Jidaw Systems

Project+ - combining the technical world and the business world:

An Interview with Ayana Nickerson, Project+ Certification Program Manager for CompTIA (the Computing Technology Industry Association)

As businesses and organizations see the need to prevent waste and reduce risks associated with IT projects, there is a growing appreciation of project management. The Project+ certification program is expected to grow in relevance considering the premium being placed on soft skills and management in the IT industry.

On August 11, 2004, CompTIA announced that it has renamed its popular project management certification from CompTIA IT Project+ to CompTIA Project+.

Jidaw.com had the opportunity to interview Ayana Nickerson, Project+ Certification Program Manager via e-mail. In the discussion she talks about Project+ and Project management certifications

She explains the new name change as well as the "what, how, why, and where" of the Project+ certification.  She spoke about tips and advice for candidates as well as what she sees as the future of Project+ and Project management.

Jidaw.com: What led to the development of CompTIA Project+ certification?

Ayana Nickerson: CompTIA answered an industry need for a certification that validates business “soft skills” and that addresses the increasing reach and influence of technical and IT projects.  As a result, in 2001 CompTIA purchased “IT Project Management Core Capabilities” exam from the Gartner group in early 2001.  CompTIA then revised and launched IT Project+ in April, 2001.  The exam was later enhanced and revised in November, 2003.

Jidaw.com: Who is CompTIA's Project+ certification intended for? What is the target audience for this certification? What level of experience and knowledge should prospective candidates have?

Ayana Nickerson: Project+ is intended for industry professionals with at least 2,000 hours of practical experience in leading, managing, and directing small-medium sized projects.

Jidaw.com: What is the exam focus of the Project+ certification? What capabilities should one expect of a Project+ certified professional in terms of specific knowledge and skills?

Ayana Nickerson: The Project+ examination focuses on three core competencies necessary for successful IT project management: best practices in project management methods and processes, critical business knowledge and important interpersonal skills.

A candidate or an employer should feel confident that a Project+ certified professional will have the ability to successfully manage information technology-related projects throughout the entire project life cycle.  A Project+ certification demonstrates knowledge of critical project management and business concepts.

Jidaw.com: Who benefits from, what is the relevance of, Project+? Can you give us tangible benefits and beneficiaries?

Ayana Nickerson: Project+ is a win-win certification.  Both the individual and prospective employers benefit from this CompTIA certification.  Becoming Project+ certified gives a candidate:

·         The knowledge to successfully bring in projects on time and under budget

·         Proof of professional achievement as the individual can demonstrate the necessary skills defined by it industry experts

·         Enhanced job opportunities as clients prefer to work with certified employees

·         Viable career path and/or launching pad to additional higher-level certifications

Project+ gives prospective employers the following benefits:

·         Increased productivity as a certified project manager has a clear understanding of both technical and business issues

·         Maximized efficiency in recruiting, hiring, training and promoting employees

·         Uniform project management systems that meet industry benchmarks as well as legal and regulatory guidelines

Jidaw.com: How does the market look for Project+ candidates and certificants? Can you give examples of possible career opportunities? 

Ayana Nickerson: Industry research indicates that 74% of all IT projects fail, come in over budget or are overdue.  And 28% of projects fail all together.  These statistics are alarming, especially in light of the current situation of the global economy.  Companies are looking for qualified individuals that have the knowledge to successfully bring in projects on time and under budget. 

A Project+ certification can take your career into several different directions. Here is an example of possible career opportunities: IT Manager, Project Manager, Program Manager, Quality Assurance, Software Development, Training and Instruction, E-commerce Specialist, and Operations, Healthcare Administration, Disaster Recovery, Security Management, Business Analyst, and the list could go on.  This certification could open many doors.

Jidaw.com: How many people have achieved the Project+ certification?  What is your current estimate of number of people attempting the Project+ exam every month?

Ayana Nickerson: Since its launch in April, 2001 there are close to 7,000 individuals certified.

Jidaw.com: How does one get preparation resources for the Project+ exam? And how long does it take to get Project+ certified?

Ayana Nickerson: There are self study materials, on-line training and classroom training available.  The time it takes depends upon the individual.  I would suggest going to our website at www.comptia.org to find out more about preparation resources. 

Jidaw.com: What is unique about project management in the IT field? And how does Project+ compare to other technical certifications?

Ayana Nickerson: Project+ adheres to project management industry standards and maps its project management standards 100% to such certifications as PMI's PMI, PRINCE2 and ITIL.

Jidaw.com: How do you see the future demand for project management expertise? What trends do you see in project managementthat businesses and IT professionals should be considering? And how does Project+ fit in?

Ayana Nickerson: Right now the IT industry is looking for professionals that have the business “soft skills” that can communicate and manage technical projects.  As the scope of IT projects broaden and affect more than just the IT department, there is now a greater need for these interpersonal skills and project managers are in demand.  

Jidaw.com: Congratulations on the name change. What is the reason for the name change?

Ayana Nickerson: Thank you.  This is a very exciting time for CompTIA's Project+ and for project management professionals.  IT projects are no longer in the basement of a company, they have moved to the boardroom.   CompTIA decided to change the name of the exam because we believe the content of the exam provides a value to a much wider audience. 

Jidaw.com: What are the implications of the name change for already certified professionals and prospective candidates?

Ayana Nickerson: There are no implications.  The contents and the objectives of the exam remain the same.  If a candidate has already been certified as an IT Project+ professional, their certification is still valid and recognized worldwide.

Jidaw.com: Are we to expect any changes in the exam in terms of format, content, etc?

Ayana Nickerson: At this time CompTIA has no plans to change the exam format or content.   

Jidaw.com: What are CompTIA's plans for Project+? What does the future hold for Project+ (short-term and long-term)?

Ayana Nickerson: CompTIA will continue to be a leader in the IT market space and answer the needs of the industry by producing quality exams that provide business solutions.

Jidaw.com: What tips and advise would you have for students, who are working to get their CompTIA Project+ certification? 

Ayana Nickerson: I would first of all congratulate the student for choosing such an excellent certification to obtain.  The industry has been saturated with the “techies” it is now time to combine both the technical world and the business world and Project+ certified individuals are just the people to do bridge that gap. 

1.   Organize a timeline and create a study schedule. 

2.   Read the Project+ blueprint thoroughly to become familiar with the exam objectives. Project+ exam blueprint can be found on the CompTIA website at www.comptia.org 

3.   Gain hands-on experience.  Project+ requires at least 2,000 hours of project management experience, which is equivalent to 12 months of hands-on project management experience.  

4.   Supplement your experience with training.  CompTIA has certified training partners that have approved self-study, on-line and classroom training materials. 

5.   Take a practice test.  This is an excellent way to assess your skills.  Although your score on a practice test will not necessarily indicate what your score would be on a certification exam, a practice test does assess your readiness and lets you know in what areas you need work. 

6.   Register for the exam.  After you complete the exam preparation and feel confident with your exam knowledge, you can register for the exam through our testing vendors Prometric or VUE.  

Jidaw.com: Is there anything else you'd like to share with Project+ candidates?

Ayana Nickerson: Earning a Project+ credential from CompTIA is one of the fastest ways to enhance your employment opportunities and affirm your commitment to project management excellence.  Take the next step and elevate your career with a Project+ certification from CompTIA.


Jidaw.com thanks Ayana Nickerson for her time as well as for the great work she is doing with Project Management certification.

Ayana Nickerson is CDIA+ and Project+ certification program manager for CompTIA, the Computing Technology Industry Association.  She has more than ten years of experience in the telecommunications and IT industries as a program manager.  Ayana can be contacted at anickerson@comptia.org  

The interview was conducted through Jidaw.com's IT Resource center:



More on CompTIA and Project Management Certifications:

CompTIA Certifications and Resources

CompTIA, Value and Top Certifications

Project Management Certifications

Project Management Resources


Project Management Training This workshop will enable you to master planning tools, management techniques, and people skills that will ensure project success


For more coverage and information related to this topic, head to the IT Career Resource Center: http://www.jidaw.com/itcareer.html

Best Answers to Frequently Asked Questions on IT Certification

Your Guide to taking the Right IT Career Decisions

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