The PMP is the most well-known certification for project managers, and it is also the hardest one to get. This certification is meant for seasoned project managers. If you’re considering pursuing your PMP certification but don’t have any project management experience, you’re probably wondering if you can still write the exam.
The good news is that it is possible to get your PMP without any direct experience as a project manager.
One of the requirements for becoming certified as a PMP is that you have at least 3 years, or 36 months, of work experience in the last 8 years. This requirements goes up to 5 years, or 60 months, if you do not have a 4 years bachelors degree.
But you do not necessarily need the job title as ‘project manager’ in order to qualify to write the PMP exam.
Your work experience can come from any field or industry, and you don’t necessarily need the job title as ‘project manager’ in order to qualify for the exam.
Of course, the best way to get experience is by working as a project manager. But if that’s not possible for you, there are other options available.
For example, you can volunteer to take on additional responsibility at work or take on a side project. You can also look for opportunities to lead a team outside of work, such as through a club or organization that you’re involved in.
You should also look through all of your work experiences to see if you’ve performed project management tasks in any of them.
For example, if you worked as business analyst, but you put together project plans or performed any other project management tasks, that work experience would qualify for your PMP exam.
Since the PMP credential is recognized worldwide, your work experience can be from any country as well. If you’ve previously immigrated from another country, take a look at all your past experiences and highlight those that involve project management.
Another way to gain experience is to contact your company’s Project Management Office (PMO) to see if you can help in any way. If you’re organization does not have a project management office, you can speak to your project sponsor about setting one up in your organization.
The bottom line is that you can get your PMP certification without any direct experience as a project manager.
However, if let’s say you worked as a waiter or waitress, this work experience probably won’t qualify you for the PMP. Your work experience has to be relevant and related to project management, but you do not need the job title as ‘project manager.’
If you’re unsure whether your experience counts as project management experience, here are some examples to help you determine:
- You create a project management plan, project schedule, or project budget.
- You assign tasks to other team members.
- You estimate how long activities will take and sequence them in the right order.
- You interview potential candidates and hire people with the right skills to work on your project.
- You revise the project plan when changes need to be made.
- You communicate the project status to your team and relevant stakeholders.
- You resolve conflicts between team members when they arise.
- You create a project budget and make sure you stick to it.
- You allocate resources accordingly in order to complete the project within budget and time constraints.
- You document the project’s progress and tract the project’s progress.
- You release all resources when the project is completed or cancelled.
Once you’ve determined that you have the necessary experiences to qualify for your PMP exam, the next step is to write and submit your application. While this may sound daunting, it’s actually quite simple.
There are only 3 components to the application. First, you fill in your biographical information, such as your name, address, phone number, etc. Second, you fill in your highest education and proof that you’ve completed your 35 hours of project management education. Third, you describe relevant project management experiences you’ve had. And that’s it!
In order to validate your experiences, the project management institute, or PMI, will ask you to list one contact person for every project that you include in your application. If you are selected for a random audit, PMI will reach out to your contact person and ask him or her to verify that you have the experiences that you’ve written down.
If you’re a new grad or don’t have any work experience at all, you can also consider getting your CAPM certification or the Google project management certification. Both of these certifications do not require any experience to qualify.
These certifications can boost your credibility and help you get your first project management job. From there, you can build your work experience and obtain your PMP in a few years.
Now, if you’re set on getting your PMP credentials, let me share some tips on how to get started down the path to becoming a PMP.
1. Get familiar with the PMBOK Guide. The PMBOK Guide is the bible of project management, and it’s essential that you understand its contents before taking the PMP exam. So read through it, make sure you understand the concepts, and practice answering questions about it.
2. Take an online course or bootcamp. There are plenty of online courses and bootcamps that can help prepare you for the PMP exam. These courses typically cover everything from the basics of project management to more specific topics like risk management and stakeholder communication. You can start with our free course which will teach you how to get PMP certified in just 6 weeks. The link is in the description below.
3. Join a PMP study group. A great way to prepare for the exam is to join a study group with other people who are also preparing for the PMP certification. This will allow you to share resources and tips, as well as practice your test-taking skills together.
4. Get some hands-on experience. One of the best ways to prepare for the PMP exam is to get some hands-on experience working on projects. This could be through volunteer work, internships, or even just working on projects at home or at work. The more experience you have actually managing projects, the better prepared you’ll be for the exam.
5. Take practice exams. Finally, one of the best ways to prepare for the PMP exam is by taking practice exams. There are lots of practice exams available online, and they can help you identify which areas you need to focus on more studying.
There are many different ways to get the experience you need to become certified as a PMP. It might take some extra effort, but it is definitely possible to do it!