Is MSP Certification Worth the Cost?

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Program management is an essential skill set for modern organizations. It fuels the pursuit of strategic objectives and, combined with solid planning, stakeholder engagement, and collaboration, ensures that companies can evolve and compete with optimized efficiency and effectiveness.

The issue is that program management as a discipline is often misinterpreted as simply being project management on a larger scale. In reality, program managers utilize their own processes and tools and often take a much more high-level perspective than project managers.

At the same time, the Digital Age has created a need for continual improvement, both in public and private sector organizations. As new opportunities and competitors appear on a frequent basis, effective strategic change becomes essential and cannot be mishandled.

What is MSP?

Managing Successful Programmes (MSP) is a program management framework created by AXELOS, the same organization behind world-class project frameworks such as PRINCE2. It includes several key elements that can be adapted based on the nature and structure of a program, as well as the organization relying on it.

These include:

  • Principles – What are the characteristics of the program?

  • Processes – What are the stages in the lifecycle of a program?

  • Themes – What elements go into planning, implementing, managing, and justifying a program?

Given its status as an AXELOS framework, it should also come as no surprise that MSP works extremely well with other professional approaches. This makes it an excellent choice for businesses that already utilize well-known approaches and methodologies.

By utilizing MSP, a business can optimize alignment between programs and the individual projects that make them up. Managers will focus on outcomes and benefits while constantly mitigating risks and, of course, working to keep stakeholders happy.

The proven success of MSP has seen it adopted across the world, and the demand for experienced practitioners is ever on the rise. Indeed, studying MSP has become an excellent way for both experienced and prospective program managers to build their skills and further their careers. MSP itself was also recently updated to 5th Edition, and getting certified in the framework has become a great way for candidates to stand out, take on new responsibilities, and unlock new career opportunities.

So, exactly how valuable is it to study MSP? Let’s take a look.

The MSP Certification Path

The MSP certification path is quite simple. Candidates begin with the MSP Foundation syllabus, which introduces the fundamental elements of the framework. This includes the Themes, Processes, and Principles. Once a candidate has passed the MSP Foundation exam, they can then move on to the next step.

The MSP Practitioner syllabus builds on MSP Foundation, revisiting the three lenses of MSP while also providing analytical tools and processes for reviewing the success of a program. MSP Practitioner courses also offer program scenarios to help candidates become more familiar with applying the framework in practice.

What Is the Value of Getting Certified in MSP?

When it comes to MSP training, it is important to keep the value of experience in mind. Studying and getting certified in MSP is a great way to learn the skills you need as a program manager. However, while certification alone can certainly help you advance your career, you will still need adequate experience applying the framework to unlock the best opportunities out there. Remember, MSP is an adaptable framework, so if you can show your ability to amend it in order to suit different program requirements, you will have a great deal more viability as a candidate.

It is also worth keeping in mind that project and program management skills, in general, are valuable across multiple areas within a business. This can include HR, Finance, and, now more than ever, IT management. In other words, a range of candidates can benefit from studying MSP, and many businesses even invest in MSP training for entire teams.

According to Payscale, MSP practitioners can earn a base salary of $98,000/ £61,000, though this is generalized across multiple roles. Here are just a few other examples of what top-tier practitioners can earn:

These include:

  • IT program manager – $74,000 to $164,000/ £54,000 to £110,000

  • Project manager – $50,000 to $114,000/ £26,000 to £69,000

  • Management consultant – $62,000 to $170,00/ £30,000 to £102,000

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