PMP® CERTIFICATION – DO I NEED IT?
If you want to make a career out of project management, many people will argue that you can’t go wrong by investing in PMP® certification – it is, after all, one of the most highly sought-after qualifications in this profession.
In this article, you can find out:
- What PMP® stands for
- How PMP® certification can help you
- How to determine whether the PMP® credential is right for you
- What you can do to get PMP® certification – if you decide that it’s the right choice for you
What is PMP® Certification?
PMP® stands for Project Management Professional. It is a globally recognised project management credential issued by the Project Management Institute (PMI) to professionals working as project managers.
PMI’s certifications are designed to improve the general standard of project management as a profession. PMP® certification consequently has strenuous exam entrance requirements to make sure only suitably skilled and experienced project managers are able to earn PMP® credentials.
Why go for PMP® Certification?
Although obtaining PMP® certification does not in and of itself make you a better project manager, it does give you a valuable qualification. PMP® certification will help you get better, higher-paying work more easily.
Here are a few of the reasons why you might want to consider going for PMP® certification:
- It increases your earning potential
- It looks good on your CV
- It increases your credibility in the eyes of some employers, clients, and project team members
- It gives you access to networking events and other resources (through PMI membership)
Why do certified professionals earn higher salaries?
Certification does not necessarily entail any training that would make you more skilled at your job, so why is it such a significant credential?
PMP® certification validates your expertise and experience as a project management professional. It thus proves to employers that you are a highly qualified project manager. Employers are therefore willing to pay large salaries in order to have proven project managers at the helm of their large and expensive projects.
Consequently, many people would argue that you cannot go wrong with PMP® certification. There are, however, some drawbacks:
- The exams are expensive
- The exams are tough, and you might need to spend considerable time and money to prepare for them
- You need to engage in continuing professional development to maintain your PMP® credential
- Some employers may prefer different types of project management certification (e.g. Agile, Prince2, or ITIL)
So how do you decide whether you need PMP® Certification?
Before you make your decision, you need to evaluate your current situation, and then determine what your career goals are. Consider asking yourself the following questions:
- Do I want to pursue a career as a project manager, or do I want to manage occasional projects as part of a different job role?
- Do I want to work in an industry, sector, or organisation that requires or gives preference to the PMP® credential, or do I need to consider the other options – such as Agile, Prince2, or ITIL?
- Do I have the resources to invest in PMP® certification, or would it be better for me to explore different options?
It would also be a good idea to ask project managers and hiring managers in your intended industry whether they would recommend working towards the PMP® credential, or whether they would recommend a different route.
If you are just starting out in the field of project management, you have time to decide whether you want to invest in the PMP®, as you need a minimum of three years’ relevant experience before you can apply for the exam.
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Writing the PMP® exam and getting certified
If you decide that you do want to earn the PMP® credential, you will have to qualify for, write, and pass the PMP® project management exam.
|Here is some information on the particulars of the exam:|
|Exam format||1 exam (200 questions, 4 hours)|
For more information on the exact requirements of certification and all the rules and guidelines set out by the PMI, you can download the PMP® Handbook for free here: PMP® Handbook.
How to prepare for the PMP certification exam
As can be seen above, the PMP exam is very long. This means that it is also a tough exam to write and that you will need to prepare sufficiently.
• Exam content
The PMP exam covers the content of the Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide), a project management handbook published by the PMI.
The PMBOK Guide is the PMI’s definitive guide to professional project management and is used by project managers across the world. The PMBOK Guide contains all the set standards, guidelines, terminology, and practices of project management as defined by the PMI.
The content of the PMBOK Guide is divided into:
- The 5 Process Groups of project management
- The 10 Areas of Knowledge of project management
You can download the complete PMP® exam content outline here: PMP® Exam Content Outline
• Study aids
There are numerous books and study aids, besides the PMBOK Guide, that can help you pass your exam:
- PMP Exam Prep, Eighth Edition: Rita’s Course in a Book for Passing the PMP Exam, by Rita Mulcahy
- The PMP Exam Made Easy: Your 24-Hour Study Guide to Passing, by Ron Ponce and Christopher Scordo
- Head First PMP, by Jennifer Greene and Andrew Stellman
There are many more books you can also read to help you prepare for the exam. However, while books like these are all useful, you still need to read the PMBOK Guide at least once – twice if possible!
• Exam preparation courses
You can enrol for a number of exam preparation courses or workshops to help you prepare for the PMP® exam. The great thing about doing this is that it also contributes to the 35 hours of project management training you need for your exam application.
You can even enrol for online webinar classes (online videos) or a podcast training course.
• Practice exams
Before the actual exam, you will also need to practice writing the PMP exam itself and learn how to answer the specific questions.
The following book can help you with that:
- PMP Exam: Practice Test and Study Guide, by J. LeRoy Ward and Ginger Levin
You can also subscribe to online exam simulators for a monthly fee, such as:
There are also free mock exams you can use for preparation:
• PMP® exam example questions:
To give you an idea of what the exam will be like, here are a couple of example questions supplied by the PMI that you can go through:
Starting your journey
With a requirement of at least 3 years’ experience to write the exam, PMP® certification might be a long way off in the future for you. So if you aren’t at that point in your career yet, or if you have just started out in project management, you still have time to consider all your options.
You need to get your basic project management training,get an entry-level job, and build yourself up to that high-paying position – either through writing your PMP® exam, or by earning other relevant qualifications or credentials.
Take a look at the following Oxbridge Academy project management courses that will help you get your career going in the right direction: