Examining Project Management Education Online
Covering the Project Management Institutes’ (PMI) 35 contact hours of project management education in preparation is often one of the most intimidating tasks to prepare for your Project Management Professional (PMP) exam. Searching for information about the exam and its requirements brings up so many choices it can become overwhelming. If your goal is to find the most suitable option for obtaining your PMP exam prep training and want to take your career to the next level, this is a great place to start.
Before starting your research, first, take a moment to get to know what requirements you are going to have to fulfill in order to take the PMP exam. You must have at minimum a secondary education. With a secondary education, you must have 60 months of project management experience. If you hold a bachelor’s degree or higher, the requirement drops to 36 months.
Those who have attended a GAC (Global Accreditation Center) approved college or university require 24 months of professional project management experience. The constant is always the 35 contact hours of Project Management Training.
Around the world, the PMI’s PMP certification is the most acknowledged and accepted. The PMI’s standards of best practices and professional ethics make their certificate the one to have. In the United States, a project manager that holds a PMP certificate in good standing earns a minimum of 22% more than a project manager who holds no certificate. Some studies have shown that percentage to go up to as high as 32%. The significance of completing the requirements and passing the exam promotes the PMP-holder, as well as the profession of Project Management.
PMP Certification Prerequisites
As stated above, there are certain requirements needed before going through training and applying for the PMP exam. The two E’s, education and experience, are prerequisites that professionals must meet. Just by trying to check those two boxes, many people realize they aren’t ready to move forward and take the exam. Depending on the individual and how close they are to meeting the prerequisites, they may want to start out with the CAPM (Certified Associate in Project Management) certificate instead.
Prerequisites for the PMP certificate are:
- Secondary education, either a high school diploma or global equivalent, or an associate degree, and a minimum of 5 years of project experience (60 months)
- A bachelor’s degree or higher with a minimum of 3 years project experience (36 months)
- A bachelor’s degree or above from a GAC accredited school and 2 years of project experience (24 months)
Once you have determined where you stand on the prerequisites, you must attend 35 contact hours of project management education.
Project Management Education Online
More companies are offering Project Management Education online. The more the demand for certified professionals grows, the faster the industry grows. Online courses are particularly appealing. They often allow you to study at your own pace, so that you are able to work around the projects you have. Being able to log on to a class as opposed to wasting the gas and time it takes to attend in person is preferable to those whose schedule is already stretched to the limit.
The choices are overwhelming, so figuring out which course is the best, which company, what resources, etc. can be a dilemma. So, how can you earn those 35 contact hours and why would you choose to take an online course for Project Management Education?
Options for PMP Education Hours: How to Obtain 35 Contact Hours
There are several options for obtaining your 35 contact hours of Project Management Education. How you want to work on them, where you want to work on them, and when you want to work on them all influence the type of training course you will be looking for.
The conditions vary for each choice:
- Amount of time
The following section of this blog will talk about the main types of programs you can take. Each of these course styles will provide you with the 35 hours of Project Management Training certificate of completion.
Each style has advantages and disadvantages. This assessment of the styles should help you in determining which one suits your needs best.
Project Management Boot Camps (In-person or Virtual)
No, there isn’t a drill sergeant in these and you don’t need to have your head shaved or wear a uniform. But the name does represent this intensive classroom training. Project Management Bootcamps are usually held on consecutive days, between 3 – 5 days. They usually go for a minimum of 4 hours per session and up to 9 hours. They are comprehensive, in-depth, and can be exhausting.
The online classes have a live instructor as well as other peers in attendance. Some companies offer in-person training within a facility. In order to receive the 35-hour completion, you must be in attendance for all of the days whether it is in-person or online. A missed day will require you to retake the entire course and most companies do not provide a money-back guarantee if you were unable to attend.
This type of program is one of the costliest and can be priced anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000. While the method is appealing to those that want to get the work done as quickly as possible, there are some things to consider.
- You must be able to dedicate the entire length of the Bootcamp to attending. If you are working on projects that need your attention, you will not be available.
- If the course is in-person, you must be in attendance at the chosen location.
- You must attend on time and for the entirety of the class.
- As noted above, the cost for this type of course is much higher than other forms of Project Management Training (virtual bootcamps tend to be less expensive).
This method’s main strength is also its weakness. By concentrating the coursework into the time frames above, it forces focus which can lead to the inability to retain the information needed. We recommend Brain Sensei’s live virtual instructor classes, as they’re some of the most affordable, with excellent instructors and a 100% pass guarantee on the PMP exam.
Classroom PMP Training (In-person or Virtual)
Whether you are attending an in-person classroom training or a virtual classroom training, this method can be less intensive. The course is usually spread out over 3 to 8 weeks, and in some cases, it may be presented in parts and spread out over months. It is often scheduled in the evening or on weekends and provides you with more time between each session. By giving you more time between the sessions, it allows you to put into practice the knowledge that you acquired. This also gives you the ability to continue working on projects, scheduling your time around the coursework.
It still meets the required 35 contact hours, but just like with the boot camp, there are things you need to consider.
- You must be able to dedicate the entire time to attending. If you are working on projects that need your attention, you will not be available.
- If the course is in-person, you must be in attendance at the chosen location.
- You must be on time and stay for the entirety of the class.
Classroom Training is similar in cost to the bootcamp training. It can be priced anywhere from $1,000 to $3000 for a course (virtual courses tend to be less). Because of the more relaxed timeline, students might have a tough time with recall. This course of study requires more commitment to specific class times. We recommend Brain Sensei’s live virtual instructor classes, as they’re some of the most affordable, with excellent instructors and a 100% pass guarantee on the PMP exam.
One-on-one instruction with a tutor allows the individual to have a personalized course directed at them that meets their needs and follows their terms. While the tutor often sets the time and place, there are now many more tutors online and there is more flexibility. Individualized learning gives the students time to ask questions and focus on the areas where they need the most assistance. It provides evenly dispensed information and the ability to learn at their own pace.
However, the minimum amount of time you can hire a tutor is 35 hours. In some cases, it might need to be much longer. Some tutors can charge over $100 an hour and if additional hours are required, that can add up to quite a high amount. For this reason, tutoring is the most expensive option.
If at some point you can’t continue anymore, you will need to supplement that knowledge somewhere. That leads us to Self-Paced Learning.
Self-Paced Online PMP Training
This online, virtual learning approach allows you to be in charge of the course. It is the number one route of convenience for most people. You can complete the hours at any time and any place, and at the pace that you need to. Most companies offer customer support for questions or problems you may encounter along the way, and depending on which training provider you choose, the material may be available for up to a year after you sign up for the course (we recommend Brain Sensei’s self-paced courses).
This course type is often the choice for individuals that currently work in the field and need to be flexible with their training. Self-paced learning is also the least expensive option, starting at around $450 USD to receive the 35 contact hours needed.
However, there is no one-on-one with a live instructor, so depending on your study style, you may want to include some of your own note-taking to ensure that you are getting all of the information required. Most self-paced courses include practice exams or exam simulators that will test your knowledge so that you know you’re ready to take the actual exam (and pass it!).
Opting in for Online courses
Project managers, team leaders, and those working on projects find it hard to take time off for continuing education. But the fact of the matter is that in order to succeed and progress in your profession, that commitment needs to be met. Online courses allow you to work on your professional development. With the variety of course options and companies that now provide online learning, it allows you to schedule your time accordingly. It keeps you on track with the current trends and methods used by your peers and is more cost-effective than using your valuable time to drive to a location and sit inside of a classroom.
Online courses also give you the opportunity to go back over course work so that you can brush up on any areas you may be lacking in.
How to Select an Online Project Management Education Program
Now that you know the different types of training it’s time to look into the actual courses. There are some great (and inexpensive) online courses that will satisfy the 35 hours of project management education requirement and prepare you for the PMP certification exam. Some of them even include a pass guarantee, meaning if you don’t pass the exam after taking their course, they’ll provide additional support and give the money back on your course purchase.
When choosing a company, you need to consider the following points.
The quality of the instructors (if taking a live class)
Getting to know your instructors in an online scenario isn’t as easy as hanging out in the hallway and waiting for them to show up for office hours in college. All companies boast that they are the best but being able to find out what makes them the best provides you with assurances needed before spending your money, and more importantly, your time. By supplying the backgrounds of the instructors, the company allows you to do further research. A mini bio, a CV, or even a LinkedIn profile can help you to verify the person that will be instructing you. The choice of instructors also lends to the choice of material and content for the training. The better the instructor the more concise the material will be.
A person that doesn’t have a PMP or has never worked as a project manager is probably not someone you want to take the lead from. In any situation, classroom or online, you want to be able to verify the person that you are learning from knows what they are teaching.
Research. Research. Research.
Check the success rate of the company. How many students have they had? Are there any reviews or testimonials? Are they recognized by the PMI? The internet is a vast wealth of knowledge. Use it before spending your money and your time on the wrong choice.
We all understand that not everyone is going to be happy with every situation, so weigh the negative reviews against the positives. Quality is key. And don’t hesitate to ask your peers. Those that have gone through the training can provide you with a wealth of knowledge and feedback.
Check the PMI’s website to see if the training you are thinking about meets their criteria for PMP certification. The site will tell you if the company meets the criteria and how complete the content is.
Some students may only need certain areas covered. If you need project management courses that cover the knowledge but not the test itself, you may be able to find a company that provides a custom course catalog that is service oriented.
Some companies may only offer in-person classroom learning or only offer boot camps. A company that provides a variety of the options we discussed earlier in the blog gives you a better chance of getting everything you need in one place.
As we covered before, self-paced learning lets you go with your own flow. It allows you to continue working on the projects, both personal and professional, that you need to succeed while giving you the opportunity, when and where time allows, to take full advantage of your learning potential.
If you are required to get in contact with the organization before you can get an answer on the price, it may be best to move on. Most good Project Management Education courses are upfront about what they offer and how much it costs.
The benefits of online project management education are clear. We’ve provided you with the means and the know-how to go forward and get your PMP contact hours in order to schedule your exam.
Of the online courses available, we strongly recommend Brain Sensei’s PMP Exam Prep courses. They offer Live Virtual Online training (both bootcamp and more flexible schedules) as well as unique story-based self-paced PMP exam prep courses. They include a pass guarantee, money-back guarantee, access to the entire course with unlimited practice questions for an entire year, and fantastic customer support. They also offer a standalone PMP Exam Simulator if you already have your education hours and just want to test your knowledge.