“How do I choose a PMP prep course?” If you’re wondering this, let’s consider one very important thing: PMI requires 35 hours of project management education. I know, I know, you already read, “What are the PMP Prerequisites?” so it is fair that you’re asking, why is this relevant? Well, this education requirement urged PMI to provide a list of approved PMP prep course options.
These options range from in-person to online, from at work to on your own time. So let’s dive a little deeper and review all of your options.
PMP Prep Course Options
PMI Registered Education Providers (R.E.P.s)
REPs are organizations that are approved by PMI to offer project management training as well as issue continuing education certificates. Since you will be required to receive continuing education to remain certified once you ace your PMP exam, it is worthwhile to establish a relationship with one of these organizations at the beginning of your journey. There are benefits for working with one of these organizations that PMI graciously outlines. However, if you ask me, the biggest benefit is you do not have to worry about providing extensive documentation if you are audited during your application process because these organizations are pre-certified.
PMI Local Chapters
Similar to REPs, PMI local chapters offer pre-approved preparation programs. As the local provider of services, on behalf of the national PMI organization, you can ensure this prep programming is in absolute alignment with the most current version of the PMP exam. Typically, these local organizations offer a variety of face-to-face or online trainings. For example, let’s check out my hometown’s PMI local chapter – they offer multiple options; including a 10-week prep, a 4-day boot camp, or an online course. The key benefit I see with using this option is the network it provides you. Just think you can connect with a bunch of people with similar interests as you, in the same town as you!
Although this is a great option, it is limited to individuals whose company provides in-house training for their employees. Ultimately, this training can be a low or no cost option for you – if your organization offers it. In my experience companies with organized PMOs – Project Management Offices – or consulting firms with project management services are more likely to provide this training option to employees. My recommendation, check with your HR to see if this is something your company organizes. If it is, I think your decision just got a little easier.
Training companies or consultants
Okay, you are probably asking, what is the difference between a training company and an REP? Well, the quick answer is, they could be the same, or they could be different. What I mean is, some training companies are not Registered Education Providers (REPs). For example, Global Project Management Group is a training company and a REP – the same; however, Cheetah Exam Prep is a training company, but they do not show up on a quick search of REPs – thus different. It should not be a deal breaker if an organization is not an REP. If you find a training plan that appeals to you at one of these organizations go for it. The worst it could be is providing a little more documentation about the coursework, in the event you are audited during the application process.
Distance-learning companies that include an end-of-course assessment
Again a distance-learning company can be the same as a training company and a REP. The key difference here is that these prep courses are offered via online – distance education format only. Additionally, because of the asynchronous nature of online learning PMI requires these type of programs to have end-of-course assessments. This ensures that you, as the user, have completed all units and can demonstrate competency of the material. For example PMStudy offers online-distance learning, is a training company, and is a REP. If you need a more flexible option, where you can study on your own time, then online – distance learning might be your best choice.
University/college academic and continuing education programs
This option is pretty straightforward – it is comprised of any course work provided by a college or university with a content focus of project management. The focus can be on any of the following: project quality, project scope, project schedule, project budget, project communications, project risk, project procurement, and project integration management. Doing a quick search Villanova University provides an example of project management course offerings. Ultimately, if you are looking to advance yourself by completing a bachelors or masters degree, this option can help you achieve two goals at once.
What PMP Prep Doesn’t Count
Just as PMI provides options that satisfy the 35 hours of project management education requirement they also note what does not satisfy the requirement.
PMI specifically outlines the following as not meeting the education requirement:
PMI chapter meetings
Although PMI local chapter meetings are great for other reasons – networking, volunteering, continually learning, etc. – these meetings do not satisfy the PMP education requirement. PMI chapter meetings can have many different topics covered in a meeting, and typically a lot of it is about the logistics of the organization. As I have said in other blogs, joining and participating in your local PMI chapter is very useful; it is just not appropriate for this specific requirement.
We discussed above that PMI wants to see evidence that you have completed activities and can show competency of the exam material. With self-directed anything, it is hard to showcase the work you completed. Please note: self-directed learning is critical for your success on the exam. Think back to when you were attending high school or college – was it enough to just listen to your teacher lecture on content in class as a way to prepare for your final exam? Probably not, you likely spent time outside of class – self-directed – studying for your exam.
Beyond the PMP Prep Course
As PMI outlines, although the 35 hours and PMP prep course work are extremely important, the most successful candidates use multiple resources to study.
For example, when I was getting ready for the exam, I completed a PMP prep course, bought and read multiple books, read various blogs (like you are doing now), completed countless sample questions, and downloaded flashcard apps on my phone.
Basically, in the 6 months leading up to my exam date, I ensured that at any time – day or night – I could access prep materials. The flashcards were wonderful if I had a few minutes waiting while I pumped gas. I replaced my nightly reading with blogs and internet resources. I spent my lunch hours reading the PMP books and completing hundreds of sample exam questions. All of this in addition to my ‘official’ PMP prep course.
The PMP is an extremely important certification and requires your full attention. Take advantage of all the wonderful resources that are available to you – many of which are free – and immerse yourself in the world of project management.
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