Topics

Will the course teach you what you want or need to learn? What topics or areas are included in the course material?

This will depend on what exactly you want to learn. For example, if you’re looking for an all-in-one or basics course, some topics or instruction areas to look for include initiating projects, timelines, budgets, and leadership. Look for any specific skills you want to learn as well.

If you’re looking for courses in a specialized area, such as marketing project management courses, check the course material, the instructors’ backgrounds, and reviews from previous students to make sure you’re getting what you need out of the course.

7. Certification

Do you get a certificate or acknowledgment at the end of the course? How can you show that you’ve taken and passed the course?

Lots of courses offer some type of certification upon completion. This is great for showing your employer or potential employers that you have digital project management training and that you know how to use it. Make sure the course offers some way to prove that you’ve taken it, even if it’s as simple as a badge for your LinkedIn profile.

Roadmap For Choosing a Digital Project Management Course

Now it’s time to decide! Here’s a roadmap to follow, as well as questions to ask as you’re making your decision.

1. Ask: What Are My Project Management Development Goals This Year?

There are a lot of courses out there, and it’s important to find one that’s tailored to your goals and what you want to get out of the course, whether you go for an all-in-one course, a degree program, an exam-prep course, or a course specific to a particular methodology.

If you’re not sure exactly what type of course to take yet, specifying your goals will help you narrow it down. Look at the course offerings and the topics covered, and assess whether they are relevant to your needs and what you are looking to get out of the course.

Here’s some examples of goals you might have, along with a few recommendations on courses you might choose based on those goals.

I want to develop more specialized project management skills in agile or scrum.
I want to learn the basics of project management in order to succeed in my first role in project management.
I want to get a university or college degree in project management.
  • Boston University’s Online Master of Science in Project Management Degree is a great online option.
  • The BA (Hons) Business Management with Project Management from London South Bank University is an in-person instruction option in the UK.
I want to brush up on my project management skills and knowledge so I can improve my performance in my current role.
  • Our DPM School is also ideal for established project managers in the digital space that want to improve their skills.
I want to get a certification in project management.

(I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that the DPM School also includes a certification!)

2. Decide: Interactive Or Passive?

Depending on the format, structure, and content of a course, it may be more interactive or passive. Passive courses tend to be more centered around watching video lessons or reading course materials. Here’s some recommendations if you are looking for a more passive course:

Interactive elements might include things like assignments, discussion boards, forums, quizzes or tests, or one-on-one meetings or video chats with instructors.  Here’s some recommendations for more interactive courses:

3. Decide: Theory Or Practice?

It’s also important to note the differences between courses focused on theory and courses focused on hands-on experience. There is some overlap here with the previous section about interactivity and passivity. Courses that are focused on theory tend to be more passive, and courses that are focused on practice tend to be more interactive.

Both theory and practice are important to the field of project management and project managers, both established and just starting out. The activities that project managers do every day are based on theories and strategies that provide a sound foundation for why project managers do things like create RACI charts, develop risk management plans, and hold project kickoff meetings.

However, it’s important to get practice in the hands-on aspects of project management as well. Knowing the theory is all well and good, but oftentimes project managers need to quickly pivot and adjust their activities to keep up with changes. Getting real-world experience lets project managers see how the theory holds up in those situations.

What type of course you go for in terms of this aspect will depend a little bit on your learning style. You can use the recommendations from the previous section, where interactive is more hands-on and passive is more theory-based.

It’s worth noting that most courses include a mix of theory and practice, and our DPM School course is a great example — each module of the course includes a theory-based video lecture and expert panel, as well as an assignment to practice the theory.

4. Consider: How Much Time Can I Commit?

Digital project managers are busy, and may not be able to invest, say, 10 hours of their time per week in a course. And it’s not worth parting with a large chunk of change for something you won’t be able to fully devote your time to. There is a variety of time commitments that courses may require. Courses may be run in the following ways:

  • Self-paced or self-directed, with students spending as much time as needed
  • Require a weekly commitment of time (usually 2 to 3 hours) over a set amount of weeks
  • Require a set amount of hours, completed by students at their leisure

Courses can be classed as generally light-weight or heavy-weight according to their time commitment. Also, some courses (such as the DPM School!) allow students to scale their commitment up or down based on how much time they have available.  Some examples:

Courses with lighter time commitmentCourses with heavier time commitment

5. Consider: Digital Or Generic?

It’s also important to distinguish between courses that cover project management more broadly and courses that cover digital project management specifically.

Lots of project management methodologies, concepts, and ideas can be applied to a variety of industries, such as construction, engineering, finance, healthcare, and more. This includes digital industries as well, such as information technology, software development, and digital marketing. Each industry has their own conventions and best practices, but there is some overlap in the general theory.

Depending on the specialization you are interested in, you might choose a more generic course or one that’s more specialized to a certain industry, such as digital. Some of the courses mentioned earlier in this article contain more general information about the processes and practices used in project management that can be applied to a variety of fields.

The DPM School course that we offer is a hybrid. It contains lots of valuable information that can be applied to project management in any field, as well as tons of theory and practice that is specific and valuable to digital project managers.

Students will get all the knowledge they need to succeed in digital project management, as well as a solid foundation in tested project management concepts that apply to any project type or industry.

The DPM School: Mastering Digital Project Management

Our DPM School is the perfect digital project management course for new project managers and those looking to level-up their skills and get formal training. We offer flexible price points and time investments, interactive learning and instruction, expert course instructors, and a certificate upon completion. We can also attest that training is a great supplement to learning the hard way (which many of us have done and are doing). More information here!

Or, find a list of more project management courses here.

By Nuala Turner

Nuala is the Editor of The Digital Project Manager. Her background is in content strategy, content production, and managing projects. She brings a strong editorial eye and a passion for connecting with experts in the field and teasing out their stories, as well as ensuring digital project managers are winning at work and smashing projects out of the park.