Earning a Project Management Professional (PMP®) certification is well worth the effort required: this certification can position you to earn a 20% higher salary on average, according to the PMI’s Project Management Salary Survey*. It can also equip you to complete more projects on time and within budget, according to a PMI Pulse of the Professional study.
What is PMP®?
The Project Management Professional (PMP®) certification, which is awarded by the Project Management Institute (PMI), is a widely recognized industry certification for project managers across fields and project management methodologies. The PMP® is globally applicable and typically pursued by project management professionals already working in the field who take an exam to earn their original certification and then maintain it with continuing professional education.
What is on the Exam?
The PMP® assesses five main areas of the project management process:
- Project initiation
- Project planning
- Project execution
- Project monitoring and control
- Project close
Within these core pillars of project management, the four-hour exam includes 200 multiple-choice questions, 25 of which are sample questions, and therefore not scored. Portions of the exam reference the PMI’s A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK®), or other project management sources of reference.
Who Should Apply?
Only experienced project managers who meet the following requirements should apply:
- Hold responsibility for projects in full and perform duties under general supervision.
- Manage cross-functional teams to deliver projects on time, within budget, and with the appropriate amount of resources.
- Exhibit sufficient experience and knowledge to apply project methodologies to defined project requirements and deliverables.
The PMI also establishes the following prerequisites for project managers with a secondary degree, which includes a high school diploma, an associate’s degree, or a global equivalent:
- 7,500 hours directing projects as the lead
- 35 hours of project management education
For project managers with a four-year degree, the PMI requires:
- 4,500 hours directing projects as the lead
- 35 hours of project management education
How Can I Obtain the PMP Certification?
Your first step to obtaining the PMP® Certification is to apply to take the exam, either at a local PMI chapter or online. Once you have established you are eligible, you will pay the fee to take the PMP® exam ($555 for non-members and $405 for members). As part of the application, you will be asked to describe your project experience with a summary of the objective, your responsibilities and deliverables, and the outcome. You’ll also need to establish your 35 hours of project management education.
What Are the Benefits of Being a PMP® Holder?
With a PMP® certification, you indicate to your industry that you understand globally recognized project management practices. This provides several specific benefits, including:
- Access to a network of other professionals and experts across the globe
- Significantly higher salary potential*
- Increased project success from your expanded knowledge base, which benefits you and your organization
- Access to new opportunities in your field, as some jobs are only available to certified professionals
How Do I Recertify?
You’ll need to recertify your PMP® certification every three years. To qualify, you must complete 60 professional development units (PDUs), which equate to one hour. Generally, these hours provide you with training or other support in your project management role and can include free options such as:
- Volunteering with the PMI
- Watching a webinar
- Reading pre-approved content
- Attending PMI chapter events
- Listening to specific project management podcasts
Topics may cover leadership, technical project management, or business and strategic management. As you recertify, you should assess where your strengths and opportunities are to focus your professional development on the areas where you need to grow.
Prepare With an Online Degree
The PMP® is a rigorous exam, and one of the best ways to prepare yourself to pass is to enroll in a degree program. An MBA with a project management specialization can help teach you fundamental project management concepts you’ll need to know.
PMP and PMBOK are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.
* Project Management Institute, Earning Power: Project Management Salary Survey 10th Edition, on the internet at https://www.pmi.org/-/media/pmi/documents/public/pdf/learning/salary-survey-10th-edition.pdf?la=en (visited March 27, 2019).
National long-term projections may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth. Information provided is not intended to represent a complete list of hiring companies or job titles, and program options do not guarantee career or salary outcomes. Students should conduct independent research for specific employment information.