PMP application process - the complete guide

PMP Application Process – The Complete Guide

PMI (Project Management Institute) reviews every application for the PMP (Project Management Professional) certification. If you do not fill in your application correctly, PMI will not allow you to write the PMP exam.

Over the years, I’ve edited dozens of applications for students, and in this post, I will share with you the exact PMP application process and my top tips for getting you certified.

(Remember that as a student of ExamsPM, we can edit your application for you for free before you submit it to PMI.)

I’ve written extensively about this topic, to read the past posts, see below:

PMP Application Description Examples

Step-by-step guide to filling out your PMP application 

To start on your application, go to and if you run into any technical difficulties, you can always give PMI a call during business hours.

The first portion of the PMP application is quite mechanical – you fill in basic information such as your phone number and address. This portion should not take you more than an hour to complete.

The ‘Requirements’ portion is where it gets tough. Here are some things that you have to watch out for in your application:

Tip #1: Use PMI’s definition of a ‘project’ to determine which experiences are appropriate

If you are unsure whether your project experience counts towards your PMP certification or not, apply the following definition:

“A project is a temporary endeavor designed to produce a unique product, service or result with a defined beginning and end”

Let’s break down this definition:
* The project must be temporary with a defined beginning and end – this means that operational work does not count towards your PMP experiences
* The project produced something unique that aided the company

Remember that the size and duration of the project does not matter. You could have had a budget of $100 or $1,000,000. You could have managed just 1 person or 100 people.

Tip #2: your project experiences must come from legally registered organizations

If PMI only used the definition of a project to qualify candidates, almost anyone can be qualified. Strictly speaking, if you renovated your basement on a weekend, that’s a temporary endeavor that produced a unique product, which means it is a project.

Unfortunately, your renovation experience will not count towards your PMP application because PMI also requires your project experiences to come from organizations that are legally registered/certified entity.

Project management experience that is non-compensated or volunteered to a recognized community or charitable organization does meet PMI’s project management experiential requirements.

Examples of which are, but not excluded to:

* Acting as PM for the construction of a facility for a recognized charitable or community organization

* Working as part of a PM team, with leadership or director responsibility for the design and deployment for an outreach program for a local charit

* Acting as a PM on for an academic project in school

Tip #3: Your project title must be project manager or equivalent

Simply being apart of a project team is not enough. To qualify for the PMP credential, you must be in a management role of some sort on the project.

Through your application, you must demonstrate to PMI that you:

* Perform duties under general supervision and are responsible for all aspects of the project for the life of the project
* Lead and direct cross-functional teams to deliver projects within the constraints of schedule, budget and resources

* Demonstrate sufficient knowledge and experience to appropriately apply a methodology to projects that have reasonably well-defined project requirements and deliverables

Tip #4: Do a high-level estimate to determine how many hours you’ve worked on a project

PMI is not expecting you to track every hour as you are working. When you are reporting the number of hours you’ve done for a project, do a high level estimate.

Here’s an example:

Let’s suppose you worked a year on a project and you took 2 weeks of vacation.

This means you worked a total of 50 weeks on the project full time (let’s assume 40 hours per week).

50 X 40 = 2000

You can claim 2000 hours for this project.

To find the number of hours you’ve worked on a project, simply multiple the number of weeks you’ve worked on that project by the number of hours worked per week.

Please remember that only your experiences within the last 8 years will count towards your PMP certification.

Tip #5: Verify with your contact person to make sure that they agree with the number of hours you’ve submitted

Although less than 5% of candidates get audited, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

If you are selected for an audit, you need to be prepared.

PMI will ask you to get a signature from all of your contact people.

There once was a student who did not reach out to his contact person before submitting his application, and unfortunately, he was selected for an audit.

During his audit, his contact person refused to sign his audit form and claimed he did not complete the project.

PMI considered this case a violation to their code of ethics and responsibilities, and they banned this student from ever writing the PMP exam.

Don’t let this happen to you.

Please reach out to all of your contact people beforehand and tell them that you are writing the PMP exam.

Attach a pdf copy of your application when you reach out to them so that they are aware of the exact number of hours you are claiming.

Tip #6: your project description should be a high-level summary of the tasks you’ve done within the 5 domains.

Your project descriptions should have the following format:

* A brief, one-sentence project objective
* Project deliverables summarized by process areas (Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring and Controlling, and Closing – abbreviations are acceptable IN, PL, EX, MC & CL)
* A brief, one-sentence project outcome

If you claimed hours for a process group, then you must include a sentence in your description outlining what you’ve accomplished within that domain.

Here are some suggestions of tasks to include for your project descriptions (please note that this list is not comprehensive):

Initiating the Project – Defining the project scope and obtaining approval from stakeholders.
· For example: Perform project assessment; define the high-level scope of the project; perform key stakeholder analysis; identify and document high-level risks, assumptions, and constraints; develop and obtain approval for the project charter.

Planning the Project – Preparing the project plan and developing the work breakdown structure.

· For example: Assess detailed project requirements, constraints, and assumptions with stakeholders; create the work breakdown structure; develop a project schedule; develop budget, human resource management, communication, procurement, quality management, change management, and risk management plans; present the project plan to the key stakeholders; conduct a kick-off meeting.

Executing the Project – Performing the work necessary to achieve the stated objectives of the project.

· For example: Obtain and manage project resources; execute the tasks as defined in the project plan; implement the quality management plan; implement approved changes according to the change management plan; implement approved actions by following the risk management plan; maximize team performance.

Controlling and Monitoring the Project – Monitoring project progress, managing change and risk, and communicating project status.
For example: Measure project performance using appropriate tools and techniques; manage changes to the project scope, schedule, and costs; ensure that project deliverables conform to the quality standards; update the risk register and risk response plan; assess corrective actions on the issue register; communicate project status to stakeholders.

Closing the Project – Finalizing all project activities, archiving documents, obtaining acceptance for deliverables, and communicating project closure.
For example: Obtain final acceptance of the project deliverables; transfer the ownership of deliverables; obtain financial, legal, and administrative closure; distribute the final project report; collate lessons learned; archive project documents and materials; measure customer satisfaction.