Is it commonly expected that the title "project manager" come with credentials? I have some coworkers that have always called themselves "project support specialists", and that is their official job title, but since they got a new boss and their unit renamed "Project Management Office" they have started calling themselves project managers. The only one with any certification for this title, out of 7 or so people, is the boss.

I object to this because they don't have most of the skills I associate with "project manager", and it makes me cringe when dealing with outside companies because I fear it reflects badly on us using willy-nilly titles like this.

If the title is inappropriate, is it worth making an issue out of this?

  • 1
    Titles can mean anything and nothing and it's usually the latter. Specific titles are company-specific (VTC).
    – Lilienthal
    May 11 '16 at 17:48

I agree that it's a slippery slope, however it depends on how the company markets these services. It might indeed give your clients the wrong idea when someone who isn't certified starts calling themselves a "project manager" because the title does have certain certifications and training associated with it - as you say.

For example, a local gym was advertising professional therapists as trainers (for people who've suffered accidents), however it came out that their employees were just regular trainers (a weekend course), not actually certified therapists (which is a whole different kettle of fish), although their job title was that of "therapist" - the gym would got sued in a jiffy.

However if your company is not somehow implying that these people have these certifications then it should be fine. The most you might do is sit down with a manager and discuss whether the term misrepresents the services being offered, and whether this terminology opens the company to any sort of liability (however some bosses might think you're overstepping your bounds by bringing this up about a different department).


A project manager manages projects.

If the person's job is to manage projects, the company can title these persons Project Managers.

You don't need a certification to manage a project.

The stay-at-home-parent who plans the next family vacations manages a project. The parent-partner can call that person 'project manager'.

There are certifications for project management. Some companies require their project managers to have these certifications, but it's certainly not standard.

I suggest you don't make an issue out of it, until you're high enough in the hierarchy that you'd have the power to change that. Until then, don't worry about it. Other companies do that and it won't make your company look worse.

  • 3
    The PMP cert also requires years of project management experience before you can even take the test. So by definition you can be a project manager without the cert.
    – HLGEM
    May 11 '16 at 19:19

I'm not aware of any jurisdiction that regulates the field of project management. Although there are various certifications from organizations such as the Project Management Institute, CompTIA, and the Global Association for Quality Management, I'm not aware of any governmental or regulatory body that requires you to have specific education or certification to call yourself a Project Manager. It's up to companies to decide how they name their roles. In some companies, anyone who manages projects may have the title of Project Manager. In other companies, only those with specific experience or education may call themselves Project Managers and there could be a different title for people with less experience or education.

You may personally object to the practices of the organization. I, personally, have problems with the use of the title "Software Engineer", which many companies give to anyone doing software development, even if they haven't graduated from an accredited engineering program or actively apply engineering principles to their work. But that is a company's internal policies and there's not much I can do about it, unless I'm in a position to write the company's policies.

Even if you personally object, I wouldn't make a big deal about it. There are bigger battles to fight, I'm sure. You should focus your energies on things that matter, and titles should probably be toward the bottom of your list.

  • Good point about "Software Engineering". It implies a level of attention to detail that most shops simply don't employ.
    – AndreiROM
    May 11 '16 at 17:53

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