Organizational Change Management Certification: Pros and Cons

Should you get an organizational change management certification?

There are certainly benefits to getting a certification – however, it may not be the right choice for everyone.

Below, we’ll look at:

  • The benefits of organizational change management certifications
  • Where to get certified
  • Drawbacks and other considerations
  • Alternatives to getting certified

To start with, let’s look at reasons to get certified in the first place:

Why Get an Organizational Change Management Certification?

There are many reasons to opt for an organizational change management certificate.

A few of the major benefits include:

  • A deeper understanding of change management. First and foremost, certifications are aimed at improving your knowledge. Most programs offer education around change management theory, change management frameworks, techniques and tactics, and more. 
  • Better outcomes for organizational change projects. Armed with this knowledge, business professionals will undoubtedly get better results from change initiatives. 
  • Lower project costs and increased efficiency. Change management knowledge will also help change professionals streamline their projects. This can result in greater efficiency, lower costs, shorter timelines, and so on.
  • Better job prospects. Another perk for the individual is, of course, better job prospects. Some change management job descriptions even require certifications. Those interested in a career in change management should seriously getting certified.
  • They are affordable. Certifications from organizations such as Prosci will only set you back a few thousand dollars. University courses can cost quite a bit more, depending on the school, but for change management professionals, the investments usually pay for themselves.

There are certainly other benefits to getting certified.

But there are drawbacks – and they may not deliver the benefits you are looking for.

Before hunting down certificate programs, let’s look at the downsides of certifications.

Drawbacks to Getting Certified

Here are a few of the downsides and considerations to pay attention to:

  • Content varies from program to program. Not all programs cover the same content. Some may be thorough, some less so. Some will focus on practical techniques, others will offer more historical and theoretical knowledge. 
  • They take time and cost money. An obvious drawback is that courses cost money and take time. For the busy professional, this can be problematic – especially if you have too little time to complete the course work.
  • Certifications may not give you the skills you need. As mentioned, different courses emphasize different content. And they may not teach newer ideas, such as agile change management, digital change management techniques, digital adoption knowledge, and so on. Some even argue that these certifications should be updated for the digital age.

Despite these considerations and drawbacks, the benefits often warrant an investment in certification.

Where to Get Certified

There are two types of places that offer certifications: private institutions and academic institutions.

Private institutions include consultancies, private education companies, and associations.

Here are a few worth considering:

  • Prosci
  • CCMP 
  • APMG 
  • ATD 

A few academic institutions that offer change certifications include:

  • Cornell 
  • Northwestern
  • MIT
  • Harvard
  • Michigan State University
  • University of Pennsylvania

This list is by no means comprehensive.

There are plenty of other places that offer courses – each with its own course content, emphasis, and flavor.

Should You Get Certified?

Whether or not to get certified is another question.

Before considering a certification, consider:

  • Your purpose. Do you want to apply change management methods in your organization? Do you want to learn about change management theory? Do you want to learn digital change management skills? These questions will help you decide which certification is right for you. Or whether certification is the right one.
  • Differences in course content. As mentioned, different courses focus on different areas. Practical courses, such as Prosci’s, offer immediately applicable frameworks. Others offer more theory and history. But does the content meet your specific needs?
  • Benefits offered by each certification. Some certifications are more widely recognized than others. And some are only recognized in certain countries. As with the previous point, the better that these benefits align with your needs, the better the potential ROI.
  • Costs. Does the course fit your budget? Will it pay for itself down the road? There may be very little correlation between the value of a course and its cost – so shop around.
  • Whether the certification is online, offline, or both. Some certifications can be obtained entirely online, such as Cornell’s program. Others require in-person attendance. Some meet occasionally over several weeks or months – others can be crammed into a few days. 
  • Who is teaching the course. What is the teacher’s background? Do they have a successful track record in the field? Does it seem like their teaching style will suit your learning style? 

Ultimately, getting a certification comes down to personal needs.

A certification is well-suited for:

  • Business professionals who need to learn about change management
  • Change management professionals or aspiring change practitioners
  • Professionals undertaking change within their organization

However, it may not be well-suited for professionals who want to understand the latest trends in change management, digital transformation, and digital adoption.

For more details about certifications, check out some examples of change management certification programs.

Chris is the Lead Author & Editor of Change Blog. Chris established the Change blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Change Management.