How to get a PMP certification

As the project management field continues to grow more and more popular, the people who are officially qualified as project managers are in demand. According to the Project Management Institute, employers will need to fill nearly 2.2 million new project-oriented jobs each year through 2027. Any individual that helps bring a project to completion can validate their experience by obtaining the Project Management Professional certification (PMP). 

What is Project Management?

In every business, there is a scope of work that needs to be done. The customer has a timeline that they expect the work to be finished within, and specific quality requirements to be met. Project management involves applying knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to ensure that the scope of the required project work is delivered on time as per the quality requirements.

Value of the PMP Certification

The PMP Certification is a highly valuable qualification for the people who are working in the project management field. 

  • Highly qualified project managers are in demand. By 2027, there will be approximately 22 million new project management jobs.
  • Project Management is needed in a variety of industries. Many industries such as Manufacturing & Construction, Information Services & Publishing, Finance & Insurance, Management & Professional Service, Utilities, or Oil & Gas need qualified project management personnel.
  • Evidence of your skills and experience. CIO magazine stated the PMP is the top project management certification because it proves you possess the specific skills and experience employers seek.
  • A PMP Certification opens doors for career advancement and salary increases. A PMP certification can boost your salary by as much as 20%. A PMP certified Project manager’s median salary is $110,000-$125,000 depending on the industry. 

PMP certification is obtained from the Project Management Institute (PMI). The certification is the most recognized project management certification worldwide for project management professionals.

PMP Certification Requirements

Candidates must fulfill the following requirements before applying for their PMP certificate. Candidates must complete one or the other:

  • 4-year degree; 3 years of leading projects; 35 hours of project management education/training, OR
  • High school diploma or an associate degree; 5 years of leading projects; 35 hours of project management education/training.

 Applying for the PMP Certification Exam

To register for the PMP Certification Exam, you will need to:

Join the Project Management Institute and Confirm your Eligibility by providing evidence of:

  • Your degree. What institution did you attend? What dates? Degree attained?
  • Experience leading projects. Where did you work? In what projects were you involved? What was your role and responsibilities in those projects?
  • Project management education and training. What courses have you completed? Where and when? How many hours? Evidence of completion.

After your application is reviewed, you’ll be notified if you are qualified.  Once eligible, PMI will e-mail exam scheduling instructions with your eligibility code, which you will need when scheduling your exam appointment at www.pearsonvue.com.

PMP Certification Exam Costs

The registration fee for the PMP Exam varies depending on whether you’re a member of PMI (Project Management Institute). For non-members, the cost is $555. For members, the fee is $405. 

Structure of the PMP Certification Exam

The PMP Certification Exam lasts for four hours, with a ten-minute scheduled break after completing the first part of the exam. The exam contains 200 multiple-choice format questions.

The first 25 questions do not count as part of your score. They are on the exam to test their validity for future versions of the exam.

The remainder of the exam is divided into five domains, which are the five major processes involved in project management. These are initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling, and closing. 

Current PMP Exam Content Online (valid until December 2020)

 Domain  Percentage of Items on Test
 I. Initiating  13%
 II. Planning 24%  
 III. Executing  31% 
 IV. Monitoring and Controlling  25% 
 V. Closing  7%
 Total 100% 

Source: PMI.org PMP Exam Outline

 Initiating:  The Project Assessment Process.

Knowledge and skills tested include:

  • Analytical skills 
  • Benefit analysis techniques 
  • Elements of a project charter 
  • Estimation tools and techniques 
  • Strategic management 

Planning:  The Review and assessment of detailed project requirements, constraints, and assumptions with stakeholders.

  • Knowledge and skills tested include:
  • Change management planning 
  • Cost management planning, project budgeting tools and techniques 
  • Communications planning 
  • Contract types and selection criteria  
  • Human resource planning 
  • Lean and efficiency principles 
  • Procurement planning 
  • Quality management planning  
  • Regulatory and environmental impact assessment planning 
  • Risk management planning 
  • Scope deconstruction tools and techniques 
  • Scope management planning 
  • Stakeholder management planning 
  • Time management planning, scheduling tools and techniques 
  • Workflow diagramming techniques 

 Executing: Acquisition of Project Resources and Management of Task Execution. 

  • Knowledge and skills tested include:
  • Continuous improvement processes 
  • Contract management techniques 
  • Elements of a statement of work  
  • Project budgeting tools and techniques 
  • Quality standard tools 
  • Vendor management techniques

Monitoring and Controlling:   The measurement, verification, and control of project performance.

  • Knowledge and skills tested include:
  • Performance measurement and tracking techniques 
  • Process analysis techniques 
  • Project control limits 
  • Project finance principles 
  • Project monitoring tools and techniques 
  • Project quality best practices and standards 
  • Quality measurement tools 
  • Risk identification and analysis techniques 
  • Risk response techniques 
  • Quality validation and verification techniques 

Closing: Obtaining final acceptance of project deliverables from relevant stakeholders.

  • Knowledge and skills tested include: 
  • Compliance (statute/organization) 
  • Contract closure requirements  
  • Feedback techniques 
  • Performance measurement techniques (KPI and critical success factors) 
  • Project review techniques 
  • Transition planning technique 

Revised PMP Exam Content Outline (beginning January 2021) 

THE PMP content of the PMP Certification is being revised to reflect the actual process of Project Management.  

 Domain Percentage of Items on Test 
 I. People 42%  
 II. Process 50%  
 III. Business Environment 8%  
 Total 100%

Source: PMI.org PMP Exam Outline

People   

  • Managing conflict
  • Leading a Team
  • Supporting team performance
  • Empowering team members and stakeholders
  • Training
  • Building a Team
  • Address and remove impediments, obstacles for the team
  • Negotiate project agreements
  • Collaborate with stakeholders
  • Build shared understanding
  • Engage and support virtual teams
  • Define team ground rules
  • Mentor relevant stakeholders
  • Promote team performance 

Processes

  • Project execution to deliver business value
  • Manage communications
  • Assess and manage risks
  • Engage stakeholders
  • Plan and manage budget and resources
  • Plan and manage schedule
  • Plan and manage quality of products/deliverables
  • Plan and manage scope
  • Integrate project planning activities
  • Manage project changes
  • Plan and manage procurement
  • Manage project artifacts
  • Determine appropriate project methodology/methods and practices
  • Establish project governance structure
  • Manage project issues
  • Ensure knowledge transfer for project continuity
  • Plan and manage project/phase closure or transitions

Business Environment

  • Project compliance
  • Project benefits and value
  • Business environment changes for impact on scope
  • Organizational change

PMP Certification Exam Scoring

The PMP exam is challenging, and high scores are critical. The exact criteria for achieving proficiency on the PMP Certification Exam is not made public. However, before 2007, PMI required a passing score of 80.6. In 2007, PMI stopped reporting a particular passing percentage. Scores for each section are now reported as “proficient,” “moderately proficient,” or “below proficient” in each domain. 

Preparing for the PMP Certification Exam

1. Determine what to study for the exam. 

The exam is based on the knowledge and principles in the PMBOK® Guide.  The  Guide is divided into 10 Project Management Knowledge Areas. Where applicable, it results in a total of around 50 processes.

2. Decide how you will Study.

Gather your study materials and determine which method of Exam Preparation you will use. Your options include:

  • Classroom courses
  • Online, instructor-led courses
  • Online, self-paced courses
  • Self-study

The table below compares the different approaches. Test-guide.com also offers a review of the Best PMP Exam Prep Courses to help you choose.

 PMP Exam Prep Method Advantages  Disadvantages 
 Classroom courses There are no distractions.
All materials are covered in a short time.
Suitable for people who learn best in groups or who need motivation.
Expensive.
Requires significant time away from work or family.
Can move through the material at a fast pace.
Online, instructor-led courses Can log in to the course anywhere.
You can ask the instructor questions or seek advice. 
Instructor-led courses might require you to log in at a particular time.
Online, self-paced courses Can log into the course from home or work.
Study when it suits you.
You can revise the material.
Affordable.
 You need the self-discipline to work through the material.
 Self-study  Virtually free You need to be motivated to do the work.
You have to find all the relevant materials yourself and be confident that the people you are learning from are qualified to teach.

3. Create a study plan and schedule.

Evaluate your current time commitments and determine how much time you can devote daily and weekly to studying. Most students spend two to four months studying for the PMP Certification Exam. 

4. Take a PMP practice exam to determine a benchmark of your current knowledge and skills.

The benchmark will help you identify your strengths and weakness and plan your study strategy. Use a proven source of PMP exam questions, such as the PMP Exam Simulator.

5. Include regular drills of vocabulary to help concepts sink in.

Project Management vocabulary unfamiliarity is one of the most common causes of candidates not passing the exam on their first attempt. 

6. Make use of Practice tests.

Test yourself with as many PMP exam questions as possible. Take a practice mini-test each week to help determine your progress and guide your study strategy.

7. Identify areas of strength and weakness and refocus efforts.

Evaluate how you fared in the tests and then strengthen areas in which you are weakest.

While the PMP Certification Exam can be challenging, with dedication and commitment to a study plan and continuous practice, you should reap the rewards of your efforts with high scores on the Exam. 

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