When you think about project management membership, you’re probably thinking of the industry-standard PMI (Project Management Institute) and its associated PMP accreditation—but there are several other great organizations that are shaping the field and helping PMs connect and grow their careers.
Today, project management memberships might take the form of social media communities, online forums, meetups, conferences, or traditional memberships. It might be as simple as a weekly Twitter chat between a group of project managers in a certain region, or a global community engaging on a public or private forum.
While the PMI is well-respected and well-known, they aren’t the only option for project management memberships.
At The Digital Project Manager, we offer our own membership aimed at leaders in project management. It’s a network of experts and project managers innovating and leading change in the digital project management field.
To help you find the right membership for your goals, here’s our guide to project management memberships.
In this article
What are Project Management Membership Organizations?
Within large project management membership organizations like PMI, there are often both global communities and local chapters. Some organizations are so large that they can offer members both the benefits of being connected with a chapter nearby, as well as the benefits of joining a global PM community at large.
One thing to note for both local chapters and global communities is that project managers might choose to join either to get help or to provide help to others. You may be more likely to find expert help in global organizations where certified experts are involved or there are more project managers willing to offer their expertise. Local chapters are more focused around project managers working together to solve challenges and come up with solutions.
Along with an overview of both local chapters and global communities, I’ve included some notes on what to expect, as well as notes on cost, barriers to entry, networking opportunities, quality of advice/discussion/content, and level of commitment.
One of the main benefits of local chapters is that you can connect with people who are in your local community while still accessing the resources that the larger organization can offer. As the other project managers in the local chapter are working in the same region as you, they are great sources for finding career advancement opportunities.
What to Expect
When it comes to chapter membership, you can expect the content, resources, discussions, and advice to be more specialized, relevant, and unique. Members of local chapters are likely to work in similar contexts and face similar challenges. This encourages problem solving and innovation in your respective positions. You can expect regular meetups, whether in-person or over video chat, as well as excellent networking opportunities.
- Canadian West Coast Local PMI Chapter
- Queensland Australia Local PMI Chapter
- Singapore Local PMI Chapter
Cost: High. Prices range from organization to organization and are usually billed annually.
Barrier to Entry: Medium. Costs may be a barrier to entry for some, and organizations often require a lot of information from members, such as address, phone number, email, information about their job position, etc.
Networking Opportunities: Lots. This type of membership provides lots of networking opportunities, as members are working in the same region and field.
Quality of Advice/Discussions/Content: High. Due to the barriers to entry and the cost, members of local chapters are likely to be invested in contributing to the chapter and getting the most out of it.
Level of Commitment: High. In order to get the benefits of a local chapter (and your money’s worth), you need to invest time and effort into the local chapter.
Global communities tend to be organized around a hub or some other online space where members can congregate on their own time. While scheduling events may be more difficult due to time zones, most project management memberships ensure that everyone is able to access all events, talks, and resources. Members of global communities get the added benefit of being able to connect with other project managers worldwide, who can bring new perspectives or solutions to challenges you might be facing.
What to Expect
Most larger, global project management organizations offer similar benefits — forums or discussion boards, resources, certifications, and more. You can expect access to an almost overwhelming number of resources, including exclusive content. There are also opportunities for networking.
Cost: High. Costs are similar to that of local chapters.
Barrier to Entry: Medium. There are similar barriers to entry to that of local chapters.
Networking Opportunities: Some. Networking opportunities are available through global organizations, but they may take a little more seeking out than local chapters.
Quality of Advice/Discussions/Content: High. Global organizations have the resources to create high-quality content and spaces for discussions.
Level of Commitment: Medium. Global organizations are more conducive to passive consumption of resources and content than local chapters. However, contributing to forums and discussions is still important to getting value out of the project management membership.
List Of The Top Project Management Membership Organizations
There are quite a few organizations focused around project management, many of which offer memberships. Here’s a few of the more well-known ones:
1. The Digital Project Manager
The Digital Project Manager (that’s us!) is a global community of project managers leading change in the field. We offer a membership program as well as The DPM School, which is an interactive course for digital project managers that covers all the project essentials for ensuring project success.
Membership benefits include access to the community forum and network, as well as to exclusive member events such as workshops, AMA sessions, and live mentorship. Members can also access our library of templates and resources, as well as several ebooks.
Certification is available through our DPM School course. Students in the Standard and Extended levels of the course will receive a certificate upon completion that signifies that they have formal training in project management.
The DPM community includes experts in the field and project managers currently working in the profession. Aside from members-only content and resources, we also have a wide variety of publicly available resources.
2. Project Management Institute, Inc. (PMI)
The Project Management Institute (PMI), found at pmi.org, is probably the most well-known project management membership. They have over 600,000 members and 300 chapters in 214 countries and territories worldwide. Their membership model is more traditional — they offer resources, templates, networking opportunities, and more. PMI is the biggest project management organization.
PMI members get access to the network and community, savings on the PMI certification exam fee, access to resources and the PMBOK guide (currently in its 7th edition), as well as events and webinars. There is a small application fee for membership, and the PMI offers three types of membership — individual membership, student membership, and retiree membership.
PMI offers the following courses and certifications:
- Project Management Professional (PMP): The PMP credential is the most well-known and respected project management certification.
- Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM): Focuses on the fundamental aspects of project management.
- PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP): Based around applying agile within project teams.
- Program Management Professional (PgMP): Focuses on program management and managing multiple projects.
- PMI Professional in Business Analysis (PMI-PBA): Covers business analysis, business requirements, working with stakeholders, and more.
- PMI Risk Management Professional (PMI-RMP): Focuses on recognizing and planning for risks within the context of projects.
- PMI Scheduling Professional (PMI-SP): Based around project scheduling and creating and maintaining optimal project schedules.
- Portfolio Management Professional (PfMP): Focused on portfolio management and ensuring optimal portfolio delivery.
PMI requires that certified project managers, such as those with the PMP certification, maintain their certification by earning professional development units (PDUs) through continued learning, volunteer opportunities, or teaching others in the profession.
The PMI publication Project Management Journal is an academic journal that provides thought leadership, analysis, and criticism on topics in the project management profession. Other publications include PM Network and PMI Today.
Members can download copies of all the PMI Standards documents in the Library of PMI Global Standards.
They also offer a non-member forum.
3. Association for Project Management (APM)
The APM, based in the United Kingdom, is another project management membership organization.
Members of the APM can get support from other members, network and connect with peers, and get access to resources and a learning platform. There’s also a forum that acts as an online hub for members. The APM offers different levels of membership, including a student membership, associate membership, full membership, and fellow membership.
The APM offers a suite of training courses that cover essentials in the profession at three different levels of knowledge and skill. They also offer courses focused on more specific aspects of project management like risk management and project planning.
The organization puts on events and conferences, including the annual APM Project Management Awards. The APM also has its own journal, called Project, which is a quarterly publication that includes articles, opinions, case studies, and other content.
4. International Project Management Association (IPMA)
The IPMA is a global project management organization. They don’t have a membership offering, but they do have training courses available in a variety of countries and languages worldwide.
Special Interest Groups
In lieu of a broad project management membership, the IPMA does offer membership in special interest groups (and a book club!) for topics such as AI, mega projects, and smart cities. These special interest groups are intended for project managers working in specific areas or industries.
Other notable points of interest for the IPMA include their event and conference offerings, as well as their annual awards.
5. Australian Institute of Project Management (AIPM)
The AIPM also offers project management memberships. The organization is based in Australia and has several chapters.
Membership offerings include both individual memberships and organizational partnerships.
- Individual memberships include benefits such as access to the online community and resource hub, as well as special pricing for AIPM events.
- Organizational partnership benefits include discounts on memberships for employees, access to a self assessment tool to determine competence, and a ticket to the annual national conference.
The AIPM also offers certifications at different levels depending on the stage of your career, although you must be a member to sign up for these certifications. However, the AIPM does curate a list of other courses that they endorse.
The organization also holds yearly project management awards, the PMAAs.
Other Ways to Network
There are several other places to find networking opportunities and membership-like communities that are less traditional than these organizations.
In this section, I’ve listed several other places to find networking opportunities and what to expect from each, as well as notes on cost, barriers to entry, networking opportunities, quality of advice/discussion/content, and level of commitment for each type.
There are several project management forums out there that don’t require a paid membership to contribute to, where members can post questions, challenges, or topics in a thread for other members of the forum to discuss.
In general, the more active a member is in responding to other people’s queries and threads, the more responses they will get on their own threads.
What to Expect
Forums are great places to post your own challenges and discuss other users’ challenges, meet other project managers, and engage with the community. However, if you don’t follow the conventions of the forum, your posts and replies may go unanswered. In general, quality tends to be high as members are invested in helping others, but the overall quality can depend on the forum. Also, as platforms change over time, some forums are left behind in favour of newer ones.
Cost: Free. Most forums that are not associated with a specific organization are free.
Barrier to Entry: Low. Most forums are free, although most require users to sign up for an account before they can post on the forum or respond to threads.
Networking Opportunities: Some. Depending on the specificity and locality of the forum, you may be able to find some networking opportunities.
Quality of Advice/Discussions/Content: Medium. With a lower cost and lower barrier to entry, the quality of forums may be lower than resources that are paid for. However, some forums are much higher quality than others.
Level of Commitment: High. The level of commitment is fairly high for forums because continuous engagement is the only way to build relationships and connections with other members of the forum.
There are lots of informal project management groups on social media, in the form of Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups, or Twitter chats. Lots of groups already exist on social media, but if there isn’t one in your area or one that caters to a particular niche you are interested in, it’s easy enough to create your own.
What to Expect
Social media can be a mixed bag, but there are lots of thought leaders in project management with solid followings, as well as groups that require special access that make social media a worthwhile place for finding project management advice and discussions. Social media doesn’t provide the same access to resources and experts that other types of memberships do, but it does provide some opportunities for networking and connecting with other project managers.
- Project Management (Private Facebook Group)
- Project Manager (PM) Network (LinkedIn Group)
- Project Manager Community (LinkedIn Group)
Barrier to Entry: Low. Social media requires account creation, and LinkedIn groups and some Facebook groups often require users to request access before they are admitted.
Networking Opportunities: Few. Groups may be an exception, as networking opportunities are likely higher there. In general, it’s difficult to find and maintain new connections on social media.
Quality of Advice/Discussions/Content: Medium. Groups have a higher level of quality due to the requirement to request access and an implied social contract that members are acting in good faith.
Level of Commitment: Low. Users can join groups or social media communities with the intent of passively consuming content.
Meetups are often organized by memberships or membership-like options. They are a great place to meet and connect with other project managers. Meetups can turn into yearly, monthly, or even weekly events, so they are great for forming long-term connections with peers.
What to Expect
Meetups tend to be more informal gatherings. Discussions and conversations are generally based organically around what the attendees want to discuss. These are also great for finding networking opportunities, as attendees tend to live in the same communities or regions and have knowledge of the job market in that area.
- Project Management Meetups on Meetup.com
- Canadian West Coast PMI Chapter Events
- APM meetups and other events
Cost: Low, unless the meetup is organized for members of a specific organization (in which case you have to pay for membership).
Barrier to Entry: Medium. Cost is low, but you may have to travel to the meetup.
Networking Opportunities: Lots. There are meetups specifically intended for networking and job searching, and even those that aren’t provide lots of opportunities.
Quality of Advice/Discussions/Content: High. Similar to local chapters, the context in which the meetup is happening ensures that discussions and topics will be highly relevant and useful to attendees.
Level of Commitment: High. Attending meetups on a regular (or semi-regular) basis requires a high level of effort and time.
Many conferences are put on by project management membership organizations, but this is not the case for every conference. There are a wide variety of conferences for project managers all around the world, and you don’t need to be a member of the organization putting it on to attend. Conferences tend to be fairly expensive, but they offer a wealth of opportunities for networking, connecting with peers, and finding software, tools, and other items to make your life as a project manager easier.
What to Expect
Most conferences have a high caliber of quality in terms of talks, presentations, speakers, and other conference events. There’s also lots of opportunities to network and connect with other project managers at conferences.
Cost: High. Conferences tend to be expensive to attend, and travel costs are also often a factor.
Barrier to Entry: Medium. Costs can be prohibitive for some, but many conferences do not require membership to attend.
Networking Opportunities: Lots. If you make the effort to connect with other attendees, it’s likely you’ll come across lots of opportunities to add people to your network.
Quality of Advice/Discussions/Content: High. Conferences have a wide variety of events, such as panels, speakers, talks, and more, all of which are usually high quality and high value for attendees.
Level of Commitment: Medium. While some conference attendees may choose to passively consume events and talks, those that want to network will need to invest more time and energy.
How to Choose the Right Project Management Membership
I’ve created this handy table so you can see at a glance the aspects of each type of membership to help you make a decision. Each type has different costs, barriers to entry, networking opportunities, levels of quality, and levels of commitment. The type of membership you choose will depend on your unique needs.
|Cost||Social Media||Global Orgs|
|Barrier to Entry||Social Media||Meetups|
|Networking Opportunities||Social Media||Forums||Meetups|
|Level of Commitment||Social Media||Conferences||Meetups|
|Global Orgs||Local Chapters|
This simple table can help you decide what the best type of project management membership is for your needs.
Come Join Our Community!
Don’t forget to check out The DPM Membership, which we’ve categorized as a global organization for the purposes of this article. We’ve also taken steps to make it accessible to project managers with a wide range of needs by adding Masterminds groups, which are small cohorts that meet on a regular basis made up of digital project managers that are usually within the same region. You'll get training and help from your peers (which is extremely helpful if you're trying to learn project management the hard way).
For more on project management memberships and other topics in project management, subscribe to The DPM newsletter.