Project Management Professional (PMP)® Certification

Chris Knotts, PMP discusses PMI’s PMP Certification, the application process, the exam, and exam prep training. Learn more about ASPE’s Guaranteed PMP Certification Boot Camp at:

What is the PMP? It stands for Project Management Professional and it’s the world’s most recognized and respected credential for project managers. A PMP works on relatively large, complex projects. More than a million people worldwide hold the credential. It was created more than 30 years ago by the Project Management Institute (PMI), a trade organization that has become the governing body for the project management profession, largely because they came up with the PMP. The PMP is essentially a framework that sets up best practices for all the things a project manager has to do: schedule, coordinate, manage scope, budget and contracts, and communicate with everyone involved to keep the project on track.

The PMP credential draws from a number of management and project best practices. They didn’t invent any of this stuff, they took lessons learned throughout the 20th century about what it takes to get high-tech, large projects done and it bundles them all together and organizes them into a logical body of knowledge that can be used as the foundation for successful projects.

There are number of prerequisites for earning the PMP. PMI has an application that you fill out either online or on paper that covers those requirements. You first have to show 35 contact hours, or PDUs of project management education from a provider that is recognized by PMI, like ASPE for instance. You also have to have 4500 hours of real-world experience working on projects. If you don’t have an undergraduate degree you have to show 7500 hours in the project experience category. You don’t have to be a project manager to show qualified experience, you just have to have worked on a project. Finally PMI requires you to categorize that experience according to their framework or body of knowledge. They walk you through this on the application so it’s not too difficult. If you meet those requirements you can fill out the application, either online or on paper. The online version takes about a week to process. The paper version can take two to three weeks.

There are also some significant fees you have to pay. PMI charges you based on whether you’re a member of PMI or not. Membership to PMI doesn’t matter for eligibility; it just gives you a discount. If you’re a member the online application costs $405, non-members pay $555 for the online version. The paper application costs $275 for members and $375 for non-members. The PMI membership itself costs $129 to join then $119 annually to maintain. But again it’s not mandatory. Finally, if you fail the exam, which is kind of common because it’s very difficult, you get to reapply at a reduced rate.

A good thing to know is that about 1 in 5 applicants get audited by random selection by PMI. That just means you have to put in a little extra time to do some due diligence to verify and confirm to PMI all the experience and education you provided in your application. It takes a little more time but it’s not too bad.

The exam is very tough. There are 200 questions and you get 4 hours to take it. It’s based on a book PMI published called the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) currently on version 5. It’s PMI’s flagship publication and it details that framework or best practices mentioned earlier. It’s the heart and soul of PMP certification and PMI has compiled many tools and techniques and organized them according to how they are used in a project management context.

Besides PMI’s requirement that you earn 35 PDUs of education there’s no standard of support mandated by PMI for earning the credential. They don’t tell you specifically what kind of class or prep you need to take. There’s a multitude of study guides and prep courses available in the marketplace so you can prepare. ASPE does offer an excellent study guide and our own PMP Boot Camp is a fast-paced, 4-day course that provides the 35 PDUs you need as well as an exam pass guarantee. Support is up to you to define, but you will need some sort of study guide or exam prep to pass the exam. Once you’ve earned the PMP you have to maintain it by earning 60 PDUs every 3 years. A lot of education programs across the world provide PDUs. Here at ASPE the vast majority of our courses are approved for PDUs.

Getting your application done and passing the exam is well worth it. It proves your expertise and provides you with a credential which earns a lot of earning power and real-world ability to successfully manage large projects. Have a PMP adds about $5000 on average to a project manager’s salary. In North America a certified PMP earn an average of $113,000.

PMP is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.

The original video is available here.