Apply for the 2021 PMP Exam
The first step to becoming PMP certified is to complete the application – even before you can take the exam. When you apply for the PMP exam, you need to show the Project Management Institute (PMI) that you’ve met the prerequisites and are ready for the exam. Basically, they’re looking for details about the experience and education you’ve already completed as a project manager.
Let’s dig in and explore this in a little more detail.
We’re making it sound simple, but we do understand that applying to take the PMP exam can be intimidating. Like many things, once you break it down, it’s not so bad – and that’s what we’ll do here!
Your Experience! First, the PMI wants to know about the experience that you already have leading projects, and there are a few rules about what ‘counts’ and what doesn’t. Here are the parameters:
Everyone needs 35 hours of project management training and a certain amount of professional experience. How much professional experience you need depends on your level of education.
- If you have a four-year degree, you need 36 months of non-overlapping professional experience leading projects.
- If you have a high school diploma or associate degree, you need 60 months of non-overlapping professional experience leading projects.
PMP Application Requirements
To make sure your professional experience counts:
- it must represent professional project work experience only, and can’t include personal or academic activities, like planning a big party or event, performing academic research for a degree program, or a home improvement project.
- it can’t be an ongoing activity – a project is temporary and has a beginning, middle, and end with specific goals and deliverables.
- The hours can’t include operational, routine, or administrative work.
- You must have been operating as the project manager and not a team member or associate. Tip: Check the defined role of a project manager in the PMI® PMBOK® Guide or the description on the pmi.org website.
- If you have multiple projects running at the same time, be sure to allocate your time accordingly, and avoid counting the same time for more than one project. For example, if you are dividing your time equally between project A and project B over a span of three months, don’t count both at 100% of your time for three months. Instead, group the projects and claim 100% of your time for ‘project AB’ for months 1, 2, and 3.
A couple of additional important notes about counting your professional experience:
- First, you need to have completed 36 or 60 months of experience within the last eight consecutive years before you apply for the exam. So, if you are applying in 2021, you can only count experience you had back as far as 2014. Second, you should not claim more than 1,500 hours per year or 125 hours per month. Even if you actually worked more hours than that, this is the maximum that the PMI will accept. So, now that you’ve figured out and accounted for the 36 or 60 hours of required experience, let’s talk about what they’re looking for in the training requirement.
- As a reminder, everyone needs a minimum of 35 hours of related training, that meets the below criteria. To make sure your training qualifies in the eyes of the PMI towards your exam application:
- Be sure the training includes content about project management learning objectives.
- Be sure the courses, workshops, and training sessions are offered by one or more of the following types of education providers:
- PMI Authorized Training Partners (ATPs)
- PMI Chapters
- Employer or Company-Sponsored Programs
- Training Companies or Consultants
- Distance-Learning Companies
- University/College Academic and Continuing Education Programs
- What doesn’t count is attending PMI chapter meetings or completing self-directed learning.
Special Note: The Brain Sensei PMP course provides the 35 contact hours you need to take the exam!
So, hopefully, that didn’t seem too complicated? Once you’ve taken care of these two prerequisites and have the details at your fingertips, you’re ready to start the application process online!
PMP Application Process
Step 1: Create an account at pmi.org
In this step, you will provide some personal information (name, email address, country, date of birth) and describe your job and a little about your project management experience – this takes a few minutes but should be pretty simple for most people.
Note: You don’t have to be a member of PMI, but most people agree that it’s a good idea. Being a member means you get a discount on the exam – and the discount actually covers the cost of the first year of membership! Also, as a member, you get access to free electronic copies of PMI reference documents which you are likely to find helpful. This includes the PMBOK® Guide, Salary Report, and other guides and standards published by PMI. If you decide to also join a local chapter, usually you’ll have to pay an additional small annual fee, but it is absolutely possible to become a PMI global member without joining your local chapter if that isn’t something you’re interested in.
Step 2: Apply! (aka Complete the Application Form)
Here’s where you enter the details about your education, experience, and the training we talked about above. It takes a little while to key in all of the information, and the form goes into great detail, but you can save as you go and it doesn’t have to be all done in one sitting.
Here are some of the things they are looking for in this part.
The PMI wants to know about your education. Specifically, the highest level of education achieved, name of institution, the field of study, country of the institution, and which years you attended.
In this section, they also want the details about your 35 hours of training. For every course, they want the course title, provider name, course date/dates, and qualifying hours.
The next section gathers information about your project experience, starting with the most recent and going backwards. For each project, they want to know:
- Project title
- Your job title
- Functional reporting area
- Industry (called Organization Primary Focus in the application)
- Project approach/methodology (e.g., Traditional, Agile, or Hybrid)
- Project team size
- Project budget
- Project dates (including whether or not the project is in progress)
- A brief (200-500 word) project description
In the description, they are looking for a summary that includes the project objective, outcome, your role, and your responsibilities or deliverables.
Tip: Focus the description on what you did on the project (your project management experience) instead of the scope of the project itself, and ensure that the responsibilities you list align with the responsibilities of a project manager.
The final section is the ‘Exam Details’. Here you will include your contact information as well as how you want your name to appear on your PMP certificate once you earn it. You also enter where you intend to take your exam and any accommodations you may require during the exam.
And then you wait.
Pay For and Schedule Your Exam
It can take up to five business days for your application to be confirmed and for you to be approved to pay for and schedule your exam. During this time, you may be notified that you were randomly selected to have your details reviewed and that the PMI needs more information or clarification from you about your information, called “being audited” by PMI.
During an audit, you’ll be asked to submit supporting documentation. This can include copies of your diploma or degree, signatures from your supervisors or managers for the projects recorded in the experience section, or copies of certificates or letters from the training courses you recorded on the application. You have 90 days to gather and submit the requested documentation, and PMI will process it in 5-7 days.
Next, you pay your fee online and get ready to take your exam!
How to study?
Well, that’s something we can help with! Brain Sensei can help you prepare, and here are some solid reasons to choose Brain Sensei:
- Brain Sensei offers unique exam prep courses sure to help you succeed, along with a 100% pass money-back guarantee.
- We have a unique story-telling approach that makes learning both fun and memorable.
- Our modules feature an exclusive spaced-repetition system that accelerates knowledge acquisition in a way that stands out from other courses.
- We have a proven track record and have helped project managers at many world-leading companies become certified, including Apple, Microsoft, Disney, and Uber.
- Our courses are filled with practice questions and assessments, so you can track your progress as you go and identify any gaps or areas where you need a little more focus.
- Not only will you have access to our learning modules, but you will also have access to a Facebook group where you can interact with other people and get support, ask questions, and get help along the way.