In today’s competitive business environment, you need every possible advantage to reach your career and personal goals. In project management, professional certification signifies excellence – and can separate you from the rest of the competition. The Professional Management Professional certification (PMP)®, offered by Project Management Institute (PMI), is the most widely recognized, respected credential in the industry.

If you’re a project manager, or are interested in becoming one, you’ll want to know which skills and credentials are most beneficial when competing for project management jobs and advancing in your career. Read on for complete information about project management careers, hiring trends, and PMP qualifications and benefits.

What is Project Management?

Project management involves managing everything that goes into a project, including resources, people, materials, time, money, scope, specifications, objectives and size. Project managers effectively balance all of these elements to achieve the objective under the constraints of time and money. Projects have a beginning and an end, and are often undertaken to achieve an objective, bring about change, or add value to a process.

What is the PMP Certification?

The PMP is an advanced certification that demonstrates extensive project management knowledge and experience. It is overseen by Project Management Institute (PMI), which establishes the qualifications and administers the examination process. PMP holders may use the designation “PMP” after their names, and must adhere to a code of professional conduct. They must also maintain certification through continuing education.

Why PMP Matters

The PMP sets a standard for excellence in the field of project management. It is recognized and respected throughout the business world, both in the U.S. and around the globe. Achieving PMP certification indicates to potential employers that you have demonstrated your abilities and competence in leading projects. PMP helps you stand out from the competition when pursuing project manager positions, and can lead to increased career opportunities in organizations of all sizes, across many industries.

Where Can I Work With a PMP Certification?

While PMP certification can easily transfer across industries and around the globe, certain sectors are especially promising now, according to PM Network. Here are several to keep your eye on:

  • Aerospace and Defense: This industry will see thousands of workers retire over the next 10 to 20 years, which means a big demand for project managers. Breaking into aerospace and defense takes experience, as well as the right educational background – so now is the time to start preparing for upcoming opportunities
  • Energy: Project manager job prospects are growing, especially in areas like clean technology and renewable energy. Again, industry knowledge is important. Plan to become familiar with the industry through independent study, professional education or contract work.
  • Information Technology: While IT growth in is shifting to Asia Pacific, Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America, all types of organizations and industries here in the U.S. will need experienced IT project managers – especially those with negotiation, conflict management and problem solving skills.
  • Financial Services: This industry is recovering from the recession’s massive losses and layoffs. However, project managers are in demand due to increasing regulations and merger activity. The PMP credential and an advanced degree will help you find success in this competitive field.
  • Construction: Construction was also hit hard during the recession, but signs are pointing toward recovery. One idea may be to simply go where the jobs are: China, India, Canada and Australia, which are preparing for a construction boom. In construction, credentials are important – especially the PMP and the PMI Risk Management Professional (PMI-PMP)®.
  • Government: Around the globe, governments are investing in roads, airports, power grids and IT. Here in the U.S., the Office of Personnel Management has elevated the importance of IT project management with its own job classification – and IT programs without full-time project managers are being defunded.
  • Healthcare: Healthcare is the fastest growing industry, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. It’s also strong in Australia and the European Union, where it was recently announced that all medical records will be digitized by 2015. Widely recognized credentials, such as PMP, along with strong interpersonal and communication skills will be an advantage when pursuing jobs in healthcare.

PMP is the global standard in project management certification, so it is recognized throughout the world. Imagine where your career can take you once you’ve earned the PMP certification! But, you’ll need to plan ahead, as qualifications to take the exam are strict.

PMP Certification Requirements

If you are interested in becoming PMP certified, you’ll need to meet the following requirements at the time of your application, as established by PMI:

  • A four-year degree (bachelor’s or global equivalent).
  • At least three years of project management experience.
  • At least 4,500 hours leading and directing projects.
  • A minimum of 35 hours of project management education.

Or:

  • A secondary diploma (high school or global equivalent).
  • At least five years of project management experience.
  • A minimum of 7,500 hours leading and directing projects.
  • At least 35 hours of project management education.

Once you’ve earned the PMP, you’ll need to keep your skills sharp with 60 hours of continuing education in each three-year period.

Are You a Good Fit to Become a Project Management Professional?

A project management career can be challenging and exciting. In this fast-moving field, it’s important to stay ahead of trends and keep your skills honed, in order to take advantage of the right opportunities at the right time. Project management is a good fit for individuals with excellent communication and organizational skills, initiative, self-direction, and drive. Earning a respected credential, like the PMP, is a solid way to demonstrate your skills and knowledge to prospective employers, while earning you the respect of your peers and supervisors. 

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