What is PMP Certification? Things You Should Know About Certifying

pmp certification

You may have heard about PMP Certification, but maybe you’re not quite sure what it is or why you would pursue it. If you’re in the project management field, here are answers to 7 of the commonly asked questions in regard to seeking the PMP certification.

What is PMP Certification?

PMP stands for Project Management Professional. Therefore, the PMP certification is something that a person who works as a project manager would want to pursue. The certification is given out by the Project Management Institute (PMI) and is recognized throughout the world as a standard to measure the competency of project managers.

Project managers work in a wide range of industries and fields. From IT to education, just about every industry benefits from hiring project managers. And every industry wants to hire the best of the best. When hiring new employees, companies look for someone who has the ability to lead and direct various projects and multiple members of a team. Working with project managers who are PMP certified tells companies that they have employees who have what it takes to complete projects on time and under budget.

Not only is the PMP certification great for employers, but it’s also great for the employee. For example, you’ll have a greater number of job possibilities with higher salary and greater earning potential. Ask yourself: “where do I see myself in 5 years?” If you want to climb the ladder in the project management world, you should seek PMP certification to improve your skills and show the world that you have what it takes to excel as a project manager.

What Does PMI Stand For?

As stated previously, PMI stands for the Project Management Institute. This is the organization recognized around the world for their PMP certification. You can become a PMI member by completing an application and paying membership dues. The application asks for your contact information, education, and experience as a project manager.

There are several benefits to becoming a PMI member. For one thing, you can access A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK). This book is the basis for the exam questions on the exam for PMP certification. You’ll need to understand the concepts in the book in order to pass the exam.

Another benefit to a membership with the PMI is the access to helpful resources for project managers, including:

  • Webinars
  • Articles and blogs
  • Professional development opportunities
  • Job postings
  • Templates to use
  • Local and international networking opportunities
  • Discounts on things like insurance

Who Is Eligible for PMP Certification?

There are two routes for eligibility to become certified:

  1. Obtain a high school diploma, an associate’s degree, or the equivalent of these from the country in which you live. Also, have at least 5 years of experience as a project manager in a professional setting with at least 7,500 hours as the leader of project tasks.
  2. Or, complete a bachelor’s degree and at least 3 years of experience as a project manager in a professional setting with at least 4,500 hours as the leader of project tasks.

What Is the Format of the PMP Exam?

The PMP exam consists of 200 multiple choice questions. These should be completed within 4 hours. You can’t use any reference materials on the exam, but you can use scratch paper.

The exam questions are broken down into 5 Process Groups:

  1. Initiation (13%)
  2. Planning (24%)
  3. Executing (30%)
  4. Monitoring and Controlling (25%)
  5. Closing (8%)

All of the questions about these processes come from the PMBOK guide. They ask you about how you would handle a particular situation. To know how to respond to the questions, you should study:

  • Best practices
  • The proper sequence of processes for projects
  • Basic formulas of project management
  • How to manage stake holders
  • EVM graphs, metrics, calculations, and completion estimates

As a professional project manager, you may have a good idea of what you would do to effectively handle the situation. However, you should refer to the PMBOK guide to answer the questions on the exam.

Make sure to answer every question on the exam. You won’t lose points for answering incorrectly. So, when in doubt, make an educated guess. Try to eliminate the weakest answers to help you narrow down the options. Just remember that the questions are meant to be challenging. They are meant to test your confidence as a project manager.

What Are the Best Ways to Prepare for the Exam?

Register for the exam, so you have a timeline for studying. It’s helpful to give yourself at least a month to study, but you shouldn’t give yourself too much time. If you have too much time to study, you may end up putting it off until it’s too late to sufficiently prepare for the exam.

Ask yourself, “what is the most effective study method for me?” It might be helpful to read a book, connect with others preparing for the exam, create flashcards, or have someone test you on questions you might see on the exam.

One of the best ways to prepare for the exam is to take practice tests. These give you an opportunity to see the types of questions you’ll face, and you can practice pacing yourself in the given time. Try to recreate the atmosphere of the exam as you take it, so you can build your confidence for the day you take it.

What Happens If You Don’t Pass the Exam?

If you fail the exam, you can retake it. You can retake the exam up to 3 times each year. However, the exam costs over $400 for PMI members and over $500 for non-members, so it can save you a lot of time and money to pass the exam on the first try.

If you need to retake it, look over your detailed score report. Find out which of the Process Groups you struggled with on the exam, so you know what to focus on as you study and prepare for your next attempt.

How Do You Maintain a PMP Certification?

You passed the exam and received your PMP certification. Now what? Be aware that it doesn’t end there. Your certification doesn’t last forever. In fact, you need to recertify every 3 years. To do this, you need to complete 60 professional development units (PDUs).

The PDUs you can take to renew your PMP certification are part of the continuing certification requirements (CCR) program. This includes activities that provide training or aid you in your position as a project manager. One PDU is the equivalent of an hour of a qualifying activity, such as one of the PMI talent triangle topics.  Some of these topics are technical project management, leadership, and business and strategic management.

If you’re worried about how much the PDUs are going to cost, you can consider some of the free options available. These include:

  • Listening to project management podcasts
  • Attending PMI chapter events
  • Completing approved reading
  • Giving presentations
  • Watching webinars
  • Volunteering with PMI

Choose the professional development opportunities that will help you become a better project manager. Think about your strengths and weaknesses, and select PDUs based on the areas that you could work on to improve your skills and increase your effectiveness as a professional project manager.

In whatever field you work, you should want to do your best. You should want opportunities to prove your worth and improve your abilities. Through PMP certification, you can do just that. The certification gives you the opportunity to prove to employers that you are competent in your job. It’s a great thing to add to your resume as you apply for future project management positions, too. But more important than what employers see, the PMP certification helps you grow and learn, so you can become the best project manager that you can be.

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