The path to professional certification is a process that requires a commitment of time and a plan to master the series of steps necessary to achieve this worthwhile accomplishment. There are several specialty areas of certification offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI), and each has different criteria. The Project Management Professional (PMP) and Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) are the two main certifications.
The requirements for the PMP or CAPM
- 35 classroom hours in project management
- 4-year degree
- 3 years work experience (leading projects)
There are many, many training providers and some are more effective than others. To qualify for the exam, training must be provided by an organization or entity that is authorized by the PMI. The cost of training varies according to the provider and type of materials used.
A high school diploma and 5 years of work experience is acceptable if the college degree and 3 years of work experience is not applicable.
Documented work experience in all phases (initiation, planning, execution, monitoring and controlling and closing) of formal project management is required. This will be closely reviewed as part of the application process.
Application to take Examination
After the education requirement is fulfilled, an application is submitted to PMI, which will be carefully reviewed to determine that eligibility has been met. Applications are selected at random to be audited. Approved applications are allowed to schedule the examination.
The cost to take the PMP exam is $555. If you become a member of the PMI, the cost will be discounted to $405. It is not a requirement to join PMI in order to take the exam. You are allowed to retake the exam for $275, up to three times within a 12-month period. If unsuccessful after that time, the application has to be re-submitted. In some cases, the person's employer may choose to cover the cost of professional development for the employee.
The study period is the most critical step in the certification process. Balancing a full-time work schedule and life/family responsibilities can make this time especially challenging. It is generally recommended to allow at least three months to study. Some content such as formulas, must be memorized, while most of the questions are situation based. The ratio of exam questions that require calculation changes constantly. An on-screen calculator and whiteboard are provided if taking the exam at home. If taking the exam at a test center, an erasable scratch pad is provided and the on-screen calculator is made available.
The exam is a four hour, 200 question, multiple choice, timed test. The exam can be taken at home or at a test center, both under specific security guidelines. The Pass/Fail results are given immediately.
Certification requires participation in some type of ongoing professional development to remain in active status. Professional Development Units (PDU) can be obtained by attending in-person or virtual webinars given by the local chapter of PMI. It can also be accomplished through volunteer activity. The Certification Renewal System (CCRS) is a resource to report PDU activity.