Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification, one of the most sought-after certifications across the globe, is provided by the Project Management Institute (PMI)®. PMI® defines PMP certification as an application of knowledge, skills, and techniques to execute projects effectively.
Being a closed-loop certification system, only candidates who fulfill the eligibility criteria, have access to most of the useful material from this institute. Thus, though project management can really make your resume stand out, the PMP® certification process can prove to be confusing for most of us.
In this article, we will take you through the entire PMP® certification process, from checking PMP® certification eligibility criteria to renewing the PDUs that you have earned.
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PMP® Certification Eligibility
To be eligible for the certification program, you need to have enough Project Management working experience. The primary PMP® certification requirements are discussed in detail in the following blocks.
Secondary degree with at least five years of project management experience with 7500 hours leading and directing projects and 35 hours of project management education.
- Four-year degree with at least three years of project management experience, with 4500 hours leading and directing projects and 35 hours of project management education.
Project management experience doesn’t mean you need to have an assigned ‘project manager’ title. It means that you must have carried out the responsibility of managing a project.
- You must be involved in all the five process groups of the project management lifecycle i.e. initiating, planning, directing, monitoring, and closing the project.
- You should have taken up at least 35 hours of project management education, not necessarily PMBOK® Guide issued by PMI®. One contact hour is equal to one actual hour of training or instruction received, as per the PMI®. Non-classroom training, like online training, is also considered by PMI®.
To get these 35 contact hours, you can attend training sessions, workshops, and courses conducted by training organizations or institutes with relevant training courses.
Just make sure that all these training sessions are properly documented - certificates, tests, and transcripts support your claim.
PMP® Examination Form Filling
Once you have fulfilled the eligibility criteria, the next task in hand is to fill up the examination form. You first need to create an account on the PMI® website and then find the online application form under my PMI section.
If you wish to apply offline, you can download the paper application and send it across to PMI® US office via registered mail.
While using the online application system, you should be careful to complete the form filling process in 90 days. PMI® servers store your data for 90 days before erasing it completely. The main parameters that need to be filled in the form are:
- Personal information (name, address, contact info, etc)
- College/university degree
- Number of contact hours completed
- List of all the projects that count as project management experience.
The ‘Project management experience’ section towards the second fold of the form is one that will take the longest time to complete.
You need to add the project start date and end date, exact working hours are broken down by the 5 process groups of project management lifecycle, point of contact with their information (manager, sponsor, colleague), and description of work done using the PMI® terminology.
The most time-consuming section is the work description. You need to write down the work done on each project, shortlist the project management experience from it, and then rewrite it using PMP® terms.
After submitting the application, the acceptance confirmation will be received within a week.
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PMP® Membership & Fees
Once you have submitted the application form, you will receive an email from the PMI® to pay the exam fees. Currently, the examination fee is USD $405 (member) and USD $555 (non-member). Though it is not mandatory to become a PMI® member, you can enjoy innumerable benefits by registering for the membership.
You can become a PMI® member by paying $129 annually. Upon becoming a member, you will receive a free digital copy of PMBOK® Guide; get free access to on-demand webinars, peer-written, and reviewed articles, and business and project management books in e-Reads & Reference.
PMI® Audit Process
Once you have paid the examination fees for PMP® examination, you will immediately find out if your application needs an audit or not. If selected for the PMI® audit, you need to provide proof of all the details mentioned in the application within 3 months.
- Proof of education (photocopy of college/university degree)
- Proof of contact hours (printed contact hours certificate)
- Signed reference letter for contact person listed in projects in the application. Original signed reference letter by each contact person put into different envelopes which are duly signed over the flap by the contact person.
- If the actual contact person is not available, someone else who has knowledge of the role played by the applicant can also complete the said procedure.
Put all these envelopes and proofs in one large envelope and send them to PMI® via registered mail. You should receive the confirmation email within a week.
PMP® Examination Fee Refund Policy
If you choose to withdraw your request to take up a PMP® examination, you need to make a request to PMI® at least 30 days before the exam eligibility expiration date.
Refund of the fees will be received with $100 processing fee deduction if you have not scheduled or taken the examination. The same amount is received if you fail the Audit process.
PMP® Certification Examination Scheduling
Once you are done with the audit process and other formalities, the next step is to schedule your examination. You need to login to the PMI Certification system and choose your examination delivery method i.e. Paper-based Test (PBT) or Computer-based Test (CBT). The date of examination should be within 1 year of submitting the fee.
CBT is the standard method of conducting PMI® examination and PBT is available under limited circumstances. PMI® can cancel the PBT event that doesn’t have a minimum of 10 candidates. For candidates applying for PBT examination center should fulfill the following criteria:
- Must reside 300km (186.5 miles) from the CBT site.
- Corporate sponsors want to conduct the examination for employees at the office premises.
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PMP® Certification Examination
The PMP® examination consists of 175 scored multiple-choice questions and 25 pretests (unscored) questions that sum up to 200 questions. The allotted time for the completion of the exam is 4 hours. For clearing the examination, you should answer 137 questions correctly. If you don’t clear the examination in the first attempt, you can schedule for a retest. You will have up to 3 chances to take the PMP® exam within the period of one year.
Upon clearing the examination, you will receive the PMP® certificate within 6-8 weeks. You can also request PMI® to ship a PMP® lapel pin, free of charge.
Here is a video which gives insight on PMP® Exam Preparation. Hope you find it beneficial.
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PMP® Certification Renewal
Once you have passed the exam, your 3-year PDU cycle begins and after this time duration, your PMP® certification will expire. You need to earn an additional 60 PDUs per 3-year PDU cycle, to maintain your PMP® credential. However, you don’t need to wait for the 3-year cycle to end for PDU renewal. You can earn 60 PDUs in the certification year itself.
For earning additional PDUs, PMI® has defined two categories namely, Education and Giving Back to Profession. Each hour spent on engaging in the professional development activities will earn you one PDU.
Education (No maximum limit for PDUs earned)
- You can earn PDUs by attending events like seminars and workshops offered by PMI® or PMI® Registered Education Providers (R.E.P).
- You can earn PDUs by taking a PMI® Publication Quiz which includes reading an article and answering at least 70 percent of the questions correctly.
- By completing an academic course offered by a university or by training institutes that are not registered by PMI® such as your employer, corporates, or membership association, you can earn PDUs.
- Informal activities like reading articles, books, podcasts, watching videos, etc., related to project management, project risk, project scheduling or program management, can also earn you PDUs.
Giving it Back to Profession (Not more than 45 PDUs in a 3-year cycle)
- By creating a new knowledge base (authoring textbooks, articles, presenting a webinar, serving as a speaker for project management courses, etc) for the topic of your expertise, can also earn you PDUs.
- Earn PDUs by providing non-compensated project management, project scheduling, or program management services to non-employer.
- You can also produce letter or certificates from the organization acknowledging your services for leading projects tasks.
Once you take up the activities for earning PDUs, you will need to update the same in the PDU Activity Reporting form that is available on PMI® website. Once you have earned 60 PDUs at the end of the 3-year cycle, you can apply for credential renewal by paying the renewal fee of US $60 (members) and the US $150 (non-members). You will receive your new certificate within 6-8 weeks.
Keep collecting additional PDUs to maintain your PMP® credential. All the best for your certification journey!
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PMP® and PMI® are registered trademarks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.