Nobody in the business world hasn’t heard of the PMP® certification, and it’s quite a tempting one to pursue. However, you need to meet a couple of requirements and minimum standards to be eligible to apply for the exam, let alone pass it.
In this article, I’ll go over the PMP® exam requirements and help you understand what you need to acquire and learn to be a candidate and pass your PMP® exam.
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PMP® Certification Requirements in Brief
There are three main requirements for the PMP® certification, tackling aspects of education, on-hands experience, and project management education. However, do note that the criteria vary according to your level of education.
Secondary Degree/High School Diploma
- At least five years of project management experience.
- 35 contact hours with education related to project management.
- 7,500 hours spent by the candidate on managing and providing direction for projects.
The PMP® Education Requirement
To elaborate, to be eligible for a PMP® certification, you need to have at least a secondary degree. This includes high school diplomas or an education level equivalent to it. If the highest level of education you’ve attained is secondary education, you’ll need to fulfill three requirements for a PMP® certification:
- Five or more years of project management experience.
- 7,500 hours managing, leading, and directing projects.
- 35 contact hours of education on project management.
*A single hour of classroom instruction equals one contact hour. Yet, you have to exclude breaks when calculating contact hours.
The PMP® Experience Requirement
It’s worth mentioning that active project management is not a PMP® certification requirement to gain a project management experience point, but the mere participation in a project environment is also taken into consideration when calculating the 5 years of experience requirement.
You need 7,500 hours of directing and leading projects, which means that 3.5 years of these 5 years have to be spent on these two.
Don’t worry, though; you don’t need to have been assigned a project management role. All you need to have done is supervised over a team member, became the team leader of a group, or assisted the project manager with some management activities.
Four-Year Degree/Bachelor’s Degree
If you have a four-year degree or above, you fall into the category of the following PMP® requirements:
- 35 contact hours in education related to project management.
- At least three years of project management experience.
- 4,500 hours spent by the candidate on managing and providing direction for projects.
*Educational hours from university programs or classes can be counted as contact hours. Similarly, they don’t have to be classroom hours; online workshops or training also count.
The PMP® Education Requirement
A four-year degree or above entails a bachelor, masters, or doctorate.
The Second PMP® Experience Requirement
As I’ve mentioned, active project management isn’t a requirement, but the mere participation in a project environment is enough.
However, 4,500 hours of the 3-year requirement, equivalent to 2 years, need to be spent directing and leading projects.
You’ll need to satisfy either the first PMP® experience requirement and education requirement or the second PMP® education requirement and experience requirement, depending on your education level.
Also, you have to participate in a 35 contact hours PM education to qualify for a PMP® exam trial, which is yet another requirement for the PMP® certification.
Why do Requirements for PMP® Exist?
There are two main reasons why the PMP® certification has minimum requirements. The first one is that project management is a serious job with grave consequences if anything goes wrong.
What’s more, project managers have to pay attention to how they communicate, their attitude, and how to manage different people’s expectations when working in this scope of work. If not, a project may fail, and that’s why it’s of utmost importance that some minimum requirements are met for a PMP® certification.
The second major reason is that project management needs a deep understanding of theoretical knowledge on both managing projects and their techniques. In this area, there are 10 knowledge areas that a manager has to tackle and become proficient in to pass the PMP® certification exam.
A PMP® exam tests those 10 areas in 5 different project management process groups. For someone to pass the exam, they have to attain a score higher than a particular level from each of the project management process groups.
For those two reasons, the PMP® exam requirements include both experience and education. The experience part indicates that a person has sufficient soft skills, while the education part indicates a candidate has sufficient theoretical knowledge when it comes to managing a project.
PMP® Application Process
If you meet the minimum requirements in both the education and experience fields and you’ve decided to take the PMP® certification exam, you should learn about the application process to gather all the information you need before you begin. Once you start your online application process, it can’t be terminated, but you can save it and complete it later on.
You’ll be asked to specify your academic education background, choosing between a secondary diploma versus a four-year degree. Additionally, you’ll be required to indicate the name of your school or educational institution, your year of graduation, and your major (if applicable).
Then, with a limit of 500 characters, you have to use a precise description to explain the project management tasks you’ve directed or led for each of them. Before submission, you’ll be required to read and agree to the Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct and the Certification and Renewal Agreement of the PMI.
After that, the PMI will take a look at it and respond within the time span of 3 to 5 business days. Once your application is approved, you’ll be invited to place your payment and schedule the exam. After the approval of your application, you have to take the exam before a year passes. During the duration of eligibility, you can take the exam up to three times.
To become a member of the PMI (Project Management Institute), you have to make a $139 payment, and this saves you money when it comes to the exam fees. It would cost a non-member $555 to take the exam, whereas a member would only be charged $405.
Is it Obligatory to Get a PMI Membership?
No, you don’t have to become a PMI member, but there are multiple financial advantages to becoming one. Firstly, PMI members get a considerable discount on the PMP® exam application fee.
A PMI member would have to pay $139 for a membership fee and $405 for the application, making the total cost $544, and the retake fee would be $275. On the other hand, a non-PMI member would pay no fee for membership, just $555 for the application fee, while the retake fee would be $375.
Also, PMI members get a PDF copy of the PMBOK® guide as a gift, and this guide plays a major role in preparation for the exam and helps you pass it.
The PMP® Examination Process
You can take your PMP® exam at the nearest Pearson VUE test center. The exam consists of 200 questions that you’re required to finish in 4 hours.
The questions are divided into 5 process groups as follows:
- Initiation (13%)
- Planning (24%)
- Executing (30%)
- Monitoring and Controlling (25%)
- Closing (8%)
And since it’s a computer-based exam, you’ll get your test results immediately.
What Happens if I Can’t Meet the PMP® Certification Requirements?
The PMP® education requirement is actually the more accessible part of the PMP® certification process as you can enroll in a 35 contact hours PMP® training to attain it. The more challenging part is meeting the PMP® eligibility requirement regarding the project management experience.
As mentioned, you’ll need at least three years of project management experience if you have a bachelor’s degree. In comparison, you’ll need five years if you have a secondary degree if you want to take the PMP® certification exam.
If you don’t want to wait to complete the project experience to start pursuing your project management career, you might want to consider a CAPM® certification. The questions on that test are a little easier than those on the PMP® certification exam, but the exam content is more or less the same as the PMP®.
What’s more, the minimum CAPM® certification requirements aren’t as strict as those of the PMP®. You can enroll in CAPM® training to meet them if you’ve already attained a bachelor’s education or above.
Plenty of employers deem the CAPM® certification highly and see it as a valuable asset when they’re looking for a project manager. Not only that, but the CAPM® exam and certification prepare you and familiarize you with the PMP® certification and exam.
By landing a job in the project management field with your CAPM® certification, you’ll be able to gain your management experience, qualifying you to meet the minimum requirements for the PMP® certification in the “experience” category and apply.
Now that you’re familiar with the requirements to apply for the PMP® certification, make sure you’ve met them, and begin the process of becoming a PMI member and becoming a licensed PMP®. There’s no way better to prepare yourself for a blooming career as a project manager.
While the process may seem tedious, remember that with each step you take, you’re a step closer to setting yourself apart as a team leader and boosting your potential!