The PMP certification exam often requires training and preparation even for the most experienced project managers.
PMP certification is a popular credential many project managers add to their professional name.
If you’re a project manager looking to grow your career, you’ve probably heard these three letters thrown around in every conversation you’ve had about certification. But maybe you’ve never known what PMP stands for or whether the certification is even worth it.
Let’s dive into the details so you know what PMP certification is, who should apply, and how to get certified.
What does PMP stand for?
PMP stands for Project Management Professional. Offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI), this credential is recognized across the globe as a professional standard in the project management industry.
As the leading project management organization in the industry, the PMI provides project management training, tools, and networking opportunities to over 600,000 members worldwide.
Why get PMP-certified?
One big question looms large in a lot of project manager minds: Is PMP certification worth it? Let’s start by breaking down the benefits of PMP certification.
PMP certification benefits
Builds core project management skills
Provides a structured framework for how to manage projects
Gives you professional clout in the project management industry
Opens the door to career opportunities
Increases your potential for a raise and/or promotion
79% of project managers surveyed have a PMP certification.
Globally, PMP-certified survey respondents earn 16% higher median salaries on average than those without PMP certification.
Median salary steadily grows the longer you hold a PMP certification.
PMP certification considerations
There’s no doubt being PMP-certified comes with some pretty sweet professional advantages. But it’s important to take the whole picture into consideration before deciding if PMP certification is right for you.
Here are a few things to keep in mind:
Getting PMP-certified is a big investment. Be prepared to spend a good chunk of time and money on PMP training, studying, and the exam itself. For example, you need 35 hours of formal project management education/training or CAPM Certification to even apply for PMP certification. And you may decide to pay for a PMP training course or other study materials to prepare for the PMP exam.
PMP certification deals more in theory and process than strategic thinking and creative problem-solving. You can outline steps for risk management and conflict resolution all day long—but people and projects don’t always fit into a neat process box. You’ll still need to find ways to connect with folks and come up with solutions that take your project’s unique goals and personalities into account. And let’s be real: Nothing beats practical experience for learning how to think on your feet when a project throws you the inevitable curveball.
Being PMP-certified can serve you well in any industry, but it’s especially beneficial if your organization follows a strict process. For instance, PMP certification might make perfect sense for a construction or manufacturing project manager. A digital project manager who oversees projects that move fast and change constantly, on the other hand, could probably get by without it.
The bottom line: Is PMP certification worth it?
Only you can determine if PMP certification is right for you. It really depends on the organization you work for and the value and structure they place on project management.
Here’s how we look at it: If you have the means to make PMP certification happen, go for it! Learning is learning, and it can only help you grow in your professional career. Just make sure you keep an open mind and stay flexible enough to adapt to the project situation at hand.
How to get PMP-certified
The process for getting PMP-certified is pretty straightforward. Simply follow these steps to get your PMP certification:
Confirm you’re eligible. If you have a 4-year degree , you’ll need 36 months of experience leading projects, plus 35 hours of project management training, to sit for the PMP exam. If you have a high school diploma or associate’s degree, you’ll need 60 months of experience leading projects, plus 35 hours of project management training.
Apply online to take the PMP certification exam. Be prepared to show you’re a real-life project manager who has on-the-job project management experience leading and directing a cross-functional team. You’ll also need to prove you’ve met the requirements for formal project management education.
Review the handbook. PMI’s Certification Handbook will walk you through the certification process for the various PMI certifications available, including the PMP.
Schedule your PMP exam. Once your application is approved, PMI will send you instructions for scheduling your test. You will have 1 year to sit for the exam with the option to take the test online or in person.
Take (and pass) the PMP exam. Now it’s time to put your hard work to the test! If you don’t pass the first time, don’t worry. You can take the PMP exam up to 3 times within a single year to earn your certification.
Continue learning to maintain your PMP certification. Getting your PMP certification isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it process. You’ll need to earn 60 PDUs every 3 years to keep your PMP certification in good standing.
So who can take the PMP exam? Any experienced project manager who meets these 3 criteria is eligible to take the PMP exam:
Oversees every project aspect from start to finish
Leads and directs a cross-functional team to deliver projects on time and budget
Knows how to apply the right methodology to the project
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