Going forward in your career as a project manager you have learned to plan, manage, and evaluate. If you have now decided that you want to go forward with your PMP certification, there are a few key points that you need to know.
Project Management Institute (PMI) has certain requirements that an individual must meet prior to applying to sit for the certification exam. First, there is the educational requirement. A minimum of a secondary degree or equivalent is required. Second, and depending on the degree you hold is the Project Management Experience requirement, hours that you have performed project management duties. Finally, no matter which of the categories you fell under with the first two requirements, all individuals must complete 35 contact hours of Project Management Education.
Each requirement has to be documented and submitted to PMI before you can sit for the exam. For some, the choice of how to obtain the 35 contact hours is the hardest.
In order to get to the focus of this article, let’s take a look at the first two requirements.
Education and Experience: PMP Certification Requirements
While 35 Contact Hours are a form of education, your elective credits for bowling at college don’t count as an hour towards your PMP. These contact hours have to relate to project management in order to count.
The first two requirements go hand in hand. If you have a bachelor’s degree or higher you will need to have three years (4,500 hours or thirty-six months) of field experience.
For those who don’t hold a bachelors’ or higher, a secondary degree (high school diploma or equivalent, or associate’s degree) and five years (7,500 hours or sixty months) of field experience.
You should note that the amount of experience necessary, doesn’t require that you hold the position or title of Project Manager to count. If you have led a team within the scope of a project, or assisted the Project Manager in assigned tasks, those items count towards that field work.
35 Contact Hours: PMP Training Requirement
Project Management focused training is the next step. For PMP certification, you must complete a minimum of 35 contact hours. This training course is related to project management and draws on PMI’s Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK). PMI has a list of approved companies which provide the formal coursework necessary in order to obtain your 35 contact hours.
Contact hours must be project management relevant and each hour of training is one contact hour. Contact hours don’t expire. So, if you are going for a CAPM certificate and choose a PMP 35 hour course those hours can be counted towards your PMP certification. If you chose to just complete the 23 hours required for CAPM you would then require an additional 12 hours in order to complete your PMP requirements.
The coursework should be based on the PMBOK. The questions and answers on the certification exam will be directly taken from the knowledge areas and processes that are covered in it. A good PMP training will cover:
Integration Management Knowledge Area
- Develop Project Charter
- Develop Project Management Plan
- Direct and Manage Project Work
- Manage Project Knowledge
- Monitor and Control Project Work
- Perform Integrated Change Control
- Close Project or Phase
- Scope Management Knowledge Area
- Plan Scope Management
- Collect Requirements
- Define Scope
- Create WBS
- Validate Scope
- Control Scope
- Schedule Management Knowledge Area
- Plan Schedule Management
- Define Activities
- Sequence Activities
- Estimate Activity Durations
- Develop Schedules
- Control Schedule
- Cost Management Knowledge Area
- Plan Cost Management
- Estimate Costs
- Determine Budget
- Control Costs
- Quality Management Knowledge Area
- Plan Quality Management
- Manage Quality
- Control Quality
- Resource Management Knowledge Area
- Plan Resource Management
- Estimate Activity Resources
- Acquire Resources
- Develop Team
- Manage Team
- Control Resources
- Communications ManagementKnowledge Area
- Plan Communications Management
- Manage Communications
- Monitor Communications
- Risk Management Knowledge Area
- Plan Risk Management
- Identify Risks
- Perform Qualitative Analysis
- Perform Quantitative Analysis
- Plan Risk Responses
- Implement Risk Responses
- Monitor Risks
- Procurement Management Knowledge Area
- Plan Procurement Management
- Conduct Procurements
- Control Procurements
- Stakeholder Management Knowledge Area
- Identify Stakeholders
- Plan Stakeholder Management
- Manage Stakeholder Engagement
- Monitor Stakeholder Engagement
Many of the knowledge areas overlap and some, in particular Cost Management, may require additional study outside of the PMBOK. Math is a huge part of the Cost Management Knowledge Area, so if you need some refreshing, it’s wise to work on this.
Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitor & Controlling, and Closing are the Processes that need to be covered. Check to make sure the coursework you choose provides instruction on these processes as well as the PMBOK Knowledge Areas.
The Purpose of 35 Contact Hours – PMP Training
Each of the 49 processes that are detailed in the ten knowledge areas and five process groups are key to project management. In order to be effective a Project Management Professional needs to understand the relationships between each of the processes. Not all project managers will be responsible for the budget within a certain project, but they should know when the budget is prepared, and presented, and how it impacts the scope of work. A good course will walk you through those connections.
“Formal” training is defined as training that you acquire from a respected source such as a college, university, or certified training center. The key is to make sure the source that you utilize is accepted with PMI before spending your time and money on a certificate of completion.
Project Management Focused Training Options
There are several options to accrue the 35 contact hours. You may have courses that you took while in college or university that were focused on project management. Those courses may count towards the 35 contact hours, especially if they concentrated on the Knowledge Areas in the PMBOK. You can always check with PMI to make sure the courses you wish to count can be applied. The hours from your bowling elective won’t count.
Some conferences may offer seminars that count towards PDUs, Professional Development Units. While they aren’t the same thing, many of the hours can be counted towards your 35 contact hours requirement.
Given the above guidelines, let’s take a closer look at some of your options and how you might be able to accumulate the needed PMP 35 Contact Hours. These could also be courses that your employer delivers, through brown bag lunch seminars or workshops. If they are connected to the PMBOK Knowledge Areas or Processes, they may be recorded.
Many PMI meetings, Community of Practice (CoP) may also count towards your 35 hours, if they relate to the Knowledge Areas or processes. Again, check with PMI to see if they can be considered.
Formal classroom training, in-person or online is generally the way to go. The courses offer a variety of learning styles, bootcamp for an intensely packed 35 hours, regular classrooms, where classes are scheduled over a period of weeks or months, tutors, and self-paced learning. Bootcamp, tutors, and classroom instruction are offered online as well as in person. Self-paced is online.
There are four basic forms of “formal” PMP training:
- Self – Paced Learning
The first three can often be found in live, in-person training courses and all can be found online. Many individuals who are currently working in the field may find attending and in-person training cumbersome. Between the travel time, scheduling, possible time off of work, you may want to find an alternative and a PMI approved, online course, may be just the answer.
Be aware that when you look into the top two options there are generally attendance requirements, whether the course is online or not. Missing one session may take you back to square one, with no refund, and no certificate of completion.
Each course is priced accordingly, tutoring being the most expensive form of formal training and self-paced the least.
If they are approved by PMI all of the Online PMP courses will supply you with the 35 contact hours necessary to sit for the exam. As well as other benefits.
Benefits of Formal Training
Qualified PMP formal courses will provide you with an extensive curriculum on the PMBOK, all Knowledge Areas and Process groups. Most courses will provide you with the options of additional materials, videos, podcasts, study guides, etc. Many offer customer service to assist with additional questions, practice exams and exam simulators. With the exception of tutoring, most will provide you the chance to brainstorm, and study with the other students that are in your class, through social media, email, or however you and your study partners wish to proceed.
If you opt for self-paced learning you have the option to accrue your hours when and where you want. If you wake up at 3 a.m. and can’t get back to sleep, you might, might, want to log on and at least refresh yourself on the lessons you previously learned.
On-line learning provides you with feedback. It allows you to concentrate your efforts where you need to through the sample and exam simulators.
Finally, a certified PMI focused training will provide you with a certificate. PMI may audit your application and if you don’t have the certificate showing your attendance and completion for the course, including the title, date, and number of hours, you may be hard pressed to pass the audit.
PDUs and Contact Hours: The difference
PDUs, or Professional Development Units are a renewal requirement once you have your PMP certification. Every three years you will be required to submit 60 PDUs along with your renewal fees to keep your certification in good standing.
PMI offers many courses which will give you the opportunity to obtain your 60 PDUs. PMI members have the benefit of lower fees and many free opportunities to reach the required goal every year. PDUs allow for many options other than coursework. Reading articles, making presentations, preparing publications, all may be counted towards your renewal.
Contact hours can only be acquired through focused training. You must be in attendance for the 35 hours of project management concentrated training.
Overview of 35 Contact Hours
No matter your amount of education or the amount of experience you require in order to submit your application to sit for the PMP exam, 35 contact hours must be documented.
Contact hours are formal training
They provide you with key instruction on the Knowledge Areas and Processes in the Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK)
The best way to ensure that you pass an audit if it occurs is to make sure the coursework submitted is from a Registered Education Provider
- Pick a training that suits your learning needs and style
- Keep all information for your own reference as well as for any audits that may come from PMI before you sit your exam
And there you have it. College credits in bowling don’t count, but coursework in Project Management does. Roll a strike and head to the exam. Next step is renewal!