The Complete Guide to the Project Management Institute

Disclosure: Our content is reader-supported, which means we earn commissions from links on Crazy Egg. Commissions do not affect our editorial evaluations or opinions.

What if there was a single resource for all things project management?

Well, you don’t have to wonder at all.  

The Project Management Institute offers the guidance, direction, and competencies that you need for a long and successful career in project management.   

In its present form, project management only popped up in the 1960s and, with it, the need for standardized approaches and procedures. 

The Project Management Institute (PMI) was the first to answer this call and was set up in 1969 with the ambitious goal of professionalizing the industry. Since then, PMI has been a front runner and the de facto authority for project management.

One notable accomplishment of the PMI is producing the first-ever project management body of knowledge.

The Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK®) handbook condenses all crucial project management concepts, terms, and activities in a single handbook. 

In short, the PMI has played a vital role in helping to transition the project management profession from a handful of select domains (including defense, construction, and US aerospace) to the mainstream. 

Exciting history aside, the PMI still occupies a significant place in modern-day project management.

The PMI is perhaps best known for its certifications, which are recognized worldwide.

It is difficult to conceive an organization anywhere in the world that hires project managers and doesn’t recognize PMI-issued certification and accreditation.

The Project Management Institute serves project management professionals in more than 214 countries and territories.

A case study

According to the Project Management Salary Survey 10th Edition:

PMI’s globally-recognized Project Management Professional (PMP) ® certification provides a significant advantage when it comes to salary and earning potential in virtually all countries included in this study. Among survey respondents, those holding the PMP certification report higher median salaries (23% higher on average across the 37 countries surveyed) than those without PMP certification.” (p.10)

How to Improve Your Career Outlook with PMI Today

In your mind, a career in project management can revolve around bringing projects to term. Aside from the real-world practice of managing projects, there are plenty of exciting opportunities in the broader project management arena. 

These include opportunities for certification, honing project management skills and knowledge, networking, membership in professional organizations, and volunteering, among others.

If you’re prospecting for a career in project management, or you’re an experienced project manager wanting to advance in the field, simply wanting to expand your influence in the industry, the Project Management Institute almost certainly has something for you.

PMI Certification

The obvious place to start is accreditation and certification. The PMI offers up to ten different project management certifications. The three most in-demand PMI certifications include:

Agile Certifications

Having difficulty applying Agile frameworks? The Project Management Institute offers a Basics of Disciplined Agile course that combines various approaches. Such as Agile Modeling, Scrum, Extreme Programming, SAFe, Kanban, and others.

From here, you may decide to enroll in one of the multiple Agile certifications offered, including:

  • Disciplined Agile Scrum Master (DASM)
  • PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)®
  • Disciplined Agile Senior Scrum Master (DASSM)

Agile is one of the most powerful project management methodologies and is in high demand in the job market.

Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)®

If you are just getting your feet wet in project management, CAPM can accelerate your career path and distinguish you in the job market. CAPM is an equally great choice for seasoned project managers without specific PM certification. If you fall in the latter group, CAPM certification could open up opportunities for handling bigger projects.

CAPM certification has relatively simple prerequisites, including at least 23 hours of project management education and a high school diploma or its global equivalent. 

Project Management Professional (PMP)®

Arguably the PMI’s most in-demand project management certification, the PMP is globally recognized as a gold standard for project management certification. More and more job recruiters are including PMP certification in their list of requirements.

PMI Courses

If you aren’t quite ready for a certification, the Project Management Institute offers various industry-leading quality courses in project management. The Project Management Institute provides courses in:

  • Strategic and Business Management
  • Technical Courses
  • Leadership
  • Risk Management
  • Agile Planning & Project Management
  • Requirements Management

The institute also offers courses for all project management levels, including beginner or introductory courses and advanced courses. These courses are offered online, and you can take them at your pace and schedule.

Also worth noting, the Global Accreditation Center for Project Management, GAC, is the leading authority in accrediting project management programs worldwide, including bachelors, postgraduate, and doctorate-level programs. The GAC is the accrediting branch of the Project Management Institute.

If you were going to take a project management course, it’s hard to think of a better program than one offered by the Project Management Institute.

PMBOK® Guide

Besides PMI’s courses, the PMBOK guide by the Project Management Institute is a valuable resource for project managers in all stages of their careers. The guide’s process-based nature is easy to follow, allowing project managers to understand the industry’s best practices all through the workflow process.

If you are already familiar with the CMMI and ISO 9000, you will see a lot of overlap in the PMBOK to augment your existing knowledge base. The PMBOK Guide is currently in its 6th edition and continues to be updated as project management trends evolve and develop.

The PMBOK guide recognizes 49 processes divided into five distinct process groups, namely:

  • Initiating
  • Planning
  • Executing
  • Monitoring and Controlling
  • Closing

Additionally, the handbook familiarizes you with ten key knowledge areas, including schedule management, integration management, scope management, and resource management.

The Project Management Institute also offers complementary resources in addition to the handbook, including Software Extension, Construction Extension, and Government Extension.

PMI Membership

You don’t necessarily need to be a Project Management Institute member to participate in its courses and accreditation. 

However, PMI members enjoy various benefits, including discounts on the institute’s courses and certifications. You also get to be a part of a worldwide professional project management community, get access to a project management job board, and get priority access to the latest PMI publications.   

The Career Central and Headquarters is a handy tool available only to members. Members receive guidance and access to resources dedicated to career growth. Get professional advice on building a resume, useful skills to help spur your career growth, and updates on the industry’s latest trends.

The Project Management Institute publishes a resource journal five times a year. PMI members are entitled to free copies of the journal, known as the Project Management Journal. There are also great opportunities to network with industry professionals through the Communities of Practice.  

PMI Authorized Training Partner

You don’t have to follow a ‘traditional’ career path in project management.

If you are looking to transition out of your current role or have always been interested in training others, become a PMI authorized training partner.

PMI training partners get access to high-quality, ready-to-use training instruction and training content. You also get access to marketing and sales support, giving you a competitive advantage in the industry.

PMI also offers rigorous training, ensuring that you can prepare your students for the PMP exam. Since you are already vetted by the Project Management Institute, you will have an easier time convincing prospective customers of your courses and training’s quality and utility.

5 Best Practices for Leveraging Project Management Institute Certification

The Project Management Institute may be the de facto authority on project management certification, but there are plenty more career development opportunities outside the PMI. 

Most professionals are looking to the PMI for training and certification. This trend can make it harder to set yourself apart from others who have taken the same path. To leverage your PMI certification and stand out from the competition:

1. Consider Project Management Simulations

Project management simulations are like video games for project managers. These games simulate real-world project management scenarios that project managers face. 

Simulation features include project planning, Gantt charts, task allocation, resource management, project monitoring, decision making, reporting, and much more.

During the simulation, you perform the role of a project manager dealing with complex and dynamic scenarios. By carrying these virtual projects to completion, you learn essential skills and knowledge to apply in the real world.

Also worth mentioning are PMP exam simulators. Like the project management simulator, the exam simulator recreates virtual exams similar to those offered by the PMI. This resource is invaluable in seeing what you are up against when you apply for PMI certification.

2. Take Free Online Courses

There are plenty of free online courses that you can enroll in to improve your project management knowledge base. Some of these courses may count towards PMI requirements for taking exams.

Free courses also don’t have to be low-quality or mediocre. Institutions such as edX, GoSkills, Oxford Home Study Center, and Coursera offer top-notch courses, training materials, and other resources you might need to advance your career.

Many of these courses are also short, allowing you to advance your education as you pursue a full-time career. For example, you can complete a Project Management Basics course from GoSkills in less than eight hours.

Also, opt for courses that offer assignments and certification to get full value from these free resources.

In this digital age, the learning opportunities are endless. Besides structured courses, consider project management webinars, videos, blog articles, and podcasts for more learning opportunities.

3. Use Project Management Software

Whether you choose to take PMI courses or enroll for certification, project management software can drastically improve your effectiveness in leading projects. 

This software helps with all parts of the project lifecycle, including project planning, task management, calendar and contact sharing, time tracking, and collaboration.

There is also industry-specific software tailored to cater to the unique challenges of your particular domain. Many software providers offer free versions of their products. While you won’t get most of the complex functionality, you may have enough to get started.

Also, there are inexpensive options that can make a world of difference in managing your teams and running projects.

4. Check Out the PRINCE2® Manual

The PMBOK® is the go-to resource for project management, particularly in North America. PRINCE2 is an equally comprehensive manual released by the UK government.

PRINCE (Projects In Controlled Environments) takes a distinctly different approach to project management compared to the PMBOK guide. 

PRINCE2 features four integrated elements and seven principles upon which project management is based. By contrast, the PMBOK guide is broken down into five process groups comprising 49 different processes.

The PMBOK guide has been lauded for its ability to go in-depth in a wide range of knowledge areas. PRINCE2 applies a business case theme, treating projects as a means to an end rather than an end in itself. 

This focus on benefits versus costs offers an entirely different perspective and approach to project management than the PMBOK guide.

Additionally, where the PMBOK guide focuses exclusively on the project manager, PRINCE2 has an entire section dedicated to understanding different roles in a team setting.

It is hard to say which one is better between the two resources, but having a firm grasp of both PMBOK and PRINCE2 may be precisely what you need to set yourself apart from run-of-the-mill project managers. 

There might also be a lot of overlap between the two project management guides, but you get a broader perspective of project management by combining the two resources.

5. Start With A Career Path In Mind

To truly leverage what the Project Management Institute has to offer, it helps if you start with an end in mind. If you are only beginning your journey or prospecting a career in this field, jumping right into courses and certification may not be your safest bet.

A great place to start is to shadow a project manager. Many organizations today have project managers or a dedicated Project Management Office (PMO). These professionals will jump at the opportunity for extra help. 

In return, you may get to sit in meetings or presentations that can give you a good sense of what a career in project management entails.

Project management networking events are also great places to get your foot in the door. The PMI, for example, has local chapters worldwide. 

Here, you can get face time with career project managers in a relaxed environment. You can inquire on various aspects of the job, its challenges and rewards, and any burning questions you might have about project management.

Make your website better. Instantly.

Over 300,000 websites use Crazy Egg to improve what's working, fix what isn't and test new ideas.

Free 30-day Trial