Begin a Career in Project Management – Prerequisites for PMP Certification
Jumpstart your career in project management by obtaining the prerequisites that are required for official PMP certification. A successful career in project management begins with the correct and complete training and certification. There are various training opportunities available that will prepare you to pass the certifications required of a PMP. In this article, we will help you narrow down the options and begin your career as a PMP.
Do I Have What It Takes?
Someone choosing to pursue a career in project management must thrive in a managerial role. They must have a toolbox of skills and a collection of abilities specific to project management. The skills you learn in your training are foundational skills to build upon. Once one becomes a certified PMP they will gain experience working in the field. If you are still on the fence about beginning the training to become a PMP, review the following requirements of the job and consider if they apply to you.
Takes on roles of leadership and can manage large groups of people
Adept in multi-tasking and can take on multiple roles and positions
Possesses strong interpersonal skills
Values efficiency and can meet deadlines
Learns quickly, is flexible, and can adapt to sudden change
If you find that you possess most of these attributes then you will most likely be able to take on the role of a PMP very easily. However, having those capabilities does not completely satisfy the prerequisites for certification in project management. There are specific prerequisites that one must obtain before they can seek the correct certification to become a working PMP.
If you are considering becoming a PMP then you may have gained leadership experience in your college or university, or in an elective group or organization. These experiences are great stepping stools to becoming certified in project management. These previous experiences will better prepare you for the situations you will face in the field of project management. However, having previous work experience or even an elected position is not the only qualification for becoming a certified PMP.
What Are The Prerequisites?
The following chart summarizes the PMP prerequisites. The applicant must possess an educational background, PM experience, and education in project management.
There are additional variations in the background and experience that diversify the requirements that will fulfill the prerequisites. Note that education in project management requires 35 contact hours of formal education for every candidate.
Please note that there is an expiry on the prerequisites.
The project management experience acquired must have been completed within eight years of the date of application
The completed contact hours of education in project management must have been attended within five years of the date of application
The requirement of having an educational background can be satisfied in one of two ways.
A secondary degree includes a high school diploma, an associate’s degree, or any global equivalent. If the applicant holds a secondary degree then they must obtain five years/60 months of unique and non-overlapping project experience. Within their experience, at least 7,500 hours should be spent either leading or directing.
An applicant who possesses a four-year degree (bachelor’s or global equivalent) is only required to complete 3 years/36 months of unique and non-overlapping project experience. Within their experience, at least 4,500 hours should be spent either leading or directing.
A candidate’s decision to pursue an educational background with either a secondary or a four-year degree does not matter. The only difference is the requirements for experience in project management which differs depending on which path you take. Either degree requires that the candidate receives 35 formal contact hours.
Project Management Experience
The qualification of experience in project management does not require that the candidate hold a position as a designated project manager. This requirement can be filled without ever working as a hired manager. Leadership in a project can come from any level, whether that be supervisory, administrative, or entry-level. Having experience in project management indicates that the candidate spent sufficient time leading or directing a project or task at any level. An example of this is participating in a project and taking the initiative to organize, prioritize, or direct a portion of the work. Not only will this satisfy your experience requirement, but it will also exercise your leadership abilities.
Track the amount of experience you gained by logging the number of hours you delegated towards that role. It does not matter whether you worked on the project full-time or part-time. The hours you report on your PMP application form account for all the time spent planning, executing, monitoring, and closing a project.
What Is “Non-Overlapping” Project Management Experience?
As you begin to enter the world of project management you will become familiar with the lingo and terms used and “non-overlapping experience” is a phrase you might hear often. It is common that a project manager will be working on multiple projects at a time. When a PMP is balancing multiple projects at once, it is considered an overlapping experience. When applying as a candidate to become a certified PMP the project experience you log must be “non-overlapping.”
For example, a PM’s work load consists of two projects, Project A and Project B. Project A spans from the beginning of January to the end of April. Project B begins in March and ends in August. The time overlapping between the two projects is the time covered by the months of March through the end of April.
In this case, when logging the hours to fulfill the requirement of project management experience, only the months from January through August should be logged. The two month period when the project’s overlap do not account for additional experience. Even though the applicant is working on two projects at once and is gaining additional experience, the number of contact hours should not be altered because of that.
When filling out the PMP application be sure not to log your overlapping experience because the form may be sent back and require correction. This error may delay your process so properly account for your working hours by adjusting the durations. In the example case displayed in the diagram above, the correct way to log the hours would be to submit Project A lasting from January to March and Project B going from April to August. This method will not lose any of your working hours, will account for multiple of your management experiences, and follows the correct guidelines for submission.
How Do I Count My Hours Of PM Experience?
Depending on the candidate, either 7,500 or 4,500 hours are required to fulfill the requirement of project management experience. But where do these hours come from, and how are they logged?
Well, the logged hours account for the time that the candidate spent in managing or leading projects that they have worked on in the last eight years.
Note that the application does not permit you to enter projects that extend beyond your required number of PM experience hours. When you reach the desired number of hours, whether that is 4,500 or 7,500, any additional hours are not relevant.
Before submitting your hours of credit, review the requirements and check that you have depicted your PM experience accurately.
Project Management Education
What are contact hours? How can I fulfill them? If you have never heard of contact hours before don’t sweat it! One contact hour accounts for one hour of classroom instruction. Contact hours are similar to PDU (professional development unit). PDU is required for all working PMPs, so the acquisition of contact hours will prepare you for the job that you will one day have!
Contact hours can be easily achieved with PMP training courses. PMP training courses are offered both in-person and virtually. Attending virtual training courses is the most efficient way of accumulating the 35 contact hours if you are looking for an accelerated course. Many vendors provide workshops and online programs that teach project management. When browsing which online course to enroll in, ensure that the course you choose is authorized to give contact hours (or PDUs). To log your participation in the class and fulfill your required contact hours, request a certificate of completion or submit a copy of the letter of enrollment.
Contact hours can also be acquired with enrollment in an in-person, college, or university class. If you choose to attend an in-person course that is held for three hours across a span of twelve weeks, you would achieve the required amount of contact hours with a single course. You must request your certificate of completion from the respective university or college for proof of your acquired contact hours.
Whether you choose to attend an in-person or virtual course, both provide a formal experience that will account for contact hours. The hours that you log will be valid for five years. You must take the PMP exam within five years of your completion of contact hours or you will have to take additional classes. However, taking additional classes in the career of project management is not the end of the world because a job as a PMP requires that you continually maintain PDU.
The 35 PDU hours that you earn will both satisfy the PMP prerequisites and leave you in a good standing for a three-year cycle. However, for the next cycle, you must start accumulating 60 PDUs for every three years.
What Happens After I Submit My Application?
After you have submitted your application, the form will be evaluated by the team of PMI reviewers. If your application satisfies all of the requirements, and the PMI reviewers have found no issue with your submission then it will be approved. However, PMI often randomly selects applications to be audited. This may delay the approval of your application, regardless of the accuracy and the completeness of your information.
In the case that your application is selected to be randomly audited, the working PMI may request verification of your logged information. Multiple forms of verification may be requested in regard to your logged contact hours, project management experience, or educational background.
The following documents may be required of you regarding each of the listed categories.
- School transcript
- Letter of enrollment
- Student identification
Project Management Experience
- Reference letters
- Audit report
Project Management Training
- Certificate of completion
- Letter of enrollment
Prepare to need any of the following documents by obtaining them in advance because many of these forms may need to be requested from your employer, school, or training provider.
If you are selected for the audit, do not worry! This is a normal, expected, and anticipated part of the process. The applicants are chosen randomly so being chosen does not imply that your application does not fill the PMP prerequisites.
What If I Don’t Meet The Requirements?
If you are reviewing your application and you find that there are gaps in your training don’t worry! The timeline of PMP certification is flexible and can be adjusted to the individual. Take this time to continue building on your management skills by getting involved in more projects and taking on greater roles of leadership. The details of the prerequisites required for PMP certification are designed to narrow down your path in project management. Find what aspects of project management suit you best and follow that path.