Who should get a PMP credential?
So, you’re impressed by the new analysts at work, and you noticed they have “PMP” in their signature line. But what does that mean, and do you need to get it too, whatever it is?
First off, PMP stands for Project Management Professional. Someone who has earned their PMP certification has met specific education and experience requirements and has also passed an exam with the Project Management Institute or PMI.
Being PMP certified means you have demonstrated a high level of skill in project management and have shown that you understand how to lead teams, successfully manage a project, and connect the dots between project and organizational strategy. Wow. No wonder you’re so impressed by the new person!
How do you earn the PMP certification?
So, are you wondering why they did all that work to get the certification? Well, for starters, as you’ve already noticed, it’s an impressive skill set and a remarkable certificate to hold. PMP certification shows you both have project management skills and experience and have learned and demonstrated project management knowledge for people who are managing projects.
Widely accepted worldwide, project managers and employers regard Project Management Institute’s certifications very highly. Because of the credibility of this certification, according to PMI, salaries for project professionals in North America are 25% higher than people who don’t have certification. Having PMP certification also makes it easier for employers: If they want a project manager and hire PMP certified, they know they’re getting someone with a specific background, skill set, and knowledge.
Also, this is a globally recognized certification – PMI is active in more than 200 countries around the world. Pretty cool, right? But not for everyone. The PMP certification recognizes project managers who already have project management education and practical experience leading projects. Then they take an exam to demonstrate advanced project management knowledge.
Specifically, to be eligible to apply for the PMP exam, you need either:
- a four-year degree, 36 months leading projects, and 35 hours of project management education, or
- a high school diploma or equivalent, 60 months leading projects, and 35 hours of project management education or CAPM Certification.
Then you enter all of the details about your experience into the application, study, and take the exam.
The exam is just under four hours long and tests a broad range of knowledge areas. It includes a variety of types of questions and is generally considered a challenging exam. If you’re seriously thinking about going down this path, we strongly recommended that you consider a PMP prep course – like ours, for instance – which can help make sure that you use your prep time wisely and that you are successful the first time you try it.
But don’t just jump into the PMP certification process without being sure it’s right for you. There are several options. We recommend you think about your goals and make sure you choose the right path for you – impressive co-workers aside!
Other PMI Certifications
Project management is a broad field, and the PMI has a range of certification options available to match both levels of experience and different goals people may have. PMP is probably the best-known project management certification, but others are equally impressive and better suited to you, depending on your situation.
Here is a quick snapshot of options for certification from PMI.
- PMI Project Management Ready: This is the newest certification. It introduces high school and post-secondary students to the concepts and skillsets of project management.
- CAPM: The Certified Associate in Project Management, or CAPM, demonstrates an understanding of the fundamental knowledge, terms, and processes of project management. It’s also relevant to someone who is getting started with project management or early in their career.
- PMP: This is the “gold standard” of project management certification, validates someone’s competence as a project manager, leading and directing projects and teams. We’ve already said a lot about this one!
- PMI-PBA: This certification, Professional in Business Analysis, highlights expertise in business analysis. It shows your ability to work well with stakeholders to define their business requirements, shape the output of projects, and drive successful business outcomes.
- PgMP: The Program Management Professional certification recognizes next-level project managers who manage multiple complex projects to achieve strategic and organizational results.
- PfMP: PMI’s Portfolio Management Professional certification reflects the advanced experience and skill of portfolio managers, who demonstrate their ability to coordinate managing one or more portfolios to achieve organizational objectives.
- PMI-RMP: The PMI Risk Management Professional certification shows knowledge and expertise in assessing and identifying project risks along with the ability to develop plans to mitigate threats and capitalize on opportunities.
- PMI-SP: PMI’s Scheduling Professional certification recognizes demonstrated knowledge and advanced experience in developing and maintaining project schedules. For anyone who’s ever worked on a tight timeline, managing a schedule well is no small thing!
And then there are also Agile certifications. PMI has five certifications specifically tailored to recognize knowledge and expertise in Agile project management: Disciplined Agile Scrum Master (DASM) Certification, PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP) Certification, Disciplined Agile Senior Scrum Master (DASSM) Certification, Disciplined Agile Value Stream Consultant (DAVSC) Certification, and Disciplined Agile Coach (DAC) Certification. If you know what Agile is all about and want to read more, check out the PMI page about these certifications.
So, hopefully, you’re not confused by all of these choices. Our point was to show you there are options for everyone and that there isn’t one certification that is right for all people. Probably the most common – and maybe the best known – are CAPM and PMP. If you’re thinking about one of these, check out the post or video where we compare and contrast the two, which might help you navigate that decision.
Key Points To Consider
Here are a few key points to think about. If you are just getting started and don’t have much or any experience leading projects, think about PMI Project Management Ready or CAPM. These certifications will give you a foundation of project management knowledge. You might do the accreditation, find the topic fascinating, and discover a new life-long passion for leading projects.
From there, perhaps one day, you’ll even take the plunge and tackle PMP certification. On the other hand, you might find it not so exciting and not a direction you’d like your career to take. Even then, it’s hard to imagine anyone who could altogether avoid projects. Having a good understanding of how projects work and the basics will be helpful in anyone’s career or life. As well, this might be a stepping stone towards one day going for your PMP certification.
CAPM certification counts towards PMP, and both of these certification options lay the groundwork for you to start managing projects. Remember, you need to accumulate quite a bit of experience before you’re even eligible to apply for PMP certification.
Experienced Project Managers
If you are already an experienced project manager, but you don’t have any official accreditation and seek that next step in your career and some recognition and validation for the expertise you have developed, maybe PMP certification is proper for you. It’s not an easy path, but for someone who’s got the experience and who’s going to reap the benefits, it’s definitely worth the effort. Check our post or video about How to Prepare for the PMP Exam to learn more about this.
If you work on projects all of the time and have some specialized skills you’ve developed or that people always seem to look to you for, maybe one of the other certifications is right for you. Perhaps you’re a pro at risk management or scheduling? Those are both essential things. If you’re good at it and enjoy it, why not get official recognition for it. Certification lends some extra credibility to something you love doing and might also help you further develop your career in that direction.
And if you’re at the upper end of project management, adeptly juggling many projects and leading strategy for your company, well, then perhaps the portfolio or program management certifications are proper for you.
Hopefully, this has helped you decode the wonderful world of PMI certification options – and now you also know a little more about your new co-worker’s credentials. And maybe, you’re thinking about your next step in professional development. Certification can be a great way to take charge of your career and the direction it’s going and can also open doors. Worth considering!