In the project management profession, a project management professional (PMP) certification is best-in-class. The world’s most recognized Project Management Professional is sought after by employers and considered by companies when hiring potential project managers.
Choosing the right program to attend for the 35 contact hours requirement is not a decision that should be made lightly. There are many considerations, personal, professional, and financial that need to be weighed.
This article will review the various considerations so that you can choose which option is right for you.
What Does PMP Stand For?
PMI, the Project Management Institute, has created an organization that is committed to serving the project management field. Providing not only PMP certification, PMI sets the global standards for project management, allowing members and certificate holders to “create better outcomes for businesses, community and society worldwide.”
They are a not-for-profit organization, started in 1969 and offer tools, certifications, continuing education opportunities, publications, and communities for PMP certificate holders to take advantage of.
So, what does PMP stand for? The obvious answer is Project Management Professional. However, PMI has created a culture that stands on ethical, or best practices. PMP certificate holders must go through the initial 35 hours of formal project management education, but they must also continue to learn in order to keep their certificate in good standing.
In order to take the exam, any applicant must have 35 contact hours. However, the other requirements must be met as well.
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.
This goes back to PMIs standards. By confirming that an applicant meets the conditions set in order to sit for the exam, PMI has become the professionals standard for Project Management.
What are Contact Hours?
Contact hours are hours of education that pertain directly to the field of project management. Each hour of education counts as one hour of contact.
- Courses that you took while in college or university that were focused on project management may apply, especially if they concentrated on the Knowledge Areas in the PMBOK
- Conferences may offer seminars that count towards both Contact Hours and PDUs, Professional Development Units
- Many PMI meetings, Community of Practice (CoP) may count as hours, if they relate to the Knowledge Areas or processes
- 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
- Formal classroom training, in-person or online classroom instruction are offered for the complete 35 hours needed
You can always check with PMI to make sure the courses you wish to count can be applied. Any hours that aren’t acquired through formal coursework with a completion certificate need to be well documented, time, place, title of course, instructor, etc. in order for PMI to go forward with approval.
Without the 35 hours, even those that have worked in the field for years, won’t be able to go forward with the exam.
4 Points To Consider
Now that we understand the basics, let’s get down to the choices. Now, you don’t have to take a PMP prep course to earn your 35 education hours, but most people do this as it kills two birds with one stone. You can earn your 35 education hours at the same time as preparing for the exam.
There are 4 main points to consider before choosing which course you choose to take:
- Style of Learning
STYLE OF LEARNING:
Each person learns in their own style. Some people prefer to have all of the information at once and some at their own pace. The following four types of classes are generally offered in both online as well as in person classroom coursework:
- Bootcamp: Intensive 4 – 5 day training allows students to focus on the entirety of the Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK) Knowledge Areas and processes.
- Traditional Classroom Training: Online or classroom training that is scheduled over the course of weeks or months, generally two to three days a week. This course of study allows students more time to digest the information and utilize the Agile approach to focus their study plan for the exam.
- Tutoring: One on one either in person or online this option allows a student the individualized attention they may need in order to retain the information necessary for the exam.
- Self-Paced Learning: Online learning that allows the student to take time when they can to study, ensuring that they are in a calm, quiet, and comfortable place to become acquainted with the PMBOK.
Time is always a concern, especially for working individuals. In person training requires your time, not just with the course itself, but also the travel time to and from class. Below we will take a look at how each of the options above figure in your budgeted time.
- Intensive Bootcamp (virtual or in-person), as stated above, is 4 – 5 days of intense training. Missing one class or even being late or missing part of a class means that you may not receive a certificate of completion. The time is set, and in the case of in person training, the place is set as well.
- Weekly classes (virtual or in-person) are often scheduled in the evenings or weekends to make it more accessible to working individuals. However, much like bootcamp, most have strict attendance requirements both online as well as in person. You must be prepared if the course is in person, that there may be cancellations of classes and while you have scheduled the original times, you might not be able to attend the rescheduled classes.
- Tutoring is generally scheduled at the tutor’s convenience, both time and place. They are more open to change and there are generally no restrictions if you cannot make an appointment. The tutor will just take the study back up where you left off.
- Self-paced learning is the least time restrictive. You still need to get the 35 hours, but you can work when and where you wish in order to get it done. Most self-paced courses are available to you for a full year before you would need to sign back up again.
- Tutoring, by far, generally costs the most money. You are responsible not only for paying the tutor, which runs at the low end $100 per hour, but also the course materials.
- Bootcamp and traditional classroom training are next when it comes to cost, generally around $1500 for the course.
- Finally, self-paced learning which usually starts around $400 for the course.
The first benefit of having formal training through a course or tutor is the certificate of completion. Courses that are taken by an approved PMI company provide you with the 35 hour certificate. Tutors will also provide you with a breakdown of the hours as well as having the invoices that you paid for their services.
Unlike tutors, most courses provide you with sample exams, worksheets, the ability to talk to other students and create study groups, as well as exam simulators to help you prepare.
Benefits of Formal Training
While you can satisfy the contact hours requirements with other types of learning, PMI has specific requirements for those other options to meet their standards. Haphazard attempts to satisfy the requirements aren’t tolerated and shouldn’t be considered.
PMI wants to make sure that your efforts address the learning objectives of the requirement, taking you fully through the PMBOK Knowledge Areas and Processes.
Make sure if you aren’t going for formal training that PMI approves the methods you have chosen. They should be from reputable, approved sources, and as stated above they need to be well documented in case of an audit prior to scheduling your exam. We recommend Brain Sensei as a provider of choice for live virtual instructor and self-paced courses.
One of the most important benefits listed above is the benefit of communication. By selecting a PMP certification course, you have access to instructors, other students, and customer service people. There are a variety of tools that you can utilize, podcasts, class videos you can review, and social media study groups that you can interact in.
Many companies also offer a pass guarantee for their classroom instructions, either live or virtual (Brain Sensei does for both).
As well as the benefits listed in above, by selecting a PMI approved source to complete your Formal training you know that the requirement is met and that your time and money are well spent.
What to look for in Formal Training?
The first step is to determine what type of training best suits the four points covered above. Then it’s time to research and sign up.
Courses that provide the following are the ones you should focus on:
- Expert Instructors (or up-to-date material for self-paced courses)
- Good Feedback and Testimonials
- Satisfy the Contact Hours Requirement and
- Are upfront with pricing
To push the point, a PMP course provider should:
- Satisfy the minimum 35 contact hours
- Provide structured content and material
- Provide a Certificate of Completion
- Provide real-life examples to sample questions and answers
- Have positive feedback through students, PMI, employers, and reviews
- Provide you with the options necessary to take and complete the course in the manner which best suits you
Again, what does PMP stand for?
In order to get through the exam, you need to know the answers to the questions and one of the best ways to do that is through applying what you will learn in a formal training course, the best practices of project management.
Companies around the world recognize PMIs PMP certificate because it is obtained by project managers that have studied the tools, techniques, and management principles in order to increase and maintain their knowledge of the profession.
By requiring experience as well as education and formal training, PMI provides you with the credibility, commitment, and competitive advantage in the ever growing field of project management.
Project management is a profession that spans the spectrum of occupations. From manufacturing to information technology, PMP certification is the way to continue your goals to be that professional.
The first step is planning. You have the information. You’ve met the other requirements which means you know what learning style suits you. You know your schedule so you know which type of course fits your needs, and you know your budget. Which training is right for you?
If you are working for a company currently, check with your human resources department to see if PMP training is covered as one of your benefits? The course work may be covered, or the exam costs. In many instances, companies that employ several project managers have a group membership with PMI, and PMI membership has its privileges.
PMP certification sets you apart from other project managers. It provides you with the professional validation of the top people in your field. If you take the time, and make the effort to continue in your chosen field as a certified professional project manager we congratulate you and welcome to the club.
PMP stands for Project Management Professional. It’s as simple as that.