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Becoming a Project Management Professional

Although project management as a concept has existed as far back as the building of the pyramids, project management principles and methodologies weren’t clearly defined until the 1960s. 

Today, the role of project management continues to grow, encompassing nearly every industry imaginable.

Project Management Professional (PMP) is a designation from the Project Management Institute.

This designation proves that you have the necessary skill, education, experience, and competence to lead and direct projects.  

Why Project Management Professional Designation Is So Important

Many paths lead to a career in project management.

However, the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification is arguably the best and most direct path to a long-term career in project management.

This certification earns you the title of Project Management Professional. You get to use the “PMP” acronym next to your name, and you can use the logo on your business cards.

Project Management Professional isn’t just a fancy title. These professionals are essential for practical reasons.

For one, the PMP certification is globally recognized. Just like a doctor or an accountant, carrying the PMP certification signals that you are a certified professional in your field. 

You also don’t necessarily need to supplement your education when you move to another country.

This benefit is advantageous when working with multinationals. In the digital age, the PMP title also opens up job opportunities beyond your country of residence.

Secondly, clear communication is a significant driver of project success. Crucially, project management professionals speak a common business language.

As stakeholders, project owners, and team members change in the course of projects, creating synergy becomes much easier when everyone can understand each other.

For example, a project charter is a standard formal document used at the beginning of a project.

The document sets out the context for the project, its objectives, scope, roles and responsibilities, and more.

A Terms of Reference (ToR) is an equally important document serving a similar purpose. In short, project management professionals communicate in a common language, allowing for a smooth transition from one project to the next.

Lastly, project management professionals apply standard management principles and methodologies to lead projects to term.

While there is room for a personal management style, project management today is standardized, allowing more efficiency, structure, and consistency across projects. 

Taking an ad hoc approach to complex and dynamic projects is a recipe for disaster.

Project management professionals have expert tools, skills, and competencies at their disposal to increase the chances that projects are completed within schedule and on budget. 

How to Improve Your Project Management Professional Credentials Today

The Project Management Institute (PMI) is the only institution offering PMP accreditation. 

We highly recommend using a PMP exam simulator like the PM Exam Simulator to practice for the test. This simulator provides more than 2000 sample questions (the real exam has 180 questions) to adequately prepare you for the exam.

The PM Exam Simulator has five full-length PMP mock exams taken in a realistic environment. After finishing the exam, the simulator provides detailed explanations for each answer to use as a reference or study guide.

Additionally, the simulator offers topic-specific quizzes. Taking quizzes by topic allows you to identify your weakest areas, so you know where to focus your studies. With additional features like live feedback, detailed explanations, and unlimited repeats, you get the best experience short of sitting for the real exam.

If you are still interested in becoming a certified project management professional, below is what you need to know about the process.

PMP Certification Overview

One of the factors that distinguish the Project Management Institute is its global reputation for project management accreditation. PMI certifications are developed by experts and experienced project management practitioners from all over the world.

Additionally, the PMP certification is accredited by the American National Standard Institute (ANSI) against the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 17024. This accreditation is evidence that the PMP exam and subsequent accreditation meet the globally accepted benchmark for project management certification.

Lastly, the PMP certification is registered against the ISO 90001:2015, further evidence that the certification meets the globally accepted benchmark for a quality management system.

In short, the PMP is a legitimate and globally respected designation that meets all international standards for quality and professionalism in project management. In many cases, the PMP carries more weight than a degree in project management.

PMP Eligibility Requirements

Just like with any other kind of accreditation, the PMP has strict eligibility requirements. The sets of requirements are broken down into three groups. You only need to meet all the requirements in one of the three groups.

Group A

  • Education Background: High school diploma, secondary degree, associate’s degree, or global equivalent.
  • Project Management Experience: 60 months or a minimum of five years of unique non-overlapping professional project management experience.
  • Project Management Education: 35 contact hours of formal education or have CAPM certification.

Group B

  • Education Background: Bachelor’s degree, another four-year degree, or global equivalent.
  • Project Management Experience: Minimum 36 months or three years unique and non-overlapping professional project management experience.
  • Project Management Education: 35 contact hours of formal education or have CAPM certification.

Group C

  • Education Background: Postgraduate or bachelor’s degree from a GAC accredited program.
  • Project Management Experience: Minimum 24 months or two years of unique and non-overlapping professional project management experience.
  • Project Management Education: 35 contact hours of formal education or have CAPM certification.

Graduating from a GAC accredited degree program will earn you 12 months of credit toward the work experience requirement. Similarly, you do not need to meet the required 35 contact hours of project management education if you have an active CAPM certification.

Please note the “non-overlapping” experience requirement. This requirement means that only the time spent leading a single project counts toward your total hours of experience. 

If you lead multiple projects simultaneously, you may only log the time spent on one of those projects. Unpaid work may also count toward your experience as long as it is conducted in a professional setting.

Lastly, one contact hour of project management education equals one hour of classroom instruction. However, only project management courses count toward the contact hours requirement.

PMP Application Process

Once you’ve met all the requirements, it’s time to apply for the certification. You can submit your application online. The Project Management Institute typically processes applications in five calendar days.

PMI members get discounted rates for the PMP certification. Please wait to receive your membership confirmation to get the discounted rate. If your membership is processed after you pay for the certification, you will be charged full price for the certification. As you see from the chart below, the member price is a significant discount.

You can also only pay for the certification after your application has been processed. Payment options include wire transfer, credit card, money order, and check.

The Project Management Institute conducts random audits on applications. For this reason, double-check that all the information you submit in your application, including the eligibility requirements, is correct.

The PMI will notify you if your application has been selected for an audit. Next, you will have to submit supporting documentation to confirm that you have met the requirements. You have 90 days to submit the documentation before you can sit for the exam.

Finally, you have one year from the time you submit your application to take the PMP exam. If you exceed this period, you will be charged a re-application fee.

The PMP Exam

Once your application for the exam is approved and you make the payment, you have one year to complete the exam. You can schedule for the test at any time during the year, subject to time or seating availability. You may take the test online or in-person at a testing center.

The PMP exam consists of 180 questions across three critical domains:

  • People – 42% of the items on the test
  • Processes – 50% of the items on the test
  • Business Environment – 8% of the items on the test

You are allotted four hours or 230 minutes to complete the test with two ten-minute breaks. There is an optional tutorial before you take the exam to familiarize yourself with the process.

You can take the exam in 16 languages, including English, French, German, traditional or simplified Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, Spanish, Polish, and Hebrew. Additionally, each question and answer has an English option if you choose a different language.

PMP Certification

The PMI will notify you after you have passed the exam. You get your PMP certification immediately after the confirmation. You can now use the PMP designation after your name on resumes, business cards, email signature, personal letterhead, and website.

Be sure to familiarize yourself with the PMI Professional Conduct and Code of Ethics. There are certain places where you may not use the PMP designation, including product names, domain names, and company names.

PMP Continuing Certification Requirements (CCR)

Getting your PMP certification isn’t the end of the road. You need to renew your certification every three years. To do this, you are required to meet the CCR Program’s requirements for project management-related learning activities and professional development.

The PMI has a CCR handbook outlining all the requirements of maintaining your designation. The CCR program is also flexible and allows you to choose how you meet its requirements.

5 Best Practices For Earning Your PMP Designation

If earning your PMP designation sounds like an appealing career move, there is a lot that you can do to streamline the process.  

1. Read the PMP Credential Handbook

Our guide is an overview of what it takes to become a Project Management Professional. The PMP Handbook outlines everything you need to know about the process in great detail. Some of the areas covered in the handbook include exam requirements, application and payments, the audit process, exam policies and procedures, detailed exam information, and much more.

The PMP handbook gives you a clear, step-by-step picture of what you need to become a PMP. This 20-minute read is available for free on the PMI website.

2. Apply For PMI Membership

A PMI membership comes with tons of perks. Besides the discounts on your PMP exam, your membership comes with a free copy of the PMBOK Guide. Experts estimate that roughly 75% of the PMP exam is based on the PMBOK Guide.

While at it, consider joining your local PMI chapter. There, you are likely to meet other aspiring PMPs you can collaborate with on your path. Furthermore, seasoned professionals can offer additional real-world insights and practical advice that you won’t find in the PMP Handbook or PMBOK Guide.

3. Buy a PMP Preparation Book

There are many great resources out there to help you prepare for the PMP exam. A PMP preparation book is written explicitly for project managers going for their certification. These books are available on Amazon and in local bookstores.

Some people may find that the PMBOK Guide is too technical and difficult to digest. A good PMP preparation book will help you to understand how project management principles, methodologies, terminologies, and processes work in the real world.

4. Take A Simulated PMP Exam

We mentioned the PM Exam Simulator, but there are other PMP exam simulators out there. Short of actually sitting the exam, you cannot truly know what you are up against. Exam simulators offer an insider experience of sitting the PMP exam.

The idea isn’t merely to take the test exam. Choose a feature-rich simulator that offers a well-rounded approach to the PMP exam. The PM Exam Simulator, for example, has a “Mark” button. This button lets you flag a question that you want to come back to later. If you are unsure of the answer, choose one and mark the question. You can go back later to review and change your answer. You also get this feature in the real exam.

5. Study The PMBOK Guide

It’s impossible to overstate the importance of the PMBOK Guide if you wish to become a PMP. Most of the PMP exam is based on this guide, so be sure to go through it at least twice. There are plenty of complementary materials and forums on the internet to help you grasp the guide’s contents.

Also, this isn’t the kind of book you peruse. If you are serious about passing your PMP exam, you need to study the guide thoroughly.

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