All About Project Management Professional (PMP) Certification

There is no doubt that in the recent years people’s perception of project managers has changed and also that small and large organizations look at project management differently from how they used to look at it. Choosing a project manager to manage a project within an organization isn’t about making an intuitive and impulsive decision anymore. Project management is now considered a profession and a project manager is a professional who has been trained and certified to do this job. There are credentials backing him up and these credentials are recognized by organizations looking for project managers.

Since directors and company owners want their projects to be successful, more and more of them are now relying on credentialed project managers. These credentialed project managers are individuals who have received PMI PMP certification and are considered most knowledgeable in all project management skills and aspects. Let’s get some detailed knowledge of PMP (project management professional) certification, its importance, how to obtain this credential and what processes are involved in obtaining this credential.

What Is PMP Certification?

This is a certification for project managers to have them recognized in the industry and is considered one of the most weighty and essential credentials for project managers today. Thousands of aspiring project managers are obtaining PMP certification online and paving ways to stable and productive careers. Recent studies and surveys have also revealed the positive effects of project management certification on the salaries of project managers. The important thing is that this particular certification is specifically for project managers who have been in the field already.

Importance Of PMP Certification

If you look online at job postings for project managers you will realize that with time the requirement for project management certification is increasing. This clearly shows that companies are showing preference in choosing individuals with proper certification for the job. While this increases the probability of getting selected for a job and being eligible for more jobs, the best benefit comes in the form of great remunerations. The certification you receive from PMI for your project management certification is recognized globally. This means the project manager certification for you open huge doors of bigger and better opportunities all over the world for you.

Where To Get Project Management Professional Certification From?

You can prepare for obtaining the credential through several means available to you or with your personal knowledge that you have gained while working as a project manager. However, to obtain the credential and certification you must pass the test designed and conducted by PMI (Project Management Institute). You have to go through an application process and pass the exam within the allotted time period and then maintain the credential through CCR (continuing certification requirements) program to get your PMP certificate. All the procedure to qualify to give the exam can be completed online or through mails.

What IS PMI?

Recognized globally, PMI (Project Management Institute) is a membership association working as a not-for-profit organization and is currently the world largest organization in terms of project management profession. They have helped over 700,000 members all around the world in obtaining the credentials to work as project managers and widen the scopes of their professions. PMI is the body that confers the certificate in project management to those who successfully pass the exam and meet all the criteria after passing the exam for the renewal of their certification. Other certifications from PMP provided by PMI are CAPM, PgMP, PfMP, PMI-ACP, PMI-RMP and PMI-SP.

How To Apply For PMI Certification?

The first step that needs to be taken by an applicant is to visit the PMI website. The user will have to register on the website and then log in to access the online system of PMI that will be used by the applicant from applying to the continuing process of renewal of the certification. After logging in the user needs to fill out the online application to apply for the certification. This application can also be printed out for those who want to submit the application through mail. After submission of the application the costs must be paid in order to schedule the exams. After your application has been selected by PMI the audit process of your documents starts and continues for 5-7 days. As soon as the audit phase is over you are eligible to be a part of the exam.

Eligibility Criteria For Project Management Certification Online

35 contact hours of formal education is the most important thing to remember here because this particular requirement is the same for both, people with associate degrees or high school diploma and those with bachelor’s degree. Now, candidates who have secondary degrees i.e. associate’s degrees/high school diploma or an equivalent of them globally must furnish their credentials showing at minimum 5 years of project management experience excluding any overlapping periods in projects. 7500 hours in this 5 year of experience must be spent as project leader or director.

A candidate who has a 4-year degree, which is a bachelor’s degree, must have 36 months of experience in project management as a professional but this experience must not include the overlapping periods of the projects as “double time”. The candidate must have spent 3500 hours as a leader or director of projects to be eligible for the certificate.

The idea of overlapping must be understood here. If you have two projects going on at the same time starting from January to March, you will count them as 3 months and not 6 months. If one started in January and ended in May while the other project started in April and ended in June, the months will be counted from January to June i.e. 6 months. You won’t count them as 8 months considering the 5 months of the project that started in January and ended in May and adding up the 3 months of the project that started in April and ended in June.

Submitting The Application

The online certification system on PMI’s website is where all the candidates are required to fill out and submit the application. An application once opened remains opened for 90 days. It requires PMI 5 business days to process the applications that are submitted online and those sent through mails require at least 10 and at maximum 20 business days for processing. The audit process can add to the time period of approval of your application however.

Costs To Obtain The PMP Cert

The costs are very minimal as compared to other types of credentials and certifications obtained by individuals in various other fields. Here, the candidates can take benefit of the membership since the members of PMI save a great deal of money in obtaining the certification. An individual opting for online test and certification as a member will have to pay just $405. On the other hand, another candidate with the same online certification as a non member will pay $555. Re-examination fee for members and non-members would be $275 and $375 respectively. CCR credential renewal will cost members and non-members $60 and $150 respectively. These costs are even lower for those who opt for paper based testing.

Eligibility Duration For Taking The Examination

First, after approval of the application and when all the documents have already been submitted, the candidate is given a full one year to take the test for a maximum of 3 times. After one year the eligibility to become PMP certified expires. However, if you have to reschedule the examination or you miss a scheduled one for some emergency, there are flexible options for that and you can read the terms related to these scenarios in the handbook on PMI’s official website.

What Would The Test Look Like?

Test comprises of 200 multiple choice questions out of which 25 are unscored questions while the remaining 175 are the scored questions. Candidates are given 4 hours to complete the test and the test needs to be attempted online from your computer. If you want to give the paper based test you will have to find the nearest Prometric CBT site. There are no breaks during the exam but if you wish to take a break the countdown timer will not stop so you will have to hurry. The test content comprises of initiation, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling and closing at 13, 24, 30, 25 and 8% respectively.

Continuing Certification Requirements Program

Those who give the test online will know about their results as soon as they submit the test and are awarded their credentials through post within 4 to 6 weeks. However, the job is not done after obtaining the credentials and in fact the real program starts after this. After being certified as a project management professional you must maintain your certificate by providing PMI the proof of 60 PDUs (professional development units) during every cycle of 3 years. This 3-year cycle is continuous and works as the certification maintenance cycle for the project management professional. Not acquiring 60 PDUs within every 3 year cycle leads to suspension and then termination of the certification.

PDU is a method of measuring your service within the field as a project management professional after obtaining the certification. PDUs are divided in 2 categories and all your activities related to project management that fall in these 2 categories will be considered as your PDUs. Every hour spent in an activity that is considered a PDU will earn you 1 PDU point. The two categories are education and giving back to the profession. An individual spending time in obtaining a course from PMI’s REPs, continuing education or self-directed learning will be awarded PDUs depending on the hours spent in those activities.

Similarly, the PDU points will be awarded for every hour, half an hour or 15 minutes spent in giving back to the profession through volunteering services, working as professional project manager and creating new knowledge under project management category. Remember, these 60 PDUs must be reported to PMI through the online renewal application after submitting the renewal fee.

How To Prepare For PMP Exam?

There are many ways to get project management education and these methods are available online and on ground. PMI advises all the candidates to prepare rigorously for the exams regardless of their experience as project managers. There are many resources for aspiring project managers to get project manager training. Here are the most important and useful ones:

  • The first resource for effective project management training is PMI’s PMBOK guide. The name of the guide is “a guide to the project management body of knowledge”. The book covers the project management subject in detail and covers a big part of the test but it cannot serve as the only resource for passing the test successfully. The book is available on PMI’s website and its latest 5th edition can be purchased from the website.
  • You can get project management training online in many other ways. For example, there are online websites providing free sample questions and a simulated test page for candidates to feel as if they were giving a real exam. These are multiple choice questions just like there are in the actual paper and students can find out about their preparation by answering these test multiple choice questions online.
  • If you are not interested in project management certification programs and want to study yourself, you can prepare from a book named PMP Exam Prep by Rita Mulcahy. The book is easily available on various online retail websites. Another famous name with close to 1000 sample questions in it is PMP Exam Success by Outercore. This one comes with a CD too.
  • There is no dearth of PMP prep courses online and you can find dozens and hundreds of schools and institutes providing online project management courses. These institutes are providing the courses with all the important knowledge combined within one course or courses that are directed towards training candidates on certain aspects of project management. These institutes are training students with only a week of project management classes and within 35 to 40 hours they prepare students to attempt the exam for PMP certification. The good thing with some of these online PMP classes is that they are offering self paced online courses.
  • Lastly, candidates can take help from online webinars and communities for preparing for the exam. You can always look for online communities related to business and project management to find people who are going in the same direction as you.

How To Choose The Right Project Management Certificate Programs?

Of course, you must know how to identify the right institute to get proper PMP training online. A few things that should help you a great deal in deciding the right institute and program are given below.

  • Look at the cost of the course you are being offered. There are many online schools training people on project management today so you can always find a better and more affordable one.
  • See how long the course is. Don’t go for very lengthy courses, especially if they are not online. It is fully fine to pick the self-paced online courses since they don’t restrict you to follow a strict schedule.
  • Always be very choosy about the type of project management education the institute is giving you. Don’t go for boring lectures and conventional e-books. Many online and on-ground institutes are now preparing candidates for PMP exam with interesting exercises, games and methods. Sample questions and quizzes are always a great plus so make sure to look for them.
  • Always see the range of the course material. Pick courses that cover a lot of sub-topics that come under project management. You don’t want to end up doing separate courses for every topic and spending thousands of dollars on that.

Don’t ever forget to confirm the credentials and accreditation of the institute you are going to get training from too.

An Important Advice For PMP Aspirants

Here’s something that will be very useful for students who are seeking project management online courses. First, always pick the school or institute that has its accreditation information given online. However, even more important is to choose the institutes that are R.E.Ps. The abbreviation R.E.P. stands for Registered Education Provider. These institutes and bodies are registered with Project Management Institute (PMI) to provide candidates with education on project management and prepare them for the certification exam. What’s the biggest benefit of taking a course from them?

The biggest benefit of choosing the project management schools that are registered with PMI or are R.E.Ps is that your requirement for 35 hours of project management education, which is the pre-requisite to be selected for PMP certification, is fulfilled while preparing for PMP exam in these schools. Their course prepares students on the latest edition of PMBOK Guide which is the primary and most important resource to prepare for PMP exam. The course is often 35 hours long so one of the compulsory requirements of submitting the application to PMI is already fulfilled here.

It is true that you don’t necessarily have to study from an R.E.P. for project manager classes in order to obtain the 35 hours of project management related education and other schools can also fulfill these requirements. However, R.E.P.s are the most reliable schools for obtaining spending these hours since they guarantee you that the hours will be credited towards your requirements. There are instances in which your education will not be applied towards the hours needed to fulfill the basic PMI requirement for PMP test. You might want to read in detail about this on PMI’s website.

Final Quick Tips For Project Management Professionals

These are the final tips that any future project management professional can keep in mind as pointers to save time, money and energy in the pursuit of PMP certification.

  • Go for PMI membership before you pay the fees because this will save you money.
  • Do not forget the 35 hours of project management education since it is a primary and essential requirement.
  • Your project management degree definitely serves as a good achievement but don’t think that you won’t need to prepare for PMP exam since you have already studied the same thing for 4 years.
  • Online sample questions are available for free and they can greatly help you in preparing for the PMP exam.
  • PMI’s PMBOK Guide and Rita Mulcahy’s 7th edition of PMP Exam Prep should definitely be a part of your primary reading material while preparing.
  • You’re going to attempt 175 scored MCQs and cramming won’t work in this scenario. Work on your concepts and you will be able to solve half of the things with concepts only.
  • Smartphone owners can always download applications to help them with quizzes, sample questions and exercises to prepare for PMP exam.
  • You can always earn up to 80 PDUs during a 3-year cycle and since only 60 PDU points are required for the renewal of your certification, the remaining 20 points will be transferred to your next 3-year cycle i.e. you will have to complete only 40 PDU points in the next cycle.

Don’t forget to be a member of PMI if you want to stay updated with the latest material on PMP tests and any information from around the world that is related to project management. Not to mention, project management professionals are in demand today and you better avail the opportunity before the market gets highly saturated.