Change management is the process of preparing for and executing a smooth transition or transformation at the organizational level.
In this guide, we’ll provide an overview of the top five change management certifications available to business and product leaders today.
Table of contents
- What is change management?
- What are change management certifications?
- What are the 5 best change management certification programs?
What is change management?
Change management is a loose framework designed to help business leaders handle and implement change within the organization. It deals with all aspects of people, process, and systems that are impacted by a given change.
Change management processes help decision makers identify the best approach to transition through organizational and product changes effectively while keeping the business running its day to day operations.
What are change management certifications?
Change management certifications offer an opportunity to earn credentials that prove you’re equipped to successfully implement a change management process in an organization of any size or scope.
Put simply, earning a change management certification helps you build the requisite knowledge and skills to carry out a change management process in your organization. These programs provide training on the various aspects of change management, including strategy, planning, communication, and execution.
Certifications enable business leaders to further fortify their knowledge and credentials in terms of the process, phases, and best practices around change management. Getting certified better positions you to fast-track your career trajectory and growth in the field.
What are the 5 best change management certification programs?
There are many change management certification opportunities available in the market. We’ll highlight five that stand out in terms of their content and the skills they help participants develop:
- Certified Change Management Professional (CCMP)
- Change Management Institute
- Removing Barriers to Change in Organizations (The Wharton School)
We’ll evaluate the best change management certifications based on the following criteria:
- Eligibility requirements
Prosci’s change management certification program is also a global certification but less popular among the participants. It is a focused, three-day program delivered in an experiential format.
The biggest downside to the Prosci certification is that, at $4,500+, it’s a bit expensive compared to the other change management certifications mentioned in this guide.
In this experiential training program, participants are coached to apply Prosci’s methodology and the ADKAR Model to an active project.
The Prosci ADKAR Model is one of the two foundational models of the Prosci Methodology, alongside the https://www.prosci.com/methodology/pct-model. ADKAR stands for awareness, desire, knowledge, ability, and reinforcement
The ADKAR model is used by thousands of change leaders across the world. It advocates that organizational change can only happen when individuals change.
The Prosci change management program is available in the format of both instructor-led and virtual training.
The Prosci change management certification program lasts three days.
This program is open to all kinds, including change management leaders, human resources professionals, organization development leaders, product managers, and project managers.
The cost of the Prosci training varies depending on the format:
- In person training — $4,850 for the three-day program
- Virtual training — $4,500 for the three-day program
2. Certified Change Management Professional (CCMP)
The Certified Change Management Professional (CCMP) certification is a training program offered by the Association of Change Management Professionals (ACMP).
The CCMP certification is internationally recognized and comes from an industry-leading body. It’s affordable to boot and gives you the flexibility to complete the certification within a year after signing up.
The only notable downside is that the CCMP certification is not suitable for beginners. To participate, you need to have completed 21 hours of change management training in the past seven years from a Qualified Education Provider (QEP) registry.
The format is based on ACMP’s Standard for Change Management.
The Standard for Change Management is a repository of best practices that serves as a broad change management guide for all industries, organizations, and practitioners.
To earn a CCMP certification, you must complete and pass the CCMP examination within one year from the date your application is approved. You have a maximum of three attempts within that one-year period.
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The application process for the CCMP credential is as follows:
- Application review, which can take up to a year, begins five days from the date of payment. Only on approval of the paid application can candidates proceed to book the exam
- If selected for audit, participants have 90 days to meet any outstanding requirements
- Non-QEP training and essays submitted are reviewed, which may take up to 45 days. Candidates whose essays are rejected may resubmit or withdraw and request for a refund
- Once approved, applicants have one year to take the exam, which is presented in multiple choice format
- Upon successfully passing the exam, the digital CCMP credential and badge become available in the candidate’s account. Within 30 days of passing the exam, candidates are invited to register with their Credly digital credentials
- The CCMP credentials are valid for three years from the date of exam. To keep their certification active, candidates must to complete 60 professional development units (PDUs) and pay the renewal fees
- For candidates that do not complete 60 PDUs within the allotted window, the credential expires. To earn back their certification, candidates must complete the entire program from the beginning
- Four-year degree (or international equivalent) and three years (4,200 hours) of change management experience; or
- Secondary education (high school or international equivalent) and five years (7,000 hours) of change management experience
- Completion of 21 hours of instructor-led change management training within the past seven years. The Qualified Education Provider (QEP) registry provides a listing of courses that align to the Standard for Change Management, but you may also take qualifying courses that are not listed on the registry
For members of the ACMP, the certification costs $595. For non-members, it’s $745.
3. Change Management Institute
The Change Management Institute certification is also a globally recognized credential. Depending on your experience level, earning accreditation consists of a single-part or multipart process.
The Change Management Institute certification comes in three different accreditation levels based on the candidate’s change management experience. Candidates can start at the lowest level (Foundation) and then choose to move to the higher levels (Master and Specialist) once they have gathered the relevant experience. This accreditation does not have any requirements for renewal and does not expire.
This program is not available to non-members of the Change Management Institute; you must enroll to get access to the certification.
The Change Management Institute offers membership across three accreditation levels based on the candidate’s level of experience:
- To participate in the Change Manager Foundation program, you must submit one written component and one workplace reference
- To participate in the Accredited Change Manager Specialist program, you must include a written submission and two workplace referees and participate in a virtual interview
- The Accredited Change Manager Master program requires a written submission and two workplace referees, in addition to participating in a virtual interview and assessment
The Change Management Institute website only specifies the modules and the number of modules as part of the accreditation process; it does not specify the duration of each part of the process or the process as a whole.
Eligibility requirements for a Change Management Institute certification differ depending on the level you’re pursuing:
To gain Foundation-level accreditation, your capabilities will be assessed against the behaviors outlined in the Change Manager Competency Model – Foundation level, which verifies that you:
- Understand that each change has unique management challenges and requirements
- Consistently remain open to ideas
- Adept at communicating with stakeholders impacted by changes
You will also have completed relevant change management education; either a Change Management Institute-endorsed course or another training course that aligns to the Change Management Body of Knowledge (CMBoK).
To gain Master-level accreditation, your capabilities will be reviewed against the behaviors outlined in the Change Manager Competency Model – Master level, which verifies that you can:
- Competently apply the behaviors and skills of managing change
- Use change as an opportunity to advance business objectives
- Recognize, communicate, and manage the business case for change, including the costs and benefits
Finally, to gain Specialist-level accreditation your capabilities will be assessed against the behaviors outlined in — you guessed it — the Change Manager Competency Model – Specialist level, which means you:
- Understand the tools, methodologies and models to draw on when applying the changes
- Can applies the principles, types and stages of change
- Able to accurately identify potential source of resistance
The pricing of the Change Management Institute certification program also differs by accreditation level:
- Foundation — Standard fee: $525; discounted fee (Change Management Institute-endorsed training): $450
- Master — $1,050 total ($675 for Parts 1 and 2; $375 for Part 3)
- Specialist — $675
Note: Fees listed in USD only.
The eCornell change management certification is especially well-regarded. It’s best suited to more experienced change management professionals due to its emphasis on leadership development.
The main advantage that distinguishes the eCornell program from others on the market is that it’s delivered by an Ivy league university and a highly experienced faculty. However, the duration is a tad long compared to other certifications; spread over three months, the training requires at least 3–5 hours of effort per week.
Also, because it is an extended program, the eCornell certification is quite expensive compared to the certifications from CCMP and the Change Management Institute.
The program is 100 percent online and encompasses the following courses:
- Navigating power relationships — In this course, students work on their personal relationship with power and how the power works in their organization and social networks
- Negotiation skills — Understanding the critical components of effective negotiation
- Leading strategic change initiatives — Assessing the need for change and exploring the complex process of introducing and handling change
- Leading organizational change — Understanding your own leadership style and strategies for overcoming individual resistance to change
- Electives (two courses) — Students can choose from a range of 10 courses in areas such as collaboration, motivating people for high performance, creativity and innovation, strategic decision making etc.
- Leadership symposium — The leadership symposium encompasses three days of intense Zoom sessions exploring real-time conversations with peers and experts from the Cornell community and beyond
The program is spread across three months with each course lasting two weeks.
The eCornell certification is well-suited to:
- Senior leaders — Senior-level executives or people in leadership roles who need to be experts in change management, along with their C-suite responsibilities
- Mid- to upper-level managers — Managers who are moving toward leadership roles and need to improve their change management skills
- Junior-level managers with high potential — Workers who have the potential to grow into management roles
- Individual contributors who regularly face change — Roles that regularly experience change in their roles
- Other professionals who are working toward leadership roles — Aspirational candidates who are motivated to strive toward management and leadership roles
The three-month program costs $3,900, or $1,300 per month.
5. Removing Barriers to Change in Organizations (The Wharton School)
Removing Barriers to Change in Organizations is available from the Wharton School’s Digital Leadership Certificate Program.
This rigorous and comprehensive program covers all aspects of change management such as stakeholder management, readiness for change, impact assessment of the change etc.. Given that it is a four-week program, it is very cost effective compared to the eCornell and Prosci certifications, which are of similar duration.
That said, if you’re looking for a certification program that is a bit more expeditious, you might be better off exploring the CCMP and Change Management Institute certifications.
Removing Barriers to Change in Organizations is a fully online program with a recommended time commitment of two hours per week.
The program consists of four modules:
This module aims to help participants develop competencies to become catalysts of change and overcome the barrier to change in organizations.
- The Challenge to Change
- Getting people to change
- The REDUCE framework
This module focuses on the inertia effect of not embracing change through case studies and certain hypotheses, such as the endowment effect, as well as how to formulate effective change strategies
- Reactance: How warnings become recommendations
- Need for freedom and autonomy
- Provide a menu
- Ask, don’t tell
- Highlight a gap
- Endowment: Staying put feels costless
- Surface the cost of inaction
- Burn the ships
- Frame new things as old
Learn about strategies to ease uncertainty by way of multiple examples, such as confirmation bias and political polarization, as well as some levers to facilitate organizational change
- Distance: Too Far from Their Backyard, People Tend to Disregard
- Confirmation Bias
- The Movable Middle
- Ask for Less
- Switch the Field to Find an Unsticking Point
- Uncertainty — Easier to Try, More Likely to Buy
- Harness Freemium
- Shrink Upfront Costs
- Drive Discovery
- Make it Reversible
This module helps participants identify behaviors that prevent people from embracing change. By the end of this module, participants can successfully enable change strategies for themselves and the organization
- Corroborating Evidence: Some Things Need More Proof
- Who Else to Involve
- When to Space Corroborating Evidence Over Time
- How to Best Deploy Scarce Resources When Trying to Change Minds on a Larger Scale
- Course Conclusion
Removing Barriers to Change in Organizations is a four-week program.
This program is open to all change management practitioners.
The four-week program is priced at $599.
If you’re in any kind of managerial, non-managerial, or executive leadership role, it behooves you to be certified in change management because change is an integral part of any organization — from mergers and acquisitions, to business process changes and re-engineering, technology disruptions, ect.
Change management certification programs equip you to understand why and how to handle these shifts effectively, in terms of people, process, and systems.
Once certified, it’s important to understand the requirements to keep that particular certification active. It may require renewing the certification periodically and/or attending additional professional training sessions. And, of course, you’ll want to apply what you’ve learned to you day-to-day work.
Didn’t find exactly what you were looking for? The following change management certifications might be worth checking out:
- MIT’s Leading Successful Transitions in a Digitally Driven World
- AGMP International’s change management certification
- MSI’s change management certification
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