This guide is all about project management certifications, also known as PMP certifications. The guide contains information about the PMP certification process and some of the best certs available in the industry.
Project management might seem like a buzzword, but it’s not new. It has been used for hundreds of years. It has been used for big projects, such as building the Great Wall of China, the Taj Mahal, developing commercial jet airplanes, developing the Polio vaccine, and even the Olympics.
As of July 2020, there were 1,036,367 active PMP-certified individuals worldwide. However, two out of three professionals who manage projects and teams still aren’t certified. Research performed by the PMI has shown that companies need to fill nearly 2.2 million new project management-related roles through 2027.
Now is the time to take your project management knowledge and career to the next level. And earning a PMP certification might be the way to go.
What is the PMP Certification?
In short, the PMP certification is an official credential designed for project professionals.
In addition to earning you the three letters (PMP) following your last name, the PMP certification validates that you are also competent in the following core areas of project management:
- People: honing the soft skills (“people” skills) needed to lead projects and teams.
- Process: focusing on project management frameworks, principles, and processes to successfully manage projects.
- Business environment: connecting projects, teams, outcomes, and results with higher-level business goals and strategies
Project management certification programs
Now that you understand more about the PMP certification and why it will become even more important over the next decade, how do you earn the PMP credential?
Many institutions offer project management certification programs that allow you to earn the credits you need to fulfill the requirements needed to take the PMP exam. Some institutions include Purdue, Cornell, and Boston University, to name a few.
Depending on the industry you work in, or the types of projects you manage, one certification program might align with your career more than others.
Here are the different types of project management certification programs available:
- Project Management Professional (PMP) – This certification program is the “mother ship” of all project management certifications and demonstrates that you are competent in all core knowledge areas of project management. If you are looking to boost your salary and competitive edge, this might be the best program.
- Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) – This certification demonstrates that professionals have a basic understanding of project management. This certification is best for professionals with minimal experience in project management. Regardless of experience level, the CAPM credential is an excellent value-add to any resume.
- PMI Professional in Business Analysis (PMI-PBA) – This certification focuses on business analysis (BA), a core area of project management. This certification is best for professionals who work with stakeholders to define project or business requirements and drive desired outcomes.
- PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP) – Similar to the PMP certification, this certification is specific to the agile project management methodology. Agile is quickly becoming a sought-after credential by many organizations. This certification is best for professionals who work with software development, product development, or creative teams that follow the agile framework.
- Program Management Professional (PgMP) – This certification is designed for senior-level practitioners who manage and coordinate many projects related to organizational goals. Certified program managers can achieve more success and desirable business outcomes by managing many projects in a related way than if they were managed separately.
- Portfolio Management Professional (PfMP) – This certification is designed for professionals who strategically align projects, programs, and operations. Portfolio managers are responsible for investing resources in the right projects that deliver value and are aligned with an organization’s strategic goals.
- PMI Risk Management Professional (PMI-RMP) – This certification focuses on project managers with advanced skills and knowledge in risk management, one of the core knowledge areas of project management. This certification program is best for professionals who work on high-risk or complex projects and want to stand out in their organizations.
- PMI Scheduling Professional (PMI-SP) – This certification program recognizes your knowledge and skill for creating, managing, and improving project schedules. This is best suited for professionals who enjoy creating and managing schedules for various projects at different levels of complexity.
- PMI Project Management Ready – This certification program is designed specifically for students who want to connect with the project management community of professionals. This is an excellent program for students considering long-term career paths in project management.
PMP Certifications Online
As you can see, the PMI offers many different certification programs designed for specific or high-level areas of project management, giving professionals different options for propelling their careers in their specified areas.
Because project management is in high demand today, many professional project management training courses and PMP certification courses are available. And, yes, many of them are available online!
Unfortunately, you won’t be able to take the PMP exam online. As of this writing, the PMI still requires candidates to take an in-person written test to earn their official certification.
However, you can enroll in an exam prep course online. The PMI now hosts online proctored exam prep sessions, allowing you to experience a near, real-life experience of what the test will look like on exam day.
Many higher-ed institutions and continuing education institutions offer online training courses, exam prep courses, and other virtual events and resources. Today’s online prep courses are often structured with varying levels of:
- Assignment types
- Recorded lectures
- Interactions between instructors and peers
- Coursework and materials (videos, quizzes, case studies, mini-projects, and more)
For example, some courses are self-paced. Others require ongoing participation and interaction, allowing you to choose the best exam prep course to fit your needs, schedule, and learning style.
If you are looking for an online PMP exam prep course, search for one that will provide you with real sample PMP exam questions so you can get adjusted to the format of the exam.
You can also download a copy of the latest version of the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) Sixth Edition. This is not only a good read for any project management professional or practitioner but also contains the majority of content on the PMP exam, which includes the following:
- Project integration
- Project scope management
- Project time management
- Project cost management
- Project quality management
- Project human resource management
- Project communication management
- Project risk management
Suppose you want to learn or expand your basic project management principles, techniques, and methodologies. In that case, you will likely see value from taking a project management training course that covers these areas.
Finally, even if you aren’t ready to take the PMP exam just yet or want to learn the basics of project management, be sure to invest in a project management training course that provides you with some certification upon completion.
It may not be an official PMP certification, but even a course completion certificate related to project management is an excellent credential to add to your resume.
On the other hand, if you want to earn your official PMP certification, then you will want to invest in a training course or PMP exam prep course that prepares you for the exam.
Therefore, take some time to think about your career goals, do your homework, and find the right project management training course aligned with those goals.
PMP Certification Requirements
To apply to take the PMP exam, you must prove that you have the following qualifications:
- A four-year degree
- 36 months leading projects
- 35 hours of project management education/training or CAPM Certification
- A high school diploma or an associate’s degree (or global equivalent)
- 60 months leading projects
- 35 hours of project management education/training or CAPM Certification
If you decide to take another PMP certification exam, such as Agile, the CAPM exam, or Portfolio or Program management, requirements will likely differ. Click on each of the programs listed above to see exam requirements.
If you fail your exam, don’t sweat—you will be able to retake it in the future for approximately half the cost of the initial exam fee.
Suppose you pass your exam, congratulations! You are on your way to an exciting, rewarding, and fulfilling career, but your work isn’t over.
You won’t have to retake the PMP exam. However, you will need to maintain your credential by earning a set number of professional development units (PDUs) every few years.
Cost of a PMP Certification
Enrolling in a PMP certification course is certainly a good investment in your career and future, but isn’t it expensive?
It can be. The official PMP exam fee is $555 (for non-PMI members) and $405 (for PMI members). Additionally, purchasing test prep resources and materials, hiring a tutor, and enrolling in a PMP exam prep course can cost $2,500 to $5,000.
Furthermore, 40 to 50 percent of test-takers fail the PMP exam after their first attempt. Therefore, experts also recommend studying and preparing for the exam between three to six months before taking it.
Many project managers have considered taking the PMP exam and earning the official PMP credential. However, the biggest complaints are that the exam is challenging and expensive.
Is becoming a PMP worth It?
Yes, earning a PMP credential will require an investment, both financial as well as your time. However, it is a lifetime investment and one that is well worth it.
Let’s look at an example:
- Imagine you pay the following:
- Test fee: $555 to take the PMP exam
- Exam prep course: $2,500
- Test prep materials and resources: $200
- TOTAL = $3,255
According to the Project Management Salary Survey from the PMI (calculated as of January 2020), professionals who earned the official PMP credential earned an average of 22 percent more than those without it (across 42 countries surveyed).
This means that depending on your specific project management role and industry, you could potentially earn up to and well over $100,000 a year. Suddenly that initial investment doesn’t seem so bad.
In addition to boosting your average annual salary, you also gain a competitive edge by earning a PMP certification. This could potentially mean more job offers, more promotions, and better job opportunities.
Now that you have a more in-depth understanding of how the PMP certification is a valuable credential for your project management career, you might be weighing the pros and cons of preparing for the PMP exam.
The truth is, becoming a PMP is hard. It can require an investment of time and money, and there’s no guarantee you will pass the exam.
No, you don’t have to earn a PMP certification to be a successful project manager. But, yes, earning the credential will open up more opportunities and higher salaries.
On the other hand, if you want to learn more about the project management principles, frameworks, and other related coursework you can use on the job, you can still take a PMP certification course.
You will also learn how to apply those practices, frameworks, and methodologies to real-life projects and scenarios. It comes down to considering your long-term career goals and plans to determine the right path for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
PMP, or Project Management Professional Certification, is a globally recognized credential offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI). It certifies an individual’s ability to manage the people, processes, and business priorities of professional projects.
PMP Certification is considered a gold standard in project management. It demonstrates a professional’s skills, experience, and knowledge in project management, which can lead to career advancement and higher salary prospects.
The process involves satisfying eligibility criteria, completing the required training or education, passing the PMP examination, and adhering to PMI’s code of ethics and professional conduct.
PMP Certification can lead to better job opportunities, higher salaries, and recognition as a skilled and knowledgeable project management professional. It also helps in building a global network of professionals and experts.
PMP Certification requires renewal every three years. This involves earning a specific number of professional development units (PDUs) in project management to ensure that the individual’s skills and knowledge are up-to-date.