Change management professionals apply their specialized set of knowledge, skills, and attitudes to companies large and small across both industry verticals and horizontals. Unless you have been working on a space station for the past several years, you know that this profession is moving rapidly toward formalizing, standardizing, and credentialing.

For individuals who want to join the profession, want to enhance their existing knowledge to address new industries or clients, or want to take on a larger professional role, approaching this marketplace can be intimidating. It is often rewarded only by misinformation, disinformation, or hardly any information at all. Let’s see if we can help make some sense of it.

Who’s playing in the marketplace? What are they offering?

There are a number of players in the change management marketplace on the qualification end, where change management competencies are identified and credentials are generated. These organizations are largely associations for the profession or institutes that specialize in awarding credentials. They offer training programs, evaluate others to provide training, and provide pathways to gaining credentials based on existing sets of standards.

Many private companies — including globally-lauded change management training, research, and consulting firms — have segments offering certification-centered training programs.

Colleges and universities, too, have similarly functioning departments delivering courses on the principles of change management or provide programs of study leading to advanced degrees in organizational change, leadership and change, or management with a specialization in change. A significant number of these programs are online and available globally.

A growing number of MOOCs (Massive, Open, Online Courses) address change management, though in the increasing specialization of the change management field, there are significant advantages to choosing more focused course offerings. One advantage for buyers in this marketplace (you–their target audience) is that many of the courses and pathways to certification are open enrollment.

Is there standardization in this marketplace?

One of the most important factors for achieving clarity in the change management training market is understanding exactly which organizations administer the kinds of change management training that meet existing professional standards. Currently, proper standardization emanates primarily from the organizations that have created professional standards and bodies of knowledge:

  • The Human Change Management Institute published the first edition of its HCMBOK® (Human Change Management Body of Knowledge) in 2012.
  • The Change Management Institute first published its The Effective Change Manager: The Change Management Body of Knowledge (CMBoK) in 2013.
  • The Association for Change Management Professionals Global released its ACMP Standard for Change Management® in September 2014.

In addition to creating the standards and bodies of knowledge, these organizations have vetted education providers whose training and coursework aligns with the content of their standards; lists of these companies are available on the respective websites.

How can an aspiring change management professional identify and understand the products/outcomes that each firm or school promises?

Understanding the broad content categories within the standards and bodies of knowledge will go a long way towards finding appropriate learning opportunities. In addition, there is now a Change Management Professional’s Global Directory of Training, Education and Certification—a tool for helping make sense of the growing marketplace for change management learning and credentialing.  This Directory identifies the creators of the standards, the associations that have vetted and qualified providers of the training, and those groups that are currently certifying or plan to certify change management professionals.

Directory listings distinguish between four types of entities: professional associations, firms offering change management training and consulting, colleges and universities offering advanced degrees, and executive education centers offering change management learning opportunities for senior managers. The whole marketplace can be daunting, to be sure, but the Directory offers a more organized approach and a way to evaluate the best option for you. It uses clear and strict criteria for inclusion.

One more question: I have other questions. What about all those questions I might have?

Good question. The Change Management Professional’s Global Directory of Training, Education, and Certification is a starting point for your search, a way of making initial decisions about what you want to pursue and how you want to pursue it. Links to the provider’s websites offer an opportunity to get more detailed information from the source.

What questions do you have (or what have you been wondering) about the change management training marketplace? Share your experiences on the Change Management Review Facebook page, or leave a comment below.