Businesses are constantly evolving their use of technology, resulting in almost constant organizational change. Whenever an organization implements a new process, updates an existing process, deploys new technology, or fine-tunes services, its leaders must be mindful that even a simple change to a single process can start a domino effect, introducing issues in a range of other processes that must also be addressed. That’s why it’s vital to have a strong change management plan in place, so that the company can remain agile and flexible, without interruptions or downtime.
But every change management plan, large or small, requires skilled professionals who understand the intricacies of change management. Change management is relevant to nearly every industry, but it’s particularly important for businesses looking to Improve processes, increase efficiency, and reduce errors and risk in IT, project management, and software and product development.
Looking to become an agent of change at your company? Here are 10 change management certifications you can earn to prove your skills.
Accelerating Implementation Methodology (AIM) is a change management methodology that can be used for a wide variety of organizational efforts. It focuses on the human side of risk; rather than look at how technology or software fails us, it encourages leaders to strengthen processes that involve employees, given that human-error is one of the biggest risks for failure. The certification is targeted at human resources, organizational development, IT, and business and clinical leaders, as well as project managers. Classes can be taken virtually or in person at sessions open to interested professionals, or organizations can opt to have employees accredited on-site with a session tailored to your business’ specific projects. The certification course will also count as professional development units (PDUs) for your ACMP certification.
Exam fee: $3,100 for the entire course
The Organizational Change Management Foundation Certification, created by APMG International in collaboration with CMI, certifies your ability to support organizational change. The test focuses on the key skills for change management, including motivating employees, engaging stakeholders, assembling teams, and delivering on effective change strategies. Once you pass the Foundation level exam, you’ll qualify to take the Practitioner level exam, which is designed for change project managers, transformation managers, senior responsible owners, business change managers, and change program managers.
Exam fee: $390
The Association for Talent Development (ATD) offers a Change Management Certificate that focuses on improving efficiency, productivity, and service quality. The program takes place online or in person, and covers implementing change processes, change management tools, qualities of a change leader, and how to encourage the organization to embrace change. You’ll learn how to conduct diagnostic assessments, define change efforts, analyze data, provide feedback, understand change management theories, select the right change model, create implementation designs, develop communication plans, and manage any consequences of change. The online course takes place over six sessions, totaling 12 hours; the on-site course takes place over two days.
Exam fee: $1,495 for members, $1,745 for nonmembers
The CCMP certification, offered by the Association of Change Management Professionals (ACMP), aligns with the ACMP’s Standard for Change Management. The standard was developed by ACMP as a “collection of generally accepted practices in change management” and is the foundation of the CCMP exam. It was developed by The Standard Working Group (SWG), led by group chair Sumreen Ahmad, and claims status as the “first legally defensible, globally accepted standard for change management.” It’s one of the more popular and widely recognized certifications for change management.
Exam fee: $595 for members, $745 for nonmembers
The Certified Local Change Agent certification from APGM International is designed for those who are in a supporting role during organizational transformation. It’s aimed at those who need to understand the fundamentals and principles of change management, and who are responsible with assisting the organization during times of change. This includes team leaders, supervisors, junior and senior managers, nonmanagerial staff, and anyone who wants a better idea of what change management entails. The test covers approaches to helping others engage with organizational change, aligning changes with departmental or organizational changes, developing change plans, and creating relationships between change professionals in the organization.
Exam fee: $390
The CPCM certification, offered through the Global Association for Quality Management (GAQM), focuses specifically on identifying and fixing problems in an organization. This is the type of course that would be best for those working with development processes or overseeing product life cycles. It covers everything from identifying areas for change, implementing that change, encouraging employee buy-in, and creating resilient strategies.
Exam fee: $213
The Change Management Institute (CMI) offers three levels of accreditation to prove your skills as a change manager: Foundation, Specialist, and Master. The content of each test is based on the institute’s Change Manager Competency Model. At the foundation level, you will need to send in a written application that provides your capabilities and competencies, along with a reference from a manager who has “directly observed your behavior in a change management role.” You’ll also need to complete relevant change management education, either through a CMI-endorsed course or one that aligns with the Change Management Body of Knowledge (CMBoK). For the specialist level, you’ll need 3-6 years of experience operating at the project or program level. You will also need to submit a written assessment that provides evidence of your skills, backed up with references from those who have observed your abilities, and you’ll need to complete a virtual interview with an independent assessor. The master level accreditation is for “highly experienced, senior change practitioners to stand out from their peers as leaders in the profession,” and is best suited for those with more than 7 years’ experience.
Exam fee: Foundation: $525, discounted to $450 with CMI-endorsed training; Specialist: $675; Master: $1,050
Offered through the Management and Strategy Institute (MSI), the CMS certification covers the basics of change management and how it is applied in the workplace. The training material covers the “key competencies required to function in the role of a manager within a changing corporate environment.” The program covers the basics of change management principles and helps students understand how it can be applied within an organization. The course focuses on why organizations fail, how change is inevitable, the different types of change, leadership and management styles, theories of change, how change impacts everyone in the organization, how people react to change, and the principles of effective organizational change management. Training and the test take place online, so it’s easy to work into a busy schedule since it is self-paced.
Exam fee: $299.95
ITIL 4, released by Axelos earlier this year, offers an IT service management framework that has a strong emphasis on change management. ITIL helps supply businesses a standardized, yet customizable and flexible, framework to help with the selection, planning, delivery, maintenance and lifecycle of IT services. Change management is inherently a big part of ITIL, because the focus is on constant and continuous improvement. If you work in an ITIL environment, the ITIL Foundation certification is a great way to demonstrate you have the capabilities for IT service management, and the change management that comes along with creating, fine-tuning, and implementing change management.
Exam fee: $3,100 for the entire course
The Project Management Professional (PMP) certification from the Project Management Institute (PMI) is another great option for those looking to validate change management skills and expertise. Project and change management often go together — the PMI states that a project is a “task with a defined end target,” and that the role of project management is the managing of the change process that will help achieve the end goal, while keeping time and budget in mind. Change management and change process often require full-time management, and that can often fall to project managers. The PMP certification is a perfect fit for anyone who finds themselves straddling both roles — project and change manager.
Exam fee: $405 for PMI members; $555 for nonmembers
This certification focuses on Prosci’s ADKAR model of change management, which is a proprietary methodology that the company says is useful for IT professionals. It takes place over the course of three days, in which you will learn how to apply Prosci’s methodology and the ADKAR model to real-world projects. The test fee is steep, but it includes hotel accommodations, all meals, and any activities included in the program. The company also handles your hotel reservations, as it is a requirement to stay at the venue for the three-day workshop. Workshops take place in a variety of locations across the US, typically at picturesque resorts and vacation spots; you can also opt for a virtual experience instead.
Exam fee: $4,850