Practical vs. Formal (Work Experience or Education?)

Published on August 18, 2020
Written by Living Planit
Living Planit is a market leading Project & Leadership Management, Building and Construction training and consultancy specialist. Living Planit is also an Australian Registered Training Organisation (RTO 40552).

Practical or formal is always a question for job seekers. As you browse job sites such as Seek, you will notice that there are no specific licensing /qualification requirements for a Project Coordinator or Project Manager role. Obviously, professional knowledge and experience in the industry is beneficial, however the general knowledge and skills in project management are also fundamental.

A lot of people have obtained their knowledge and skills on project management through work experience which in itself has many benefits, however, when moving to a different position or starting employment with a new company or even changing to a different industry, most people find it difficult to transfer their existing skills and knowledge to a new project. That is because in most instances, your knowledge is linked to your work environment or a specific project scenario.

A project is unique in that it is not a routine operation, but a specific set of operations designed to accomplish a singular goal – PMBOK® Guide

The tools you used to manage your project in your last project/company might be different from the ones that you use in your current project/company. Not to mention that there are so many modern tools/software for project management online that work differently.

Then, what fundamental knowledge and skills do I need to manage a project?

According to PMBOK® Guide, project management falls into 5 phases:

  • Initiating
  • Planning
  • Executing
  • Monitoring and Controlling
  • Closing

Each phase requires different tools and methods and there are more than 40 processes outlined in PMBOK® Guide that you can use to manage your project from start to end.

How do I choose the most suitable one from these processes?

Each project has its own characteristics. Generally speaking, we can divide each project into 10 areas:   

  • Scope
  • Time
  • Cost
  • Quality
  • Human resources
  • Stakeholder
  • Information and communication
  • Risks
  • procurement
  • integration

Project management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet the requirements of each of the above areas.

For example, Analogous Estimating or Parametric Estimating is generally used in building and construction projects whereas Bottom-Up Estimating is more used in business projects.

The skills and knowledge obtained from work experience is normally restricted to one or two certain tools or processes. These can be useful when working on similar projects but may be inefficient in other projects and when working across different industries.

As a result, obtaining your skills and knowledge from formal training can sometimes be the most efficient and cost-effective way.

For example, statistical data has consistently shown that education level and income are closely correlated. A formal qualification can also teach you transferable skills such as the ability to research, analyse and problem solve.

Incidentally, time can also play a key factor. A degree obtained 10 years ago cannot keep up with the latest trends. Whereas experience gained from on the job learning, will ensure you are kept up to date with changing processes and systems. Although this can be at times industry restricted and challenging as you transfer your existing skills and experience across different industries.

Another key factor to take into the equation is the cost of learning. Gaining on the job training and experience may be the preferred choice to some employees as you ‘get paid while you learn’.  In comparison, on average the cost of formal training can cost between $4000 – $7000 for example to study a Diploma of Project Management in Australia.

However, do you know, you can apply for various government funding for your training in Australia?

Living Planit as an Australian Registered Training Organisation (RTO), we provide nationally recognised training courses. Living Planit also provides government-funded training courses for residents who live or work in NSW*. Eligible students can apply for Fee-Free Traineeship Program where their training will be fully subsidised by the NSW government or partially funded program where more than 50% of their training cost will be covered by the NSW government.

To conclude, there are advantages to both formal education and on the job training/experience. However, a candidate who is able to show both work experience and education will be better equipped to perform in his/her job by obtaining professional skills and knowledge.

In addition, obtaining an industry certificate will help to demonstrate your practical experience. Certificates issued by an institute such as AIPM (Australian Institute of Project Management) can definitely make your resume stand out to any prospective employers and connect you with industry networks.

We have written a comprehensive article about how to become a Certified Practising Project Practitioner (CPPP) with AIPM, click here to read more. 


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Living Planit is a proud member of AIPM and GAPPS, meaning our courses meet the standards of the project management industry



As a registered Training organisation (RTO 40552), Living Planit provides nationally recognised part and full qualifications



As an NSW Smart and Skilled training provider, Living Planit provides government-funded training programs to individuals and corporations

I just wanted to say it was an excellent training course. Probably the best training I have had post-university!

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