PMP certification

Do you know that there are over a million PMP certification holders worldwide.

Nowadays PMP is widely recognized and has been linked to multiple benefits for project managers. Here’s you’ll find all you need to know to get started.

What is the PMP certification?

The Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification is a globally recognized project management certification that tests a candidate’s ability to manage the people, processes, and business priorities of a professional project.

There are over one million PMP certification holders worldwide, according to the Project Management Institute (PMI) which administers the certification.

It is applicable to project managers in virtually any industry, including health, construction, information technology (IT), and business.

In order to get the certification, you’ll have to meet the experience requirements and pass a certification exam. 

Here’s some key information about the certification:

PMP certification requirements:

PMP certification eligibility is based on the following prerequisites: 

  • Hours of formal project management education: 35 hours of project management training, which means coursework that specifically addressed learning objectives in project management. This can be substituted with a Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)® certification. 

  • Years of experience leading projects: 36 months of experience leading projects if you have a four-year degree, or 60 months of experience leading projects if you have a high-school diploma or associate’s degree. 
PMP exam requirements

PMP exam cost:

As of 2021, the exam fee was $555 for non-PMI members and $405 for PMI members.

A PMI membership was $129 a year, with a one-time $10 application fee, making the exam slightly cheaper with a membership.

PMP exam cost

Training for the PMP exam:

Studying for the exam will take some planning and determination; exam guides typically recommend at least a few months to prepare for it.

There are several courses, books, and other resources available to help you study.

Read more below about preparing for the exam.

Renewing your PMP certification:

The PMP certification is valid for three years but can be renewed or maintained by earning 60 professional development units—defined as hours spent on accepted professional development activities—in that time frame.

PMP Certification Exam Pattern

The Exam pattern for 2022 covers the following stages of project management.

  • Initiation
  • Planning
  • Execution
  • Monitoring and Controlling
  • Closing

The PMP exam was updated beginning January 2, 2021. The new exam now comprises 180 questions instead of 200, two 10-minute breaks instead of one, three “domains”—phases of project management—instead of five, among other changes. Make sure your study materials reflect the change.

How to get your PMP certification?

Follow this step-by-step guide to get your PMP certification.

1. Meet the PMP certification requirements. 

Before you can take the PMP exam, you’ll have to make sure you’re eligible. You’ll need either:

  • 35 hours of project management course training, and at least 36 months of project management experience if you have a four-year degree, OR
  • 35 hours of project management course training with 60 months of experience if you have an associate degree or high school diploma

You’ll want to keep track of your projects and training, recording information like your specific role, responsibilities, and length of projects or training so that you have it at hand when you apply. The training requirement can be waived if you have a CAPM certification.

The PMP certification is valid for three years. You’ll need to spend 60 hours during that time frame on professional development activities to maintain it. Otherwise you can sign up to take the exam again.

2. Apply.

Make an account with PMI and get started on an application for the PMP exam. This will entail sharing basic personal information like your educational background, as well as details on the projects you’ve worked on. 

Once you’re approved, you’ll pay the exam fee and schedule a test.

3. Prepare.

This is when you train for the exam, either through coursework or on your own. Several exam prep providers recommend spending 60 to 120 hours studying. This can take several months depending on how frequently you study.

4. Take the PMP exam.

The exam can be taken at a testing site near you or online. The exam takes a little under four hours to complete.

5. Maintain your certification.

The PMP certification is valid for three years. You’ll need to spend 60 hours during that time frame on professional development activities to maintain it. Otherwise you can sign up to take the exam again.

Is the PMP worth it?

Ultimately, whether a PMP certification will be worth it to you professionally and financially depends on your unique circumstances. Here are a few benefits you might see with a PMP under your belt to help you navigate your decision.

Industry recognition: The PMP certification can show employers or clients that you know the ins and outs of project management, and have the experience and training required of a professional.

Learning new skills: You are also likely to learn a significant amount about project management as you prepare for the exam. Taking hours out of your life to master project management fundamentals like conflict resolution and budgeting can bolster the skills to make you a better project manager.

Higher salaries: The PMI found that US respondents to a recent survey reported a median salary of $123,000 if they had the certification, and $93,000 if they didn’t. Median salaries also tended to increase the longer one was PMP certified. Global Knowledge reported that the PMP certification ranked seventh among IT certifications that were linked to the highest salaries in the IT sector.

Job prospects: According to a report compiled by PMI and the Anderson Economic Group, employers will need 87.7 million individuals working in project management roles by 2027. The biggest growth is expected in the health care sector, though large gains are also projected in the construction, information services, and finance and insurance sectors.

I’m new to project management—should I get the PMP certification?

The PMP certification is designed to build on and solidify the training an experienced project manager already has. If you’re just starting out as a project manager, you may want to gain more experience or look into another certification—like the CAPM—before getting a PMP. The Google Project Management: Professional Certificate is also designed for those just starting out, and will earn you a professional credential.

What’s on the PMP exam?

Here’s an overview of what’s on the PMP certification test, which was updated on January 2, 2021.

  • 180 questions total
  • 230 minutes (3 hours 50 minutes) to complete
  • Two 10-minute breaks
  • A combination of multiple-choice, multiple responses, matching, hotspot, and limited fill-in-the-blank questions

The questions fall into three domains:

People: 42 percent of exam

Composing a little less than half of the exam, the people section includes questions on leading and building teams, managing conflict, supporting virtual teams, mentoring, and other related topics.

Process: 50 percent of exam

The process section tests your knowledge on the methodology of seeing a project through to completion. You might be asked about managing budgets and other resources, scheduling, handling changes in the project, and determining the best methodologies for the project.

Business: 8 percent of exam

The business environment portion of the exam deals broadly with the more business-minded aspects you’ll have to tackle as a project manager, like compliance, delivering value, and supporting organizational change.

Roughly half of the content represents predictive project management approaches, while the other half represents Agile or hybrid approaches.

Training for the PMP exam: Courses and other resources

There are several routes you can take to prepare for the PMP exam.

A survey by PM Exam Lessons Learned found that successful exam takers dedicated two to six months for practice.

The PMI reports that the average successful PMP candidate spends at least 35 hours preparing for the exam.

Test prep books: There are several exam preparation books that will familiarize you with the questions and format of the test. It’s a good idea to take a few practice exams before you take the real one.

Here you can find the books for PMP exam preparation

Online courses: There are many exam prep courses to help you get your certification.

The PMI and other private institutions offer prep courses, as do many community colleges across the country, online or otherwise.

The Project Management Professional Certificate from the University of California, Irvine on Coursera will prepare you for the PMP exam and fulfill the educational requirement of 35 hours of instruction.

The Google Project Management: Professional Certificate will also fulfill the educational requirement.

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