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PMP Certification Requirements: what you need to know - ExamsPM.com

PMP Certification Requirements: what you need to know

The Project Management Professional PMP certification is the international certification for Project Managers.  Recognized across multiple industries, PMPs lead projects in nearly every country.  So what are the PMP certification requirements?

The top PMP certification requirement is that you should have project experience.

The PMI accepts experience from several project types: technical, non-technical, large or small, in-house or external, all types are acceptable. 

Experience from any industry or domain is accepted, government, non-profit, charitable, private, etc. 

Getting your PMP certification?  Here is everything you need to prepare.
Getting your PMP certification? Here is everything you need to prepare.

PMP Requirements overview

The Project Management Institute PMI grants PMP certifications.  The PMP certification requirements largely depend on your education background and the number of years experience you bring. 

Read on to see which scenario applies to your individual situation.

PMP Requirements.  Scenario 1:  5 years PM experience

If you fall into scenario 1, then you have a secondary-level diploma (high school or equivalent), 5 or more years of project management experience, 7,500 hours leading and directing projects, and 35 hours of Project Management education.

PMP Requirements.  Scenario 2:  3 years PM experience

If you fall into scenario 2, then you have a four-year degree (bachelor’s or equivalent), 3 or more years of Project Management experience, 4,500 hours leading and directing projects, and 35 hours of Project Management education.

Is the PMP Exam difficult?

According to the PMP Credentials Handbook, the PMP exam “objectively assesses and measures experience, education and professional knowledge – the foundation of competent practice as a project manager.”

The PMP Certification

As a PMP certified Project Manger, you can work in any industry, with any methodology and in any location.  While other certifications focus on a particular geography or industry domain, as a PMP you become a global player.

Also, PMPs earn more. 

In a recent survey, respondents indicated that those with a PMP certification earned on average 20% higher salary than those without a PMP certification.  (Earning Power: Project Management Salary Survey Ninth Edition).

In addition to the significant salary advantage and earning potential, employers benefit as well.  

A separate study showed that organizations with more than 33% PM’s with a PMP certification complete more of their projects on time, on budget and meeting original goals. (Pulse of the Profession study, PMI, 2015).

The PMP certification improves your career status. It shows that you speak and understand the global language of project management.

The PMP certification also connects you to a community of professionals, organizations and experts worldwide.

Why are there strict PMP requirements?

Project Management is a respected profession that requires managing expectations to deliver projects. 

Project Managers need to communicate effectively with multiple stakeholders, and must be careful to manage these communications effectively. 

Project Manager also deliver a scope of work, and need to be equipped to manage sometimes conflicting expectations. 

Project can fail from mismanaged expectations, lack of sufficient communications, or lack of scope to deliver.

In addition to these hands-on skills, project managers are required to understand theoretical knowledge and techniques. 

The 10 knowledge areas from 5 process groups are outlined in the PMBOK and tested on the PMP Exam.

Who Should Apply to become a PMP?

Any experienced Project Manager who meets the PMP certification requirements outlined below can and should apply. 

Have you, or do you currently:

  • Perform your 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?

If you answered all points “Yes” then you should consider applying for the PMP certification.  Project Managers who have lead and directed projects for 3-5 years should have these experiences.

PMP applicants who fulfill the PMP certification requirements and pass the PMP Exam obtain the PMP certification.

PMP Validity

In addition to meeting these requirements prior to certification, you must keep up the PMP certification once you become a PMP.

The PMP certification has a set validity period that starts once it is granted. 

PMP certification holders must earn 60 Professional Development Units (PDUs) related to project management in each three years following the initial PMP certification. 

Leading and Directing Projects

If you have lead and directed a project, then you have project management experience as a Project Manager or as part of the Project Management team.  It simply means you have managed a complete project(s), or part of a project(s). 

Leading and Directing refers to having performed the role of the Project Manager on part of a project, or, the entire project.  It means that you have performed tasks listed in the PMP Exam Content Outline.

Key to this is that you have had management experience, not just experience as a project team member.

So, what is a Project?

A project is a temporary undertaking to create a unique product, service, or result.

What is Project Management?

The definition of Project Management in the PMBOK Guide can be confusing.  Instead use the simplification below to understand what is meant by Project Management. 

Focus on what managing a project involves.  Every project needs the 5 Process Groups in the PMBOK Guide.  These are Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring and Controlling, and Closing.

To fulfil the PMP Certification requirements, you must demonstrate experience in all five Process Groups.  However, you needn’t show that each individual project covered each of the five Process Groups. 

Click here for Process Groups references from the PMBOK Guide.    

Project Management Experience Hours

Project management experience hours refers to the number of hours you have spent leading and directing project management tasks.

Although you needn’t have been a Project Manager, you must have fulfilled a significant role in the project, and must have led or directed project tasks.

Some example job titles are Team Lead, Functional Lead, Project Sponsor, Meeting Facilitator, Subject Matter Expert, or Technical lead.

The number of project management experience hours you will need largely depends on what formal education you have.

If you have a bachelor’s degree, you will need 4500 project management experience hours.  If you have a secondary education (high-school diploma or equivalent) you will need 7500 project management experience hours.

Whether you hold a bachelor’s degree or a secondary education, your 4500 hours or 7500 hours of project management experience must have accrued in the 8 years prior to pursuing your PMP certification. 

As part of your project management experience hours, you must clearly show how you have experience in the 5 Process Groups, initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and closing a project.  Be clear about how many hours you have experience in each of these process groups.

Note that the online PMP Exam application space to describe the project management tasks you led or directed for each project is limited to 500 characters.  Use this space wisely.  Your answers should be concise but with enough detail for the PMI to understand the project and determine it’s eligibility to include in your project management experience hours.

35 Contact Hours of Formal Project Management Education

You are required to complete 35 contact hours of formal project management education to qualify for the exam, and fulfil the PMP certification requirements.

What qualifies as a Contact Hour?

Contact hours refers to the total amount of time you have spent in formal project management instruction.  One hour of formal classroom instruction equals one contact hour. 

Contact hours are earned by attending project management-relevant training.  You accrue contact hours through a physical classroom course or through an online training workshop. 

Note, you do not need to accumulate all 35 hours from the same course or workshop, your hours can be accumulated across several formal education formats. 

Unlike the requirement for project management experience hours that they be accrued within 8 years prior to pursuing a PMP certification, any project management training you have counts towards the PMI’s requirement for contact hours.

In effect, there is no expiration date on any project management training you have accrued.

What is Formal Education?

A formal education includes a variety of training options.  You may have traditional classroom training, instructor-led online training, or self-learning online training.

It is important to note that self-study does not count towards the 35 contact hours of formal education.

Any project management course that includes instruction on the 10 Knowledge Areas as defined in the PMBOK Guide, including Integration, Scope, Time, Cost, Quality, Resource, Communications, Risk, Procurement, and Stakeholder Management, count towards your 35 contact hours of formal education.

How do these fit into the PMP Certification Requirements?

Firstly, to apply for PMP certification, you must have a secondary degree, such as high-school or an equivalent secondary education, at minimum.

Secondary education

If your highest achieved education level is a secondary degree, then you need these three PMP certification requirements:

  • 5 years of project management experience
  • 7500 hours leading and directing projects
  • 35 hours of project management education.

Notice that the 7500 hours of leading and directing projects works out to only about 3.5 years.  So how do you make up the rest of the 1.5 years to reach 5 years of project management experience?

Here is where you have some flexibility.  The PMP certification requirements does not need you to have actively managed a project for the remaining 1.5 years.  Only that you were in a project environment.

This means that the 7500 hours must be Leading and Directing projects.  Remember, this can include supervising roles, team leads, or assisting the Project Manager in specific project management activities.

The remainder of the 5 years only need to be in a project environment.

Post-secondary education

If your highest achieved education level is a 4 year post-secondary degree, such as a bachelor’s or master’s degree, then you need these three PMP certification requirements:

  • 3 years of project management experience
  • 4500 hours leading and directing projects
  • 35 hours of project management education.

Notice that the 4500 hours of leading and directing projects works out to only about 2 years.  So how do you make up the additional 1 year to reach 3 years of project management experience?

Here is where you have some flexibility.  The PMP certification requirements does not need you to have actively managed a project for the remaining 1 years.  Only that you were in a project environment.

This means that the 4500 hours must be Leading and Directing projects.  Remember, this can include supervising roles, team leads, or assisting the Project Manager in specific project management activities.

The remainder of the 3 years only need to be in a project environment.

How to apply for the PMP Certification

Gather all your documentation that demonstrates your ability to meet the requirements. 

Demonstrate how you fulfil the education requirement, either a 4-year post-secondary degree, or a secondary degree.

Then demonstrate how you fulfil the project management experience, either 4500 or 7500 hours leading and directing projects.

Organize your work experience, demonstrating how you have obtained experience in the 5 Process Groups, Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring and Controlling, and Closing.

Finally, demonstrate that you have completed 35 hours contact hours of formal project management education.

Remember to include the 10 Knowledge Areas as defined in the PMBOK Guide, including Integration, Scope, Time, Cost, Quality, Resource, Communications, Risk, Procurement, and Stakeholder Management, count towards your 35 contact hours of formal education.

Summary

Once you have obtained your PMP certification, it will be valid for a period of 3 years. 

To maintain your PMP, the PMI requires that all holders of a PMP certification obtain 60 Professional Development Units (PDU’s) in each 3-year renewal period.  These PDU’s are essential to maintaining a valid PMP certification.

You need to complete 35 contact hours of formal project management education.  These hours need not be accrued from a single education source and can be from multiple training sources that total up to 35 hours.

The 35 contact hours are valid for lifetime.

Do you want to get your PMP certification? Sign up for a free class to learn how!

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