PMP Certification: Overview And Career Path
The Project Management Professional (PMP) is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.
Welcome to the inaugural article in our series on the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification. In this series, we will be providing an overview of the certification and information about the domains or topic areas covered in the examination. By the end, you should feel more comfortable in your understanding of the modern PMP exam and be able to gauge whether you are prepared to take the exam.
First off, let’s start with an explanation of what the PMP is and how it can enhance your career.
What Is the PMP Certification?
The Project Management Professional (PMP) certification is an internationally-recognized project management certification offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI), a U.S. nonprofit professional organization. It stands out compared to other project management certifications because it is not focused on a particular location, industry or methodology. Instead, it requires that you understand the best practices and principles of project management and also validates that you have the experience, skill and competency required to lead any project and achieve the desired objectives. The versatility of the PMP certification makes it the most-sought-after certification by project managers.
The PMP certification is also highly favored by employers. Research has shown that when one-third of an organization’s project managers are PMP-certified, they complete more of their projects on time, on budget and meeting original goals (Pulse of the Profession® study, PMI, 2015). As the demand for skilled project managers is quite high in many industries, PMP is considered the gold standard and will set you apart from non-certified project managers.
To get the PMP certification, you’ll need meet the prerequisites, apply online, go through an audit process (if selected for audit) and take a multiple-choice exam which is based on the project management body of knowledge (PMBOK).
While you do not have to be a member of the PMI to be PMP-certified, it is recommended that you join, as this will help you reap the full rewards of your PMP certification. The PMI membership will reduce the cost of your exam by $150 and connect you to a wealth of resources and a community of project management experts and organizations around the world.
Who Should Earn the PMP?
A project is simply a temporary endeavor to create a product, service or result. Based on this definition, a wide range of industries ranging from construction to IT need competent project managers to deliver their desired project objectives. The PMP certification shows that you have the skill and experience needed and is important for all project managers or anyone who manages projects.
As a project manager, you should get the PMP certification if you want to:
- Broaden your career options, as it can be used in any location or industry
- Increase your earning potential: According to the PMI earning power survey, PMP-certified project managers earn 20% higher on average than their peers
- Improve your skills: The PMP certification requires a lot of preparation, during which you will learn best practices of the profession.
How Does the PMP Compare to Other IT Certs?
If you are pursuing a career in information technology, there are several certifications targeted towards managing IT projects like Six Sigma Green Belt and Certified Scrum Master. The certification you go for should depend on your job role, industry and your level of project management experience.
Most IT certifications are specifically designed for or better-suited to particular processes, industries or methodologies. The PMP focuses on the whole project, can be applied in all industries and is internationally-recognized. However, you need some project management experience to be eligible for the PMP.
What Experience Do You Need?
To be eligible for the PMP Certification Exam, you need to have had some experience managing projects, some formal education and some project management training/education. Depending on your level of formal education, the required experience varies.
If you have a secondary degree (high school diploma, associate degree or the global equivalent), you need 7,500 hours’ experience leading and directing projects and 35 hours of project management education. If you have a four-year degree, you need 4,500 hours’ experience leading and directing projects and 35 hours of project management education.
Sometime, people get worried when their job title is not project manager. It’s important to note that a project is simply a temporary endeavor to create a product, service or result, so your work experience creating any of those counts.
Is the PMP Worth the Effort?
This is probably the most common question about certifications. Your best answer is to do an analysis of the costs and benefits (like any good PM will do).
Getting PMP certification can be expensive and time-consuming. The exam currently costs $555 for non-members, which doesn’t include what you’ll spend on training, preparation materials and other expenses. Preparation for the exam also takes some time, depending on your study method. It’s natural to wonder if it is worth the effort.
There are several advantages of having the PMP certification that makes it worth it.
- It increases your earning potential: PMPs earn an average of 20% more than project managers that are not PMP-certified. According to Payscale, senior project managers earn an average of $113,689
- It sets you apart from the competition: It adds value to your resume and shows your employer that you are dedicated to the project management profession
- It inspires confidence in your employer and stakeholders: The PMP certification is a test of your competency as a project manager and increases the probability that you will deliver the desired project objectives within the set time and on budget
- It widens your career options: The PMP is recognized and respected in any location and industry. If you decide to change your job, there will be no restrictions on which path you can take
- It continually improves your skills: The PMP exam requires you to fully understand and apply the principles of project management and the certification is valid for 3 years. However, it is maintained by earning professional development units (PDUs). PDUs are a way of showing that you are keeping up-to-date with developments in project management
- As a member of the PMI, you become part of a huge network of project managers. This provides you with lots of resources and opportunities to network
What Is the Best Way to Train for the PMP?
There are several ways to train for the PMP, depending on how much time you have, your budget and your preferred study method. Whichever method you choose, it’s recommended that you become a PMI member, download a free copy of the PMBOK, which the exam is based on. Here are the three major routes that most candidates take to becoming PMP-certified:
This is a common method and the cheapest option, but it requires a lot of time, planning and self-discipline. There are tons of PMP study materials online; you will have to choose your own study materials to supplement the PMBOK. If you choose to self-study, it is important to know that it will not count towards your 35 hours of project management education — you’ll still need to find an online training by a Project Management Institute (PMI)® Registered Education Providers (R.E.P.), one that’s not live so that you can study at your own pace.
Live Online Training Course
Live online training courses are available if you don’t have as much time and want the advantages of classroom training in the convenience of your own home office. They are live, interactive classes led by a qualified instructor you will be able to interact with. They will usually also provide study materials and practice exams. It’s the same experience as a physical classroom without the travel expenses
In-Person Boot Camp
You can also physically attend an instructor-led course. They are a little expensive, but definitely the fastest way to study if you want to get ready for the exam as quickly as possible and prefer having a defined schedule to follow. These boot camps will usually last for five days and you will be able to take the exam at the end of the classes.
As with all training, your trainer is very important. InfoSec Institute is an award-winning project manager training company and has been training project managers since 1997. They run a five-day boot camp with PMP pass rate of over 93%.
We hope this has given you a better understanding of what the PMP is and what benefits you can derive from the certification as a project manager. In the next part, we’ll be focusing on the PMP domains, which are the topic areas the exam is based upon.
The Project Management Institute, PMI.org
PMBOK Guide, Sixth Edition, PMI.org