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In 2016, the US government awarded more than $477 billion in contracts, according to a study by Bloomberg Government. So with 19 federal agencies and an estimated 5,000 federal contractors in Montgomery County, a Project Management Professional (PMP) certification is a valuable credential industry professionals can add to their LinkedIn pages.

Alex Akpodiete is one of those professionals. The Nigerian-born Akpodiete has a Juris Doctor, computer science, and cyber-security degrees, and a professional career that spans 30 years across 26 countries. This fall, he enrolled in Montgomery College’s Workforce Development and Continuing Education program to become a certified Project Management Professional.

Alex Akpodiete, left, pictured with Muhammadu Buhari, president of Nigeria.

Already highly successful in the information technology field, the reasons he gives for getting his PMP were simple, and direct.

“I will increase my income and marketability,” he says. “Basically, the PMP certificate was the best way for me to validate my education, my skills, and past experience.”

In 2007, the government’s Federal Procurement Office began to require bidding contractors to have PMPs on board and working on contracts. This was an effort to curb waste and encourage efficiency among contractors in bringing contracts in on time and under budget. In an increasingly project-oriented world, the Project Management Institute (PMI) became the preeminent professional certification that employers all over the world began to prefer and, ultimately, require.

According to WD&CE Dean of Business, Information Technology, and Safety Steve Greenfield, this project management boom led to a rush for the coveted PMP in this region.

“Contractors needed them to win contracts,” Greenfield said. “We noticed that rush, and in 2009 Montgomery College’s Workforce Development and Continuing Education became a registered provider under PMI.”

Director of the PMP program Transcie Almonte (right) with Mary Kay Pedigo, who teaches the PMP certification course at the College.

As a career, project management offers a variety of jobs across industries, incredible growth potential, and excellent compensation. Skilled project management professionals are in a prime position to benefit from a projected 1.57 million new project management jobs created around the world each year through 2020, according to the Project Management Talent Gap Report. Furthermore, the median salary is in excess of $100,000 in the US, Switzerland, Australia, Germany, and the Netherlands.

In an area flooding with federal contracts and a highly skilled and technical workforce, the PMP certification might just push a candidate over the top, says Transcie Almonte, director of the PMP program.

“This is a certification that will separate your resume from the competition’s resumes,” Almonte says.

Learn more about the Project Management Professional certification track at Montgomery College.

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