Silhouette of a person standing against a backdrop of various project management-related terms such as strategy, quality, finance, and leadership, representing the concept of project management certifications for veterans and military.

10 Project Management Certifications for Veterans and Military

By: Dr. Michael Shick, MSPM, PMP, CSM

Are you considering separating or retiring from the military but wondering, “What will I do?” I get it. I transitioned from the military twice—first separating as an enlisted member and later retiring as an officer. Regardless of when I did it, the journey was full of unique challenges, and both times, I had to answer the fundamental question, “What the heck am I going to do now?” That’s when I started to look for project management certifications for veterans and military.

Like many service members who are getting ready to transition back to civilian life, I had significant considerations. The first time I got out, it was just my wife and me. While I knew I was going back into the military after finishing my Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) training, I still had to find a position where my skills aligned. Although a “career-type” position was not a significant matter, I still had to support the two of us while we were in school.

The second time was when I retired. This time, my wife and I had a small baseball team-sized family. While the dynamics changed slightly, the same concerns were present. In fact, I would argue that I had more because I didn’t have a defined career vector waiting for me.

The Questions

Some of the fundamental questions I asked myself before retirement were, what do I want to do for work? What kind of work/life, or as I like to call it, “Life/work” balance, do I want? How many hours do I want to work? Where should we live?” What income do I need to at least maintain my current lifestyle? All of these are legitimate questions that need to be asked of oneself and need an answer.

After much discernment, I realized that project management was a perfect fit for me because it fills a definite need and has a purpose; moreover, I get to see a tangible result of what I helped create. The beauty of project management is that it is something the military does exceptionally well. Still, depending on your military specialty, it may not be called project management.

It may be something like your unit was deploying, and you were the one tasked to plan and execute the movement. Or, you were directed to set up a new medical training program. Maybe you supported the reorganization of the supply warehouse. Whatever the case, the point is, regardless of your role in the military—operations, mechanic, medical staff, logistics, security, et cetera—you have likely worked on or led projects.

"Executive interacting with virtual project management interface featuring strategy and analytics icons."

What is Project Management?

At the most basic level, a project is a unique endeavor with a clear start and end point; it is complex and interconnects team members engaging stakeholders from across different functional areas (e.g., Human Resources, Engineering, IT, Contracting, Logistics, etc.).

Project management is the act of planning, organizing, and managing a project in order to achieve a predefined goal or outcome.

With that definition, I am sure you can reflect on your experiences and make a connection with your project background, whether it was called that or not.

How do you translate your background and skills into project management? Regardless if you are completing a four-year enlistment and getting out or you spent 30 years, many certifications are well aligned given your various skill sets and education level. So if you’re struggling to figure out what’s next, I recommend checking out one of the many project management certifications that can help you validate your project management knowledge and demonstrate to an employer that you have the understanding to get the job done; and, therefore, aid your transition to civilian life more seamlessly.

"Hand holding project management certification diploma against urban skyline."

Highlight Your Capability through Project Management Certifications for Veterans and Military

Consider respected credentials as your professional pathway into project management or at least a higher salary in the field. The reason is that they represent your advanced knowledge, capabilities, and commitment. Here’s why certifications are a significant asset:

  1. Validating Core Competencies: Passing these rigorous exams isn’t just a formality. It’s concrete proof that you’ve mastered the essential PM concepts and know your stuff.
  2. Standing Out in the Application Pile: In the eyes of a hiring manager, certifications can be a mark of distinction. They signal that you have a level of PM expertise that sets you apart from other candidates.
  3. Fueling Your Career Development: Certifications aren’t just letters after your name; they’re a catalyst for growth. They articulate your capabilities in a way that can open doors to new opportunities.
  4. Standardizing Practices Across the Board: These credentials ensure everyone is on the same page, promoting a consistent and universally recognized approach to project management.
  5. Maintaining a Cutting-Edge Skillset: The professional world evolves, and so should you. Renewal requirements are built to ensure you stay ahead of the curve and keep your skills sharp.

While these certifications are valuable for project managers at any stage of their careers, they often become crucial, particularly when aiming for senior roles.

Which credentials should you consider? The Project Management Institute (PMI) offers several highly regarded certifications. So you may be asking yourself, what are some of PMI’s project management certifications for veterans and military? 

"Golden checkmark trophy on a pedestal against a dark blue background, symbolizing achievement and quality assurance."

Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM®)

If you’re transitioning from military service into the civilian world or taking your first steps into project management, consider the CAPM® certification as your launchpad. This certification is designed to prove that you have a firm grasp of the fundamental knowledge and core concepts, processes, and terminology of project management as outlined in the project management body of knowledge (PMBOK®) Guide. It’s more than just theory; it’s practical knowledge that will equip you for real-world professional scenarios, forming a solid foundation for becoming a proficient project manager. To qualify, all you need is a high school diploma and 23 contact hours of formal education in project management—no prior project management experience is necessary. The certification exam is a 3-hour, 150-question assessment. To maintain your CAPM® certification, you must earn 15 PDUs (Professional Development Units) every three years. Additionally, the CAPM® certification counts toward the contact hours needed for the more advanced PMP® certification.

"Project team collaborating around a Kanban board with colorful sticky notes categorized into 'To Do', 'Work', and 'Done'."

Disciplined Agile Scrum Master (DASM™)

Consider this your launch pad if you’re a veteran eager to venture into the agile and lean environment. The focus here is on Scrum, Kanban, SAFe®, and more, along with a deep dive into the Disciplined Agile (DA) toolkit. This is a customizable toolkit designed to adapt your approach to the unique challenges of your project—it’s akin to charting your course in the agile landscape. Think of it as your compass for making savvy, informed decisions with a solid grasp of your options and the associated trade-offs. You’re a prime candidate if you have between 0-3 years of agile experience. The entry requirements are intentionally accessible: a 2-day DASM™ training from a Disciplined Agile™ partner sets you on the path, with no formal education or prior experience required. The certification exam is a convenient online format—a 90-minute test with 50 multiple-choice questions. To maintain this certification, a modest commitment of earning 7 PDUs in agile topics per one-year cycle is all that’s required.

"Person drawing interconnected cogs labeled with various stages of project development like test, design, and deploy, illustrating workflow."

PMI-Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP®)

If you’re a veteran actively engaging with agile methodologies and have hands-on experience as part of an agile team, consider solidifying your skills with the PMI-ACP certification. This certification acknowledges your expertise across various agile approaches, including Scrum, Kanban, Lean, extreme programming (XP), and time-driven development (TDD). It’s designed to underscore your adaptability and mastery, not box you into a single framework. This certification is a prime target for those with 1-3 years of project or program management experience. You’re eligible whether you have a high school diploma or a Bachelor’s degree. You will need 21 contact hours of agile training, 12 months of general project experience within the last five years, and eight months of agile project experience within the previous three years. If you already hold a PMP® or PgMP®, that satisfies your general project experience requirement. The exam is a concentrated 3-hour test with 120 multiple-choice questions. You’ll need to earn 30 PDUs every three years to maintain this certification.

"Focused business professionals analyzing and discussing over clear glass board with colorful memo notes."

Disciplined Agile Senior Scrum Master (DASSM™)

Do you have two years of agile experience and are ready to elevate your leadership role in the agile environment? Consider this your advanced operation—a comprehensive, two-day instructor-led course that delves deep into the Disciplined Agile (DA) toolkit. It’s far more than memorizing a playbook; this is about strategic understanding, enabling you to adeptly maneuver and adapt tactics to your unique situation—essentially, becoming the master tactician of your agile team. But your leadership isn’t confined to just your team. This certification equips you to be a transformative figure across your organization in the agile space. It prepares you to guide agile teams through key enterprise activities like planning, coordinating, and reporting. It makes you the essential resource for turning the tide in areas where your organization may face challenges. After the course, a convenient 90-minute, 50-question online multiple-choice exam awaits, and maintaining your certification involves earning 7 PDUs in agile topics annually.

"Smiling businesswoman with phone superimposed with graphs indicating project analysis."

Project Management Professional (PMP®)

If you’re a veteran accustomed to leading teams and executing missions from conception to completion, this project management certification is tailored for you. Think of it as an official recognition of your ability to inspire teams, strategically select the best approach for a project (be it predictive, agile, or hybrid), and underline the critical impact a project has on an organization’s broader goals—much like the leadership and adaptability honed during your time in service. To qualify, the PMP certification requirements mirror your disciplined training: For those with a Four-Year Degree, you’ll need 36 months of experience managing projects within the last eight years. If your highest education is a High School Diploma or equivalent, the requirement is only 60 months of similar project management experience. Additionally, all candidates must complete 35 hours of project management training. This certification is essentially a transition from your military leadership role into a civilian project management role.

"Man updating digital documents on a handheld device showcasing data transfer icons."

Program Management Professional (PgMP®)

You’ve been at leading projects and programs for a significant time, leveraging your military discipline and leadership skills, and are ready to elevate your game to an executive level. In that case, the PgMP® certification is a strategic move worth considering. Consider it a distinguished commendation for seasoned professionals like yourself, especially if you’re a Program Manager, acknowledging the advanced skills needed to align multiple projects and programs with an organization’s strategic objectives and business priorities. Whether your educational background is a high school diploma or a postgraduate degree from a Global Accreditation Center (GAC) accredited program, there’s a path for you, though the experience requirements vary. Regardless, a substantial, unique, non-overlapping professional tenure in project and program management is non-negotiable. After qualifying, you’re up for a rigorous assessment—a panel review and a 4-hour, 170-question multiple-choice exam. And to maintain your certification, you’ll need to earn 60 PDUs every three years.

"Businessman holding a transparent digital device displaying portfolio analytics, symbolizing portfolio management and strategic planning."

Portfolio Management Professional (PfMP®)

Are you a strategist with solid years of experience in project and program management? If you’ve spent over eight years in project and program management trenches, the PfMP® certification might be your next decisive move. This isn’t just another line on your resume; it’s a prestigious badge signifying you know how to align a whole portfolio of projects and programs to meet big-picture organizational goals. Picture it: only a few thousand professionals globally can claim this honor. You’ll stand out as an elite leader, showcasing your in-depth knowledge, experience, and chops to steer the ship effectively. This certification is registered against the ISO 9001 standard, emphasizing its global recognition and credibility. The educational paths are varied—you might hold anything from a secondary degree to a postgraduate degree from a Global Accreditation Center (GAC) accredited program. Based on that, your experience requirements will vary, but the constant is significant professional business experience and non-overlapping portfolio management experience. And after you’ve tallied up those years, you’re set to face a meticulous exam, which involves a panel review and a comprehensive 4-hour, 170-question multiple-choice test. You’re looking at earning 60 PDUs every three years to keep current.

Select PMI Project Management Certifications for Veterans and Military – Specialty Certifications 

"Business professionals using project management software with task completion icons."

PMI Risk Management Professional (PMI-RMP®)

Suppose you are risk-minded and can spot potential pitfalls and opportunities in a project. Plus, you have more than three years of experience in project risk management under your belt; this might be your next milestone. The PMI-RMP® certification highlights your ability to identify, assess, and navigate project risks. It’s not just about avoiding threats; it’s also about seizing the opportunities that can put your organization a step ahead. Whether you’re part of a high-stakes mission or a complex organizational project, your expertise in risk management is an asset that this certification is meant to highlight. For those without a four-year degree, you’re looking at 36 months of professional experience and 40 hours of formal education in project risk management. Those numbers change to 24 months and 30 hours if you have a four-year degree. After meeting these prerequisites, prepare for a rigorous exam—a 2.5-hour session with 115 multiple-choice questions. You’ll need to earn 30 PDUs every three years to keep this certification current.

Project manager interacting with a Gantt chart on a computer screen, indicating task scheduling and progress tracking.

PMI Scheduling Professional (PMI-SP®)

Suppose you’ve been mastering the art of project scheduling for over three years and are keen on making it an official part of your professional identity. In that case, the PMI-SP® certification is right up your alley. It’s your opportunity to stand tall and show employers that you’re the go-to person for leading the charge in scheduling. Without a four-year degree, expect 36 months of professional project scheduling experience and 40 hours of specialized project management education. If you hold a four-year degree, those numbers are 24 months and 30 hours. Once you’ve checked these boxes, you’ll face a comprehensive 3.5-hour exam featuring 170 multiple-choice questions. Maintaining your PMI-SP® certification requires earning 30 PDUs every three years.

Engineer with a safety vest merged with a city skyline, representing construction and project management in an urban setting.

PMI Construction Professional in Built Environment Projects (PMI-CP™)

You’ve been working in the construction and built environment industry and have at least three years of experience leading projects already under your belt. In that case, the PMI-CP™ Certification is tailored for you. This certification is your recognition as a master of managing contracts, stakeholders, strategies, scope, and governance within the complex world of construction projects. No formal education prerequisites exist, so this certification is ready for all ranks. The PMI-CP™ requires you to complete seven e-learning courses as part of the training requirement for its comprehensive construction curriculum. Out of these, three courses are designed to earn you micro-credentials, a focused recognition of specific skills. After you complete these courses, make your micro-credentials, and confirm your three years of field experience, you’ll be cleared to take the capstone exam. This exam is a substantial one—230 minutes long and contains 170 multiple-choice questions. The PMI-CP™ Certification requires 30 PDUs every three-year cycle.

Diverse team in a casual meeting environment actively engaged around a tablet and laptop, representing collaboration and teamwork.

Making the Most of Your Military Experience by pursuing Project Management Certifications for Veterans and Military

Whether you’re separating after a four-year enlistment or retiring after decades of service, transitioning to the civilian workforce presents unique challenges. The good news is that your military experience has equipped you with transferable skills invaluable in project management. Leveraging certifications is a strategic way to validate your capabilities to employers.

The credentials discussed offer targeted pathways to advance your career. The CAPM and DASM certifications are ideal starting points, providing core knowledge for those new to project management and who need an understanding of basic project management concepts. For mid-career professionals, the PMI-ACP, DASSM, and PMP highlight your leadership abilities and versatility across methodologies. The PgMP, PfMP, and specialty certifications like PMI-RMP and PMI-SP signify deep expertise for seasoned PM professionals.

No matter where you are in your career, project management certifications for veterans and military spotlight the very best of your military background. They emphasize the leadership, organization, communication, and technical skills you’ve honed through service. Most importantly, they help translate your experiences into a civilian context. As you take the next step, leverage certifications to validate your capabilities. Let them open doors to new opportunities and propel you into a fulfilling civilian career.

Disclaimer: “The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Air Force, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.” 

About the author: Dr. Michael J. Shick, MSPM, PMP, CSM, founder of ROSEMET, is a combat-wounded warrior and retired senior military officer turned esteemed academic and project management expert. Holding a doctorate from Creighton University and serving as an Assistant Professor at Western Carolina University, Dr. Shick’s dedication goes beyond credentials, as he commits to empowering individuals and organizations toward project excellence. With an extensive military, academic, and project leadership background, he epitomizes resilience, expertise, and steadfast devotion to fostering growth and success in others.